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'[EE] Remote photography using a digital camara'
2006\12\26@190227 by Matthew Miller

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Hi everyone,                                                                      
                                                                     
The subject above doesn't seem too clear, so allow me to elaborate: I don't
know much about digital photography, but I need a digital camara that can be
triggered electrically, enclosed in a weather-proof housing, and save images
to a SD-card or over wifi.                                            
                                                                         
To pique your interest, and maybe help me find a solution, my main problem    
is that in the valley I live the new sport seems to be smashing mail        
boxes. At the instant my mail box experiences a jarring vibration, I want to                      
take a photograph of the area. The location of the mail box is far from any
power source but the Sun and batteries. Attacks occur infrequently, so  
something that could be setup and the require little maintenance is    
preferred.                                                                    
                                                                         
Thanks for any help and ideas!                                      
                                                                       
Matthew                                                                    
                                                                 
--                                                                  
"I know of no society in recorded history that ever suffered because its                                    
people became too reasonable." -- Sam Harris

2006\12\26@193411 by Denny Esterline

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{Quote hidden}

Look around in the sporting goods section. The name escapes me at the
moment, but they build a IR motion sensitive camera housing for watching
dear blinds and bait piles in the woods. Not exactly motion sensitive, but
will probably work for an off-the-shelf solution.

-Denny

2006\12\26@193915 by Carl Denk

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Check out http://www.smarthome.com/, surf around the site, they have
many models of cameras with IR lights for night/day. Just run the output
to a VCR or other storage device. The opening page at the moment is a
wireless up to 300 feet for $219.

Denny Esterline wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2006\12\26@194950 by Matthew Miller

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Hi Denny,

On Tue, Dec 26, 2006 at 07:34:09PM -0500, Denny Esterline wrote:
>
> Look around in the sporting goods section. The name escapes me at the
> moment, but they build a IR motion sensitive camera housing for watching
> dear blinds and bait piles in the woods. Not exactly motion sensitive, but
> will probably work for an off-the-shelf solution.

My brother-in-law has one of those devices and I'm going to ask him about it
tomorrow. If I can get one and modify it for solar and remove the motion
sensing parts, it might work... The biggest problem is the length of the
monitoring period, which could be months, that would be needed to catch
these dorks!

Matthew

--
"Science is a search for basic truths about the Universe, a search which
develops statements that appear to describe how the Universe works, but
which are subject to correction, revision, adjustment, or even outright
rejection, upon the presentation of better or conflicting evidence."
  -- James Randi

2006\12\26@202728 by Carl Denk

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Check out this, "World's toughest mailbox ($120).
www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=4913&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=mailbox
These people have a nice store in Northern Ohio, and are very reputable!

Matthew Miller wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2006\12\26@204238 by Jinx

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> I need a digital camara that can be triggered electrically,
> enclosed in a weather-proof housing, and save images
> to a SD-card or over wifi.                                            

Hi Matthew, first thing would be to see what power-consumption
can be eliminated

The trigger could be a tilt switch (mercury, rolling ball or
pendulum). This will need no quiescent power, and would
make a connection between B+ and the trigger input of the
camera. If you want to add an IR flash, use the tilt switch to
turn a FET on. What you'd need to do is use a simple timer
made from a small amount of logic (555, 4000, 7400, PIC
etc) to turn the IR just before the camera clicks and turn off
just after. You might need to add a few bits like Zeners to
keep voltages correct and a reservoir caps to dump into
the IR LEDs. You'll be able to use cheap wiring like bell
or phone wire to get the camera back aways

The circuit is going to react very quickly and should catch the
action. But you may get a picture of the side of a pick-up. Do
you expect the attack to come from a particular direction so
you can position the camera in the best place ?

I was looking at mailboxes in the hardware store the other
day, as the prices really caught my eye. As a wood/metal
worker I was astounded at the expensivity. Given your sheer
annoyance for having to repair / replace a mailbox I'm not
surprised you want to see whodunnit

Relatedly, I had to do something similar a few years ago to
find out which neighbourhood cat was coming in the cat flap
and pissing on our stove, steadily rotting it and making a
godawful stench when the element was turned on. Eventually
got the little bugger on tape. I had the advantage of power
available though and used an IR beam

2006\12\26@205130 by Bob Axtell

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Matthew Miller wrote:
> Hi everyone,                                                                      
>                                                                      
> The subject above doesn't seem too clear, so allow me to elaborate: I don't
> know much about digital photography, but I need a digital camara that can be
> triggered electrically, enclosed in a weather-proof housing, and save images
> to a SD-card or over wifi.                                            
>                                                                            
> To pique your interest, and maybe help me find a solution, my main problem    
> is that in the valley I live the new sport seems to be smashing mail        
> boxes. At the instant my mail box experiences a jarring vibration, I want to                      
> take a photograph of the area. The location of the mail box is far from any
> power source but the Sun and batteries. Attacks occur infrequently, so  
> something that could be setup and the require little maintenance is    
> preferred.      
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret.

