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Fig3825
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Plant Cam

Does anyone use a plant cam? I have the Wingscapes Plant cam and have been taking photos with this handy gem. You can set it to take a photo every day, 12hrs, 1hr, 30min, 10min, 5min, 1min, or 30 seconds. After the photos are taken, the camera will convert to a time lapse video. Put together my first string last night, but buggered something up and failed to get the video. I have it set back up and will post once I get enough photos for a new one. I also will probably use the movie maker resident in Windows and put the ones I have together.

I'll post when I get something together. It's uber cool to see the cucumbers sprouting from the ground!

Also, we have a crazy drunk woman living with us. It's a good way to keep tabs on her! :wink:

Lastly, my wife and I are going to be building a house in the next couple of months. I'm terribly excited about a time lapse video of the existing house demo as well as the house construction as it is being built.

Just curious if anyone else has used one or has one. They run around $70 bucks online... I got one for my birthday... :D

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I've seen them before, and they seem like a really cool idea. However, I've never had any feedback on one so I was unsure of the quality.

I'll be looking forward to your video.
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Fig3825
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I just got the thing about a month ago and have mostly used it to keep tabs on our estranged alcoholic Aunt who lives with us. After watching 3 days of timelapse videos of her wondering around our backyard and just drinking beer after beer and chain smoking, it got boring. So I focused it on the plants. :lol:

I'll be another few days before I think I'll have enough to make a decent video, but I'll definitely post it once I'm done. Hopefully, my domain has space since I'm borrowing from the good graces of my brother.

I think after I spot the cucumbers for a while, I'll simply focus it on a wider view of the garden overall, or maybe a single bed. Lots of stuff is coming in fast now so it might actually prove to be exciting.

Another good reason we got it is that we are demoing a house here shortly and rebuilding on the lot. I so want to timelapse the demo and construction...

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TheWaterbug
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The amazon reviews were very good, so I just ordered one, too. It should arrive Monday. I'm thinking of putting it on my pumpkins, or maybe on my second batch of corn.
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Fig3825
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Video Posted!

Okay, so I took the pictures that threaded them together with Windows Movie Maker since I botched the ability of the camera to make the video for me (I deleted some of the first pictures in the set since they were just of soil with noting happening, but the camera still looked for these pictures and I just gave up).

This video is housed on my domain so it's safe. Both Firefox and IE will prompt you to either save or open the file. Do either you wish - if you lack trust in your fellow gardener (me), you can save the file, scan it, then watch it. :? Anyway, here it is:

<REMOVED VIDEO AND REPLACED WITH FINAL VIDEO IN SEPARATE THREAD>


Note that this video is around 5Mb. The size just depends on the quality you want to save it as and I picked a medium quality video so I could share it.

I'm going to get another week of the cucumbers and then I'll probably move the camera to a more overview type shot.

And here are some tips for anyone who gets one based on the month or so I've had this one:

The camera allows several different resolutions, but will only convert the video in a medium format. If you want better image quality, you'll need to set it to the highest resolution then splice the pics into a video yourself using a program like the one I used above. The camera is only a 4 megapixel camera, so most of you know what that means - it ain't the best picture quality. It was easy with windows movie maker as it allows you to select all photos and drag them to the storyboard in one fell swoop. You kinda need to know what you are doing and if you have any questions, feel free to PM me or ask here.

The camera itself allows you to convert the photos while on the camera memory to video. The camera memory is limited (16Mb), so I got a 2Gb SD card since that's the max it'll take. At medium setting, that'll get you around 2500 pictures. I feel this is a necessity. I also ordered the power cord since it takes a while to convert the videos if you use the camera to do it. That is what kills the batteries as well as setting the camera to take a picture every 30 seconds or every minute. The camera shuts itself off between pictures, and while set to take a photo every half hour, it's been running for around 2 weeks now. I typically plug it in when I'm transferring files or converting to video using the camera. If you have a card reader attached to your computer, it's a bit easier as you can just pop the card out, transfer the files and delete them from the card, and pop it back in while the camera is sleeping.

Speaking of sleeping, you can set a range of time for it to operate as well. Mine is set to start taking photos at 7am and to stop at 8pm since that is just about 30 minutes after dawn and 30 minutes before dusk. It does not do well in low light as you might see in the video.

While the camera does allow you to convert to video, the number of photos it'll do in a single batch is limited. So if you fill it up, it won't convert them all into a single video. You'll have to convert whatever the number of max pictures is (It's around 150-180, from memory), then do the next batch, and so on then copy all the videos over to your computer and stitch them together anyway if you want one fluid video of the entire photo set. 2500 pictures this way will take you an entire night. Converting the max number of pictures to video with the camera takes nearly 10 minutes.

The camera also allows you to take video using the same photo timing settings. I think it's somewhat of a waste, but knock yourself out. If you set it to take a video clip every 30 seconds, you just end up with a string of 5 second videos rather than pictures that you have to move to your computer and splice yourself anyway - why bother? The camera won't convert video clips to a longer video.

