However, it turns out that almost all free OCR software is designed for printed text, where each letter forms a continuous contour.It’s not at all good for numbers and letters made up of disconnected segments, as in my station’s display.SSOCR makes it possible to paste one-time-password codes from a security fob into a Web page log-in screen.Optimized for the fob’s single fixed line of six digits, SSOCR turned out to be a bit too specialized.I’ve been learning how to use Open CV, the comprehensive image-processing library initially created at Intel and now supported mostly by Itseez and the open-source roboticists at Willow Garage.The library is designed to make it easy to extract information about a scene from the raw images coming from a camera. With such software at hand, and with webcams being cheap to the point of being disposable, I thought it should be a simple matter to take a picture of the screen, extract the text displaying the weather conditions, run the text through an optical character recognition (OCR) system to get data in numeric form, and log the result.
The stand-alone display shows weather conditions using seven-segment LCD numerals.
The easiest way is to just fire up a browser, but with MIT (formerly Google) App Inventor, which allows drag-and-drop assembly of Android apps, I should need just a couple of hours to write a program—once I get yet another development environment set up.
The DCC has a new webcam with live streaming video!
In theory, I could have figured out what the weather-station components were telling the dongle, what the dongle was telling the PC, and what commands might be flowing in the other direction.
Then, with some more work and time, I could have reproduced that conversation on a Linux or OS X box. So I decided to make do with the station’s stand-alone display.