Fig. E: Portable webcam assembly can be hung under
eaves or placed freestanding, weather permitting.
I put a flat ABS end cap at the bottom of the
enclosure, which is where the webcam’s 120VAC-
12VDC transformer sits. This provides some
warmth for low-temperature operation. I left the
end cap vented (there’s about a ¼" opening on
the top) to prevent fogging in the viewport. The
flat end cap also lets me unhook the webcam and
set it down to operate anywhere, connected via
extension cord, weather permitting.
You can optionally add a cheap wireless temperature sensor inside the PVC, and also one
taped to the outside, in order to provide a “delta
Actual installation was super-duper easy since
the entire unit is self-contained, with only a power
cord coming out of the top. Plug that in, run the
threaded metal rod through the PVC-bracket-bracket-PVC, screw down the wing nut, and you
are ready for action!
The installation has worked great, although I
did crack some plaster around the light fixture —
oops! The webcam works even with the temperature dipping below 0°F a few times. The only issue
was that the wireless signal would sometimes
drop out, so I installed a Pringles-can antenna at
my house pointed toward the webcam, and have
152 Make: Volume 09
Fig. F: Webcam view at 2x optical zoom last fall.
During the winter, the aspen leaves drop and open up
the visibility. Fig. G. 10x webcam picture of Alek taking
picture of it.
had no problems after that.
The webcam enclosure is an integral part
of my Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac
Disease website, which lets people remotely view
live images of thousands of Christmas lights, and
also control them with a click of a mouse. Besides
being fun for people around the world, the site
has raised over $16,000 for charity.
(Before making my Christmas lights controllable through my website in 2005, I simulated this
effect with canned photos and a CGI script. The
ruse spread far and wide before I invited the Wall
Street Journal to reveal it as a hoax. But that’s
Alek Komarnitsky lives in the Republic of Boulder. When
not spending time with his wonderful wife Wendy and two
sons Dirk and Kyle, he enjoys tinkering with stuff. Read
more at komar.org.