The camera we use for weather images is a very simple security type IP camera. It is a called a "bullet camera" because of it's shape. Being an IP camera is has its own processor and memory inside. It is a little computer. Although these cameras can be used in many ways, for the weather images we use a few basic functions. The cameras takes still images every 5 minutes and uses ftp (file transfer protocol) to upload these images to a server. This happens around the clock continuously until something happens to the internet, cabling or the camera itself.
To get your images online you will need 4 things:
2. PoE Injector (Power over Ethernet)
3. short ethernet cable
4. long ethernet cable
The PoE injector is a little box that injects the power to supply the camera into the ethernet cable. This way it is only one ethernet cable that is required to be connected to the camera. The other socket on the camera is a 12V input. This is not used when we use the PoE Injector. The short ethernet cable goes between the router and the PoE Injector. The long ethernet cable goes from the PoE Injector to the camera. The long cable is provided so the camera can be mounted as high as possible to get the best view of the sky and the surrounding area.
A good weather image of an aerodrome or landing area is important. The image should be mostly sky, or at least 50% sky. The horizon should show true on the image which means the camera should be mounted level. It is also important to include any significant terrain in the image so pilots can estimate low cloud heights against. If a windsock can be included this is always a bonus. Every site is different and it is the local pilots that will know the best image and mounting point for the camera. The camera needs to plug in to the router so this will limit where it can be mounted. The cable can be up to 100m long but it is best to keep this well below this length. The cameras can show a good image during bright daylight and also during low light conditions. The on board IR light has been disabled as this attracts bugs and shows and IR (black & white) image. Because of this the camera will show nicely outdoor lit features like runway lights, signs or a lit street.
These still images are great for many things. It is always good to get some interesting ground features in the image e.g. a carpark or an aircraft parking area. The images are broadcast on Ozrunways and can be put on your website. They are a great marketing tool. People log in to see these images if they have an interest in the location, becuase they are going there soon or want to visit one day. An aerodrome operator might want to have a look if an aircraft or car that usually parks in a spot has returned, or if it is raining and the grass is being watered. It is important to keep a high standard and pick a good location. The camera should be high enough so it doesn't get knocked, but not too high that its difficult to get to if there are spider webs that need removing. It is important that the connection to the camera, which is just a plug in ethernet cable, is protected from the weather. Normally a camera will be mounted on the outside wall of a bulding and the connection will be on the inside, in a roof or above a ceiling. If water gets into this connection the camera will eventually fail.
If you follow all these instructions you should have your images online in no time. The camera has been preconfigured specifically for you. As soon as it's plugged in it will try to talk to the router and aquire and IP adress and a connection to the internet. It will immediatly start uploading images to your account on the Skycam Network. The first picture may not show up well as the camera needs to take a little time for the optics to adjust, after that it just looks after itself. Additional cameras can be ordered for different views. The cameras have a 70 degree field of view. It is quite common for these webcams to be installed in pairs or even four cameras. They don't need to be connected to the same router as they are independant devices. They just need to be connected to a router.