The Connectix QuickCam & remote (security) viewing

Michael Sattler, San Francisco (
Sat, 5 Nov 1994 20:39:31 -0500

There's been some discussion about using the Connectix QuickCam for
monitoring equipment dials in remote locations, or as a security device. I
forwarded these to the QuickCam project manager at Connectix. His reply to
us follows:


We've had a lot of requests for using QuickCam for security, which perplexes me
somewhat. The camera REQUIRES that it be connected to a Mac, so putting the
camera in a remote location means you also must put a Mac there. Because the
camera draws power from the computer and is in constant asyncronous
communication with the computer, you can't arbitrarily use long cables to
remote places. The specification for power dissipation is a cable no longer
than 12 feet, although you might get lucky and be able to go longer. There is
no specification for how long you can go before the camera/computer
communications get out of sync, since it is certainly longer than 12 feet.

Since you can buy B&W NTSC video cameras for under $100, and cabling for video
signals is not really dependent upon length, remote monitoring probably is best
done in real video mode.

Of course, if the remote location you want to monitor already has a Mac there,
QuickCam is probably a reasonable choice. However, I would hook the Macs
together via some sort of Ethernet connection rather than trying to use a

Finally, QuickCam is a completely compatible QuickTime device, meaning that it
correctly responds (well, the vdig does) to QuickTime API requests as outlined
in Inside Mac. This means that you could write a program to run on the remote
Mac that took snapshots once a minute (or whatever), and send those via modem
when requested. On the monitoring machine, you could write a program that
polled various remote Macs modems asking for the current still. This is the joy
of standards--QuickCam's limit is up to you, not us.


Michael Sattler <> San Francisco, California
LOOKING FOR WORK: technical manager, software engineer, trouble-shooter
of systems and networks everywhere, documentation writer and trainer; on
the streets after the untimely death of an entire west coast development
office. Extra points given for advanced technology and network access.