A webcam captures animals who visit
while you sleep. By Bob Goldstein
My 4-year-old son comes up with some funny
ideas. A few months ago, he asked for a piece of
cheese to leave outside for animals. We gave him
a slice of cheddar. The next morning he jumped out
of bed and hurried to the window. The cheese was
gone, but who had taken it? He was guessing all day.
We looked for footprints or tiny hairs, but found
Photography by Bob Goldstein
Then we got more ambitious. I knew that some
webcam programs can record video only when
there’s visible motion. That might record visitors in
daylight, but not in the dark. So we got an inexpensive infrared-sensing floodlight — a standard home
security device — at a hardware store. I figured
that in theory, a warm animal moving in front of
the device should make the light turn on, and then
the webcam program would see movement and
That evening we tested it, with the webcam
pointing out a window and the floodlight just outside. The next morning, my son and I raced to the
laptop. A white cat had visited at 4: 30 a.m., and the
video caught it flinching as the light came on, looking quizzically at the contraption, and then starting
to eat. My son was fascinated, and we were both
hooked on our new hobby.
Lights, Webcam, Action!
Instead of a plug, most motion sensor lights have
loose wires for connecting to house wiring. We
wanted to plug ours in outside, so we drilled a hole
in the plastic casing for a 2-wire plug cord, twisted
the corresponding wires in each pair together, and
insulated the connections with twist-on connector
caps. Then we sealed the space between the cord
and the hole with crazy glue.