Tivo based video surveillace system.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeffrey_S, Jun 9, 2002.

  1. Jeffrey_S

    Jeffrey_S Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2002
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi all. I just read a thread called "Video Surveillance" where BrianW outlined his home video surveillance system. (Brian, thanks for sharing this great idea!) He used a combination of a modified Tivo, cameras, motion sensors and a video distribution system. I was just wondering if any one else has implimented this kind of a solution. It sounds very do-able and I'm about to start the research process.

    If any of you have done this or something similar, could you please include info like which cameras and video distribution components you have used and also whether your system is hard-wired or wireless?


    Thanks,

    Jeff
     
  2. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,875
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Whatever you do, buy a nice camera. If the domain you're purchasing from has the letter "X" and the number "10" in it, you don't want it.
     
  3. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 6, 1999
    Messages:
    2,807
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    On a side note, I am looking into buying a wireless baby video monitor -- anything I should consider?
     
  4. Jeffrey_S

    Jeffrey_S Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2002
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ryan,

    Thanks for the reply. I heard that before and intend to buy a decent one.


    I've been reading that using a Tivo unit for this purpose may not be as simple as it sounds unless you want to subscribe to the Tivo service, even if you don't use it. It would seem that certain menu options aren't available unless you subscribe and nag screens prompting you to join may exist in some models. I'm still researching these issues as I'm not sure these reports even pertain to the latest software versions.

    I'm pretty sure that a Tivo unit is just a speciallized Linux box. I have two Linux servers in my home network and its got me thinking whether or not there might be a way to simply use a dedicated Linux based computer with a large hard drive to accomplish the same thing? Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

    Thanks again,

    Jeff
     
  5. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 1999
    Messages:
    2,563
    Likes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Brian
    Jeffrey, thanks for the kind words.
    My understanding of the new TiVo units is that they have absolutely no functionality without the service. The first-generation standalone units, however, can be used without the service as digital VCRs in that they can be programmed by time, date, and duration. I don’t have experience with the new units, but the unit I’m using for surveillance is an old standalone unit that is not subscribed to the TiVo service, and the nag screens are nothing to be concerned about. (For the record, I have three other TiVos that are subscribed with lifetime service, so I definitely believe in the company and the service it offers.) And the menu options that are disabled apply only to the service features, and they wouldn’t be useful for surveillance applications anyway.
    So if you’re committed to going down this road, either get a first-generation standalone unit, or be prepared to pay for the service to get even VCR-like functionality on a new-generation unit. If you get a first-gen standalone unit, be sure it’s subscribed long enough to have its software updated to v2.5, since that’s the most surveillance-friendly software version yet.
    You could use a Linux box for recording, but you’re not likely to do it for less than the cost of a TiVo plus an extra hard disk. Fry’s has a sale this week on 120GB Western Digital 5400 RPM hard drives for $109, which are perfect for dropping into a TiVo. (5400 RPM is fast enough to work, and it keeps the heat down.) I picked one up (to replace my crashed Maxtor 100GB that was in a surveillance TiVo – Grrr!) yesterday, and now my surveillance TiVo can store a complete, non-stop video record for the most recent 7.4 days. And even with the hard drive replacement, it still cost me less than one of those time-lapse VCRs which don’t do nearly as good a job or have near the resolution.
    Everything in my system is hard-wired. Nothing is wireless. To begin with, I had to wire my house so that every RG6 cable went to a central location for video distribution. My DSS antenna outputs are routed to this location, too.
    For a cameras, I’m using units very much like this one:
    Weatherproof Video Camera with Sound
    The video and sound from the cameras are wired directly into the A/V inputs of the surveillance TiVos. The Tivos’ A/V outputs are wired directly to this little puppy:
    Video Modulator and Distribution System
    This device modulates the Front Yard TiVo to channel 15 and the Back Yard TiVo to channel 17 and distributes those channels merged with everything from the antenna input. I then hooked the home-run RG6 cables to the distribution system’s RF-out ports, so every video tuner hooked to an RG6 port anywhere in the house can tune to channels 15 and 17 to see what’s going on around the house (or what has been going on for the past 7.4 days).
    Ah, but I’m not done yet. With everything so far, I can tune to channel 15 on any television to see who’s at the front door, but if I want to see who rang the doorbell and ran away (dang kids [​IMG]), I have to be able to rewind the Front Yard TiVo. For that, I need to get an IR target (see link above) which will route IR from my remote control back through the video distribution system (it modulates the IR signal on the RG6 cable) and out to my very well hidden surveillance TiVos. So now from any TV in the house, I can call up a video from last week to see when the UPS guy arrived at my house and how hard he threw the package down on my porch before forging my signature on the paperwork. [​IMG]
    All the rest of the stuff you mentioned, like motion sensing, helps me to use the surveillance system more efficiently, but it’s for convenience only, and it doesn’t really tie into the video system in any physical (wired) sense. Absolutely no X-10 stuff was used in building this video recording and distribution system.
    The starting point was not the TiVo, but the video distribution system. I got it years ago originally because I’m into Home Theater (duh!), but when I discovered that a distribution system could be had with two built-in modulators and IR signal reception, I was hooked, and my plan was set. After that, the system grew slowly, as these things tend to do. The TiVos were the most recent additions to the system.
    I know first-gen TiVos are available on eBay. I’m sure you can find one suitable for this purpose.
     

Share This Page