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# Making a Mystery webcam

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Hello Everyone! I had a quick question. I was wondering if it is possible to make a webcam Letterbox. What if I put a cache and a camera somewhere and said that the cache was in the line of vision from the camreas view? would that count as a "clue?" Thanks! -Dennis

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11 minutes ago, dennistubaplayer said:

Hello Everyone! I had a quick question. I was wondering if it is possible to make a webcam Letterbox. What if I put a cache and a camera somewhere and said that the cache was in the line of vision from the camreas view? would that count as a "clue?" Thanks! -Dennis

In my opinion that clue is not specific enough.

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28 minutes ago, dennistubaplayer said:

Hello Everyone! I had a quick question. I was wondering if it is possible to make a webcam Letterbox. What if I put a cache and a camera somewhere and said that the cache was in the line of vision from the camreas view? would that count as a "clue?" Thanks! -Dennis

Interesting idea.  If you hid a container or some object with a set of coordinates for another location within the view of a webcam, it could be created as a mystery that requires one to use the camera find the cache, not to take a photo.  The tricky part would be to figure out how to make the use of a gps integral to finding the cache.

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35 minutes ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

Interesting idea.  If you hid a container or some object with a set of coordinates for another location within the view of a webcam, it could be created as a mystery that requires one to use the camera find the cache, not to take a photo.  The tricky part would be to figure out how to make the use of a gps integral to finding the cache.

I've seen webcams that allowed random visitors to the site to control where the camera points and how much it zooms in. Perhaps the webcam could be used to find a plaque or something with the final coordinates on it. So you'd have to point the webcam at the correct object and zoom in, which would tell you where the final is, and then you'd use those GPS coordinates to find the final.

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11 minutes ago, niraD said:

I've seen webcams that allowed random visitors to the site to control where the camera points and how much it zooms in. Perhaps the webcam could be used to find a plaque or something with the final coordinates on it. So you'd have to point the webcam at the correct object and zoom in, which would tell you where the final is, and then you'd use those GPS coordinates to find the final.

Thats's just what I was thinking of.   I consider creating a multi cache that would have the first stage in an elevated location such that the next set of coordinates could only be seen from that location.  Same sort of idea but the "puzzle" could be done from home.

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You would still need meaningful GPS use - letterbox hybrid caches are no different from other cache types.  This is easily done if the stage found by searching the webcam view area contains GPS coordinates to a second stage container that includes a letterboxing stamp.

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Does anyone know what kind of camera I will need to aquire?

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Hard to answer your question about "kind of camera" with the info you've presented. You've used the term "webcam", which means camera image available on a website.  This means that you need a camera and online hosting for its image output.   The camera has to be outputting its images electronically, either wired or wirelessly  - which in turn gets into the question of power supply.

I suspect you're not really planning anything that complex, ie, not really a "webcam",  but maybe?

If I wanted to incorporate a webcam into cache design, I'd be looking at existing webcams, preferably user movable, and use something from one of the locations that they image as a way to generate coordinates for a stage or the final.  Cache type would be a Mystery. If I added a stamp to the final box, it would be a letterbox hybrid.

I probably wouldn't add a stamp ;-)

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16 hours ago, niraD said:

I've seen webcams that allowed random visitors to the site to control where the camera points and how much it zooms in. Perhaps the webcam could be used to find a plaque or something with the final coordinates on it. So you'd have to point the webcam at the correct object and zoom in, which would tell you where the final is, and then you'd use those GPS coordinates to find the final.

Wouldn't that be labled as a multi or a mystery?

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25 minutes ago, dennistubaplayer said:

Wouldn't that be labled as a multi or a mystery?

Yes, unless you chose to place a letterbox stamp in the final container.  Those are your three choices.

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While it would require both power and an internet connection (wired or wireless), I like the idea of setting up a PTZ 'network' camera and requiring the user to manipulate it (using a standard browser, not proprietary camera app) to visually locate information within the camera's field of view necessary to obtaining the coordinates for another stage or a final for a cache.  Some of these can be set up for temporary lock-out use such that multiple users aren't conflicting for control at the same time.  A decent PTZ (especially the Z = real optical zoom) aren't cheap, though (\$160+).  Could work with just pan/tilt but would be a lot more fun if the operator had to zoom in on things to find the answers.

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To the above, a gadget like this might serve the purpose

The problem is getting enough info on how controllable these are using a standard browser vs. one of the ONVIF apps.

Edited by ecanderson

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If you can create a webcam that is webhosted - it really shouldn't be that hard to add some vision processing to determine if there is a face or person on the camera.

