The following Budget Surveillance System article was provided to us with permission by Matt S. of Clintonville. This article is in no manner from a professional, but rather a first hand experience of our fellow neighbors. Always be sure to research all processes prior to purchasing or setting up any security system and follow all local and federal regulations.
After hearing about all the break ins and other crimes happening in Clintonville I wanted to find a low cost surveillance solution. The following instructions might be a little overwhelming at first, however it is actually pretty easy to get the system installed and running. I am also well aware that there are more straightforward ways to do this. Dropcam is a great example. Dropcam, for the most part, does what I will be describing. The downfall is you will have to pay a monthly fee to enable some of the features I list below.
An IP camera is a camera that can send and receive data (video, audio, commands, etc) over, in our case, a standard household network. This has many benefits over traditional surveillance systems in that most IP cameras are wireless. You won’t have to run cables all throughout your house and it’s very easy to move a camera from one location to another. It is also easy to access these cameras remotely using anything from a smartphone, tablet to a computer. Not only can you view what the camera is seeing, but with some cameras you can listen, speak to, and control them (pan, tilt, zoom)
There are a couple different forms of IP cameras you can use. The most obvious would be an actual IP camera which you can find at most electronic stores and online.
The second, and cheaper option, is to use old Android smartphones. You might be able to use iPhones, however I did not have one available so I had no need to research if you could or not. I use an app called “IP Webcam” for Android, which basically turns an old phone into an IP Camera. I do believe the phone has to be somewhat newer, maybe less than 3 years old for this to work correctly. It all comes down to what version of Android the phone is running.
Follow the manufacturers instructions for setting up the came. That said you will want to make sure you do the following:
Android Smartphone or Tablet:
Assign your IP cameras static IP address:
What?? Think of it like this. Every Friday you go over to the same friends house for dinner. You know exactly where his house is because he’s lived there for awhile and doesn’t plan on moving. But what if your friend moved every week, but didn’t tell you. Going to his house for dinner becomes a little more annoying.
An IP address for electronic devices is similar to a buildings physical address. IP address for electronic devices, in most default cases, are given to the device by the router. Occasionally the router might change the IP address for that device and to the average person you have no idea this happens. The router handles it. But for our case we need to make sure all the cameras have a static IP address, meaning their IP address will never change.
For this step you will want to following this instructions that are specific the make/model router you are using. You should be able to find a user guide/manual on the manufacturers website. I will however list some generic instructions.
Before we move on to setting up your computer to record the video, send alerts, etc, we want to test to make sure the cameras are working.
Testing IP Cameras:
Most IP cameras come with some software to access the camera, which is a pretty good way to test if everything is working. A lot of IP cameras can also be directly accessed via a web browser which I will explain below:
Testing Android Smartphone or Tablet:
If you are using the “IP Webcam” app to turn a smartphone or tablet into an IP camera you will want to follow the instructions below for accessing the camera via a web browser.
Access Camera via Web Browser.
Your cameras are now up and running. The next step is to setup an old computer to record the video, send you alerts and much more.
In my house I am using a computer running a Windows operating system. I am sure this is possible with Macs, and definitely computers running Linux, however I had a Windows computer available and the software I use is for Windows only.
The first thing you will want to do is install Netcam Studio
Download Link: http://www.netcamstudio.com/
I’ve tried a couple different programs, and this one seems to give you the most features for free and it’s also pretty easy to use.
Follow the users manual for instructions on how to connect Netcam Studio to your IP Cameras. I can write out how to do this if needed, but didn’t felt the need since the users manual covers how to do this. Note, if you are using an Android smartphone or tablet running “IP Webcam” you will want to select “Android” as the camera brand when setting up a camera connection.
Once you can see the video feeds of your cameras in Netcam Studio, you can configure them to do what you want. Once again, all of these settings are listed in the users manual, so I will just make a list of some of the things you can do.
Netcam Studio also has mobile applications available to view your cameras from a mobile device. I believe they have app fors Android, iOS and even Windows phones.
Just like the cameras, you will want to setup a static IP address for this computer. The instructions for doing this are listed above.
At this point you have a basic video surveillance system setup.
Up to this point you cameras can only be accessed when connecting to them while on the same network. This means you can only really see what they seeing and control them from your own house. But what if you want to look at them while at work or on vacation. The following instructions cover this.
Setup port fowarding for you cameras and server:
Note: Netcam studio uses port 8100 by default
Setup Dynamic DNS to access your home network remotely
What this means is that we will give your local network somewhat of a “domain” name to access your local network remotely. For example might choose the domain name “mattsnetwork” so to access my cameras remotely from a web browser I would type in the following in the address bar:
This would connect me to the camera with the IP address 192.168.1.101
You will first need to register a domain name. You might get lucky here and already have a router that can do this for you. My ASUS router has this capability so all I had to do was login to the router, choose my domain name and hit “apply” and I was good to go. Luckily there are a lot of sites that allow you to do this for free if your router doesn’t support it like:
You can also google “Free DDNS Sites” to find more or look at this article: http://lifehacker.com/the-best-free-alternatives-to-dyndns-1561556205
Once you have this setup, you should now be able to access your cameras from anywhere in the world.