I've recently set up a 'motion detected' web-cam at Stawell, to assist photographers as to what to expect when photographing out west.
It is set up similar to the Bunbury Street project, when the camera detects motion it immediately sends a photo to my flickr account.
Unforntunately the limitations of the software provided with the Swann camera, means only the first frame after motion detection can be emailed, so I've had to fine tune the motion detected area to be in the middle of the frame.
Not ideal as you only usually see the first half of a loco, but this should be sufficient to indicate whether its an up or down train.
3rd party software can provide multiple emails...ideal, but these will not work with the Swann camera I'm using.
Movie is captured of the whole train, but again the Swann software won't allow you to upload it.....the 3rd party software will.
Thus, in its current 'testing' stage, it does a good job of letting you know when an Up/ Down train passes through Stawell.
There is still some fine tuning to do, but I believe it's now 'usable' to let you know it exists.
Night vision goes from an excellent image to a not so good one, depending on various factors, it sometimes 'misses' down trains locos, but might get the wagons....Up trains you usually can make out OK.
The camera is facing for Down trains...
Thus the 'going away' shots are the Up trains.
Being motion detected, you also get shots of rain / fog / bugs /birds / dogs etc .
With Bunbury Street Webcam, Gheringhap Sightings and now Stawell Webcam, Western photographers can now have an excellent way of knowing what's coming.....
After I bought the house next to the railway line in Stawell, I decided to set up a web cam to give me early warning of trains passing through Stawell when I was out photographing. It wasn't going to be like Gheringhap loop, in that locos and wagons etc would not be recorded as such, I just wanted to see that an UP train or a DOWN train went through.
Location wise I didn't have much choice...thus the current view was chosen, hardly photogenic, but that's not the point of the exercise.
I cannot use the opposite direction, as that is where the level crossing is, thus cars and people would trigger the 'motion detection' constantly.
One big problem is the fact there is NO artificial lighting in this area, even the level crossing has not got any street lighting, thus the infrared LEDS on the Swann camera I'm using are doing all the lighting (to the human eye, the view is pitch black, you cannot see a thing.
The 'motion detection' area is tricky to handle for trains running in either direction, coupled with the fact the Swann software package only allows the first frame to be uploaded. If you had it placed either side to get more Up train in, then the DOWN train view would suffer and vice versa...thus you really have to have it placed in the middle.
I've currently got it biased a bit to the left on account of the big tree swaying was setting off the camera. The area 'motion detected' is shaded in green.
Then you have to account for night time....which seems to vary depending on the clearness of night (rain, fog, mist) and I think the loco headlights also make it variable....if on high beam it senses it better...although sometimes even under good conditions it might 'miss' the front of the train.
Currently it's getting about 90% of UP trains OK, and about 80% of DOWN trains at night. Daytime it works fine.
The size of the pictures has been mentioned...not much I can do....as first posted, the Swann software will give you a bigger picture but smaller font, or smaller picture but larger font.
The purpose of the exercise is not to get a glamour shot, nor to get the engine numbers...so while the pictures look ridiculously small on a 24" moniter at home, out in the field, when you view it on a 3" screen of your smartphone, the size is sufficient.
Loco details, train numbers etc...sorry, this isn't a full time job for me, the pictures are uploaded automatically, and I might delete some 'nuff' shots every now and then, but thats about it. If I'm up at Stawell I might give a few captions, but the website is only an early warning alert, not train details as such.
I did trial a different camera, which I was able to use 3rd party software to operate with. Apart from the colour being slightly 'off' it gave a very good image, it wasn't as wide angle as the current camera, and the software allowed you to send multiple pics/emails....fantastic.
However....the test run with a train of 2 NR's on the steel train, with 5 shots taken 1/2 sec apart...first shot "too early" just a nose, 2nd shot good, 3rd shot a waste....5th shot showed wagons...hmmmm, so what if it was 3 locos, 4 locos.....maybe 5 shots would not be enough....
But the big problem was the 'nuff' shots (birds, clouds etc) as each 'nuff' shot would provide 5 shots each....multiply by a few 'nuffs' and you have a page of nothing. I thought it was tiring enough getting rid of a handful of 'nuff' shots....but this camera gave me 30-40 in the first few hours.
But the big problem with this camera was its night time range, which was no where as good as my original camera, in fact it didn't even work at night ! Thus it was disconnected.
Thus the current setup, whilst not ideal, is giving 100% coverage during the day and 90% + coverage at night.
The problem I had during the week as stated above, I tried to solve by giving the 'ol computer a reboot, and cleaning the lens and LEDS of the camera, not that it looked dirty...but it seems to be working OK again.
Also the 60 kph restriction is still in place.
I'll soon be getting a photographing 'crows nest' at the house, and that means I'll be able to relocate the camera to a higher location, but the problems of night time lighting will still have to be dealt with.
I'm glad to see people are 'using' the website to see what's out there...indeed I've used it myself a few times now....what it was set up for, and it saved me so much "waiting and see" time....now you know something is out there !
One good aspect of the Swann sofware is that it automatically saves the video footage, and it can also 'buffer' 5 seconds prior to motion being detected...thus you get great video footage, alas there's no sound ! Which does make it a bit painful to watch, thinking of the noise you are missing.
So now I want to add a mike.....however uploading of the videos can't be done automatically, I'd have to do it manually.
I've made up a 15" movie of 10 days at Stawell showing the variety of trains/locos during a 10 day period....enjoy
Just a report on the first week of the cameras new viewpoint.
Firstly I have changed to the larger image size, due to numerous requests.
I liked the smaller image, because the time/date stamp is in a larger font,
and is easier to see.
However, I just discovered the Railpage Railcam page, which was blowing up
the small image to a larger size....thus it looked pretty awful.
I see now why people were complaining ! Sorry !!
The problems which were the reason why the camera didn't originally point
towards the crossing certainly occurred.
- cars and pedestrians setting off motion detection.
- looking into the sun at sunset
- rain coming from west blowing straight into lens.
I've adjusted the motion detection and sensitivity several times to find a good compromise.
Since setting up the camera, Stawell has had a lot of rain...all blowing into the lens.
Yesterday and last night was particulary bad...I had to delete about 100 miss-shots of raindrops.
Train action has been pretty well caught...except for the Up Overland, which was triggering the camera
quite late.... missing the loco. I assume this is because this is the only train which is going slowly, as it
is just departing from the station stop ?