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Author Topic: Floodcam is totally useless at night  (Read 35041 times)

schnurro

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Floodcam is totally useless at night
« on: March 07, 2010, 10:05:38 AM »

What I would like to know is why design a floodcam that won't light up enough to take a picture at night.  My picture is not so great in the daylight but its totally useless at night.  If I would have known the floodcam could not see to take a picture with the floodlights on and with two 150 watt bulbs installed ... I wouldn't have bought the floodcam, because I believe they are useless at night.
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Tuicemen

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2010, 08:52:17 AM »

 You may wish to check out this link!
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nybuck

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2010, 09:18:47 PM »

Well that certainly looks like it's worth a try!  It may be the answer to my indoor "baby cam" project...  -:)

The strange thing is that he seems to get a brighter night image without adding IR light...   ???

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2010, 09:38:45 PM »


The strange thing is that he seems to get a brighter night image without adding IR light...   ???
Yes, but they are still using flood lights, not no light!
Notice how washed out the morning pics are!
It will be interesting to see what IR lighting will do for the project. ;)
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dbemowsk

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2010, 01:36:18 AM »


The strange thing is that he seems to get a brighter night image without adding IR light...   ???
Yes, but they are still using flood lights, not no light!
This is correct.  The flood lights I am using are halogen lights.  Below is a graph of the halogen spectrum of light.  This graph was borrowed from this article comparing halogen light to flourescent light.

The infrared spectrum of light used for infrared security cameras is typically in the range of 850 to 890 nanometers.  Looking at the graph, the halogen lights actually put out quite a bit of light in the 800 to 900 nanometer range, in fact there is actually a small peak in that range.  So there is actually quite a bit of infrared light being put out by the floods that I have installed.

Notice how washed out the morning pics are!
The lighting looks washed out in the morning because the camera points east and although not pointing directly into the sun, it's about as close to direct sun as the camera will see.  If you look at the new picture I posted the other day at dusk, you will see that although still slightly out of focus, the image is not bad compared to what you'd see from a stock camera in that amount of light.

It will be interesting to see what IR lighting will do for the project. ;)
As I was doing the above research on the lighting, I still wanted to have lighting for the driveway that would let me see as I pulled in with my car.  If I went strictly with an infrared light for the floods, I would not have much if any light in the visible range.  When I found the spectral graph of the halogen light, I figured I was getting the best of both worlds.

Hope that sheds some light on things (PUN INTENDED).

Dan Bemowski
« Last Edit: October 24, 2010, 05:17:43 PM by dbemowsk »
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nybuck

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2010, 09:13:46 PM »

Dan -   #:)

Your postings were very helpful for my indoor babycam project.  Once the filter was removed, the IR LEDs look like a floodlight to the camera.  No noticible difference in artificial indoor lighting.

Since my Color XCam and your Floodcam seem so much better without the filter, I am wondering what benefit the IR filter gives the camera?   ???

The Wide Angle lens in the XCam had the 4 drops of glue in the corners, holding the little square filter right between the lens and the CMOS sensor, so it was easily removed.  It looks to be a lot easier than the floodcam, which, based on your results, I may do to mine as well.  I'd like to know what possible drawback this mod may have if any closet scientists are reading the forums!  Although - Based on the graph above, Dan may be a closet scientist himself!  rofl

My SWAG is that the filter helps keep the IR from 'burning' the CMOS sensor and making it die prematurely?  I've heard of people say their camera's image looks washed out over time.
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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2010, 09:20:20 PM »

Dan -   #:)

Your postings were very helpful for my indoor babycam project.  Once the filter was removed, the IR LEDs look like a floodlight to the camera.  No noticible difference in artificial indoor lighting.

Since my Color XCam and your Floodcam seem so much better without the filter, I am wondering what benefit the IR filter gives the camera?   ???

The Wide Angle lens in the XCam had the 4 drops of glue in the corners, holding the little square filter right between the lens and the CMOS sensor, so it was easily removed.  It looks to be a lot easier than the floodcam, which, based on your results, I may do to mine as well.  I'd like to know what possible drawback this mod may have if any closet scientists are reading the forums!  Although - Based on the graph above, Dan may be a closet scientist himself!  rofl

My SWAG is that the filter helps keep the IR from 'burning' the CMOS sensor and making it die prematurely?  I've heard of people say their camera's image looks washed out over time.

I'm not sure it does anything for the longevity of the CMOS sensor.  Generally, the IR filter is helpful in cleaning up the image under normal visible light conditions.  For instance, if you look at something that is actually a dark color in full daylight, it can be so warm and therefore radiating so much IR on its own, that it will look white unless you filter out the IR!   ;)

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pconroy

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2010, 11:15:16 AM »

Looking at the graph, the halogen lights actually put out quite a bit of light in the 800 to 900 nanometer range, in fact there is actually a small peak in that range.