While the FBI, US Marshals and the CSI guys get all the glory, the very
best cops in the world work for the
US Postal Service. I assure you, they _will_ get those mailbox wreckers.
They have wonderful surveillance
equipment, and have faced with this same thing repeatedly.  And your
mailbox is THEIR territory.

That happened in our neighborhood (Georgia) a few years ago. Took 'em
less than two weeks to catch 'em.

Lodge a complaint, just stand back and watch.

--Bob


{Quote hidden}

2006\12\26@211329 by Herbert Graf

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On Tue, 2006-12-26 at 19:00 -0500, Matthew Miller wrote:
> Hi everyone,                                                                      
>                                                                      
> The subject above doesn't seem too clear, so allow me to elaborate: I don't
> know much about digital photography, but I need a digital camara that can be
> triggered electrically, enclosed in a weather-proof housing, and save images
> to a SD-card or over wifi.                                            
>                                                                            
> To pique your interest, and maybe help me find a solution, my main problem    
> is that in the valley I live the new sport seems to be smashing mail        
> boxes. At the instant my mail box experiences a jarring vibration, I want to                      
> take a photograph of the area. The location of the mail box is far from any
> power source but the Sun and batteries. Attacks occur infrequently, so  
> something that could be setup and the require little maintenance is    
> preferred.                                                                    

I have the following camera:
http://www.trendnet.com/en/products/TV-IP400w.htm

It's a Wifi enabled IP camera. It works very well.

For taking pictures, I have a PC running a program (under linux) called
"motion". It gathers pictures from the camera (over the network) and any
time it detects motion it captures a series of pictures. It can even
capture a video if you fancy that. For windows the camera comes with
software that performs a similar function.

If motion capture is good enough there are other Wifi enabled cameras
that will automatically capture images on detection of a certain amount
of motion and email those pictures to you, if you don't have a PC
running on your network to run motion.

If motion capture isn't enough, then you could perhaps trigger a shutter
that usually covers the camera (so motion is never detected) and then
when the mailbox is rattled, the shutter slides away and the camera
records whatever motion it sees.

TTYL

2006\12\26@215931 by Josh Koffman

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On 12/26/06, Jinx <spam_OUTjoecolquittTakeThisOuTspamclear.net.nz> wrote:
> Relatedly, I had to do something similar a few years ago to
> find out which neighbourhood cat was coming in the cat flap
> and pissing on our stove, steadily rotting it and making a
> godawful stench when the element was turned on. Eventually
> got the little bugger on tape. I had the advantage of power
> available though and used an IR beam

What did you do once you figured out which cat it was?

Josh
--
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
fools.
       -Douglas Adams

2006\12\26@224128 by Jinx

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> What did you do once you figured out which cat it was?

Nothing gory personally. It was a non-neutered cat from a
couple of doors up, well-known for spraying everywhere
and generally being a nuisance by doing so. I took the devious
road and eventually persuaded the owner to have it fixed.
Ostensibly "to curb the exploding cat/kitten population", but
actually it was purely and self-interestedly to stop it coming
in our house and marking its territory. With the major perp
"severely castigated" ;-)), the escalating Cat Stink Wars came
to an end. Job well done. And so was tom

2006\12\26@232431 by Denny Esterline

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> Hi Denny,
>
> On Tue, Dec 26, 2006 at 07:34:09PM -0500, Denny Esterline wrote:
> >
> > Look around in the sporting goods section. The name escapes me at the
> > moment, but they build a IR motion sensitive camera housing for watching
> > dear blinds and bait piles in the woods. Not exactly motion sensitive, but
> > will probably work for an off-the-shelf solution.
>
> My brother-in-law has one of those devices and I'm going to ask him about it
> tomorrow. If I can get one and modify it for solar and remove the motion
> sensing parts, it might work... The biggest problem is the length of the
> monitoring period, which could be months, that would be needed to catch
> these dorks!
>
> Matthew

A quick gargle netted me this page: http://www.basspro.com/servlet/catalog.SubClass?hvarDept=400&hvarEvent=&hvarClassCode=2&hvarSubCode=4&cmid=HULN_OS_ELECTRONICS_GAMECAMERASACCESSORIES

Ok, that link's insane: goto http://www.basspro.com select Hunting : Electronics : Game Cameras & Accessories
At least a dozen options including both digital and film cameras, including an optional battery pack that promises to extend field life to four months.

