Power Problems

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What happens when the lights go out

At the beginning of November there were a number of power incidents that caused havoc across our network. Power is generally pretty stable here in Shetland and of good quality. Most major issues are as a direct result of weather related events that is part of life when you live on an island.

On this occassion the power issues look to be an unfortunate casualty of planned maintenance by the Distribution Network Operator.

We monitor our power at various points on the network and we are aware of exactly what happened and, although somewhat frustrating, we are not looking to blame anyone but to learn from this incident and work with our suppliers to see if products could be improved based on this incident.

The weakest link (literally) was a specialised 95 watt power unit that feeds one type of camera used on Shetland Webcams.

We have 4 such cameras operating across our network and all of those units failed to deal with the power incidents. Two other camera manufacturers using similar power supply units survived the incidents so at this point we are in dialogue with the camera manufacturer through our UK reseller to see if these defective (and expensive) power units can be investigated to see what components failed and whether there is room for improvement going forward.

Due to the high cost of those units we only held one spare power unit. This unit was deployed to Fjara Cam. In the 10+ years operating Shetland Webcams we have never had failures like this with any other manufacturer so we are keen to understand what went wrong.

In the meantime we have had to order 4 new power units. Each one costs £400…eye-watering costs hence why we are in dialogue with the manufacturer. The current repair bill once shipping and installation is likely to exceed £2000.

Running this network often feels like taking one step forward and then three back at the moment and I appreciate many regular supporters of Shetland Webcams have used the forum to vent their own displeasure.

We work hard to keep this network alive and are extremely proud of the service provided however sometimes unexpected events cause bad things to happen and we just need to work through it.

The spare power units have now arrived in Shetland and there is a plan in place to attempt repairs.

We are going to prioritise Cliff Cam 1 as it is a sponsored camera and then we will deal with Lerwick Harbour which, ironcially, was going to be replaced with a new camera this month. We need some engineering work for this location so please be patient as there are many people doing many favours to achieve our goals. Cliff Cam 3 will be the last on the repair list as we wish to re-engineer aspects and as it is currently offline there is an opportunity to do this work now.

In other news…

The Fetlar Camera has been removed from the network as the community were unable to find a sponsor despite there being enthusiasm to keep it online.

Two new camera locations are currently planned for Spring 2020 and in two fantastic locations. We have sponsors in place and are excited about these welcome additions to the network.

The long-awaited RedEye ‘donations-with-benefits’ Club should launch in December if there are no more “surprises” for me to deal with.

I will post more information under separate Blog posts once we get some of the current issues resolved.

For more information on how the lights are kept on in Shetland take a look at the link below:


Interactive Map

View our interactive map to find out where our cameras are located.

The Shetland Webcam network is supported by Shetland Broadband, Lerwick Port Authority, the Promote Shetland project and commercial sponsors. To learn more about Shetland visit Shetland.org.

Shetland: Islands of Opportunity