Camera Pole System for Remote Monitoring and Live Weather Camera Video

During TV weather reports, you've probably seen landscape video along with the narration, "Today, we are reporting from …." These weather cameras are mounted on roofs of certain buildings as well as scenic and historical spots. While cameras mounted on buildings are usually fixed, cameras at scenic and historical spots often use an extendable pole so as to capture the view. To take video, the pole is extended and the camera is raised. When the video ends, the pole is retracted and the camera is hidden in the shadows. YUASA Co., Ltd., which has its head office in Kita-ku, Okayama in Southwest Japan, is a leader in weather cameras and monitoring cameras as well as hydraulic telescoping poles mounted on broadcasting relay vehicles.

  • Telematics
  • Transportation
  • Space saving
  • Work efficiency improvement

Using a Slim Embedded Computer in a New Weather Camera

Conventional weather cameras sent a video signal from the camera atop a pole to a ground device via coaxial cable wound along the pole, and that signal was sent to the broadcast station. In addition, commands to control the video camera operation (start/stop) and direction (rotation/angle of elevation) were sent by communication line from the broadcast station to the camera atop a pole via control signal cable. A proprietary controller was created to raise and lower the pole and control the rotation and angle unit, but consideration was given to upgrading the system to handle digital content as a web camera, remote operation, and status monitoring. The slim embedded computer BX-100n from Contec meets these needs by having full capability of providing data communication, control, and image processing while being able to be installed in locations with limited space.
The BX-100n has a small footprint (W182 x D270 x H35 mm) with a thickness of only 35 mm and built-in LAN functions as well as both analog and digital input and output.。 This highly reliable industrial computer has a fanless, disk-free enclosed design (using a CF card) and doesn't require maintenance, making it ideal for installation in remote, unmanned locations.

(Left) Upper unit of camera pole, (Right) When pole is raised

Digitizing the System for Remote Operation Using Wireless LAN Over the Internet

Main features of weather camera pole system:

  • A compact HDTV network camera can be mounted atop a pole for capturing high-definition images.
  • Uses video compression technology for efficiently transmitting video images with low data volume and without delay.
  • The unit used to raise and lower the pole and control rotation and angle enables remote operation of camera direction (up/down/left/right) and video control via the Internet.
  • Uses wireless LAN (Contec FX-DS540 series) to download images for cable-free operation.
  • Pole upper control box is equipped with a battery, thereby eliminating routing of a power line.
  • Equipped with a solar power panel to automatically charge when the pole is retracted during the daytime. (It can also charge from AC100V as a backup power source).
  • Enables status monitoring via the Internet. Alerts are sent by email when a facility malfunction occurs.
  • A fan and heater are installed in the pole upper control box and ground control panel to deal with temperature and humidity in outdoor installations.

Expanded Applications as a Remote Monitoring Pole System

This camera pole system is not only a weather camera but has expanded applications as remote monitoring equipment. Conventionally, monitoring images recorded on videotape with an analog signal were digitized and stored on a hard disk. Today monitoring and downloading are possible over the Internet. The following functions were added based on the weather camera functions:

  • Automatic recording only when motion is detected in the camera image.
  • Embedding an external hard disk in the ground side control panel for video recording of up to approximately 18,000 hours (approx. 750 days).
  • Setting of the number of days for storage and automatic deletion of old data.

Automatic Repositioning of Broadcast Relay Truck Antenna

The live on-site video and audio you see and hear from TV reporters is sent by radio wave from an antenna on the relay truck to the broadcast station. It is key that the antenna be quickly and accurately pointed toward the broadcast station. Taking time to adjust the antenna can result in the on-site relay not connecting and missing important video.
The "automatic repositioning system" that is being developed uses the BX-100n to automate remote control operations that were conventionally performed manually. The position of the relay truck is determined by GPS, its direction is detected by gyro position sensors, and calculations are performed, enabling control of the rotation unit and quick and accurate repositioning of the antenna to face the broadcast station. The relay truck has a lot of equipment and limited space. Conventionally, a dedicated controller was used to hydraulically raise and lower the pole and jack that secures the vehicle, but with the BX-100n, a system was realized using nearly the same size.

YUASA has 90% of the market share for relay antenna poles.

Customer Profile

Using a Compact, High-Performance Embedded Computer to Expand System Design

Teiji Yasuda, Manager, Design Section, System Equipment Division
With development, there has been a need for extendable pole control, weather camera rotation control, and video monitoring all via the Internet. We went through trial and error to determine the necessary method of remote operation and wireless video transmission equipment, and then we came across the Contec BX-100n embedded computer.
It supports LAN for Internet connection and features analog and digital input and output ports in a compact, energy-saving design. It integrates everything we need in a single unit, and now we use it to construct a system with enhanced features from weather camera systems to remote monitoring systems. In the future, we will expand our system design by using embedded computers in both the upper and lower parts of the pole for individual control of upper and lower control panels and to enable comprehensive operation and monitoring by using a remote computer.

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