October 4, 2016

The New Wambooli PorchCam – Almost

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

The old Porchcam went down almost 18 months ago. I attempted a software update and the end result was that the camera’s Administration web page was completely inaccessible. Without any controls to access the device, I had to take it down.

Another ongoing problem with the Foscam cameras I was using before was that they’re indoor cameras. They can’t stand the chilly Pacific Northwest winters, where the outside temperature can get down to zero degrees, but stays cold pretty much from November through March. Add in the moisture outside, and the cameras — at about $200 a pop — were good for only a year or so.

So when I saw the outdoor Nest camera, I was excited. It was designed for colder temperatures and an outdoor environment. The cameras became available just this last month, so I ordered one and it arrived last week. I set it up and mounted it outside in the same spot as the old PorchCam, which you can see in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The outdoor Nest camera, mounted on my front porch.

Figure 1. The outdoor Nest camera, mounted on my front porch.

The images the camera takes are gorgeous. Figure 2 shows the capture from when I took the photo in Figure 1.

Figure 2. Me taking a photo of me taking a photo.

Figure 2. Me taking a photo of me taking a photo.

The Nest camera, however, is a security camera and monitor more than it’s a webcam. The video and sound it records are stored on the Internet. (And how it gets through the firewall bothers me.) So to access the images, you must visit the Nest web page, login, and review your registered devices. A 10- or 30-day record is kept, depending on how much you pay for your subscription. If you don’t pay, then the device works only as a camera monitor, not as a recorder.

My thinking was that I could access the still image from any recent activity and throw it up on the Wambooli PorchCam page. I reviewed the API (Application Programming Interface) and saw the programming function I needed. I even registered with Nest as a “developer.”

Here’s the problem: You can only develop apps for the Camera. You cannot actually access your own Nest camera directly to obtain an image. That’s because the images are stored on the cloud, not locally. You can’t even access the camera’s hardware to snap a photo; all control is remote through the Nest API. Further, you must develop a full app, not just a snippet of code on a webpage, which is how I accessed the old Foscam webcams.

I’ll hang onto the Nest camera as I’ve already paid for a year’s subscription (the cheap one). It has a phone app so I can check to see whether the kids have brought in the paper when I’m out-of-town and chat with the mailman, should I desire to do so. But the device fails as the next Wambooli PorchCam. My search for that device continues.

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