Scottish Weather Network Forum

General Information => General Discussion => : skyewright November 29, 2008, 02:13:02 PM



: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 29, 2008, 02:13:02 PM
It's not properly positioned or uploading yet, but I now have a webcam (Panasonic BL-C140) that I hope to use as a weathercam.  ;D

But no sooner do I get it than I see someone on Weather-Watch wondering about the sun burning tracks on web cam CCD's!

I think my ideal would be to have the camera pointing due south, probably with the sky being about 2 thirds of the image. That would give a good view of approaching weather from the prevailing direction, and in good weather would IMHO be a very nice view too...  :D
...however at our latitude, with the midday sun below 20 degrees for several months, the sun would be in that picture quite a lot!

Attached is an image taken at around 13:30 today in the direction I had in mind, though probably pointing a little lower than I'd like. The large amount of reflection is because the picture was taken looking at an angle through a double glazed window. In due course the camera should find its way into a single glazed box outside. What's easy to see is where the sun sits in the picture!

Has anyone actually had a problem with CCD burnout?

What direction(s) do point your camera(s) in?



: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins November 29, 2008, 02:38:42 PM
I just knew that you would be getting a Panasonic BL-C140.. ;D ;D...I have been contemplating the same myself as it would give me far more scope on camera positioning...However, the "into sun" capabilities was something I had not thought of really, as the later Logitec webcams seem to cope OK... maybe as the sensor in the Panasonic is a later CMOS type, it will function quite well looking directly into sun.

BTW all my current webcams face NW so pretty well miss the sun, except at the tale end of the day in the height of June....so hence have survived thus far..

Where IS the attached example piccie. ;)


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: Budgie November 29, 2008, 02:41:46 PM
I was going to ask about the piccie but you beat me too it.  ;D

I've had my Logitech Pro5000 pointing East for over a year and that gets direct Sun for around 3-4 hours a day in the summer and no problems to date. The Pro5000 seems to turn the Sun black but still picks up all the clouds in the sky as well, there's no bleed out because of the direct sunlight.


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 29, 2008, 04:14:54 PM
Where IS the attached example piccie. ;)
Ah. Opps. :-[ It's there now.

And for good measure, here's one taken a liitle later looking out of my office window. The view is NE and would only see the sun early on high summer mornings.


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 29, 2008, 04:19:03 PM
I just knew that you would be getting a Panasonic BL-C140.. ;D ;D...I have been contemplating the same myself
I went for www.isec-solutions.co.uk (http://www.isec-solutions.co.uk/).
Very competitive price, and carriage was just their standard 5 pounds that would have applied anywhere in the UK (i.e. I didn't get charged any extra for the IV postcode).


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins November 29, 2008, 04:52:39 PM
I went for www.istec.co.uk (http://www.istec.co.uk).
Very competitive price, and carriage was just their standard 5 pounds that would have applied anywhere in the UK (i.e. I didn't get charged any extra for the IV postcode).
Was that ISTEC or ISEC...I think that you may have meant here? (http://www.isec-solutions.co.uk/P/Panasonic-BL-C140-Outdoor-IP-Camera(453).htm)...as they seem to have the best price...Yes, we too have an IV postcode and it is a real pain..

There does seem to be a lot of sun bloom on the 1st image....it rather destroys the quality etc...It may as you said also degrade the camera capability over time..mmmm


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: Budgie November 29, 2008, 04:58:40 PM
You'll maybe find that the bloom will go once it has more sky in the image.
Having a dark ground & light sky will tend to do that.  ;)


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins November 29, 2008, 05:01:04 PM
You'll maybe find that the bloom will go once it has more sky in the image.
Having a dark ground & light sky will tend to do that.  ;)
Very good point ;D...worth an experiment or 3 ;) ;)


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 29, 2008, 05:15:44 PM
I think that you may have meant here? (http://www.isec-solutions.co.uk/P/Panasonic-BL-C140-Outdoor-IP-Camera(453).htm)
Yes. Something strange happened there. The 'istec' was what I typed as a rough guess. I then went to check and copy my bookmark and thought I'd pasted that in over the top. I don't seem to be doing very well with postings today!