-Denny


2006\12\27@014420 by Richard Prosser

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Remind me never to p*** you off!

RP

On 27/12/06, Jinx <.....joecolquittKILLspamspam@spam@clear.net.nz> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\12\27@083305 by Russell McMahon

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Have you ever wondered what makes the random very very very loud
noises a few blocks away that you hear in suburbia from time to time?
It's probably not this, but ...

Tape tantalum capacitor to outside of 1.2l PET softdrink bottles(s)
Wire tantalum via switch to reverse polarity supply capable of several
amps (C cells with good cap OK).
Pressurise PET bottle to about 120 psi.
Methods of doing this vary. If actually interested contact me offlist
with proofs of sanity and maturity and I may tell you possible
methods.
Bottle will hold 120 psi indefinitely (many months +).
Dutch thick wall bottles will hold much more but are liable to be less
safe.

Place bottle somewhere where it will be useful.
(For extra credit and relevance add a PIC plus additional bottles etc
positioned as required for a staged event).

"When required" apply voltage to tantalum cap(s).
Within a second cap will emit flame of burning tantalum plus misc
organics.
PET Pressure vessel will become a PET depressurised vessel "rather
rapidly".
Letterbox shakers will be 'in for a surprise'.
'Loudest noise I ever heard' * - well, maybe not, but very very very
loud if close and unexpected.
Event will also be noticeable by others for a considerable distance.

I've never actually tried this as an integrated whole. The component
parts, yes. It will work BUT may be illegal depending on where you
live. It's reasonably safe (for many values of reasonably). [[A small
hole in a PET pressure vessel becomes a large hole amazingly rapidly.
The PET bottle becomes a wavy sheet of plastic, or several smaller
sheets. Actually holding the bottle at the time is not recommended.
The neck may fly somewhat as a unit. I have never seen large solid
pieces go far but YMMV / YMWV / DTTAH / ... . A garden fork works as
an effective  substitute for a tantalum capacitor but your ears  may
regret this for quite some while.]]



       RM

* Scott Crossfield.
  X15 test pilot.



2006\12\27@092155 by Pearce, AB (Alan)

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>Have you ever wondered what makes the random very very very loud
>noises a few blocks away that you hear in suburbia from time to time?
>It's probably not this, but ...
>
>Tape tantalum capacitor to outside of 1.2l PET softdrink bottles(s)
>Wire tantalum via switch to reverse polarity supply capable of several
>amps (C cells with good cap OK).
>Pressurise PET bottle to about 120 psi.
>Methods of doing this vary. If actually interested contact me offlist
>with proofs of sanity and maturity and I may tell you possible
>methods.
>Bottle will hold 120 psi indefinitely (many months +).
>Dutch thick wall bottles will hold much more but are liable to be less
>safe.

Sounds like what I need to wake the neighbours up when they insist on using fireworks many days distant from Guy Fawkes Night.  Now what would be a good gas to pressurise the bottle with?
Hydrogen/Oxgen mix would be a good experimental starter? Colourless flame would be useful.
Maybe get an Acetylene/Oxygen mix from a welding torch after adjusting the flame to get the right mixture for a good flame colour, then blow the flame out. I have heard of this being used to fill balloons, one of which then had a spark plug from a car fitted in the neck. The bunch of balloons were then mounted somewhere "safe" and the spark plug fired from a remote. Colour in the flame would be against the use I envisage ...
I do remember a story about the time I finished my apprenticeship. The company used a range of PC mount aluminium electrolytic capacitors which had a hard plastic case into which the active innards were put, and then an epoxy plug at the end where the leads came out. It was discovered that these would go with quite a bang if supplied with reverse polarity DC, so when the factory manager got into the habit of resting his backside on a nightstor heater while talking to an apprentice doing production line testing, it didn't take long for said bunch of apprentices to get a capacitor on a long pair of wires secreted behind said heater while manager wasn't around, and wired to a power supply among the bunch of test gear they had. .Next time factory manager came around, after a few minutes conversation the power supply was turned on, and after a minute or so the capacitor went bang. Leap from factory manager was reported as "spectaculer" after which he retired to his office with a "we are not amused" attitude, much to the amusement of the rest of the factory staff.
Oh the joys of working in a small establishment ... ;)


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2006\12\27@094907 by Matthew Miller

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On Tue, Dec 26, 2006 at 11:24:37PM -0500, Denny Esterline wrote:

> Ok, that link's insane: goto http://www.basspro.com select Hunting :
> Electronics : Game Cameras & Accessories At least a dozen options
> including both digital and film cameras, including an optional battery
> pack that promises to extend field life to four months.

