Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Webcams as Document Cameras

Edit: On closer inspection, we are much less impressed with the resolution of the Clique camera. The Markvision camera displays a much clearer image, but is no longer available. Stay tuned for some pictures of webcams/cameras mounted on stands allowing them to function as document cameras, similar to what JWatson14 mentions in the comments.

If you've ever looked longingly at document cameras but realized that there is no money in your budget for one, you could perhaps use a cheaper webcam instead. There are even webcams with stands and flexible necks that allow them to be used like a document camera.

The Clique CAM00131 Hue HD Webcam is an example of one of these, and it's currently on sale for $39.99. We've done some testing with it, and are very impressed. It has great framerate (30 frames per second), good resolution (1.3 megapixels),  a long enough USB cord (although you could use a USB extension if needed), and feels fairly sturdy. The camera can either be connected to the the base or to a USB port on the side of your laptop or monitor. There's a button on the top for taking snapshots, and a built-in microphone. It comes with fairly good software, allowing things like image flip and mirror (recommended) and digital zoom. The camera and built-in microphone also work with programs such as Skype and Ustream.

A few minor issues are that it has manual focus, only digital zoom, and the neck may be a little short for doing dissections underneath the camera. You could always just put a couple of textbooks under the base to raise it up.

There's a similar webcam available, the Markvision MVWC-SN4923 Snake Webcam. It's only $23.99, but it doesn't feel quite as sturdy, has a shorter neck, and some computers we tried had issues with the driver. TigerDirect also tells me that they have limited stock of this one, and don't know if they'll be getting more.

TigerDirect.ca is currently offering free shipping for orders over $100 and under 20 lbs. Our purchases arrived a week after ordering.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Canadian Goose!

A Canadian goose has nested outside of Curriculum Services.  Last Tuesday, April 6th, she (Ethel) laid two eggs and over the next couple of days laid four more.  We set up this web cam on the 7th and have been keeping a close eye on her ever since.  Come back every couple of days to check on Ethel and see if Fred comes around to check on his family.   Below are some interesting facts about Canadian geese!

The Canada goose finds a mate during its second year and once paired, the geese remain together for life. Contrary to popular belief, however, if one member of the pair is killed, the other will find a new mate.

Canada Geese breed earlier in the season than many birds. Breeding is timed so that the eggs hatch when the plants that the goslings, or young geese, eat have their highest nutritional value. The hatch date also allows enough time for the goslings to grow big enough to fly south before freeze-up. Canada Geese that breed in temperate areas, with mild temperatures, begin nesting as soon as conditions are favorable in spring, in some cases as early as mid-March. Canada Geese that breed in the north reach nesting areas in late April or early May, later for Arctic breeders.

Let us know where you are watching from and when you think the eggs will hatch!