Then you could have the final coordinates appear on the picture or website only when someone is on.

I haven't tried it but this tutorial seems pretty close:

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18 hours ago, ecanderson said:

While it would require both power and an internet connection (wired or wireless), I like the idea of setting up a PTZ 'network' camera and requiring the user to manipulate it (using a standard browser, not proprietary camera app) to visually locate information within the camera's field of view necessary to obtaining the coordinates for another stage or a final for a cache.  Some of these can be set up for temporary lock-out use such that multiple users aren't conflicting for control at the same time.  A decent PTZ (especially the Z = real optical zoom) aren't cheap, though (\$160+).  Could work with just pan/tilt but would be a lot more fun if the operator had to zoom in on things to find the answers.

I think I found a cheap one that is just what I'm looking for. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Wireless-Security-Camera-System-Outdoor-360-degree-WiFi-PTZ-Camera-1080P-Full-HD-4x-Optical-Zoom-Pan-Tilt-Zoom-Night-Vision-White/422058022

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Not very high resolution (2MP) , but could work.  My bigger concern is  over connectivity.  It says it's a WiFi camera, but I do note that the only user comment says "I just wish I could be able to watch it on my phone while I'm at work but unfortunately can't since my phone and camera has to be connected to same WiFi".  I don't know what to make of that, but IF the user is correct, that would imply that this one wouldn't work unless the finder was able to connect to the same WiFi hub as the camera.  It would be a strange design, but for only \$50... ???

Wish they would specify the manufacturer's web site (if any) and model number so a person could look at the full specs before buying.  If you try to find "Mancro" it always leads you back to WalMart.

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Couldn't I just say in the log that you needed to connect to XYZ's wifi?

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Geocachers can be required to connect to a Wifi router as part of a cache design, but no downloads can be required and the user cannot be required to provide any personal information/login credentials.  The user can be directed to a webpage that contains the information needed to proceed with the geocache hunt.

A stage of a mystery cache, multi-cache or letterbox hybrid cache that involves a wifi connection would be listed as a virtual stage.  The "Beacon" attribute would be required.

Edited by Keystone

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For the case I am still considering, the camera would be operated from a standard browser interface that requires no personal info of any sort to be provided.  I think the OP would be able to sort out how to do that quite easily using any of several different PTZ camera products.  Ideally, there would be no need to log in via any specific WiFi system.  That's how MOST of these products are designed to function, though obviously, they all do need some kind of internet connection for access.

To the OP:

Regarding power, there are two common approaches to this.  One requires supply of AC somewhere in the vicinity, with use of a wall wart to bring the juice down to some reasonable DC voltage.  This works for wired or wireless cameras.  Then there's something known as PoE (Power over Ethernet) that supplies power on the hardwired link.  That only works with wired cameras.  A couple of options for you to consider.

Regarding connectivity, unless you can come up with a static IP address, you're going to need to allow the camera to operate off of some unknown (likely Chinese) server for which the camera is pre-configured.  Getting the dynamic address to the finder's browser may be tricky, but is often handled by QR code these days.  You could duplicate the QR on the camera on the cache web page or a sticker nearby the camera to guide the finder's browser to the correct IP address.

Everything depends upon the choice of camera when it comes to the details.

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Hmm.... two ideas:

1. You could even run it in your house if you want. Set up the camera online 24/7 in a diorama of sorts. Allow a user to connect and control the camera to figure something out to solve the puzzle.

2. You could theoretically use a smartphone - if you have an app that can recognize content, you could require something to visible in the frame like, say a QR code, or a recognizable image (like face suggested above) and have the phone respond to that.  With the internet of things that could be most anything, from lights and equipment activating, to communications... imagination's the limit.

Hmm....

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5 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

1. You could even run it in your house if you want. Set up the camera online 24/7 in a diorama of sorts. Allow a user to connect and control the camera to figure something out to solve the puzzle.

I don't know if you were thinking of any particular cache, but The Night Mail uses this method - once you get past the first stage of the puzzle.

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12 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Hmm.... two ideas:

1. You could even run it in your house if you want. Set up the camera online 24/7 in a diorama of sorts. Allow a user to connect and control the camera to figure something out to solve the puzzle.

2. You could theoretically use a smartphone - if you have an app that can recognize content, you could require something to visible in the frame like, say a QR code, or a recognizable image (like face suggested above) and have the phone respond to that.  With the internet of things that could be most anything, from lights and equipment activating, to communications... imagination's the limit.

Hmm....

Hey Alexa, show me the coordinates...

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