At home I wanted to keep an eye on some builders who were carrying out some work on the house. I found a few freeware/shareware apps for webcam captures that worked pretty well, but then I realised how much CPU they were using. My server is only a 600Mhz box; it’s a fileserver and therefore doesn’t need to be beefy! It averaged out at about 80-90% utilisation which seemed excessive.
Despite taking snapshots from the camera every few seconds, it’s actually on all the time.. this is what’s causing the CPU usage to be so high. There didn’t seem to be any workarounds so I decided to code something up myself.
NOTE: I’m not actively maintaining this program and won’t answer emails about it not working for a particular webcam, or glitches in it’s capture. The code to read data from the webcams is generic stuff & if it doesn’t work I can’t do anything about it I’m afraid.
It’s a simple app with some simple features:
- Lowers CPU usage by switching off the webcam between snapshots
- Use any standard windows capture device
- Capture to a file as a BMP or JPEG image
- Specify a flexible filename
- Give the image a caption
- Specify the frequency of snapshots
- Can be used via the command line
- Captures can be triggered via hotkey
- Execute a file after each snapshot is taken (optional of course)
This last feature is great for those of you who love scripting & macros. You can pass through the name of the snapshot that’s just been taken (by specifying %1) and do whatever you like.. FTP the file, SMS it to your phone, run a batch conversion so that a bunch of JPEG images are compiled into an AVI… it’s up to you. File Mover also has this feature with an example .VBS script.
Downloads (for Windows 9x/200x/XP)
Simple Capture Install Kit v1.3 (177k)
Zipped .exe (100k) – for those people who don’t like install kits ;-)
VB6 Runtimes for anyone who doesn’t already have them installed
comdlg32.ocx for anyone who doesn’t have it
Version 1.3 – Added hotkey and command line support
Version 1.2 – Fixed further filename suffix bugs and added validation
Version 1.1 – Fixed filename suffix bug
Version 1.0 – Initial release
Command Line Arguments
/filename “<full path and filename, e.g. c:\temp\cam.jpg>”
/imgcaption Command line test
Another (free) Alernative
If Simple Webcam Capture isn’t any good for your needs (or plain and simple doesn’t work), then I can recommend Yawcam which I have running when I don’t need the camera to power down after each snapshot.
It’s a free piece of software (always makes a product more likeable!) and has a raft of features including FTP uploads etc etc etc.
Simple Webcam Capture is free for non-commercial use, but if you find it useful, a small donation via PayPal (no matter how small) would really make my day! Businesses must contact me if they want to use the application.
DISCLAIMER: A user of this software acknowledges that he or she is receiving this software on an “as is” basis and the user is not relying on the accuracy or functionality of the software for any purpose. The user further acknowledges that any use of this software will be at the user’s own risk and the copyright owner – Matt Collinge – accepts no responsibility whatsoever arising from the use or application of the software.