There does seem to be a lot of sun bloom on the 1st image....it rather destroys the quality etc...It may as you said also degrade the camera capability over time..mmmm
I've seen someone suggest getting a photochromic spectacles 'blank' and placing that in front of the lens!


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 29, 2008, 05:20:56 PM
You'll maybe find that the bloom will go once it has more sky in the image.
Very good point ;D...worth an experiment or 3 ;) ;)
Indeed - that's certainly what I'd do if taking sky shots with a 'real' camera.
It would probably also help not to be looking through double glazing at 45 degrees! The window faces SW. The camera was facing S.


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins November 29, 2008, 08:11:21 PM
How well does the panasonic camera perform in low light?...I noted that it goes down to a supposed 3 lux in the blurb...


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 29, 2008, 10:01:40 PM
How well does the panasonic camera perform in low light?...I noted that it goes down to a supposed 3 lux in the blurb...
Only limited experience so far but from what little I have seen I've been impressed by how well it has managed at dusk.


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: weathermaster November 30, 2008, 10:27:06 AM
The sun only faces mines in the very early morning around 7am to 8am then for the rest of the day its fine my web cam faces east.


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 30, 2008, 02:52:20 PM
Only limited experience so far but from what little I have seen I've been impressed by how well it has managed at dusk.
Not yet incorporated into any html, but if you take a peek at
Edit: Link removed - there is now a 'Weather Cam' link in the website's sidebar menu.
you should find an image that is being updated every 5 minutes at present.

The camera is currently looking out of a gable end window up in the loft - outside the insulated area, and thus frequently outside the humidity (and at this time of year temp) specs for non 'outdoor' cameras - pointing SE, i.e. towards the Mainland (though the the small amount of ground at the bottom of the picture is actually a small ridge a couple of hundred yards from us). At times there may be a very slight reflection of the camera in the glass, but it might be that that's only visible here on the higher resolution and unprocessed image?


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins November 30, 2008, 04:51:19 PM
blow it....1645 and I've missed the dusk!!! :o...2 lights lower centre and blackness...I'll have to look again tomorrow... ;)



: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright November 30, 2008, 06:11:13 PM
blow it....1645 and I've missed the dusk!!! :o...2 lights lower centre and blackness...I'll have to look again tomorrow... ;)
I have timestamped JPEG images at one minute intervals here...
Sunset was at 15:58. It was overcast and raining, so it got dark much quicker than yesterday.
16:05 image shows no degradation.
16:10 image just a little grainy.
16:15 low colour, distinctly grainy
16:20 more so.
16:25 Can still tell sky from earth, but little else.
16:30 Black (and it was indeed dark outside by then).

As unprocessed jpegs the images would exceeded the Forum limits - but 16:10, 16:15, 16:20 and 16:25 are in the attached zip.

I think the WD "daytime only" options  are based on sunrise/sunset?
If so it would be handy if instead they either worked from/to twilight or allowed for some user defined bracketing to extend the time to before sunrise & after sunset.

PS. Must remember to turn off the LED (which is what was producing the 2 lights...).


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins November 30, 2008, 07:08:22 PM
Thanks for those piccies..it will be interesting to see how it copes with various levels of moonlight/cloud cover... :)

I've been using a remotely auto controlled old cannon digital camera to get reasonable night time shots...but unfortunately it was too late for the Noctilucent cloud season and the chance of getting aurora at the current solar min is a bit of a no no...grhh  You can perhaps get an idea of the capabilities here (http://www.elginweather.co.uk/ws2300/webcam.jpg)....but I am rarely switching it on for upload due to both camera age and bandwidth limitations.   :( :(

Yes, I'm sure that there was a request a little while back, for the webcam settings in WD to be shifted around the usual SS and SR (preferably to the users requirements)...I can't find the request at the mo' :(


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright December 01, 2008, 10:20:59 AM
Essentially clear to the SE this morning. First hint of 'non-black' @ 0725, definite signs of sky/cloud near horizon by 0730 (attached), very grainy and still essentially mono but with clearly defined clouds by 0745 (attached), colour was creeping in by 0755, by 0800 (attached) there was the decent colour and the graininess was almost gone, somewhere between 0810 (attached) and 0815 'normal' lighting was achieved.

