Looking for good wireless home security cameras

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Tim L, Jun 24, 2006.

  1. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    Having a couple of problems as of late with some vandalism and theft. So I was l looking for a good wireless security system-preferably that will allow me to record and watch while I am at work via the internet. Recording on a DVR of some sort or my computer harddrive would be nice as well. I guess the cameras will be mounted inside on a window- searched on the web and yikes!.. there are way too many companies and options-not really sure whic are any good-so I was hoping someone here has some experience with this, thanks
    Tim
     
  2. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    anyone?
     
  3. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Here is my home surveylance system (installed in the home next door);

    [​IMG]


    And here is my backup system;

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    nice, unfortunatley don't have anything like that. But still looking for some suggestions though-I guess nobodys using them around here- or don't need to.
    Tim
     
  5. Colton

    Colton Supporting Actor

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  6. Kevin Eckhardt

    Kevin Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know if it's a good product, or even a good deal, but I did see a 4-channel surveillance DVR at Sam's Club the other day, right next to a couple of wireless camera kits. Might be worth a look if you're a member.

    Kevin
     
  7. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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  8. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    A 4-channel surveillance DVR is a good start, and they're pretty cheap. I just picked one up a Fry's for $80 (with no cameras or hard drive). Add a hard drive, and a camera or two, and you have a surveillance system.

    Some DVRs have Ethernet ports to connect to a network hub or router, making it possible to access via the Internet. However, just having a networkable DVR is only part of the solution. You have to have broadband, a clause in your ISP service contract that allows you to set up a server, probably a fixed IP (though you can get around it if you don't), and you have to know a thing or two about setting up your own web server.

    If you don't feel confident setting up a video surveillance web server, then just get a cheapie 4-camera DVR, put in a 200GB hard drive (Fry's had one on sale last weekend for $59), connect one or more cameras, and you're all set. You won't be able to catch thieves and vandals in the act from your PC at work over the Internet, but you'll still have their evil doings caught on video for evidence.

    I think the one at Sam's has its own monitor, which you may or may not want. Fry's has stand-alone DVRs for cheaper. I have mine set up with a modulator so I just tune any TV in the house to the "Surveillance Channel" to see what's going on around the house. But really, all you need is a composite video cable to connect the DVR to any TV.

    The only thing I would recommend is that you use hard-wired cameras instead of wireless cameras. They're much more reliable and deliver a much more detailed picture.
     
  9. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Tim, I have the Q-See DVR that you linked to, and I really like it. You can go to www.q-see.com and download the owner's manual for that model to get a good understanding of how it works. The user interface is a bit quirky, but no more so than with other DVRs.

    That comes with a 160GB hard drive and four cameras for $600? I think that's a great price.

    I do think a dedicated DVR is a better way to go than using a computer, BTW.
     
  10. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    Brian-Thanks for all the info- I didn't know that about setting up your own web server- did you have to set up a server for you Q-see system? or are you not using to monitor via the web? I like the idea of a DVR also- but seems to be getting complicated ( setting up a fixed IP?) I'm no computer whiz-so could be trouble. Also did you connect your DVR to your computer? I will mainly be setting up the cameras for observing outside- just wondering what the max distance is onthese (I have a pretty long front yard and driveway-around 5-600ft). thanks again
    Tim
     
  11. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Tim, I'm not monitoring my Q-See system over the Internet, but I plan to get that set up eventually. I do have the system connected to my network hub, so I can see and configure it from my computers. But I almost never do this. Instead, I've put the Q-See DVR in a closet, and I use an IR repeater so I can control it from any TV using the remote. My universal remote has a "SPY" button that changes the TV to the "Surveillance Channel" and lets me control the DVR from wherever the TV is, using the IR repeater to send the remote signals to the Q-See DVR in the closet. Whenever I see something interesting, I can record it to DVD using my DVD recorder.

    This setup suits me quite well. As a good parent, I would like to be able to supervise my kids from the local bar by whipping out my web-enabled cell phone and checking the video feed from the back yard to make sure my kid hasn't drowned in the pool. (KIDDING!) But that can wait.

    There are ways to have Internet access without actually having to maintain a web server in your house. There are services out there that will let you periodically (say, every five or ten minutes) upload an image from a surveillance camera to their server. You then access their server (via password) from any computer on the Internet to see your images. All you need is an Internet connection that is on 24/7 (i.e., not dial-up), and software capable of capturing images and uploading to their server (which they provide, I think). There's a service fee involved, but I've never looked into this option to know how much it is. The obvious downside is latency, but it's not too bad.

