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Home Security Cameras for the Preparedness Minded

Being an Security Engineer by trade, I understand that awareness is key. Any good network security involves having visibility into every part of your network and computer systems. I realized not too long ago that I should apply the same logic into the security of my home and family, so I put together a system of wireless and wired Home Security Cameras.

security cameras to monitor your perimeter

On the Cheap: Using Your Wifi Network to Run Security Cameras

First I needed to know if things were happening at my perimeter, so I decided on video surveillance gear. My home is a typical home, I didn’t want to drill a bunch of holes and run a bunch of cables to have a CCTV security system. Time to step back from home security to my technical skills.

What I did have was an extra wifi router, so if I went with wifi cameras, for home security cameras, I could use them with this extra wireless access point, without impacting my home’s wireless network (as long as I choose a channel at least 3 channels away from my home’s wifi, if possible). I also decided that I can use wired cams in the immediate area where the wifi router was because it has Ethernet ports on it also.

Ok, the methodology is easy, now I just have to find the home security cameras and display monitor. This took some research and tons of time to figure out. I read many reviews of cameras and systems.

Most “free” camera software only supports 8 cameras and they you must buy a license. I needed more than 10 cameras (planning for expansion and scalability). Originally I thought I’d use ZoneMinder (on Linux), but man if I didn’t have issues keeping it working right (kernal shmall and shmax if you are a nerd, buffers man, buffers).

I thought I was out of luck until I found D-ViewCam, from D-Link. It turns out I was making it harder, to have home security cameras, than it really needed to be.

D-ViewCam is free and supports up to 32 cameras, as long as they are D-Link cameras. I did some research and realized I could buy D-Link DCS-920‘s for about $45 each on ebay.

I downloaded D-ViewCam. Then went out in the garage and found a decent Dell Pentium 4 tower that still had Windows XP on it and installed the software. Then it was off to ebay, where I bought 10 D-Link dcs-920’s and 4 dcs-1000’s (no longer supported, but I got them to work just fine). When the camera’s arrived I setup the wifi acess point for my cameras, then joined the cameras to the new wireless network. Sweet, things are coming together.

The dcs-920’s are indoor cameras so I mounted them inside pointing out the windows (in such a way that the windows function normally, for the most part).Home Security Cameras wifi wireless

We have an exterior entrance to our basement and that was the one spot I couldn’t see from the windows, so I opted to use one of my dcs-1000’s in an outdoor camera housing. This required some drilling through my office wall to the outside of the house to run an ethernet cable to the camera. Then I had to use some POE (power over ethernet) to get power to the camera using the ethernet cable. I was able to find a POE adapter, D-Link DWL-P200 Power Over Ethernet Adapter , and that was the answer to that issue.

Home Security Cameras wifi wireless dvrNow I have a console setup in my office that allows me see my property and it’s recording 24 hours a day.

None of my current home security cameras have night vision lights, but I do have motion activated lights in the front and back of my house. I’ve also tested (with a TV remote) and these camera’s will pick up IR light, so if I had an IR flood light, the home security cameras would be able to see at night. These cameras would also pick up any intruders coming towards my house wearing night vision gear. That’s a nice perk.

I expanded the functionality and used a couple spare android tablets (and my phone) and installed “IP Cam Viewer Pro” from the android market ($3.99), and manually configured it to access all of my cameras. This allows me to have a camera “monitor” in my bedroom and in our first floor living room providing full visibility into my security perimeter. Add to this a  little tech know how and VPN access to my house, I can see the display from my home security cameras, when I am away!

Here is a link to the currently available Dlink Cameras.

Upgraded, Industry Grade Security Cameras to Monitor your Perimeter

Times have changed. There was a time when you could leave your doors unlocked and your windows open. Sadly those times seem to be gone.

I’ve posted before about monitoring your perimeter with Wireless Network Cameras and driveway alarms, but I’ve decided to step up my game. I finally purchased and installed some all weather, outdoor, wired cameras, with night vision. These allow me to get a better 360° view of my property and maintain it 24×7.

I purchased the NightOwl STA-88 after reading many reviews and ensuring that it met my requirements.

Requirements:

  • nightowlMinimum of 8 cameras
  • Outdoor cameras
  • Night Vision
  • Network accessible
  • Mobile support
  • Easy to setup
  • Technical Support in case things went awry

The NightOwl STA-88 had everything I wanted. Setup was very simple, due to the online and included documentation. I also called technical support a few times just to talk nerdy with them to find out what this baby could really do.

I have the DVR connected to a spare computer monitor in my office, but it also has a connection output to a television (it can do both at once if needed).

NightOwl also has a free mobile app called Night Owl Lite, which works for Android phones and tablets, as well as iPhones, iPads, and IOS devices. This app is great, but only shows you 4 cameras at a time. I can scroll to the the other 4 cameras, but I am lazy. Since I wanted to see all 8 cameras at once I installed IP Cam Viewer Pro (there is a free version, but I wanted it all!).

nightowl lite ip cam viewer
 Night Owl LiteIP Cam Viewer Pro

 

What if I’m not in front of the console?  How would I monitor my cameras unless I was sitting in my office all day?

I’ve tested a few solutions to make this a non-issue

  1. I installed IP Cam Viewer Pro on a my 2 Dragon Touch Dual Core Android Tablets ($69 each) and have one in the Master Bedroom and 1 in the family room. This not only allows me to see what’s going on, but I can pick up the tablet, unplug it from power and carry it with me. I also have it on my phone and my wife’s phone so we can see what’s going on while we are out on the town, traveling or shopping.
    EDIT: I replaced the Dragon Touch Dual Core Android Tablets with a couple Nexus 7 Tablets. I didn’t have any trouble with the Dragon Touch Tablets, but they felt kind of cheap to me, and I already own 3 other Nexus 7s, (our children use them for homeschool) and they are solid and reliable.
  2. Beam the output, wirelessly to my other TVs in the house. (I chose 5.8GHz transmitters to avoid interference with my wireless internet). This worked out well, especially in the master bedroom. If I heard a noise, flip on the TV and choose the proper input for instant awareness.

Even if I do miss something, I have the DVR set to be constantly recording (You can set it to trigger alerts, send you an email and start recording on motion detection too), so I can always look at the recorded videos to quickly track down an event, if needed.

Having these cameras give us a piece of mind and a constant awareness of what’s going on outside our home. We are able to see someone at any of our entrances and also can see and monitor our vehicles. You really need to consider Security Cameras to Monitor your Perimeter.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Depending on what kind of system you get, installing security cameras isn’t difficult at all. IP cameras are great because of the lack of wires, i can’t stand dealing with wires. I recently did a piece on how to install wireless security cameras here
    I also wrote generally about home security cameras. You can see it through this link through this link

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