The Harrisville GrassCam
Welcome to the Harrisville, NH GrassCam:
The latest GrassCam image
The Grasscam is about 11.4 miles NNW of the Jaffrey weather station, and 300 feet higher. Temperatures tend to be lower, and there's more localized precipitation. Note - clicking for a forecast may subject you to ads and popups.
|A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world|
|- John le Carré|
Big news in the news section!
I've finally found a use for the ancient and obsolete equipment I've accumulated, along with some terrific deals on cheap video hardware that's not compatible with anything. It's the Harrisville GrassCam!
What could be more fun than watching the grass grow in lovely Harrisville NH? Of course, once in a while it gets cut too. If you know Harrisville, you probably recognize the location, stop by and wave! If you don't then it really doesn't matter where it is, does it?
Given the state of the equipment that supplies this picture, don't be surprised if it quits without notice some day. In testing, I have seen instances where the system "permanently" stopped uploading images; I've seen other cases where it successfully uploaded an old image, even updating the caption to show the wrong time. The first power glitch or well placed lightning bolt will also kill it, at least until I get around to doing something about it.
Besides the scenic vista, the Harrisville GrassCam also includes an environmental monitor.
I reserve the right to shut this thing off whenever I feel like it. I may also substitute different pictures from time to time. Who knows, maybe there'll be a LeafCam, HunterCam, SnowCam, or MudCam in the months to come.
I didn't set out to copy anyone with this page. I didn't find out about the Iowa Farmer Today's CornCAM until about a month after I started the GrassCam.
February 7, 2012: See that blurry red, black, and yellow object on the right of the picture? That's a For Sale sign. It's been there for a while, and it appears to have worked. So, when the GrassCam jumped into the toilet on January 14, it was for the last time.
September 8, 2007: GrassCam version 4 is now running. Version 3, from June, had a nice
auto-focusing mechanism which died. After I took a stab at fixing or disabling it, it really died. This version's
camera is designed to be a webcam. It also turns certain colors to vivid pink when the sun hits it on a hot day,
The GrassCam is now viewable at Weather Underground. While the images are all coming from the same camera, Weather Underground's images are more frequent, and there's a neat video option on that site, too. At least I think it's neat; I haven't seen it yet.
June 15, 2007: So now it's the TreeCam, or the CanapyCam, or the OopsCam, or whatever. On the 10th, I replaced the camera. The new one is an old 8mm camcorder, and the picture it produces is much better than what came out of the original GrassCam, or its recent, temporary replacement. That is technically; it didn't improve the content. Compare the first picture to any older one in the archive. Unfortunately, the genii that designed this camera put the tripod mount at the very front, leaving several inches of unbalanced weight to the rear. Overnight Wednesday, that imbalance was too much, and the tripod (designed to hold a lightweight still camera steady on a tabletop) let the back fall down and the lens point up. I haven't decided whether the new view is any better or worse than the old.
May 30, 2007: It's looking more dead than ill. On the weekend, the GrassCam got a new (quite old, actually) camera. The good news is that the replacement camera actually produces the color green, something you'd expect from a grasscam, but something that the old camera hasn't done in years. On the downside, the new camera's field of view is narrower - it can't show the intersection to the right of the stop sign, the full Emmy, the little patch of sky on the upper right, and of course the vast expanse of grass at the bottom. Any power glitch will turn off the camera until someone pays it a physical visit and turns it back on again (the rock I put on top of the switch may have fallen off). There are other shortcomings I'm too lazy to mention. Suffice it to say that today it quit, perhaps permanently. I'm hoping someone will donate a replacement.
May 11, 2007: The GrassCam is ill. This is not news to regular
visitor(s), but the timing is unfortunate, since the Chronicle story aired again last week,
and my new employer put a link to the GrassCam on their website (I assume that was a mistake).
The hordes of new visitors to the site were treated to lots of black images.
After extensive testing last week, I've concluded that it's the camera that's dying, and I have plans to install a replacement, maybe later this month.
Other than that, nothing much happened. The GrassCam worked pretty well, if you ignore events such as the server running out of space more than once, and difficulties coping with the new start of Daylight time.
Maybe the GrassCam needs a blog. I've heard that blogs are very in.
May 18, 2006: It's official! WCVB-TV Channel 5 in Boston has announced the appearance of the Harrisville GrassCam on the May 22 edition of Chronicle, airing at 7:30pm. I don't know when the in program the GrassCam segment will appear, but my guess would be towards the end. This is not in the sense of saving the best for last, it would be more like adding filler at the end when all the interesting stuff is done.
April 26, 2006: It's been a long time, and there's been no news. The GrassCam has generally worked well, or not at all. Until yesterday, that is. Yesterday, pigs flew. Not really, but something just as likely happenned. A crew from a major Boston TV station visited the GrassCam to film a segment for broadcast in May (check back here around the 20th). I'm not sure what the piece will look like, but chances are it will air near the end of the program for the simple reason that it doesn't pay to put the audience to sleep at the start of the show. On a professional note, the prospect of publicity forced the GrassCam operator to move the archive to a commercial web host, which in turn required him to redo his archive software for Linux rather than Windows, which in turn required him to learn a portable language - namely php. All in a day's work.