I'm still learning as I go how to use it to it's max potential, so I really don't know it all - just sharing what I've encountered thus far. You'll want a good stake to mount it on, I used a broken broom handle driven about a foot into the ground. Regular survey type stakes will work if you get the narrow ones (3/4"x1.5") as the opening of the clamp is limited in size. There is a cutout on the inside of the clamp that is designed to be clamped to a round pole it seems. The kit also comes with some long thin bungees that you can use to hang it on a tree or fence or something like that. I haven't used them. It'll also mount to a universal tripod, but a camera sitting on a tripod in my backyard, in my opinion, is a thief magnet. I keep it low and on a busted up broom handle because my camera likes to remain incognito. 8)

Finally, I think the video conversion from the camera runs a bit faster between frames than the one I posted above. I used .25 seconds per picture when I created the video. Windows Movie Maker will go lower if you want it to, speeding up the video framerate. Windows Movie Maker, I THINK, is standard on most PC's. It was on mine when I bought it.
Last edited by Fig3825 on Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Runningtrails
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You bought a house online for $70 !! :shock: :lol:

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TheWaterbug
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Re: Video Posted!

Fig3825 wrote:Anyway, here it is:

https://www.jtnewton.com/Images/Garden/Cucumbers1.wmv
I see a weed! Kill it!

But seriously, it looks great! I do notice some movement of the background. Was the camera getting bumped around? Or was there wind?

I did a timelapse of [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Naa7pGBrvuU]of myself tilling my field this spring[/url], but I used my laptop's bezel cam, and I certainly can't leave that sitting out in the field all summer!

So my PlantCam is on the UPS truck, out for delivery right now.
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Fig3825
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That weed is long gone. Took care of it after I saw the video. :wink:

The background movement was due to a slightly unsteady stake and wind. If you notice the last third of the video was really stable. I had been using an old broom handle that had a split tip and I had recently had surgery in my wrist as the time I drove it into the ground. It was a half-assed attempt and the video shows that. The last third or so of the video comes from after driving a 1/2" x 1" stake into the ground about 15" and then resetting the camera. As you might notice, the video focal point jumped a bit also.

The wind will move it around, but I doubt you'll notice much if you have a good post to attach it to and set the timer to a longer increment between photos. It's rare that we get roaring winds that last all day long and your photo would have to be taken mid gust in order for it to shift the focal point significantly. Just mess around with it. A good stake should do the job - or a fence post.

I may take it loose tonight and put it somewhere else.

I did find a video online where a guy had one setup to record his house being built and every now and again he'd stop by the construction site and grab the camera and walk around the house slowly so he ended up with a Matrix style bullet-time video at random times within his overall video. It was pretty cool. Jumpy because he was holding the camera, but still cool.

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TheWaterbug
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Fig3825 wrote:I did find a video online where a guy had one setup to record his house being built and every now and again he'd stop by the construction site and grab the camera and walk around the house slowly so he ended up with a Matrix style bullet-time video at random times within his overall video. It was pretty cool. Jumpy because he was holding the camera, but still cool.
I've been meaning to try something like that in a stop-motion video with my kid's Legos, but I never get around to actually doing it.

It could be an interesting experiment with the PlantCam and a piece of string.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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Fig3825
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It's probably easy enough to do with a regular camera now that I know Windows Movie Maker will stitch them together so easily. I doubt I'll use the cams built in video conversion thingamajig again knowing what I now know. You just need a tripod for the real camera and probably a remote switch. Move the scene....not the camera.

There's a really good CSS video out there done in lego, somewhat off topic, but still fun to watch...

[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QVyO9hUKOc]This is one of them.[/url]

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Re: Video Posted!

TheWaterbug wrote:So my PlantCam is on the UPS truck, out for delivery right now.
I _finally_ made time to get this mounted:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/PlantCamMounted_web.jpg[/img]

I bought a 10' section of 1" galvanized pipe ($25!!!!) and put a $2 threaded cap on the end, then pounded it in with a 4# drilling hammer. The included mount is a bit small for the 1" pipe. I had to turn the thumbscrews around because the far end has the thread about 1mm closer to the edge than the front end, which is just what I needed to get the thread engaged. Once I got it started I was able to tighten it down, and the plastic bracket kinda bends around the pipe a bit.

I drove in about 2' of it, which I figure is enough to get it as stable as it's going to get, but not so deep that I can't pull it out later to point it at something else. It wobbles if you jiggle it, but I don't think the wind will bother it much.

Right now it's pointed at my sunflower:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/PlantCamLookingAtSunflowers_web.jpg[/img]

and the camera is about 7' above the ground. Mounted shorter, a 3/4" pipe would have been fine.

