This is from a blog I did last year to try to explain why some of us (or all of us at one time or another) have problems getting a good picture or Social Stream or Chat on our computers. Enjoy! And if you have questions please put them in the comments. Thanks!
The graphic below gives a very simplified version of what it takes to get the picture to you.
It starts with the solar panels that provide power to the cam. That power is sent up the tree to the cam, then the cam makes pictures in HD digital form and sends them back down the tree. They are then sent to BBC by a radio link, that has at least two relays in it, and are received at their offices. At BBC the signal goes through a server that controls the cam, a box that prepares it for Ustream and a router to get it out to the internet. Once in “the Cloud” it can pass through many routers and servers to reach Ustream. Ustream’s servers then take the signal and make a 2nd stream just for iDevices and other handheld smart thingies. The original signal is then re-uploaded to the Internet and onto what are called Content Delivery Networks. These CDNs serve different parts of the country and help to take the load off the main Ustream servers. These CDNs are also why I can have a great picture and sound in California but someone in New England can be suffering the dreaded Blue Circle Of Death. It all depends on the Internet and how crowded your part of it is. Things were so much simpler with point to point broadcasting!
All in all, the signal may pass through upwards of 50 servers and routers before it gets to your screen. It’s amazing that it gets there at all.
There are lots of things that go on between the cam and BBC and out in the internet that are not included in this very simplified explanation. Try not to think about them and just enjoy the pictures and sound we receive. It’s what we are all here for after all!
I hope this helps you understand a little more of how much it takes to let us enjoy the views from the cam. Thanks for reading!
PS: The blog for today on the nest will be along shortly!