How Webcams Work

Setting It Up

In order to experiment with Webcams and go through the process of setting one up, HowStuffWorks got itself a Webcam. To set it up, here is what we did:

  1. We went down to the local computer warehouse and bought the Intel Pro Video PC Camera.
  2. We installed the software for the camera on a Windows XP machine.
  3. We went to the Web site and downloaded a program called Webcam32. This is a popular software package for Webcams. You can get a free demo version or pay $39.95 for the full version. We went ahead and paid for a registered copy. (The complete user's manual for this product is available on the Web site. Check it out to see the wide array of features available on today's Webcam software.)
  4. We installed Webcam32. It was a very easy installation.
  5. After entering the address of the FTP site and a couple of other pieces of information, the Webcam showed its first signs of life!
  6. We pointed the camera out the window.
  7. We then tuned the software a bit to reduce the file size of the images and to enable the temporary-file copying feature.

There are many different features you can experiment with in Webcam32: streaming video, chat, captions, AVI files and different resolutions and compression ratios, to name a few. Webcam32 also supports the AutoCam feature, which allows you to create a Web page for your Webcam for free on the company's server. The software makes it simple.


As you can see, setting up a basic Webcam is extremely easy. If nothing else, the setup described here is a fun, inexpensive and simple way to experiment with a Webcam and see what you can do with one of your own!