Friday, June 13, 2008

Barncams on the Web: Part 2

In the last article I covered how to set up a basic barncam for home viewing. In this one I'll cover setting up a barncam for Web access. Barn webcams are popular among breeders, who like having the extra pairs of eyes --sometimes thousands of eyes -- on their ready-to-foal moms. Hovering horse moms such as myself dream of being able to check on their horse from work. And if you need a good personal safety rationale for your spouse/SO, here's a compelling story.

Equipment needed to set up a wireless barncam on the Web
If you happen to have a high speed network at your barn, you'll just need a streaming IP camera connected to your barn's network. But who has a high speed network in their barn???

If you're a regular old mortal and you want to set a wireless cam system up for Web viewing, here is what you need. You need:

  • a camera mounted in the stall (don't skimp on quality here)
  • a 2.4 Ghz transmitter mounted somewhere on the barn (and a place to plug it into power). Mounting the transmitter and/or antenna outside is recommended
  • a cable (50-150 foot is typical) that runs from the camera to the transmitter
In your house, there are some additional requirements -- things not needed in the standard system covered in the first article. You need:
  • a receiver that connects to the computer
  • a computer with a video capture card
  • an Internet connection
  • a streaming service like ($15/month)
Getting your barn cam on the net
As mentioned above, you'll need to buy a video capture card and subscribe to a video streaming service. Cards come with software that may or may not be compatible with your video streaming service, so check with the streaming service to see what card/software they recommend. Cards can be installed inside the computer or purchased as an external device attached via a USB connection. will sell you the card and software. also provides you with a Web page displaying your cam video or you can embed the cam video on your own Web site. You can restsrict access to viewing your barncam if you wish.

To summarize, a typical wireless web-capable system might run:

  • Cam, transmitter, receiver system: $500 (color, wireless, 1000 foot range).
  • Video capture card and software $70
  • $180 for one year subscription (Internet connection is assumed here)
  • High speed Internet connection
TOTAL: $750 plus cost of Internet connection

Below is a schematic of the equipment...

Other streaming services
In addition to, which was one of the first, there are many communities online although mare stare isthe biggest. Sites like (horse), (alpaca) and (international) all allow people to watch each others animals live over the web. There is a site that lets viewers contact the owner by text message or email when a mare shows signs of foaling, etc.

How would you put a 20 stall boarding barn on the Web?
I posed this question to Bill Theil of Saddlebrook Barncams. You never know, maybe he'll have an answer I can pitch to my barn owner, right? His answer is:

The cheapest way to put 20 cameras on the web would to have a fast internet connection at the barn and then wire each camera to a computer using the capture cards and upload it from that computer. There are capture cards with multiple inputs so that all cards could go to one computer. So four things are needed: Cameras, capture cards, a computer connected to the Internet and the stream hosting. An easier way would be to buy streaming IP cameras and connect them to the barn network. Then capture cards and computer would not be needed. Examples of these cameras are at


Riverwind surveillance supply

Saddlebrook barncams



  1. I thought sure you would do an obit on sad. Did you see the Conan O'Brien thing on Saving Argus' blog??? Hilarious!

  2. I'm sort of writing something on that now, but not exactly an obit. More of a "this is not a good year to be a sport horse" commentary. Soon, soon.

    Now I have to look up the saving argus blog!

  3. Thanks for the posts on the barn cams. There was a lot of useful information. We are definitely going to check on how much it would cost to do our barn.


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