Long term continuous operation - observations

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vr

#1

This is a short write up on my experiences with long term (continuous) use of the Theta S in a monitoring digital repeat photography setup.

Since the beginning of Oktober 2016 I’ve been running the virtualforest.io website which collects images using a Theta S mounted at Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA, USA. My hardware setup has been described on the above mentioned website and on my github repository (including the software).

Although continuous operation has not been an issue during the first 3 months of operation issues started when the first deep frost days occurred. Although the Theta S generates plenty of heat (a common issue in normal operation) this wasn’t sufficient to keep the battery from cooling down below it’s thermal threshold. Throughout winter I relied on manual resets when the camera died. Most of the time it would only be revived for a day or so, only to freeze again when the next cold day or night hit. Insulating the camera with a cut up neoprene sleeve (as provided with the camera) makes a difference in frost resistance but not to the degree that it ensures 100% reliability. The lack of a remote power on also enforces manual access to keep the camera running.

Progressing into spring days became warmer and hence the frost issues would disappear, sadly to be replaced by overheating issues. The lack of a canopy to filter solar radiation, together with the black body of the camera and increasing daylength of predominantly clear days made the camera overheat. The latter issue did not exist in autumn as days became shorter and colder with an increasingly sparse canopy.

In short, although continuous monitoring is feasible it still relies on a lot of manual labour to keep the camera running as both low or high thermal limits on the camera will keep it safe but also non functioning at times, with no way to remotely recover (power on) the device. Furthermore, the camera has seen some serious abuse given that I’ve pushed it’s limits. Up till now it seems to hold it’s own. Some small discolouration due to thermal damage to the sensor can be spotted (but only if you really look for it).


#2

Koen, Thank you for this detailed feedback. I’ve added it to an meeting update I have with the THETA product manager.


#3

For reference up till now I have logged >50Gb of data ! Let’s say I stress tested the Theta S platform extensively.


#4

Oh, and if you could stress the importance of a remote power on that would be appreciated. This way I don’t need to bother my colleagues to reset the camera. In general I can’t complain about the camera. Like I mentioned it sticks quite correctly to it’s thermal limits (but that’s what reported on the spec sheet anyway).