November 26, 2004: There's been a gap in operation, since November 8. On that day, the timer crashed. That's just about the cheapest and simplest component in the system. It is responsible for rebooting the other, more sophisticated components of the system, which are all theoretically more likely to crash and need a reboot.
November 23, 2004: The old address, on shore.net or primushost.com or whatever, is gone.
June 26, 2004: Broadband has come to the GrassCam. One change resulting from this is a new home for this page. The old page will remain for a while, with a stale picture. Then, like so much other stuff on the web, it will vanish. This new home has two and half years to go on its lease, after that, who knows? Other changes may come, for example more frequent pictures are a possibility. We shall see.
January 11, 2004: The thermometer showed -20 degrees yesterday, I think. The camera is drooping because of the cold, as it has done in previous years. Surprisingly, it continues to function. In prior years, I stuck an electric Christmas candle inside the computer cabinet to keep it warm while the timer has it switched off. I couldn't find that candle this year, so it's operating in an ambient temperature of less than 20 degrees, which I think is well out of spec.
August 31, 2003: The GrassCam has a new cousin - the Pioneer Valley RIPCam.
June 14, 2003: The archive has a new look. Rather than a linear list of almost 3500 (and growing) pictures with cryptic file names and deceptive dates, the archive is now organized in a clickable calendar form.
Apr 22, 2003: It's back again. It had been sick, and the change to daylight time killed it outright. So now it has a new (different) computer, and a good $25 modem instead of the cheap $10 one the old computer had. The system still has problems though - everytime an application finishes, it aborts, leaving an OK box on the screen, which prevents anything else from starting. I looks like an issue with the video capture driver, and I've been unable to reproduce the correct sequence of OS loads vs. driver loads to cure the program. The manufacturer turned over support to a computer store in Utica; and after three years of happy snaps I'm not going to persue it with them. I got my $15 worth. So, I've jury-rigged the schedule so that I can no longer remote control the system or get live video, but I now do get our fascinating picture every two hours. Archiving's back too, with a different method. Using the old method, the GrassCam computer was responsible for creating the archive images. It would send them up to the web server when it got around to it - if it didn't I could collect them with a laptop when I visited. Now, the archive computer is responsbile for collecting the images from the web site - once every two hours. If it misses one, it's gone.
Mar 29, 2003: I paid the GrassCam a personal, non-virtual visit today. As a result, it's re-aimed, and its schedule is extended - comensurate with the longer daylight hours. There's also a few more months worth of new pictures in the archive. That's 233 pictures, to be exact. The bad news is that the computer continues to misbehave, even though it's a brand new OS build. This results in no new automatic additions to the archive. It may also result in future violence to the hardware.
Mar 24, 2003: Breakthrough Day. For the first time in months, the grass in the front yard poked through the snow cover. Here's the picture. And yes, I know I need to go there and reaim the camera, and turn on the pump and the hot water, etc. Soon.
Jan 10, 2003: The GrassCam is back. The GrassCam computer does not have anit-virus software - it normally doesn't need it. But every once in a while, it gets used for another purpose, and it got caught. I tried cleaning it remotely, but decided that was a losing battle. I could have tried restoring from a backup, but opted for a clean rebuild instead. So, the machine has brand new installations of everything - Windows 98se and up. I'd expect good performance in this situation, but everytime an application closes, there's an error on the screen that has to be cleared. It doesn't seem to affect the delivery of pictures, so I'll live with it until it does.
The first time I tried it, the camera was pretty much snow-blinded, so I couldn't see that the camera had slipped a little and is pointing too low. That odd shaped mound near the lower left corner is emmi.
Nov 18, 2002: The GrassCam has succumbed to a virus. FunLove in particular, and it spreads faster than I can clean it. So, I think I'll rebuild when I get a chance. It may be a while.
Sep 29, 2002: There's a new emmi.
June 3, 2001: The GrassCam has been snapping for over a year, and we didn't even have a party. No one is more surprised than I am that it's still going. It's caught sunshine and nightime (extra boring), overcast and rain, snow, more snow, and still more snow, pedestrians, cars, trucks, and a bicycle or two. I added the environmental monitor, which disappeared aroung the end of 2000 and re-appeared in the spring of 2001. The computer continued to cycle up and down on schedule, thanks in part to the insertion of an electric Christmas candle to keep it warm.
In lieu of a party, I'm happy to announce the GrassCam archive. It's an ever expanding collection of old shots from the GrassCam. It's a part time link, so if it doesn't work for you, try it again later.
June 27: It's baaack!
June 12: The GrassCam goes AWOL! Until it returns, I'll post a random shot from the archives every once in a while.
June 7: Environmental monitoring added!
May 29: the first passing car!
Highlights from the Harrisville GrassCam.
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