Using Linksys WVC54GC Webcam with Linux

Written by NickWal

Introduction

The Linksys Compact Wireless-G Internet Video Camera WVC54GC is a linux based wireless webcam with its own streaming web server built in. Windows users can view the video stream through their browser without the need to install any extra software other than allowing the supplied Active-X control to run. Strangely, while the product itself appears to be linux based, and its firmware is open source which you can download from the Linksys website, there isn’t much in the documentation about using this camera with Linux.

Installation (setting up the network connection)

The setup tool that comes with it is a windows tool. This is the easiest way to configure the WVC54GC, and of course doesn’t prevent you from using the camera from Linux. This was my case, as I have a Windows computer and a Linux computer, and I set the WVC54GC up from Windows, though I tend to use it from Linux. Anyway – if you want to do it from Linux, you can use the following method:

  1. Plug the camera in to your regular network hub, and remove everything else appart from the Linux computer you will be using to configure the Webcam. Temporarily set the IP address of your computer on this interface to 192.168.1.1. The camera should be either at 192.168.1.115.
  2. Point your browser to the camera’s IP address and go to administrator interface - the default username is admin with password admin
  3. Configure the network, wireless, and image settings, and change the password.
  4. You can set either an IP address compatible with your network (in the same range) or if you are using a DHCP server (many ADSL routers have one built in and enabled by default) you can select that instead. I actually use a DHCP server which runs on my Linux machine (see the next section).
  5. Change your computers IP address back to normal, unplug the webcam, and plug everything else back in, disconnecting the power to the WVC54GC and then reconnecting it having removed the ethernet cable should be enough to get the camera to start up in wireless mode.

Tip:Use DHCP and DNS

I have one linux computer, used as a server, which is switched on pretty much all of the time, and I run dnsmasq on that. Dnsmasq, which will be the subject of another post, is a combined DHCP and dns server. This works quite well with network devices such as the WVC54GC, since you can set a name, and configure it to request and IP address via DHCP, this name will then resolve correctly on your network. So thats tip 1 really, not necessary to actually use the video camera on your home network (you can always set up the IP address manually), but its certainly a comfortable way of managing the configuration.

Viewing Video

The raw video stream itself is actually available at http://yourwebcamera/img/video.asf. ASF is a Microsoft format – but plenty of Linux software can use it. Its a digital video container format sometimes known as ‘Advanced Streaming Format’. The actually encoding of the video is MPEG-4 – a widely used standard. So, while you cannot run the active X control under Linux, you have plenty of choices of software you can use to view the video stream, provided you know where it is. Software you can use include the popular Mplayer, Xine and VLC.

Video Applications

Thats all very well for viewing video, but what about real applications such Video Capture or Motion detection. The Linksys WVC54GC actually has some of this capability built in. It can be configured to detect motion, and email a video fragment to a predefined email address.

Video Still Capture

While the Linksys WVC54GC is first and foremost a video camera, you may want to save snapshots from it from under linux. The video viewing software Mplayer also comes with some tools which allow you to capture video and stills, once you have installed Mplayer, you can issue a command like:

mplayer http://10.0.0.26/img/video.asf -frames 1 -vo jpeg

Obviously, subsitute 10.0.0.26 for the IP or the DNS name of your WVC54GC web camera. Mplayer will save a file 000000001.jpg with a snapshot. Mplayer uses ffmpeg to do the conversion, so you will certainly need that installed too. The best quality image will be achieved if you have set high quality in the Wifi webcams on-line setup page.

Video Capture

Video Capture is just as easy as capturing stills. This can be done with ‘ffmpeg’ which will have been installed when you installed mplayer, as mplayer has ffmpeg as a dependency. Issue a command like:

ffmpeg -i http://10.0.0.26/img/video.asf -vcodec mjpeg -b 900k test.mjpeg

Press Q to stop recording. The ‘-b’ option governs the quality (or bitrate) reduce the number to reduce the size of the files that are recorded, however you will see a corresponding decrease in video quality.

See Also: Part 2: Motion Capture using the WVC54GC Wireless Webcam with Linux and related article How to use the WVC54GC wireless webcam with Firefox