[Last updated 4th Oct 2020]
About The Possum TV Live Server - Quick Overview
The Possum TV Live server (which hosts the web site you are currently viewing) was built to handle webcams monitoring possum nestboxes. It was constructed in November 2008 and is still being added to and improved.
There are currently six possum nestboxes (boxes 1 to 7; box 5 has been removed). Each has a low-cost camera with infra-red illuminator fitted. All of these cameras are wired back to video input cards installed in the server computer. Software on this computer ("Motion") detects movement on these cameras and automatically records film clips, as well as streaming the video to the outside world. The computer is connected to the Internet, via a firewall/router, using a standard DSL cable link.
Building Your Own
When I originally put this site together, I had an enthusiastic section here exhorting people to go out and set up their own wildlife monitoring webcams. Recently, however, two different people have contacted me regarding setting up their own systems, and I had to admit that it wasn't as easy as I had made it sound. The problem is that there's no off-the-shelf solution you can just go out and buy that will do what I've set up here. As things currently stand, it takes quite a bit of effort to adapt whatever equipment is available to your own particular situation, and there's a lot of stuff that simply difficult to do (or at least do right). Simply getting cabling from your house to a nestbox isn't something to be undertaken lightly.
Nevertheless, it's still quite possible to set up a wildlife monitoring webcam, and I'm going to put up a page with some suggestions on how you can approach it.
In the longer term, I'm considering working out how to put together a self-contained system that uses a Wireless IP camera and is powered from a small solar panel / battery combination. It could possibly be based on a drone camera, which is the right size and relatively cheap to buy. The idea is that you'd build it as per the instructions (or perhaps buy it already assembled), and then simply attach it to a nestbox. There would be no weird hardware or software to install and you wouldn't even need to pull any cables.
I'd love to able to record audio along with the video. Unfortunately, Motion doesn't currently support this, nor does the TW680x video driver. Because everything is open source, there's nothing to stop me adding these features myself - except for finding the time and energy to do it.