CCN Beacon
Photo Album:

On Top Of Halifax:
Working On The Chebucto Community Net Webcam
December, 2004
Andrew D. Wright
Beacon Correspondent

Photo: Fenwick Place

This is Fenwick Place, used as a student residence by Dalhousie University and at 98 metres (320 feet) in height, the tallest place in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Photo: The webcam

And this is me, working on a webcam put on the very top of Fenwick Place by the Chebucto Community Net back in 2000. Keeping the view from the tallest place in Halifax going through all the storms and winds is a challenge. Each time something goes wrong we usually need to fix it on location. Some times, like July of 2003 when Johnathan Thibodeau took this picture, it is very pleasant so far above the city.

Photo: A windy sunset

Other times, like during this brisk fall 2004 sunset, the winds can blow quite hard and though there is little actual danger with the safety training and equipment provided by Chebucto, it can feel like the winds are blowing right through your clothing. Most of the time your connection with the ground is something you take for granted. When the winds blow on the top of Fenwick your connection to the ground is very much in the forefront of your mind. Notice in the background the rubber mat being lifted by the north wind and my lack of a hat.

Photo: The Chebucto Webcam revealed

Back in 2000, it was decided the best webcam for the amount of money Chebucto could spend would be a video camera that we would get a live feed from. We'd then capture still images from the video feed, process them slightly to add a copyright and time stamp, do some gamma correction then upload them to our main web server.

Photo: Tall Ships at play 2004

Originally brought in as a way to celebrate the Tall Ships 2000 visit and help bring in some much needed publicity for the Chebucto Community Net, the webcam has since covered the view of Point Pleasant Park and the mouth of Halifax Harbour as well as Tall Ships 2004. Thousands of people a day check out the Chebucto Webcam with upwards of 250,000 a day checking in during the historic first visit of the Queen Mary 2 to Halifax in September 2004.

In December 2004 the Chebucto Webcam is averaging 29,600 hits a day. Oddly, there is little interest in advertising on the Chebucto Webcam page, the only page on the entire Chebucto Community Net website which allows commercial advertising.

Photo: Spring 2004 - new lens

Over the course of winter 2003, our webcam was losing focus at night. Part of the problem seemed to be moisture condensing on the inside of the housing lens. While there is a heater in the housing and we try to only open the camera in low humidity weather, we decided to put in some silica gel (the pink package on top of the camera) to soak up any stray moisture left in the airtight housing. When this didn't work as well as we hoped, we finally figured out that after four years of staring into the sunrise, the webcam auto iris had finally packed in. This photo is from the lens replacement trip in spring 2004. Note the battery operated TV to see the camera view without climbing down from the roof, one of many refinements since installing the webcam.

Notice how everything is carefully piled below the edge of the roof? That is because stray gusts of wind can spring up at any time and carry off anything not weighted down.

Photo: 32nd floor balcony

When this December the webcam started showing distorted images, we were receiving complaints from as far away as Australia and Germany. Fortunately the weather earlier in December was good enough to allow us to go up to the webcam.

To get to the top of Halifax, you start at the balcony of the 32nd floor of Fenwick Place.

Photo: The view from the 32nd floor

This is the view out the 32nd floor balcony window looking down. The corner of Fenwick Street and Queen Street is in the top left corner.

Page 2 - More photos