    But the things I did to make it more convenient added the following to my setup:

    1. Channel Modulator - Takes the DVR composite feed, puts it on a UHF channel, and adds it to the distributed antenna feed so that I can view the DVR's output from any TV set in the house. (However, I currently have only one TV set in the house. Yeah, I have BIG plans... [​IMG])

    2. IR Repeater - Allows me to control the DVR via remote, even though the DVR is squirreled away in a closet.

    These things aren't expensive, and they aren't really even necessary. However, I was thinking worst-case scenario when I set it up. I wanted the DVR "hidden" someplace where a burglar wouldn't be likely to find it, so that even if it's the only thing left in the house, it will have a record of the burglar cleaning out my house. (No, this hasn't been a problem. In fact, it's never, ever happened to me. But things like this have a way of never happening until they do. [​IMG])

    But if all you want to do is to catch someone stealing peaches off your tree or writing on your car with shoe polish, by all means, save yourself some money and put the DVR with the rest of your HT equipment and use a direct-connect video cable. You can always add the equipment later to "stealthificate" your surveillance system.

    So getting the Q-See DVR you linked to will not preclude you from doing anything you want to do, long term. Short term, you'll have immediately-usable 24/7 recordings of all the goings-on around your house that you can view and archive to DVD (or VHS) at any time. And that's 95% of the way there.
     
  12. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    sounds like you know your stuff. I got a few estimates from professional installers- yikes- its around 5000 dollars-and they use a DVR that seems to be the same thing like the Q-see- just uses a regular Hard drive inside it. I think the best bet would be this system for now and just hook up the DVR to my computer to archive any footage and view any footage I pickup. Want motion cameras though so I'm not filming 10 hours of nothing! Then hopefully I can get some software that will allow me to monitor onthe web.-still alot of the stuff you said earlier about viewing fromt he web- is a little over my head- but I am going to have to try andlearn more or find someone who does- which is why I started looking into professional installations. thanks
    Tim
     
  13. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Actually, Tim, the reason I waited so long to respond is because I'm not confident that I do know my stuff, and I wanted to give other, more knowledgeable surveillance geeks first crack at helping you out. I'm just a guy who saw a DVR at Fry's and said, "We'll, hey! I could use that!" At the time, I was using a first-generation TiVo as my DVR.

    There is one thing, however, that I do have an opinon on: Don't worry about recordng 10 hours, or even 10 weeks or 10 months, of nothing. Depending on the frame rate you specify, a 200GB hard drive will hold weeks or even months of video recorded 24/7. (At 1 frame per second, you can even record over two years of video!) Just configure the DVR to "overwrite", and it will keep its recordings in a circular buffer, overwriting the oldest to record the newest without requiring any maintenance effort from you to delete old recordings. That way, your DVR will always have themost recent X days/weeks/months of video that you can search by date and time whenever you want. Motion detectors are not infallible and require maintenance. And it would be a real shame if your house were burgled, and the only recording you have is of a dog pooping in your yard from a month ago. Recording 24/7 is the only way to get everything. You may even capture video of said burglar casing your place days or weeks before the crime from a safe distance from your motion detectors -- evidence you wouldn't otherwise have if you rely solely on motion detectors to trigger a recordng event.

    But if you insist on not recording when nothing is happening, you don't use "motion cameras", or any other special kind of camera, to accomplish this with the Q-See DVR. You use simple PIR motion detectors with a contact closure that connects directly to the DVR. You can have one motion detector for each camera.

    But, even cooler, you can do this without having to buy any motion detectors. The Q-See DVR has the ability to be its own motion detector. It monitors changes in the video image from one frame to the next, and if it detects a change, it starts recording. You can set the sensitivity so that trees blowing in the wind won't trigger an event. You can even designate areas of the video frame for it to watch or ignore, so you can, for example, have it ignore anything going on in the sky, like passing clouds, birds, planes, etc. The camera is required to be stationary for this to work, but that's usually not a problem.

    Beware, however: if you have it ignore things in the sky, and your neighborhood is plagued by a roving band of mutant genetically-engineered flying ninja cat burglars, you may not get them caught on video. Mutant genetically-engineered flying ninja cat burglars always attack from above.

    It's because of mutant genetically-engineered flying ninja cat burglars that I have my DVR record 24/7, but YMMV.
     
  14. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    brian, you make some good points (not sure about the flying cat burglers-if I see them I'm cashing it in-can't compete with that). How do you like the quaility of the captured video? I know I am not going to be able to spot a license plate number from 2oo yds away -but hoping its decent enough. My wife still want s to hook up the lukworks system this weekend-just to test it out-can't hurt I guess-but i like the idea of what you described so far- and if I buy it at coscto- the return policy if needed is flawless. i assume the DVR takes a standard computer hard drive-incase it craps out? i am also concered about the cameras integrity- we get some pretty bad weather in New england. I guess I worry too much- but for $600- it still beats the other estimates. Again thanks for eveyting- I know I will have more questions (I always do).
    Tim
     
  15. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    All the DVRs I've ever seen take standard IDE (not the new Serial ATA) computer hard drives. The only thing to watch out for is the maximun size drive they will accommodate. Some will take up to 1000GB, some 250GB, and older designs will take only 120GB. The Q-See DVR even has a hard drve tray to make replacing the hard drive very simple: just slide out the old one, pop in a new one, and slide it back in. (Be sure power is off when you do this, however.) With hard drives as cheap as they are these days, keeping these things up and running is a snap.