I would'a guess this by the way they heat up the room!    ;D
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nybuck

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2010, 07:46:13 PM »


I'm not sure it does anything for the longevity of the CMOS sensor.  Generally, the IR filter is helpful in cleaning up the image under normal visible light conditions.  For instance, if you look at something that is actually a dark color in full daylight, it can be so warm and therefore radiating so much IR on its own, that it will look white unless you filter out the IR!   ;)

Bill -

Thanks for a better explanation.  I kept the filter and I will have to experiment more.  Unfortunately having a small child does not lend itself to a lot of "experiment" time - although I am familiar with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the VCR experiment...   rofl

But seriously, the reason I was thinking about the longevity is when I saw my first "tube" video camera, I was warned to never point it into the sun or it would ruin the sensor.  I was taught to always keep the lens cap on when not in use.  And recently I saw a 'vintage' surveillance camera with a styrofoam cup over the lens for what I believe to be the same purpose.  Of course some time in the late eighties when we got "CCD" or "Chip" cameras, I was told they are more forgiving.  CMOS is new to me...

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dbemowsk

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2010, 11:13:42 PM »

I was thinking about the longevity is when I saw my first "tube" video camera, I was warned to never point it into the sun or it would ruin the sensor. 
Nybuck, these were typically known as vidicon tube cameras, and you are right, if you pointed a vidicon tube toward the sun, you basically rendered it useless and the only way to fix it was to change the tube.
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nybuck

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2010, 07:20:34 AM »

Nybuck, these were typically known as vidicon tube cameras, and you are right, if you pointed a vidicon tube toward the sun, you basically rendered it useless and the only way to fix it was to change the tube.

Wow, Dbemowsk -

Using your link, I realize how far we've come in video camera technology in 30 years.   :o

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glacier991

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2010, 03:00:35 AM »

In the "For What it is worth" category, my newly arrive floodcam has a slightly different arrangement than is shown in the thread showing how to mod one, and in fact appears to be unmodifiable..

I opened up a WA lens model and that appears to be pretty simple, and the older regular color cam indeed has the lens arrangement shown in the thread...So if I needed to I could mod that lens and use it, but I want to see if the WA lens will mount and work in the flood can firstthough... maybe a weekend project. Will report my results.

Chris
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IPS

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 03:30:22 PM »

Dan
that is an excellent article. I too am unhappy with my flood cams. Now I'll follow your steps. Thanks.
 
I see snow in your pictures and that is another of my concerns. We too get plenty of snow and temperature can hit minus 20C. Cameras at temp stop responding and if lights turn on then it stays on. Am sure you must have run into this. So how did you solve it?

IPS   
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dbemowsk

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2010, 12:54:00 AM »

Dan
that is an excellent article. I too am unhappy with my flood cams. Now I'll follow your steps. Thanks.
 
I see snow in your pictures and that is another of my concerns. We too get plenty of snow and temperature can hit minus 20C. Cameras at temp stop responding and if lights turn on then it stays on. Am sure you must have run into this. So how did you solve it?

IPS   

I have not gotten the gumption to tear that camera down yet to fix the issue, but I do on occasion have the lights stick on.  My AHP logs show the floodcam turning off, but the lights still stay on.  I am using 90 watt floods in them and I have heard from others that using lower wattage flood lights has solved the issue for them.  This got me thinking that the problem is likely that the 90 watt floods draw enough juice that when the relay kicks in, the arc produced across the contacts occasionally causes them to "weld" themselves together slightly.  I had thought that a cure for this might be some dielectric grease used to protect electrical connections.  I have not verified this as a workable solution, but I would think that the conductive properties of the grease would help keep the contacts of the relay from sticking by producing the arc through the conductive grease before the contacts have time to come in contact with each other and "weld" together.  You may want to put a dab on the relay contacts inside with a cotton swab.

My guess is that the reason that lower wattage floods do not stick on is that they do not produce a big enough arc to cause the relay contacts to stick together.

Hope that helps a little.

Dan B.
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HA Dave

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Re: Floodcam is totally useless at night
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2010, 08:37:41 AM »

......... We too get plenty of snow and temperature can hit minus 20C.

My first thought was... minus 20 Celsius... how cold is that? I was kinda surprised when I found an online converter as saw that is the only -4 Fahrenheit. I really thought it would be colder. I don't think that temperture should be a major problem. 
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