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What is going on with our camera???

Update 1/4/17

We have had a lot of people who are upset about the camera being down. We are upset about it too. We understand it is hard to accept that we cannot fix this at this time. There is only so much we can do from the ground, and as much as we would love to be able to get the camera running again this season, it doesn’t look like that will be possible. We do not have a backup camera, or microphone in the tree that we can switch too, and if the current nest camera is able to be repaired it might never be reliable again or may have other long term issues. We will probably have to replace much of our current equipment next year. Much of our equipment was installed without standard operating procedure because we are not operating it in standard ways, and we did what we had to too make things work. We hope to move toward installing any new equipment we get with better protections in place, and more backups for outages like this one. Right now though we are stuck with what we have.

Big Questions:

Q. What is wrong with the Nest Cam?

A. Every connection to the nest cam from the ground is working just fine. The problem is the camera itself. Without being able to have the camera in hand we cannot do further testing to understand what went wrong. We have been in communication with AXIS, the camera manufacturer, and they said we would have to wait till we could physically be in contact with the camera to further diagnose it.

Q. Why not go up and get the camera really quick and fix it and put it back?

A. As much as we love to watch our eagles it would be highly unethical, and highly illegal for us to disturb their nest in any way right now. Just going up the tree to get the camera at this stage could risk disturbing the eagles, and would be a violation of the International Migratory Birds Treaty, and the Bald Eagle Golden Eagle Protection Act (Act 16 U.S.C. 668-668C). This can mean fines of $200,000.00 and imprisonment for 1 year.

Q. Are we sure that it is really down, couldn’t we have <insert my cousin’s uncle’s friend who’s good at that stuff> come check it out?

A. There may be someone more knowledgeable about the systems we are using, but at this time that wouldn’t really help. We have been in contact with AXIS the manufacturer of the camera and the only advice they could offer was to wait till the eaglets fledge. There is just nothing more we can do that can be done from the ground, all the connections to the camera are perfectly fine, it is the camera itself that has a problem. Until we are able to handle the camera there is nothing more to test.

Q. Why haven’t there been more updates?

A. We were hoping to give an update when things had changed. Nothing has changed so far. We will try to give more updates with or without change.

Q. Why keep chat/the approach cam/the site itself up if we don’t have a nest camera? Isn’t that just a big waste of money?

A.  We have the site for our viewers. It may not seem like it in chat, but people are still coming to the site. From December 4th to January 3rd we have had 4221 independent users visit our site. That is a lot less than normally at this time of year, but it is still a lot of people who care about our eagles and want to see them. We keep it up for those people. We haven’t always even had cameras (when we started the only way to see our eagles was in person), we have had difficult times before, and we have always tried to provide the best views of our eagles that we could through it all.  We will continue to do so.

As for keeping various aspects of the site up based on monetary reasons. When we switched to Livestream and got away from our previous video host we made the decision to pay annually because it saves us about 50% of the cost per year on streaming. That is why we got all those lovely views of the eagles this summer when in the past we normally shut it down. We may look at cutting back on some of the other services if we decide the savings would be worthwhile, but Livestream is our biggest cost, and it is already paid for the time being. If we were to cancel our subscription to Livestream we would lose our Approach Cam also.

Q. Where do we go from here?

A. We are looking into possibilities. First of all we are trying to come up with ways to improve our system so that catastrophic failures like this one are less likely, which might include having multiple cameras/microphones/IR illuminators in the tree at the start of the season so that if one link in the chain breaks we aren’t without a view for the rest of the season. Also, we want to vastly improve how our equipment at the base of the tree is stored/run many of our connections are not as protected as they should be from the weather, and much of our sensitive equipment is crammed into small boxes that aren’t made for this application. We need to order specialized boxes that will keep everything organized and safe from the weather. We hope with changes like these our entire system will be improved dramatically.

We are also looking at several short term solutions. We have discussed ordering an improved approach camera to at least make the best of our ground based viewpoint. We have also discussed trying to throw in some other content to keep things interesting till we can get our cam back up and running.

 

Lastly:

Thank you to all our viewers, and to all our moderators who have stuck it out with us thick and thin. We will do our best to keep on with this project and provide you with the best we can. We hope that you will be patient with us during this sad time where our equipment is failing, and be thankful with us that it is only technical difficulties and that as far as we know our birds are happy and healthy. You are the reason we keep this project alive, and we thank you for your ongoing support!

We will have a lot of expense this year on replacing equipment, and we may not get many donations with the camera in its current state, so we will do the best we can with the resources we have, and provide you with the best experience we can going forward.

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