Re: REMOTE MONITORING

K. Starr (wizzard@icanect.net)
Mon, 05 May 1997 17:09:01 -0400


At 07:58 AM 5/5/97, Mike (T.Michael) Smith wrote:
>Hello.
>
> I'm wanting to monitor my business from my home and am wondering if anyone
>has done this. I'm using a b&w QuickCam (adequate for my needs,) and will
>try to hook it up to my computer at work.=20
>
> The main problem I'm trying to overcome relates to "extension cords." I
>know Radio Shack sells 6-foot cords for QuickCams, and I guess I could hook
>up 3 or 4 to get the 20 feet or so extension I need. But then, would I lose
>clarity? Anyone know if there is a 20-foot cord made for QuickCam? (I've
>written to Connectix a little over a week ago on this, but have yet to
>receive any answer.)
>

Connectix offers and extension kit (14 or 15 feet, I believe) that included
both the parallel cable and power cable. Check out their web page at:

http://www.connectix.com

> Also, I'd like to know if anyone has successfully connected more than one
>cam to one computer. Say, for instance, that I wanted to monitor my
>business from several vantage points. Can I hook up 2 or more cams in the
>biz and direct them through one computer?
>

I have heard of this being done, but don't know the details.
Theorectically, this would be possible by installing a second parellel port,
and a keyboard cable splitter (y-connection) for the power (the Quickcam
derives its power source from the keyboard connection). One difficulty
would be driver conflict, another would be the fact that, on a PC at any
rate, CU-SeeMe can run only one instance at a time (due to driver conflict,
perhaps). A third difficulty would be the possibility of voltage reduction
(due to the y-cable above) that might be insufficient to power the cameras.
At any rate, Connectix's official line is that it can't be done, and any
attempt to do so would probably void their warranty.

If cost/benefit ratio is low enough, you might consider a product known as
the Webcam, which are available for approx US$250 each. Accessorie cables
allow for up to 100 foot runs. Each camera can be plugged directly into a
modem (through a cheap accessory box) so a computer connection for each
camera is not necessary, although a separate telephone line for each modem
would be required. You then call each modem in turn from your home computer
to check up on things (Webcam supplies software for this, I believe.)

Another alternative, if you have a spare 386 box in the closet is to get
your hands on the *original* Video Blaster card and three cheap NTSC video
cams which output to RC connectors. Connect this to a modem, install a
remote control program like PC Anywhere or Laplink, then run a simple script
(easy to create with the Blaster's macro language) in a DOS window that
cycles through the three video inputs. Radio Shack sells 20 foot RC patch
cords, and I've successfully linked two of these together (using RC to RC
connector, also, from Radio Shack) for 40 foot runs.

Finally, back to the QuickCam, there are a couple of companies that sell
inexpensive software for "monitoring" purposes. These save to the hard dive
*only* when the picture changes (someone enters a room, for example) keeping
the files relatively small. Using a remote program like PC Anywhere or
Laplink, you could periodically call in and download the file to your home
machine for review.

Another take on this would be to use a Snappy form Play Inc. and set it to
create time lapse pictures at preset intervals, which you call in and get
periodically.

For continuous monitoring, though, the Quickcam would, I think, be the route
to go, using a CU-SeeMe connection (make sure *you* lurk, and also that the
monitor at the office is turned off), although the Video Blaster solution
would really be nice if you can get it together (both PC Anywhere and
Laplink allow "blanking" of the host machine's monitor, as well as
keyboard/mouse locking.

BTW if you are trying "to catch a thief" and using a "call-in" system, make
sure the line to the modem is not also connected to anything that "rings"=
<g>

Hope some of this helps.
=20

Warm regards,

Kent Starr
aka Wizzard=A9
mailto:wizzard@icanect.net

> Would be grateful for any information regarding the use of computer cams
>in monitoring. Btw, I use win 3.1, 16-bit processing, and Cornell's cuseeme
>program.
>
> Thanks in advance for any assistance anyone may offer.
>
>--Mike=20
>--T. Michael Smith
>President & Chief Rack Boy
>Sharky's Entertainment Emporium
>("Entertainment out the Whazoo!")
>3415 S. Peoria Ave., Tulsa, OK 74105
>For a Good Time, Call (918) 742-9500
>------------------------------------
>
>