Camera 1 • Camera 2 • Camera 3 • Camera 4 • Camera 5 • Camera 6 • Camera 7

What started out as a simple webcam experiment has grown into more of a complicated mass of equipment,  wires,  dedicated website and simple outdated technology.  Where once the equipment was in my office running off of one computer,  now it has grown to it's own dedicated space and wiring closet to a full rack built into that same closet.   I guess some people would call it a data center of sorts....Complete with UPS's, switches,  hardware based firewall,  etc.  Everything is rack mounted and so nice and black.

The system that runs the audio and video is currently(12.18.2004)composed of:

6 streaming servers--None of them faster than 750 mhz PIII.

1-Netgear 24 port switch

1-Phillips Multiplexer

1-Kawai 8 channel "keyboard" mixer for the audio.

1-Watchguard Firebox II

1-6 port KVM switch

2- SU700RM2U APC UPS's



1-Compaq Proliant Storage System UE 12 bay drive array.

It all fits nicely into a 7 foot rack....



So I decided to build a data center into the wall.....How does one do that and why?

Let's get to the why part:  My office was becoming overcrowded with two half racks filled with equipment and I had a space that was needing a purpose while I have been building a new bathroom....Roughly a 4.5 foot X 3 foot closet.  I have included several fine pictures of the construction and completion of the Home Data Center Project(tm) below.




The following words are old words....the newer recipe will be posted when time permits.....




These are the current ingredients of the setup I have right now. A few words. This is not hard to do. Anyone can do this, even on a limited budget. This is probably overkill for most. But I like that.

Current Setup And Specs:

Encoder Machine: This is the computer that the audio and the video comes into.
Specs: Pentium 550 with 128 megs of ram running Windows 2000. Machine has a basic AGP video card with 4 megs of ram and a sound card. Video comes in through PCI capture card and sound goes in through line input of sound card. There is a network card in this machine.

Server Machine: This is the computer that distributes the feed and allows for the viewers to connect. In an ideal world, you will want to have two machines for every camera. You can do it with one machine running both the server software and the encoder software but quality degrades rapidly if you do so. For the time being the server is running a heated Pentium 200 with 64 megs of ram on Windows 2000. It also has a network card in it. This machine is running other software and has other devices in it that cause it to get severely bogged down. The server will be upgraded to something more reasonable in a short period of time.

Camera: The camera I use is a Sony DV Camcorder on a small camera mount affixed to a wall about six feet away. The model number of the camera is DCR-TRV510. In my opinion to have the most versatility, you should use a camcorder. Most of them come with wireless remotes and can double as a webcam. They also have S-Video,  firewire, and RCA connections. I use the RCA connections for both audio and video. The quality of the camera does matter. Even in a low bandwidth situation, a decent camera can make your connection seem better than what it really is.

Network Setup: All you need is a hub to tie the machines together with your internet connection. I have 10-100 switches as well as a fiber switch---The fiber will be working as the primary home network eventually.

Internet Connection: I am running through a cable modem. Chances are, you have better bandwidth than I do.

Server software: I am using the free version of Real Server Software. it has a 25 maximum concurrent user limit. This is fine with me. I am not running a pay site, nor do I expect to have 25 people fighting to get in for a chance to see me. If you are an aspiring WebWhore(tm), you may wish to talk to your financial partners about purchasing the full blown version with all the pay-per-view tools included.

Encoder Software: I am using Real Producer. It costs maybe fifty bucks. This is where the magic really happens. This is also where the "thirty" to "4 minute" lag occurs between real time and the stream. Doing live audio is not very laggy. Nor is live video, but when you combine the two, the encoding and time syncing is where the processor of your encoder comes into effect. Try not to skimp on your encoder and you will always have a decent frame rate. Little known fact: Many capture cards come with real producer.

Purchasing: All of this stuff I have bought online, and at a pretty good rate. I get alot of stuff here

How much: I got the rack mount switch for $50.00. TV Tuner/Capture card for $20.00.(It came with Real Producer as well.) DV Camcorder for right around a grand about a year ago.. The two machines... I pieced together from parts and leftovers from a recent upgrade to my non-serving/encoding computer. If you were to come to me and say, Hey, here is $1500.00, I want a streaming video thing for my website. I could do that with a DV camcorder and two machines carefully priced out through a variety of sites with enough money left over to probably ship it to you at a 3rd day fed ex rate, buy me a pizza and a case of mountain dew.

That was just the Real server version.

The least expensive way to go requires one computer, a camera, a capture card and free software off of the net. The link that is video without audio is straight images being flipped out to you at around 5fps. The quality is great and the software is free. All you do is install the software, plug in the camera video feed and have a live internet connection. (The pentium 200 machine is also streaming this feed) The software can be found here.

The really, really cheap version entails, the same free software, a usb port, and about thirty bucks, maybe. The little ball cam can stream up to 15 frames a second reliably and the picture quality is not too bad if you focus it once and never touch it and stay the same distance away from it.

That's all for now.

No questions asked.....No questions answered.