Light Control Hardware: The lights are controlled by a K8055 Card, which is a rather handy USB to "real-world I/O" interface card made in Belgium by Velleman, Inc. It's readily available here in the USA and in Europe in kit form. Like most Velleman kits, the circuit design is marginal but the kit itself is well thought out and very easy to put together. The card provides 5 discrete inputs, 2 analog inputs, 8 discrete (open collector) outputs, and 2 analog outputs selectable to either PWM or 1-5 VDC. The card connects to a USB port on the computer and is seen by Windows as a HID-Class device. Some demo programs and a very inefficient DLL are provided with the kit but those who are able will probably want to write their own driver and application interface code like I did. On this site I'm only using the K8055's discrete outputs. The discrete outputs drive relays on a simple board I threw together, and the relays switch the lights on and off. I must admit, for a cheap beginner-level kit this K8055 has is a pretty cool device.
Also, a couple of the lights are controlled by X10 "home automation" gear. A CM15a module interfaces the computer to the X10 powerline carrier network. A plugin for AbelCam allows the web server to talk to the CM15a. The controlled lights are plugged into X10 lamp modules.
Light Control Software: Since there didn't seem to be any commercial software available to implement Web-based control of the K8055 card I simply wrote my own. The present incarnation of the light control program integrates tightly with AbelCam as a "plugin module". This is a much cleaner setup than the previous version, which was a 2-program client/server design. Now that AbelCam supports plugins, I was able to re-write my light controller to make direct use of AbelCam's internal web server, URL parser, and so forth. Therefore, I no longer have to duplicate functionality in my light controller that already exists in AbelCam. For more information about this and other plugins click the K8055 & X10 Software button to your left. My X10 web plugin software is also available there.
Weather Data: The weather data that is shown on some of the cameras' captions is not truly local. I can't set up a real weather station (rental home) so I get my weather data from an RSS feed that comes from the National Weather Service. A Perl script monitors the feed and formats it out into a textfile that AbelCam uses as a caption.