The WebCam is something of a Heath-Robinson job. Ages ago at work, we bought a couple of parallel port cameras, supposedly to test the viability of a video conferencing system over the network. It didn't work, mainly due to the limitations of the cameras themselves, and the fact that they use the parallel port really limits the framerate. So the cameras sat there doing very little for a couple of years.
One evening a while back, I remembered that they existed, and had a look to see if they could be persuaded to work as a webcam, an application for which a decent framerate wasn't too important. Initial tests weren't good. I no longer had any of the camera packaging or documentation, and the cameras themselves are unmarked except for a serial number. I did have a driver disk - but for Win31 only. None of the readme files gave any indication of the company who made the camera, and web searches didn't turn up anything. So, I booted a machine back into the dark ages and fired up Win31. Hey Presto, the camera worked, although the software to drive it is worryingly flakey in places, and full of typo's and spelling errors. With a little work, it could be configured to take still images every x minutes, and save it as a bmp to a file. This functionality is somewhat broken in that the timer is very inaccurate - a setting of 1 image per minute actually results in 1 image every 5 minutes on a 200Mhz MMX pentium.
The snag was that in order to run this as a webcam, I would need to have a dedicated machine running win31 - the MMX machine was at the time the one I logged in on as Admin, and I needed it to be in NT. So, I had to build a PC from various odds and ends around the office. From various nooks and crannies, I put together WebCam1 with the following impressive specification:
The way the webcam now works is this:
On balance, this probably wasn't worth the effort, but it became a bit "I've started so I'm going to finish the *n*f*ing1 thing".
Things I'm unlikely to get around to include stopping it from putting files below a certain size into the archive (there being little point in archiving overnight images that are all entirely black).
1: This is a new swear word I just invented, specially for the occasion.