What does "Content Unavailable" mean with live streaming video?

Posted by Steve Sweeney
on Thursday, January 23, 2014

The single biggest, most important question we get at Trains when working with Live Streaming Video is, "What does 'content unavailable' mean?"

In short, it means the streaming video camera is not connected to our company's main computers and there is no video to show.

But there are many reasons for this.

The first reason is that, for safety reasons, we've turned the camera "off" to get out of the way of big, potentially dangerous equipment. Another reason why content would be unavailable is because of weather, or interference from nearby buildings or high-tension power lines that prevent the camera from sending a good signal. Sometimes we also have to move to a new location and that requires us to turn off the equipment, drive in the car, and re-assemble the gear elsewhere.

We've also pushed our limits on the road.

In rural Wisconsin, where cell phone reception is weak, we have to stay in one spot for a cell phone tower to lock on to our transmitter, or else the video camera cannot transmit. By contrast, in downtown Milwaukee, the reception is great, even perfect for transmitting high definition video through the Internet. The last time Jim Wrinn visited Big Boy No. 4014 in Pomona, Calif., reception was also good, but there also weren't hundreds of railfans nearby looking to send their own images and make phone calls off the same cell towers nearby. That will be at least one unknown factor for the April and May live-streaming event.

And though we hate to admit it, probably the most common reason why Trains viewers would see "Content Unavailable" is because of a loose wire. Both the camera and transmitter require their own power sources in addition to being connected with each other. All told, there are seven different physical connections between wires and cables that must be tightly in place, or else, live streaming video does not happen.

That said, we're doing our best to make sure live streaming video is up as much as possible and that what you see when the video is up is worth watching.

We hope you enjoy!

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