Dear Lifehacker, I’ve set up a security camera that peers over the fence into the carport, taking & storing a picture every minute, as well as snapping a picture every time movement is detected in the area. During the day, it records us coming & going, as well as the occasional appearance by a postman or delivery person. A couple of days ago, one of our cars was opened and things were stolen, of no commercial value, but highly frustrating to have to replace.
The “every minute” picture did capture two shots of someone moving around in the area and opening the car door, but as it was just after 4am, the lighting was not exactly the best, and all we have is a dark general outline of the intruder. So here’s the question: Is there any technology that I could set up, that would activate a camera flash as the webcam fires?
As the webcam picture is immediately uploaded to my website, I would already have a picture of the bastard before he could destroy anything. The technology in use is a Windows XP PC with a USB webcam attached, sitting on a shelf just behind the fence, running Tincam for the regular pictures & Yawcam handling the motion detection, with Webcam Splitter providing the image to both applications. As the unit complex has been experiencing numerous break-ins lately, I am keen to capture the culprit on digital media if possible.
Caught In The Act
Your story immediately reminded me of a similar experience which my brother had a few years ago. Two of his (entirely indoor) cats escaped from the house and went missing, so he set up a bowl of food in the laundry, left the door open and set up a motion-sensor camera. Unsurprisingly, the greedier of the two cats was caught on camera coming in for a meal late at night, which then made it worth waiting up to catch the miscreant moggy. But since this happened in the wee small hours of the morning, how did he ensure that he got the shot?
His answer? “The camera that I used has an infra-red mode. Given how old/cheap it is/was, I’d be surprised if newer ones didn’t have better settings.”
That obviously isn’t a direct solution to your problem, but it does suggest that an alternative strategy might not be too difficult to come up with using a slight change in hardware. I’m sure that someone with electronics skills could build something with an Ardiuno that triggered the flash for motion sensor images within certain hours, though it could be a fiddly job. Anyone out there got a detailed plan, or another suggestion on how to solve the problem?