Lookout Webcam

I have been threatening to do it for years but finally have it set up. There is a live webcam shooting photos of launch from my house and loading the current photo at:


I am shooting photos with a Nikon P900 83x Optiocal Superzoom camera, controlling it with a rasberry pi (35 dollar linux computer)

It is currently shooting a photo every 5 minutes and upload basically the orginaly large format .jpg from the camera to my cheap ass godaddy hosting. I am not sure how the hosting will handle it.

I can zoom in more but I thought this offered a good view of both flags and launch.

Not sure how it will do with overall stability. you are my beta testers :wink: Anyways, check it out and let me know what you think!


The camera went down the first time in 3 days this morning, my router dropped all the IPs in my house and required a reset. I turned my router off and plugged it back in and everything is back to normal. The camera and computer have been up 100% since I launched it on friday.

Very cool. I recall that School of Mines used to have an ‘M’ webcam and a long time ago we used to use that to see what’s happening. This is a great replacement. Thanks!

Very cool jason, thanks for doing this. No reason for a zoomed shot, you can see what each sock is doing with the wider angle view. Nice pink sock on the tree now, much easier to see. I’d say if at all possible to get the north point sock in the frame that would be even better, but what you have is good.

The webcam is now hosted at the below website. I am archiving all the photos from here on out and will add a search and back buttons soon.


On another note I need to return this camera over the July 4th weekend. I was going to try and set up a kickstarter to raise money for a camera, but they rejected the proposal. I will answer questions about the webcam/page setup at the next meeting. I am hoping we can raise the money as a club for a long term camera. This camera was about 600 dollars which is kind of expensive. I am willing to donate the pi and the development but cannot afford the camera. We may be able to get away with a cheaper camera or if anyone has one with a 60x + optical zoom that will both charge and xfer data over usb they would donate. Its pretty cool to be able to have the photos and archived log of the hill but I will leave it to the club to determine the value.


The webcam page now has an archive of all of the launch photos from Jun 22nd on available to search. I will work on making it prettier in the future, but its pretty functional right now. All times for search are in UTC (which is confusing because the timestamp on the photo is local).

Should I change the timestamp on the image to be UTC as well to avoid confusion? I will be talking more about the camera and answering any questions at the next meeting.

This camera is temporary, but the software to run a DSLR, archive and display the images is in place. We just need to raise some money as a club for the long term camera equipment. (~$500).


Pretty sweet to toggle through archived images, Jason! Thanks for doing all this. I think it’s nice to have UTC for search, and local timestamp on the image. Also, it’s nice to be able to see behind the hill a bit, for convective development related. I’m certainly down for a club vote to rally the $ troops. Count my vote in.

Wanted to give an update after talking about the camera at the meeting last night.

I am trying to organize and raise money for a long term webcam solution. I chose the P900 because of the extreme zoom and have it working at www.paraglidetandem.com/webcam.html The costs for the current setup are as follows:

Nikon P900: ORDER PLACED June 10, 2017 TOTAL $600.93
Raspberry Pi 3: ORDER PLACED June 10, 2017 TOTAL $38.99
Raspberry Pi Case : $16.99

Total: $656.91

I am archiving all photos and displaying on the website. The internet, location, and raspberry pi are reliable and I expect them to work for many years. The life limited part is the camera. I attached some googled info on shutter actuation life expectancy but it looks like somewhere 100-200 thousand range. If I let it run as it has, shooting a photo every 5 minutes all day everyday, the same will only last a little over a year or so. Bumping it down to 10 min or stopping capture at night could potential lengthen the life another year or two. I would love to get any input on rate of capture etc.

This camera is going back next week no matter what. We need a replacement camera ASAP or it will go offline. The list of cameras I can support/control is available here gphoto.org/proj/libgphoto2/support.php At min I think we need something on this list with a 60x+ optical zoom. digital zoom will not work.

A vote will be taken at next meeting to see if the club is interested in supporting the P900 or another camera, the camera will be going offline next week until a replacement is found. Thanks for the camera suggestions, donations, or input.

"How many shutter actuations do the manufacturers claim?

There are a few things you’ll want to know about the life of your shutter. First of all, the camera manufacturers publicize the shutter rating of the camera. Most entry-level DSLR cameras are only rated at 100,000 shutter actuations. Mid and high-end cameras have more durable shutters that are rated up to between 150,000 and 300,000 actuations.

How many shutter actuations to most photographers actually achieve?

In my experience and from what I have seen from other photographers online, most shutters make or surpass the 100,000 or 150,000 mark without any problem whatsoever, but it seems that few cameras actually make it to the 300,000 shutter actuations even on the cameras that are rated to that number. Fortunately for the manufacturers, most photographers don’t press the shutter button that many times during the warranty period anyway, so they don’t have to back up their claims of how many shutter actuations it can handle. (Perhaps I should add this point to my camera manufacturer whine list?)"

By my calcs, assuming 100,000 actuations, 5-minute capture rate, and 24 hrs/day operation, the number of actuations (photos) = 347 days (until the actuator dies). Assuming all else being equal.

To extend this, we could go to a 10-minute capture and only have the camera on for 12 hrs per day (say 7a-7p). This would theoretically get us to 1,388 days (3.8 years).

Assuming we want to preserve the actuator, and thus camera (if the actuator dies, does the entire camera need to be replaced?), then my suggestion would be to extend the capture frequency and reduce daily timeframe.

Thanks Jake, I reset to every 10 minutes, and have it taking pictures from 12-03Z

I am looking at this one below:

amazon.com/Canon-SX530-HS-9 … ords=sx530

Its 50x vs 83x but I have the current camera set around 67X. This one WILL be a wider angle view

The camera went back today. If and when a camera is purchased, I can get it set back up again pretty quickly.

You have my vote for the camera.