    I can't really speak to how well the cameras will hold up to New England weather. All I can say is that once I've installed a camera, I've never had to replace it. One of my cameras has been in service for over 10 years. I did recently get a Q-See outdoor camera with infrared night vision. This thing can see out to 120 feet in total darkness. And the picture is stunning (as 480-line images go), with accurate color in the daytime.

    You can set the image quality, which essentially determines the amount of compression you use. The more you compress, the more detail you lose, but the more hard dsk space you save. I set the image quality to High, and record at 10 frames per second. Faces from 60 feet away are easily distinguishable and recognizable. License plates aren't readable, but you already knew that.

    Here's some perspective: you know the convenience store surveillance videos they show on the news when a store is robbed? You can pretty much tell that the perpetrator is likely a mammal with three to five limbs, and probably not naked, but that's about it. Honestly, I wonder what good these videos are at all. Your setup will be way, way, WAY better than that. At 10 fps, the video is a little chopy, but I'm very pleased with the picture quality and level of detail captured.

    I think I might have been wrong to advise you to record 24/7. I have a home automation system that logs motion sensor activity outside my house. Although the automation system and surveillance system are not connected in any way, I do use the sensor log to determine what recordings may be of interest. Without the sensor log, I'd be manually scanning hours or even days of video trying to find an event I think might have happened sometime during the last week. If I didn't have the sensor log, I would indeed probably set my DVR to record only when it detected motion. So I'm changing my advice and suggesting you do the same. No, you may not catch everything, but if you record 24/7 without the benefit of a sensor log, you'll never know if you recorded something important. Something could have happened at 3:30 in the morning (say, someone checking your windows to see if they're unlocked), you'd never know it, even though you recorded it. But if you set your DVR to record only when something is going on, then the mere presense of a recording event at 3:30 in the morning will alert you to an actual event. It may be someone trying to open a window, or it may just be dog poop. Either way, you'll be alerted to what's happening if your recordings are motion-triggered.
     
  16. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    nice to know about the hard drive-also- what model camera did you purchase that does the night vision from Q-see- sounds like something i may want to do also. The home automation sounds nice also- but one step at a time for me- just as long as I can set the Q-see system up for some type of motion detection- but you stated earlier this is possible- so that is a plus. you advice and information has been a great help-I still have alot of research to acquire on my own still- you also mentioned the usuar manual for the Q-see system on their site- but stupid me- I can't seem to locate the model I originally linked in my post ontheir site- any clue to that? Hopefully I will demo the system my wife picked up this weekend-let you know how that went. thanks again
    Tim
     
  17. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    The manual is here in pdf format.

    I didn't mean to suggest a home automation solution for your setup. Home automation is a hobby, not a means to an end. [​IMG] It's best if you don't get involved in that...
     
  18. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I do a lot of camera/surveillance/security projects at work. My suggestion would be to go hardwired with a 24 VDC powered camera. You will get a more reliable system that is less prone to interferance and will give you meaningful data you can use.

    For cameras Philips/Bosch is the way to go. You can get a very nice fixed camera and mount for about $500. If you are serious about surveillance I would go with the following system...

    2 to 4 fixed cameras
    4 channel Multiplexor feeding dedicated monitor
    120VAC/24VDC 4 output XFMR Mounted in central location (attic)
    Security Grade DVR (9GB Model should be fine for your purposes).

    If you are interested, I can give you specific part #'s. For the above system with 2 cameras you are probably looking at 2000-3000 in parts plus installation costs (this would be easy enough to do yourself if you have ever installed speaker wire or cable TV.


    J
     
  19. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I do a lot of camera/surveillance/security projects at work. My suggestion would be to go hardwired with a 24 VDC powered camera. You will get a more reliable system that is less prone to interferance and will give you meaningful data you can use.

    For cameras Philips/Bosch is the way to go. You can get a very nice fixed camera and mount for about $500. If you are serious about surveillance I would go with the following system...

    2 to 4 fixed cameras
    4 channel Multiplexor feeding dedicated monitor
    120VAC/24VDC 4 output XFMR Mounted in central location (attic)
    Security Grade DVR (9GB Model should be fine for your purposes).

    If you are interested, I can give you specific part #'s. For the above system with 2 cameras you are probably looking at 2000-3000 in parts plus installation costs (this would be easy enough to do yourself if you have ever installed speaker wire or cable TV.


    J
     
  20. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    There, you see? I knew there was someone here who knows more about this stuff than I do!

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for (finally! [​IMG]) chiming in, Justin. I appreciate your expertise. I didn't even know Bosch made cameras.
     

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