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HOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN WEBCAM

Really! It's easy peasy!

Send Rob a message using the form below, say "Hi!"

Wow, I looked below and noticed how dated my webcam setup instructions were.

Geesh, I never meant it to get so bad. (The badness is still on this page but you have to scroll way, way down, OK?)

Anyways, here I am in 2009, new Windows Vista (really over a year old and I installed it Feb 2007, so that tells you how out of date I let this page get... which has made the art of webcam publishing more tortuous) and with the new Mac's... (which I have as well as a PC) even harder to find reliable and inexpensive software for setting up a webcam page on a website cheaply, if not for free!

I like free webcam software but often it just doesn't want to work... hmmm..

Anyways, I am updating this page after getting a Vista PC and a new server and a Mac iMac computer. I'll try to keep these instructions for setting up your own webcam web site page easy. Honest.

History

First I need to tell you a little history about my webcam/web page adventures.

I like to keep this webcam on my office so that I can chat with people from all over the world as they come to visit my webcam page and send me emails saying "Hi" and that kind of stuff. Even my wife visits to make sure that I'm really working when I say I am, like I'd be playing a game or something instead of working... yeah, right...

But keeping things working between a hard-working computer, a tired web server and all the connections of people visiting the page really made it hard to keep things running reliably. And... as well, not all the webcam software would work reliably either... either me or the software itself I dunno, but I have always had troubles keeping images of ME on MY website for YOU to see regularly.

CHILLCAM was a great piece of software... and running with ANFYCAM things were stable for a long time, until Windows Vista and all my other computer troubles... but we don't have to go there... I think... Of course there is more below too... just scroll down, down down...

Current (YES, still February 2009 at this time)

But since my upgrade to Windows Vista from a perfectly running and reliable Sony PC RC110... (I like to have tech stuff, I'm a BUG says my wife... but if it's new, shiny and hooks up to a computer, PC or Mac, I want it!)  I have had severe issues keeping an image on my website until I moved the webcam duties over to my Mac (iMac) and using EVOCAM and making all things great. Trouble there is that I use my iMac for troubleshooting, not regular building (although I am relying on my Mac more and more).

EVOCAM is truly a great webcam piece of software and I love it... and it was cheap too... But, of course, it is APPLE software which really won't run on a PC... so back to the drawing board to get my PC webcam talking with my website and letting you see me. Not Windows Vista tested, after all, this is Mac software!

ANFYCAM still works great, I've been using it since 2001, it's on the server end of things anyways... but getting a picture to upload to my website and actually displaying was a heartbreak of trials using different software. And if your browser is acting wonky then the java applet that allows the image to update on it's own without you having to refre3sh the page sometimes doesn't work at all! But this isn't webcam software, it's webcam image software... great to help your visitors watch y7ou without them having to reload the page for the latest image.

So I'm going to try some new software, see if I can start using my PC to again upload pictures to my webcam page. First software trial is:

NOTE: I tested all the following on my Windows XP laptop, not my PC Vista machine yet... I'll add those reviews after I do the other software tests on XP, after all I'm not looking forward to some weird software crashing my system and making me start from scratch quite yet! Vista tests where noted.

FWINK

This is a free, open source software. There are some great things about this, mostly it's free... but give me a bit and let me try to set it up and upload a picture to my page...

And the verdict is... FWINK works really, really well. The setup of the FTP is easily understood... the options are fun to use with text effects and an overlay for the image. I really like FWINK. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Reasons why? No multiple site upload option... hey, if I have more than 1 website why should I want to only be bale to send an image to only one website... add some FTP options for more sites, OK?  And how about a larger working screen interface? Geesh, the workable area of FWINK is sooo small. And a help file/faq will be great when that is included with this program. I'd gladly pay $25.00 - $30.00 for this... just add a few more things, OK? But all that said this is an excellent piece of webcam software. Try it, but don't fry me if it doesn't work so well for you, OK?

April 11 2008 - Vista tested, works great... but I wish there was a FAQ for HELP section tom explain the settings.... and why it takes so long to upload... and maybe the ability to minimize the application without exiting from it? And a log so that I ca see for myself it the images are being uploaded successfully for not... not too much to ask, right? Add multiple webcam s to the software, and multiple ftp sites and I'd pay for this software... without hesitation!

ABELCAM

Honestly, any time a software says "server" in it's title I'm scared... what the heck could go wrong?? Scared like a turkey at Thanksgiving. But what the heck, I'm fearless, right?

Well really not that fearless... after the install I was greeted with this:
Whenever you start the webserver with Ablecam it will access the server Ableserver.Seiz.ch and transmit the following information - devices selected - Abelcam version number - and a few more things. Now, I know that software developers need feedback to get their software right, I'm just not comfortable with my info being automatically selected, even if I can turn it off later.

And after that scare the software is just too damn confusing for me. Even with a lot of clicking and reading, just too many things to configure, set up, check and so on... and slow to respond too. End of test. I might just format my laptop for the helluv it now.

Next test coming soon.....


(Pre-2007 information.....)

I have received many e-mails from people wanting information on setting up their own webcam.
Hopefully here you will find the information that you need.

1. Get A Webcam - although this is an obvious starting point, you DO need a camera that is hooked up to your computer and the software to capture pictures so you have something to show the world when they surf in to take a look at whatever you are showing them. Buy your online and have it shipped quickly to your door.
I use a Logitech SmartClick 310 Camera, it's easy to install, USB ports are best, but you do need to be running Windows 98, or later, to make what I tell you run easily with this particular camera.
Once you have it hooked up and running, play with it for a bit. Change the image sizes, colors, discover all the fun things you can do with it before moving onto the next step.

2. The Next Step - You need a website. Personally I'd tell you to get your own domain name and have your own real website, but you may not want to make that investment quite yet.  Once your website is up you need to get the program to place your webcam image on your website.

3. The Programs - What I use and what you can use too are the following Programs to get your webcam image to where it should be.
The first program is something that you have to use to make the image re-appear after a set time so that if you are running the image live your visitor doesn't have to click on the Refresh Button on the browser toolbar to see your newest image. The Anfy Team at http://www.anfyteam.com/ has a great Java program to make the image refresh itself and it works great! The best part is that this is a Free Program and it's very easy to set-up. The program you are looking for is Anfy Cam and it's included in the Anfy 1.4 Download. They have great support if you run into any problems too!
The second program that you'll need is what makes the image FTP into place so that the above program has a new image to refresh to when someone is at your webcam page and watching the image change. I use ChillCam from http://www.thegeek.com/chillcam ChillCam V2.3.6 is Free and very easy to setup too! Lots of support if you have questions or cannot get it running easily.

4. Patience - That is the last thing you'll need. Do all the necessary reading on the above programs that you'll be using and have some fun with your new webcam once it's up and running.
Hey, maybe once your webcam is up you'd like to trade links with me too! Then even more people can visit your webcam and the same for mine! Just email me!

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