Cely suggested doing some kind of time lapse video project. I have a linux box right next to my pepper growing aerogarden, and web cameras can be cheap. Sounds like fun. I did some linux webcam research and decided the CXXX line of Logitech cameras are all fairly new, come in a range of prices topping out at $99 USD, and are well supported by the open source uvcvideo driver.
The camera worked great for the first few basic tests and while looking around for other things to experiment with I and found hasciicam. It outputs ascii characters to represent image data and you can see a wasteful 3.7MB animated GIF below of me swigging a coca-cola...
input: Logitech USB Receiver as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:10.1/usb2/2-2/2-2:1.0/input/input1 generic-usb 0003:046D:C50B.0001: input,hidraw0: USB HID v1.10 Keyboard [Logitech USB Receiver] on usb-0000:00:10.1-2/input0 input: Logitech USB Receiver as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:10.1/usb2/2-2/2-2:1.1/input/input2 generic-usb 0003:046D:C50B.0002: input,hidraw1: USB HID v1.10 Mouse [Logitech USB Receiver] on usb-0000:00:10.1-2/input1 usbcore: registered new interface driver usbhid usbhid: USB HID core driver uvcvideo: Found UVC 1.00 device <unnamed> (046d:0821) input: UVC Camera (046d:0821) as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:10.4/usb5/5-2/5-2:1.2/input/input6 usbcore: registered new interface driver uvcvideo USB Video Class driver (v0.1.0) (20101119@11:27:30)(garrison@orpheus:/)$ uname -a Linux orpheus 2.6.36-0.dmz.8-liquorix-686 #1 ZEN SMP PREEMPT Tue Nov 9 05:29:17 UTC 2010 i686 GNU/Linux (20101119@11:27:31)(garrison@orpheus:/)$ cat /etc/issue Ubuntu 10.10 \n \l (20101119@11:14:09)(garrison@orpheus:/)$ lsusb Bus 005 Device 002: ID 046d:0821 Logitech, Inc. Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub Bus 002 Device 002: ID 046d:c50b Logitech, Inc. Cordless Desktop Optical Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub (20101119@11:18:08)(garrison@orpheus:/)$ lsmod | grep -i uvc uvcvideo 55029 0 videodev 65453 1 uvcvideo v4l1_compat 12753 2 uvcvideo,videodev (20101119@11:21:07)(garrison@orpheus:/)$ ls -al /dev/video0 crw-rw-rw-+ 1 root video 81, 0 2010-11-19 23:07 /dev/video0
(20101120@04:56:01)(root@orpheus:...elapse/20101106)$ uvcdynctrl --clist Listing available controls for device video0: Zoom, Absolute Focus, Auto Focus (absolute) Tilt (Absolute) Pan (Absolute) Exposure, Auto Priority Exposure (Absolute) Exposure, Auto Backlight Compensation Sharpness White Balance Temperature Power Line Frequency Gain White Balance Temperature, Auto Saturation Contrast Brightness
This ascii stuff is all good fun but what kind of picture quality are we talking about here? The logitech product page boasts some features that caught my eye:
I lauched the gnome based Cheese webcam application and took a 2592x1944 jpeg picture of the aerogarden while freehanding the camera. If you click on the main image in this link you can see the full resolution 451Kb result. I plan on mounting it on a tripod and may need to fiddle with the brightness and contrast. In terms of image quality I feel this camera isn't awesome compared to DSLR cameras or HD video cameras but its great for the price.
My general plan is to try and take a decent quality picture of a real bhut jolokia plant growing from seed at a regular interval for hopefully 6-7 months and then compile it into a few seconds of video. I hope to repeat my previous success with the caribbean red habanero. Next up is figuring out exactly what resolution, time interval, the storage requirements that will be needed for the next 6-7 months, and aquiring real bhut jolokia seeds. The actual picture taking will be done by some command line app and probably glued together with perl and cron.