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CAPTURE BIRDS AND OTHER WILDLIFE USING YOUR BIRD VIDEO WEBCAM & COMPUTER !

Welcome to Simbird and the Birdcam Information and Equipment guide ~ Simon Knott

You can get very close to your Garden Bird's and other wildlife with your BIRD WEBCAM *
You've seen the Nature programmes which get up very close to the action, you can do the same without the very expensive equipment ! It's difficult to get video and still pictures of Bird's normally, because they are so active and nervous of humans. But now you can get in close using your webcam and your computer ! A USB PC Camera like the Philips SPC900NC Webcam Pixel Plus or Philips Toucam Pro are recommended by me ;-) ~ And then share them over the Web, with your friends, bird lovers and everyone interested in wildlife !...

You can set up your own 'My Birdcam Website' and it really easy to do, with the right equipment:

WEBCAM: Get a good Webcam by checking the reviews (My Webcam's are a Philips SPC900NC/00 Webcam Pixel Plus and Philips ToUcam Pro USB, which I use for its quality CCD sensor images and it works with the *Active* USB extension cables plus software) You will need as much *active* USB extention cable as it takes to get your Bird table (I use 3 times x 5 Meter *Active* USB extension cables = 15 M (3 x 16ft = 48ft) - *Active* - means they retain the signal over the length of cable !)
The USB Active or Repeater Cable is a active device allowing you to extend more than the standard 5 Meters from the computer USB hub. The USB signals going in and out of the extension cable are bufferd to assure signal quality and meets the USB Electrical and Timing Specifications. Using passive cables for the purpose of extension will result in signal errors and is not recommended.
This type of USB cable allows a USB device to have its cable length extended by up to an additional 25M or 5 x 5M USB Active cables ( or up to 80 ft). By connecting 5 Active cables in a serial fashion, The USB Active / Repeater cable acts as a transparent USB hub and buffers both downstream and upstream data traffic. Both Low and High speed devices will function as well as if they were directly connected to a USB Port.

WATERPROOFING : You then put these cables in plastic flexable pipes (from any good DIY shop/ hardware store) and join the plastic pipes together with Duck tape (waterproof flexable tape) If you could find just one length of pipe to do the whole length of the USB cables this would be even better :-) That would then only leave two ends open to the weather to be water proofed, one end where the webcamera connects and the other end to the computer USB port / hub.
For the Webcam itself make sure its kept bone dry by putting duck tape directly around the webcam body (or make a covering) For extra waterproofing you need to put it under shelter (I've used a spare little bird house with a roof !) As any water or moisure will interfere and stop any webcam from working and then stop sending pictures to your computer.

The cable which leads away from the camera is hidden and connected along the back of the fence / trees with cable ties ( You could in theory have your cables, which are inside your flexable plastic piping... underground ! ) I then duck tape off the end leading away from the webcam leaving the last 5m Active USB cable to be pinned to the wall of the house (as you might pin a TV cable ariel, phone or Sky cable to the outside of a wall...) the exposed part of USB cable is covered directly with Ducktape for extra protection. The cable then slides through a small hole drilled in the side of the window frame of my Computer room ! And finally the USB plug that is now inside the Computer Room connects to the USB port hub on the computer :-)

My original web camera was setup as described above and has lasted me well over many years... because of my waterproofing techniques. I have now got a second one set up inside a Bird Box. I'm using the same type of camera for this, but the newer Philips SPC900NC Webcam Pixel Plus. This is housed inside the roof of a Birdbox which is of a good size, so there is room for the birdcam, parent birds, eggs and nest...
The USB cable exits the Birdbox through a hole drilled underneth the roof (see photo) and then the cable as all been covered in waterproofing Duck tape... the cable leads up the side of the house and is fixed using cable clips, which extends into the Computer room through a access hole in the window frame.
The light from the entrance hole should be sufficient to light up inside the Bird box... But it is also a good idea to use the Philips SPC900NC Webcam Pixel Plus for its excellent low-light quality.

A finally it is all about setting up the software which came with your web camera. You should then start to see lovely pictures of your Garden Birds :-) and when you start feeding the Birds just in front of your webcam you will see great pictures of live Birds very close up ! Then take lots of nice bird videos and snap some still photos using your webcam software and select the "best of" to show your friends and family, great fun for you and everyone on the internet ! If you've read this far LOL :-) you might even like to share your discoveries to me and the world wide web... by uploading your Videos like me to either "You Tube" or "Flickr" or send your digital pictures to Bird groups & forums. And if you decide to build your own website you can start to upload your live Birdcam pictures *automatically* using a program like Fwink

Anyway I will be looking forward to seeing your great videos and pictures and reading about your sightings...(You can email me about your Birdcam Website or let me know if your Birds are on You Tube or other sites)

You may wish to have a exchange links to my Simbird website... This is my link :
Highlight, Copy and Paste this into your website page :


Which will look like this on your site :

simbird
Simbird

More Info :

The Videos were taken on the Philips ToUcam Pro and a Canon PowerShot S5 IS Digital Camera for its Optical Zoom of 12 x (36 - 432 mm equiv) plus Telephoto lens 1.5x ( Canon TC-DC58B Tele Converter Lens for S5 IS, S3 IS & S2 IS Digital Camera ) taking it a 35 mm film equivalent at maximum telephoto of approximately 648 mm) ~ very nice if you consider the cost comparison of a DSLR digital single-lens reflex... I do have a DSLR camera just for photos too ~ a Canon 40D with 70-300mm lens.

I have uploaded some of the videos to the You Tube website : simbirdcom @ You Tube for you to see... and you are very welcome to comment ;-) Some photos and videos can be found on this website too : Simball @ Flickr ~ Simball is my Flickr user name


I think the software you use can make all the difference, in the terms of ease of use, but I think it is a personal preference... I use the 'Capture' software that came with my old Webcam (Creative Webcam Plus) with the Philips SPC900NC/00 Webcam Pixel Plus and original Philips ToUcam Pro Webcam for the quality optical sensor CCD (Charge-coupled device) Finally of course you need a Website and a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) programme, like AceFTP 3 Freeware for uploading your pictures to your website
To have a "Live" Birdcam or Bird Webcam you need a programme which will automatically take the picture every 30 seconds or minute and upload them to your website... I find a good simple programme like Fwink to be best...as mentioned earlier.


DIGITAL IMAGES

The S5 Digital camera images and Canon 40D DSLR have been croped in a programme like Photoshop and then made into HTML pages for the web using a free software programme... I started out using BreezeBrowser which is free to download ( limited...you can use up to 12 Picture ) or BreezeBrowser Pro which I'm using now for unlimited pictures

Notes:

You will get better pictures when the birds get used to the webcam... they almost poke their little beaks into the lens now !

Practice and patience makes perfect... in getting the best shots

you will find they feed at certain times of the day

I use different feed for a variety of Bird and wildlife...

you can feed all year round to both help out the Birds and getting Spring Summer shots of young...

I'm going to upload more Bird Videos as I capture them for this new Bird website...
This site will includes regular updates and a Year @ Simbird... with 12 months of the best pictures !

Information on Feeders tips and advice

Any comments or ideas for Simbird welcome my email is below......

Happy Birding

Simon Knott
simon@simbird.com





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