My Silly Pondcam – Post 18 – Not in the water yet… but really close

For this post we have to start again with a summary of where we are:

1) Pondcam has a new case. It is bigger. It is clear. It is homely, but not “ugly”. It has a bigger light. It has had way more thought and trouble that has gone into waterproofing. I need to test it to see if it is waterproof.
2) Pondcam has it’s own dedicated wireless network. It covers the entire acre of pond and the walkway around it. It is now an “unsecured” network. I like this, I always wanted an unsecured wireless network for guests, just like I setup for my customers. I am very happy about this network.
3) Pondcam has its own firewall to protect it from bad people on the Internet. I am sure some committed hacker may be able to figure out how to break into it, but in the end, if that is how pondcam dies (by a hacker) it will make for a much better post than if it got water in it. I wouldn’t mind documenting the “post mortem” on Pondcam that way.
4) The dock is still waiting for enough water bottles to make it float. I don’t know what to do about this. I keep finding water bottles in the garbage as my wife and kids don’t really think about pondcam and definitely take the easy route of throwing out the empties instead of saving them.

The beauty of Pondcam, in a nutshell, is Pondcam will be set on its own… In its own autonomous network, running on batteries and solar power. Armageddon can happen… My home can lose power. An explosion can knock out the power grid and people could be starving in the streets. Their could be total chaos, but in the morning… as the sun comes up. Pondcam will get it’s precious sunlight and as it hits the solar panels, it will start charging the batteries and Pondcam will start looking at fish. Sometime (hopefully after 10PM) at night it will burn through the charge of the batteries and quietly turn off waiting for that firsts mornings light to turn on once again and repeat the cycle, just to catch a glimpse of something interesting going on in my pond.

That last paragraph was some good day dreaming, but we aren’t their yet. Let’s get back to our case. I completed it the other day. It has been re-enforced and the back has been put on. Let’s do a waterproof test.

Now you have seen this picture before. But there are two things different. First, their is an air pump in this picture. Second I didn’t plug the tube the wires go through so I can pump air into pondcam as it sits in the tank.


It is all there, the battery, the netbook, the air pump (Already connected tot he tube that the wires go through) and the fish tank to submerge pondcam  with air pressure going to it to look for leaks.

Now there is no one to help me do this. Last time Paul was here, this time no one wants to help. My wife won’t help (She has a book she really likes that she is reading), my kids are playing with a frog and trying to stick it in the tank of water and I am crabbing at them. I tried to get Paul over, but he has his own stuff to deal with. I am on my own. So I just do it… I turn on the pump and dunk pondcam… and look for air bubbles.


I look at the front and don’t see anything. That pump is loud. I think it has got to be pumping about 5psi into it.  I look at the back.


No bubbles from the back. I check the top.


No bubbles.

OK.. So I know I can sink this camera now. I was able to sink it before, but after 48 hours it got water in it. Now I am wondering… It is water proof, but for how long in the actual water? I have no way of knowing until I just stick it in water and leave it there.

For fun, I connect the battery and turn the camera on. I turn on the netbook and connect to it. This is a really crappy picture, the camera is in the tank, the netbook is connected to it and you see my reflection taking the picture of the netbook screen connected to the camera, but the general idea is there. The camera is in fact on and working, under the water in the fish tank and can see my driveway and a little beyond it. I am happy.


Before I sink pondcam, I need to do a few things. The first thing that comes to mind is I don’t have enough water bottles… I don’t have enough of them at all. The dock can’t be finished until I figure out how to get the rest of them or just cheat and not fill the bottom (I may actually do that as I know it will float). The other thing is that I really want pondcam to be ON. And ON permanently or at least as much as it can be under its own power so I understand better how it will work on its own. I decide to set it up as far away as I can from the PONDNET  wireless access point (the house).

I grab everything; the table, the pondcam, the mutlimeter, the battery, load it all on the tractor and haul it out to the other side of the pond. When I was bringing the table out I got half way and the tractor ran out of gas…. I have to remember to get my tractor in the garage tomorrow. So I drag the table out the rest of the way and set it all up. Here is what it looks like.


It is way out there. The farthest away from “PONDNET” that I could get it. You can barely see it so I will zoom in, but first take a look at the fish tank filled with gross water to the lower left of the picture. Once I dumped the clean pondcam water out Hannah wanted me to set it up by the ornamental pond, it took her two seconds to fill the bottom with gross water and stick a frog in it.


That is better, you can kind of see the solar panels laying flat on the table, the battery, the camera. It is pointing right into a path that goes behind the pond between some trees. A place where I hope some weirdo animals would like to walk through early in the morning when the camera can see something. The strange looking white that looks like water coming out from the back of the table, behind the tree is my neighbors fountain that aerates his pond. His pond is like 50 feet beyond mine. If pondcam works… I will be talking to him about it (I have known him for a few years and I don’t think he understands exactly how much I love my pond).


That is a crappy picture too with my reflection, but it does show the idea. The camera is on and communicating to it’s  “PONDNET” network. I can see it and that is all that matters. It actually wasn’t as easy as this…. I had to mess with the antenna a lot being that far away. I also messed with the wireless settings, but in the end I did get it to work.

After getting the video straight, I configured the camera to email me a picture when it saw motion. I got 350 emails from then until it got dark all with the same picture, just the same view of the path. When I got home tonight, I set the sensitivity down so it would only email if something big is moving around in front of it. I will have to play with the software, but that is fine as it is a really interesting part of the project.

When you first clicked on this post, if you saw the “PONDCAM UP” fish to the right of the website, you are welcome to try to login:

User: pondcam
Password: pondcam

It isn’t in the water yet, but at least you will be able to see something. Again… It may be down by the time you read this. I have no idea what the batteries and solar panels will do… That part we are learning together. Oh and if it is night when you try… It will be black. I can’t give the credentials to turn on the light because it will give anyone who sees this on the internet the power to reset the camera. I will send out those credentials to anyone who wants it through email.

2 Thoughts on “My Silly Pondcam – Post 18 – Not in the water yet… but really close

  1. We usually have empty water bottles around the house.

  2. That is pretty cool. I can log in and see everything. I’m looking forward to seeing the ancient catfish at the bottom.

    It’s good to know that pondcam will survive even if civilization does not. The idea of pondcam continuing on through the eons is strangely comforting…

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