High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network December 6, 2001

HPWREN Partners with Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve for High-Res Camera Installations

Field researchers are now able to take high quality images of the Santa Margarita river crossing - thanks to a newly installed camera that overlooks the river. The Ricoh RDC-i700 camera delivers more than three megapixels per image, and is controlled from a remote server across the Internet.

"One of the areas of considerable concern relative to the consumption of network bandwidth is the desire of researchers to utilize video cameras that are able to continuously consume large amounts of networking resources. These cameras create very limited quality images, typically with 640 by 480 (or fewer) pixels per images, with their interlace mode causing an additional issue," said Hans-Werner Braun, HPWREN's principal investigator. "We are pleased to see that high quality progressive-scan Internet capable cameras are now becoming available."

"The installation went really well and the image quality is outstanding," said Pablo Bryant of the San Diego State University Field Station Programs.

"We simply packaged the camera into a PVC box and mounted it onto a pole," explained Bryant. "We used two external connectors - one to connect the camera to an AC power supply and another for the PCMCIA Ethernet card connection."

Automated Camera Control
The camera is connected via the Ethernet cable diectly into a hub at the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve's North Station. The station houses a router and radio for the 45Mbps HPWREN link via Red Mountain and Mount Soledad to the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego. A server at SDSC then allows for automated control of the camera, initially collecting a new image every ten minutes.

Click here to view a graph depicting this setup.

The images are being made available on the server, and can be retained in their full 3+ megapixel version, or downsampled in size. For instance, this thumbnail represents an image taken by the SMER camera; the actual camera image (2048 by 1536 pixels) can be viewed by clicking on the thumbnail.

Easily Deployed in the Field
"A further application of such an Internet camera is a researcher in the field - connecting the camera to an Ethernet port in a laptop, and having the laptop function as a router with a wireless card - connected via a directional antenna to a remote receiver," said Braun.

Research Associate Maria Wiehe, Student Conservation Association, demonstrates how field researchers can use the camera to monitor the Santa Margarita river crossing.

Additional photographs regarding the SMER camera installation are available at http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20011203/.

The HPWREN team continues to research cameras available for field applications. If you have insight regarding this area, please contact us.


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