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Mandatory webcomic reference: https://xkcd.com/941/

I want to try creating long-baseline stereoscopic video of clouds. In order to do this, I need a pair of webcams I can set up 100-300 feet apart to stream video to my laptop. I figure the best place to set this up is a nearby cliff, but that means I'm somewhat lacking in the usual computer infrastructure (electrical outlets, wireless access points, etc.)

Requirements:

  • Wifi support, preferably ad-hoc mode.
  • Powered from batteries (preferable) or with an external power supply I can replace with a battery pack.
  • Predictable latency. If both cameras are showing images from a second ago, it's fine; if one is showing realtime and the other is delayed by random amounts, it throws off the stereo illusion.
  • Inexpensive. I'd really like to keep this under $100 for a pair of webcams; below $50 would be nice.
  • Support for Linux (preferable) or Windows XP.
  • 1
    It won't work with your budget, and it's not wireless (you'll have to drop some coax on the ground), but you could consider security camera systems. You'll need power at the receiving unit (so, e.g., bring an UPS with you), but that powers the cameras. They're typically analog video cameras, so constant, predictable latency, the same on all the cameras. – derobert Sep 17 '15 at 16:35
  • +1 for xkcd and the idea of actually trying this, perhaps with Google Cardboard for viewing. You might want to just buy a UPS and set up a laptop to run two normal webcams and stream it over the internet to you. – Keavon Oct 12 '15 at 6:24
  • I have tried this and most of them are either in black and white or terrible quality. I have one actually. Why windows xp support? – William Feb 24 '18 at 3:39
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I would not use wireless because wireless will be too erratic performance for your need.

Instead, use a couple of POE cameras, two long cat5 cables, two POE injectors and a switch or a POE switch, and a laptop to do the recording. All of this would run off a 150W inverter which can run off a car battery.

Camera $100 NZ/each http://www.cdlnz.com/index.html?do=viewproduct&p=LAN080&code=NFC31-IR These are 720p HD, so the footage is 1280x720 and is just under 1 megapixel. Webcams tend to be 640x480 at 0.3 megapixel.

POE switch $60 NZ http://www.trademe.co.nz/975329444 you'll find something on ebay to do this. EDIT: Netgear has a cheap 5 port swith model GS205 which is POE, $35 NZ http://www.trademe.co.nz/977028525

Cable, stranded cat5, 30c/metre or $100/roll of 1000 feet. http://www.cdlnz.com/index.html?do=viewproduct&p=NC105&code=C-C5E-ST%20R Ethernet is up to 100 metres from the switch, but you can push to 120 metres or so. If you cut it too long, just trim off 5 metres and use that for making flyleads later.

Crimps for the ends $10 NZ The tools cost a bit more.

Inverter to give mains power from a 12V source $40 NZ http://www.cdlnz.com/index.html?do=viewproduct&p=UPS600&code=IPS-250

Fully charged car battery - Best to bring a spare, or use one in your car. Depending on condition and load you may get anything up to an hour before its too flat to start your car. You can leave the engine idling, but this will use fuel.

All up thats about $410, but you have a lot of parts that can be reused or onsold. You might be able to borrow some of it too.

I can't see how you'd do it for $50. You'd be limited to two cheap USB webcams attached to a laptop, and you would have a maximum of 10 metres between them even using active USB booster cables.

Third option might be to use two action cameras, set them up and record on both, then stand in the middle and use a big clapper board to make a sound spike for synchronisation.

No matter what you do you'll need to find some software to combine the imagery, and something like google cardboard video player to screen it.

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