>From looking at that page, it seems that buying one of the game camaras
would be the wisest thing to do. It would be hard to find a regular camara
that I could use and adapt for less than a 100 bucks...

I bought a hard rubber mail box today. Hopefully, the new box will stand up
better to any future baseball bats than my old metal box did. If it were
summer, I would build a heavy duty mail box that would sting the hands of
whoever swung the bat; my idea for such a mail box is putting a smaller box
inside a larger one and filling the space between them with concrete cement,
and then painting the box bright orange. Let someone take a swing at my mail
box then!

Matthew

--
"A scientist can discover a new star, but he cannot make one. He would have
to ask an engineer to do that." -- Gordon L. Glegg, American Engineer, 1969

2006\12\27@103014 by Martin Klingensmith

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Common in northern NY is to build a mailbox that either avoids snowplows
by hanging from above, or "letting" the snowplow driver know that they
hit your box, with concrete and steel.
--
Martin K

Matthew Miller wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2006\12\27@140513 by Carl Denk

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In Ohio, and probably other areas also (maybe national), There is a
requirement aimed at reducing injuries , that anything near the road be
frangible  (easily broken) if hit.  The post be no stronger than 4x4
wood or 1.5" (maybe  1.25") pipe. Stronger than that, and if hit, you
are liable, at least partially. Our township will promptly replace a
mailbox hit by their snowplow. A variety of suspensions from chains to
spring loaded arms are common around here also.

Martin Klingensmith wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2006\12\27@170714 by Mike Hord

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So perhaps filling the interstitial space with red paint is a better idea?

Mike H.

On 12/27/06, Carl Denk <cdenkspamKILLspamalltel.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\12\28@060858 by Russell McMahon

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> Now what would be a good gas to pressurise the bottle with?

Must not be active / compustible.
CO2 or air work fine.

Energy in a 1.5l bottle is about half that of a 38 Magnum load. It
lets you know exceedingly well audibly when it escapes. Using
aforesaid garden fork (and a full face helmet on one's head) has one's
ears ring for many minutes afterwards. AMHIK :-)


       Russell


'[EE] Remote photography using a digital camara'
2007\01\04@010501 by Vitaliy
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Herbert Graf wrote:
> I have the following camera:
> http://www.trendnet.com/en/products/TV-IP400w.htm
>
> It's a Wifi enabled IP camera. It works very well.
>
> For taking pictures, I have a PC running a program (under linux) called
> "motion". It gathers pictures from the camera (over the network) and any
> time it detects motion it captures a series of pictures. It can even
> capture a video if you fancy that. For windows the camera comes with
> software that performs a similar function.

I was going to buy a wireless camera before I went on vacation last month,
but was discouraged by user opinions. It seems that most (and I did a rather
thorough search) wireless cameras out there either have poor picture
quality, or a shaky wireless connection.

Would you be so kind as to provide an couple of image samples (especially
under low-light conditions)?

Best regards,

Vitaliy

2007\01\04@090317 by Carl Denk

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Recently I got a Nokia Phone with Blue tooth. I ordered a Trendnet
TBW-103UB/A USB Bluetooth and 11G Wireless adapter to communicate with
the phone. It uses Blue Soleil windows application which has been a
disaster. The software is very difficult to get up and running, and even
then reliability is poor. Forget the tech support, long waits, then
people that have little knowledge, speak very broken english, and
dropped phone lines.
Google for the equipment will yield many problems and no solutions. Stay
away from Trendnet!

Vitaliy wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\01\04@140142 by Herbert Graf

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On Wed, 2007-01-03 at 23:04 -0700, Vitaliy wrote:
> Herbert Graf wrote:
> > I have the following camera:
> > www.trendnet.com/en/products/TV-IP400w.htm
> >
> > It's a Wifi enabled IP camera. It works very well.
> >
> > For taking pictures, I have a PC running a program (under linux) called
> > "motion". It gathers pictures from the camera (over the network) and any
> > time it detects motion it captures a series of pictures. It can even
> > capture a video if you fancy that. For windows the camera comes with
> > software that performs a similar function.
>
> I was going to buy a wireless camera before I went on vacation last month,
> but was discouraged by user opinions. It seems that most (and I did a rather
> thorough search) wireless cameras out there either have poor picture
> quality, or a shaky wireless connection.
>
> Would you be so kind as to provide an couple of image samples (especially
> under low-light conditions)?

I've attached an image on a section of my living room (just taken) and
an image of outside (taken about a month ago).

