Public Primary School Rosa Boekdrukker

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The School

The public primary school Rosa Boekdrukker in Amsterdam is probably the only primary school in the Netherlands that develops OSS/GPL educational software. We made a CMS and a client-server system, both for primary education. Please see links below.

Our school can take part in a broadband fiber school network experiment that is being carried out in Amsterdam. In the coming years all schools in Amsterdam will have fiber broadband connections to the Internet and a 1Gb fiber broadband LAN with the schools under one board. We want to experiment with audio and video on the network

Why Elphel?

Our School tries to do as much as possible with Open Source because we think that's what education is about: sharing knowledge. In that sense we became interested in the Elphel camera. It's OSS/GPL, even the hardware! And it gives high resolution output. In our opinion, using a broadband connetion and connecting a cheap low-level webcam and a carbon :-) mic to it is stupid. As a microphone we use a Sennheiser MD421. In this way we hope the end user benefits as much as possible from the qualities a fiber network can deliver.

Usage (technical)

We will use the camera in our schools LAN, either hand held or on a tripod. Maybe we can build a portable camera. Our volunteer developed cameras for psychiatric and educational use in the days of the b/w vidicons.

The Camera Arrives: getting started

Wow! It's a beauty! Now let's see if we, simple teachers, can get this thing to work. We dowloaded the PDF manual and went to page 8. It's not completely clear how to setup connections because the picture of the power supply differs from what we have in our hands.

Our PS has two RJ45 connectors labeled: Data in and PoE OUT. PoE out: it seems reasonable to connect that one to the camera. On the other hand, 'Data In' could be referring to the data coming _from_ the camera. We are in doubt. And decide to ask for help. Could it be an idea to provide some simple drawing in which three setups are drawn with cables and cable types (standard RJ45 and Crossover):

1. Camera on computer 2. Camera on switch without PoE 3. Camera on switch with PoE

Waiting for the answer, we will download teh Live-CD at Sourceforge. We go 'Download' > 'Browse All Files'. We find 'live-cd' (version 2.0.0) and 'Download'. We click the 'Download' link. We can download the live DVD2.0.0.tar! We have no DVD! We want the CD. We try 1.5.1., a tar.gz. After uncompressing we have a directory with a bunch of files. With the aid of Knoppix we can compile a CD. That't to complicated for us. There is no .iso image from which we can burn a Live-CD. What to do? Where is the .iso image? Tomorrow we will ask. The next morning, we try again on Sourceforge. Finally we find an .iso image: knoppix-elphel- This may seem rediculous, searching for an .iso, but I am visually impaired and not experienced, so I need clear cut directions.

Notes for a teacher manual:

- what's in the box

- lens, camera, RING. Do not foret the ring. When we removed the C mount front cap from the camera body, accidentally the ring stayed on the cap. When we attached the lens, we could not get a sharp image because of the missing ring. When we screw the ring on the lens, the back focus distance was correct.

- connecting the various pieces (cables & cable types) (picture + explanation) - Downloading the CD

- Requirements of PC. P3 800+ 256MB ram cannot play stream via mplayer.

- set BIOS to start from CD

- basic checks

- focussing the camera

- set network to a 192.168.0 range

- use firefox to go to - enable popup windows in FF

Tuesday 19 march

We made some progress. The camera is in our schoolnetwork. Can be reached by gong httP://camera inside the school. We use DHCP.

Is the camera setup GUI password protectable?

The camera works great with VLC. No special tricks, no patches, just the normal download an the tucows.dll

Usage (content)

We have several ideas on the usage of cameras and sound over fiber broadband which we want to investigate. Among them are: giving parents access to classrooms during lessons over Internet, online classroom access for children ill at home, public lessons over the Internet, using the school unstaffed by others, children creating podcasts as project research documentation, to name a few. Now that we have the camera working in school we decided what the first project would be: Ill children at home. This happens at a lot of schools. A child has a broken leg, another has an interstine problem, etc. These chidres stay at home for weeks or even months, miss a lot of lessons, slowly lose thier learning abilities, etcetera. The project is alos interesting for other schools. End result of this project would be an English manual describing the complete setup in such a way that ohter schools can make use of the knowledge.


What we want is the following: Classroom: An Elphel camera, a microphone, a monitor and speakers in the classroom.

At home: A webcam with build in microphone, connected to the home PC (Windows) and speakers or headphone.

We have a good microphone (sennhieser MD 421), a webcam with built in microphone and it's software, speakers, headphones.

We first want to setup a test environment in school (no firewall problems).


Now our problems start and we hope someone in this community can help us.


1. How do we create an audio stream? On the web we only find stuff that creates files. We do not need files and we do not want to save anything. AFAIK we only need a plain stream, just as the camera does. Please bear in mind that software must be free (schools all over the world are poor) and if possible with source.

2.How can we send both the video (Elphel) and audio (microphone) stream to VLC? In our school we can use a windows or linux workstation and we have a Linux server.

More problems will arise, but this is the start. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Our schools homepage


Our server-client system

Association "Schools Together Ritch with ICT"

Articles on the use of media in education