This is the approximate view from the camera, so I'm hoping that the flower will grow up a little as it blooms:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/PlantCamApproxView_web.jpg[/img]

I have it set up to wake up at 5 AM and sleep at 8 PM, taking full-res pictures every 15 minutes. I'll post the video about a month, I think, depending on how long it takes a Mammoth to bloom.
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Well, I did a pretty crummy job setting it up, but the PlantCam worked fine, and I've [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaRtMHTsNdY]uploaded my first video[/url].

I didn't do such a good job aiming or mounting the camera, but that's no fault of the PlantCam's.

The only real glitch I found was one corrupt JPG in the images folder. Unfortunately this prevented Quicktime Pro 7 from converting the stills to video, so I had to hunt through the 1,000 images to find the corrupt one. A binary search only took about 10 minutes, but it was still a PITA.

Next I think I'll aim this at my new corn patch.
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That sunflower video was great! Now you have me thinking...how cool would it be to do this with something like a pumpkin or a watermelon or onions.

OK, I've got to go surf youtube now.
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Fig3825
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I've had my plant cam on my butternut squash, watermelon, eggplant and cantaloupe bed for the past month. I'll be taking the pics off very soon and converting to video. Might have something you might be interested in seeing. :)

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That sounds really neat, Fig. I'll watch for them.
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And if you haven't seen it, I did one several weeks ago of my cucumbers. It's in [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=37942]THIS[/url] thread. :)

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Resurrecting this year-old thread:

I finally got longer mounting screws for my PlantCam (looooong story) and put it up so it's watching my pumpkin patch:

Image

Here's its approximate view of the patch:

Image

I say approximate because I can't see through the viewfinder of the PlantCam when its mounted, and I didn't bring my laptop down to the field with me this morning. So I just snapped a shot with my iPhone from approximately the same location and angle. I think the FOV on my iPhone is slightly wider. I'll bring my laptop down tomorrow morning and check the aim on the PlantCam.
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Fig3825
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Mine is currently pointing at my new house...under construction. I will stitch the video together later. Unfortunately, they are working inside now so I'm unable to get interior timelapse photos - at least not until the painting is done. I can't imagine a paint smogged interior would be good for my camera. I may film the cabinet installation this weekend with the GoPro2, though - read on...

I think I already posted it, but I made a video of the demolition that took place in January. However, I did not use the plant cam. I used my shiny new HERO GoPro2 (at least it was new when the demo took place)... Note that it is me driving the backhoe for the first bit of the movie (until I knock the first dormer down) and then my builder took over. Not something one gets to do everyday - demo a part of their own house. :) Watch video to the end, I did a pseudo "Matrix Bullettime Shot" for the last 20 frames or so.

Once Youtube opens, use the settings button to view in HD goodness if your ISP is giving you the speed to do so. Recorded in full 1080p HD. Photos taken at 1/2 second intervals. Timelapse stitched together using VirtualDub at 24FPS.


[url=https://youtu.be/cjmtntv7s0s]CHECK IT OUT![/url]

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Fig3825 wrote:I may film the cabinet installation this weekend with the GoPro2
Ooooh. I didn't know the GoPro could do time-lapse. I was thinking of buying another PlantCam for my Atlantic Giants, but then I see that Wingscapes has discontinued the [url=https://www.wingscapes.com/timelapse-cameras/timelapse-plantcam]$63 PlantCam[/url] in favor of a [url=https://www.wingscapes.com/timelapse-cameras/timelapsecam8]$110 TimeLapse 8.0 camera[/url] that's not even in stock.

I like the new USB out feature, but the extra resolution has no value to me if the videos are destined for YouTube. I can't really tell from their site what else is new and improved.

I certainly don't _need_ a GoPro to record my 8-yr-old skiing around, but if it could double as a time lapse camera, that's like _saving_ $110, no?

My primary concern about using a GoPro for time-lapse would be theft--it would look very attractive sitting out there above my garden.

Also, how's the battery life in time lapse mode?
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Fig3825
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You can always build a custom enclosure for your GoPro - perhaps made out of a lockable wire mesh box. Based on some of your creations (squirrel cages!), I'm sure you are clever enough to do so. :) Then mount it up high and grease the pole! LOL!

I have not used my GoPro enough to have fully explored the timelapse mode. I fear that, like when I had it set to take a snap ever .5 second, the camera never shut off. I have not set it to take a snap every minute, 5 minutes or half hour to know how the battery will do because I don't know if it auto-shuts off between pictures. Naturally, at 1/2 second intervals, it never shut off. It ran at that interval for about 2 hours before killing the battery. Since the demo didn't take long, it was perfect. I was there with a tripod and was able to check on it at my convenience since I was on site during the entire demo.

I also have the LCD backpack, which I couldn't figure out how to turn off during the timelapse recording I did, which makes a HUGE different on how fast the battery drains - so, again, untested and probably not helpful to you.. :)

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