Considering it IS a web cam, the quality is quite good to my eyes
(certainly better then any other web cam I've tried). Note that any
compression artifacts you see are because I have compression turned to
max (so remote video is at the fastest frame rate possible).

The wireless is 100% solid in my experience, I've never seen it dropped,
I've watched the feed for hours at a time (watching the roofers work)
and it worked flawlessly. I highly recommend it. TTYL


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2007\01\04@140447 by Herbert Graf

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On Thu, 2007-01-04 at 09:03 -0500, Carl Denk wrote:
> Recently I got a Nokia Phone with Blue tooth. I ordered a Trendnet
> TBW-103UB/A USB Bluetooth and 11G Wireless adapter to communicate with
> the phone. It uses Blue Soleil windows application which has been a
> disaster. The software is very difficult to get up and running, and even
> then reliability is poor. Forget the tech support, long waits, then
> people that have little knowledge, speak very broken english, and
> dropped phone lines.
> Google for the equipment will yield many problems and no solutions. Stay
> away from Trendnet!

Well, I can't comment on their tech support, since I've never needed
their help!

I have several pieces of equipment from Trendnet and I'm VERY impressed.
Everything has "just worked", no fiddling, no fighting.

Bluetooth in general OTOH has been rife with problems in my limited
experience, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

TTYL

2007\01\04@144347 by David VanHorn

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>
>
> While the FBI, US Marshals and the CSI guys get all the glory, the very
> best cops in the world work for the
> US Postal Service. I assure you, they _will_ get those mailbox wreckers.
> They have wonderful surveillance
> equipment, and have faced with this same thing repeatedly.  And your
> mailbox is THEIR territory.


I knew a guy in wisconsin who used an autoclave as his mailbox.
The regular ones had been vandalized and stolen frequently.
This one was stolen once, and abandoned less than 100 yards away.
Autoclaves are HEAVY!

Baseball bats vs autoclave is also funny, he's picked up a lot of bat
pieces.

2007\01\04@222108 by Vitaliy

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Herbert Graf wrote:
> I've attached an image on a section of my living room (just taken) and
> an image of outside (taken about a month ago).
>
> Considering it IS a web cam, the quality is quite good to my eyes
> (certainly better then any other web cam I've tried). Note that any
> compression artifacts you see are because I have compression turned to
> max (so remote video is at the fastest frame rate possible).
>
> The wireless is 100% solid in my experience, I've never seen it dropped,
> I've watched the feed for hours at a time (watching the roofers work)
> and it worked flawlessly. I highly recommend it. TTYL

Thank you very much for the information, Herbert.

However, I'm interested to know how well the camera would perfom at night.
Say I have a street light about 30 feet from the object I am taking pictures
of (~60 ft from the camera), would that be enough light to produce a good
image?

I'd really like to find out who keeps throwing eggs at my car (I suspect the
neighbor's kids). This is especially annoying in the summer, when the
Phoenix sun bakes the whites into the paint. Even the pressure washer is
sometimes not powerful enough to wash the stuff off, and some of the stains
become permanent if the car is not washed promptly.

Vitaliy

2007\01\05@000732 by Herbert Graf

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On Thu, 2007-01-04 at 20:20 -0700, Vitaliy wrote:
> Herbert Graf wrote:
> > I've attached an image on a section of my living room (just taken) and
> > an image of outside (taken about a month ago).
> >
> > Considering it IS a web cam, the quality is quite good to my eyes
> > (certainly better then any other web cam I've tried). Note that any
> > compression artifacts you see are because I have compression turned to
> > max (so remote video is at the fastest frame rate possible).
> >
> > The wireless is 100% solid in my experience, I've never seen it dropped,
> > I've watched the feed for hours at a time (watching the roofers work)
> > and it worked flawlessly. I highly recommend it. TTYL
>
> Thank you very much for the information, Herbert.
>
> However, I'm interested to know how well the camera would perfom at night.
> Say I have a street light about 30 feet from the object I am taking pictures
> of (~60 ft from the camera), would that be enough light to produce a good
> image?

Almost certainly not, it's designed for daytime as most web cameras are.

You could open it up and remove the IR filter, this will dramatically
increase the sensitivity of the camera to lower light levels, with the
trade off that the colours will be mostly gone and during the day the
image may be completely wiped out.

Aside from that option, have a look and see if you can find a "low lux"
camera.

TTYL

2007\01\05@182559 by Piclist

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face
Were you one of those neighbors like the one I had when I was a kid that
kept stabbing my soccer balls whenever it went over the fence by
accident?  Hahahahahaha.

Sorry about your problems though.


-Mario

{Original Message removed}

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