Nautical twilight 0702
Civil twilight 0752
Sunrise 0839

Overall I'd say the detail on the captured images is not far from what was visible to me looking out from a lighted room (i.e. not as clear/detailed as if I were stood outside or looking out from a room where the light was not on).

When the sun did come into the frame, there was / is considerable 'flare' around it (the camera is looking directly through a double glazed window).



: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright December 01, 2008, 10:58:28 AM
Overall I'd say the detail on the captured images is not far from what was visible to me looking out from a lighted room (i.e. not as clear/detailed as if I were stood outside or looking out from a room where the light was not on).
While looking for the setting to turn off the 'indicator' LED (i.e. the point of light seen 'after dark') I discovered the "Color Night View" setting too (i.e. the facility to automatically reduce shutter speed as light levels decrease). I'd thought that would be the default, but it wasn't. Now set. Interesting to see what effect it has at dawn/dusk...


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins December 01, 2008, 01:26:37 PM

While looking for the setting to turn off the 'indicator' LED (i.e. the point of light seen 'after dark') I discovered the "Color Night View" setting too (i.e. the facility to automatically reduce shutter speed as light levels decrease). I'd thought that would be the default, but it wasn't. Now set. Interesting to see what effect it has at dawn/dusk...

That may turn out to be quite a critical change...5 lux down to 3 lux?...Even so it looks as though the light gathering capabilities of the camera is very good...

Let's hope that the sky remains fairly cloud free this PM etc..


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright December 01, 2008, 05:43:12 PM
Let's hope that the sky remains fairly cloud free this PM etc..
Full and almost even cloud cover in that direction (and mainly cloudy on the other 'sides' too), and of course a slightly shorter day,
but we squeezed an extra 10 minutes or so out of the camera compared to yesterday, not reaching fully black till just before 1640. Attached is 1629.


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins December 01, 2008, 06:12:21 PM
Not 3 bad. ;D ;D.. I was watching the 5 min uploads from 1600 and was able to see the decline in light quite well right through to about the 1641 upload...I couldn't do a direct comparison with my Logitech webcam (difference in cloud cover and of course the difference in time of sunset).  However, I suspect the two are very similar.

As the moon is just a smidgin at the mo it will be interesting to see if moonlight has much of an affect on the view when it gets nearer to full moon...also the moon should show if there is reasonably clear sky.  We shall see. ;) ;)


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright December 01, 2008, 07:05:35 PM
As the moon is just a smidgin at the mo it will be interesting to see if moonlight has much of an affect on the view when it gets nearer to full moon...also the moon should show if there is reasonably clear sky.  We shall see. ;) ;)
My thoughts too - I've decided to leave updating of website image on full time for the present at least.

I'm just trying to decide if the low energy PC that WD runs on is up to the job of compiling a once a day "full day" animation...



: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: munrobaggins December 01, 2008, 08:00:31 PM
I'm just trying to decide if the low energy PC that WD runs on is up to the job of compiling a once a day "full day" animation...
I think that may have been a question very recently on the WD forum; as to whether it was possible without doing the hourlies as well....I have been doing a little experimentation with the swf format, but although they take little processor time (compared to wmv), the file size created is very much larger. :(

I bought an Advent 4211 Atom Netbook PC (Win XP)a few months ago and so far have been mightily impressed...I have a strong impression that it would make a very good standalone WD Wx PC and I guess that it uses very little power....I must hook it up to my power consumption meter one day,


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: Budgie December 01, 2008, 08:49:56 PM
It all looking good David.  ;D
You shouldn't have any problems with the moon, I recorded the passage of Venus on my Logitech in the early morning last year and the moon is quire interesting, although the actual moonlight doesn't light anything up in my cam. Once it's out of shot then it's just a normal black night again.


: Re: Webcams and the sun?
: skyewright December 02, 2008, 10:52:47 AM
It all looking good David.  ;D
Even better now I've adjusted the colour balance from 'Standard' to 'Outdoor' - the blue sky now actually looks blue.  ;)

And the low energy PC seems happy enough producing .sfw video files (just for personal consumption at this stage) too.  ;D

I'd seen comments about SFW being 'blocky', but I noticed that the video on Martin's page was using sfw and that looks great to me.


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