My wife, Erica, is an overprotective mother. We dont actually have any
kids, though—just a cat. Sammy’s not even the kind of cat that you really
need to worry about; he’s healthy, young, and built like a goat. But Erica still
worries. Erica worries so much that we cant take an overnight trip without
spending half the time wondering if the cat is okay.
Erica and I got married a couple of years ago and went on a honeymoon
cruise. We hired a pet sitter to come and feed the cat on a daily basis, and to
reassure Erica that everything was okay, I set up a cheap webcam and some
motion detection software. It worked terribly.
Of course, it was still better than nothing—we were able to connect to the
Internet from the very slow satellite link on the ship, and browse through
a directory of webcam pictures to verify that Sammy was alive and that
the pet sitter was feeding him. However, the motion detection software
was very unreliable. The video from the webcam had so much noise that
the motion detection software triggered almost constantly. It would even
take pictures throughout the night, when there was total darkness and
the camera couldnt capture an image. Worst of all, I actually
paid for that
The camera was in the room with my computer, but the cat didn’t spend
much time in that room. So we had to look at hundreds of pictures to find
a single one that actually had the cat in it. This was especially tedious
Remotely Monitor
a Pet
$300 or less
three or four hours
3 out of 5
What You Need
Three X10 lamp modules or wall
Three indoor X10 motion detectors
Three wireless cameras
A wireless video receiver
(compatible with wireless cameras)
An X10 wireless transceiver
X10 Powerlinc Serial Controller
Eight AAA batteries
A stable Internet connection
that allows inbound connections
(broadband helps)
A computer running Linux
A video capture card with
composite video input
Sticky poster adhesive
A screwdriver
For a list of specific parts used in this
project, refer to Exhibit A at the end
of this chapter.
hhpg.indb 41
11/24/2004 1:54:14 PM

Get Home Hacking Projects for Geeks now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.