Saturday, July 9, 2011

Garden Video!

I have more Garden-Related and Food-Related Rambling to do.

(Ate my FIRST tomato yesterday - YAY!!! *And* found a way to use-up some plums!)

But I spent the better part of this afternoon f**cking around with my PlantCam so I figured I'd share the Fruits of my Labors!

Initial thoughts on the PlantCam: It's a pretty cool li'l gizmo - and the price seems to have come down since I put it on my Wish-List (I think Amazon had it for sixty-something bucks). You pretty-much set-it-and-forget-it. It does require an add'l SD Card (didn't come with it, but we've got dozens of those laying around 'cuz we are GEEKS!).

The User-Interface is pretty low-tech and semi-intuitive (LCD screen. You scroll through limited menu selections on the unit). The User Manual - ehh! But they do have a website with a bit more information. Overall, it's a pretty low-tech device, but it seems solid enough (made it through our freak rainstorm with no problems).

And, low-tech means there's less that can go wrong with it, right?!

I originally set it up a couple of days after my B-Day. By then my Veggie Bed was already pretty-well established. I'd set it to take photos at 1-hour intervals starting at daybreak, shutting off at 8pm. Well, the flaw in that plan was that we've got a quirky motion-sensor light outside and it, unfortunately, seemed to trigger the camera's interpretation of daybreak! Consequently, I got a LOT of pictures of the wild black panthers that roam our yard at midnight!

The camera does have options to take videos or still photos. And the COOL option is that it allows you to string up-to 360 still-photos into one AVI file...

The 360 pic limit can be kinda problematic though. Allow me to 'splain...

I did set-it-and-forget-it. Unfortunately, I kinda "forgot it" 'til I reached the point where the camera had 400+ images on it. Ehh, no worries, I'll just string-together the first 360 pics just to see what it looks like.

Well, as I'd mentioned, I ended up with lots of "Black" photos. Which meant I had LOTS of black-patches throughout the video. No Biggie, I'll just go in and delete the black pictures. That was somewhat tedious - but it's a New Toy! - so I didn't mind too much. Plus, I "learned!" No, I won't set the camera to go on at daybreak, I'll set it to go on at 8:00am!

Sooo.. I went back into the camera. It does have a USB interface and Thank-Gawd the computer recognizes it as an external drive (it doesn't require any "proprietary" software interfaces!), I deleted all of the black pics, as well as the 7:45am-ish pics (where the rising sun was blaring directly into the camera lens). Then I went to "string" the photos together again.

Unfortunately, the 360-pic limit seems to be based on the File-Name - not the actual # of pictures. :::sigh:::

So THEN I had to go back into File Manager - again - and re-name Every-Freaking-Photo! WSPC0001.JPG, WSPC0002.JPG, WSPC0003.JPG, ad-nausem. I think I ended up with 320 photos - when it was all said-and-done (and Yes, I do know the F2, back-space, back-space, back-space trick). But it was TEDIOUS AS HELL!!!

All told, I think I f**ked with it for a couple of hours, but I did end up with a *somewhat* interesting video! Annnnnd, I know what I'll do differently - next time!

Speaking of: I now have the PlantCam strapped to one of my palm trees, aimed at one of my Plumeria Flowers that's about to bloom. And I *think* I've positioned it in such a way that it won't get a Direct-Hit of morning sunlight. I do have it set on an 8am-8pm schedule (although there's no Motion Sensor light to confuse it here), and a 30 minute interval. I might change my mind and set it to 15 minutes - maybe the video will flow more smoothly. I dunno!

Anyhoooo, I hereby proclaim that the PlantCam *is* a Cool Toy, and I'm sure I'll find more Fun Things to do with it! Hopefully more interesting than the Veggie Bed, anyway!

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