Budget Surveillance System by Matt S.

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.

Budget Surveillance System
Revision: 0001


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.

What you need:

  • Computer running Windows XP or later
  • IP Camera/s (IP camera or Android smartphone/tablet)
  • Router
  • Internet connection (optional)

IP Cameras:

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.

IP Camera Setup:

IP Camera:

Follow the manufacturers instructions for setting up the came. That said you will want to make sure you do the following:

  • Give your camera a username and password.
  • Assign your camera a static IP address (I will discuss how to do this later).

Android Smartphone or Tablet:

  • Install the “IP Webcam” app on the device
  • Launch the app
  • This should display the “IP WEBCAM SETTINGS” screen
  • Scroll down and select “Login/password”
  • Set a username and password for your IP Webcam app
  • Set the “Port” to an unused port number (details described later)
  • Press the “Start Server” option
  • At this point your phone is now an IP camera

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.

  1. Login to your router
    1. You can login to most routers by opening a web browser and typing in “” in the address bar and hit Enter.
    2. Type in your username and password. If you didn’t already assign a username and password to your router you will have to use the defaults which are found in the user guide/manual for that router
      1. I also highly recommend changing the username and password for the router, but we can save this topic for another time.
  2. Locate where you can assign static IP addresses to devices
    1. I apologize for being general here, but it is different for every router.
    2. I have an ASUS router and for me it’s in “LAN -> DHCP Server -> Manually Assigned IP around the DHCP list”
  3. Assign IP addresses to your devices:
    1. Note that you will only be changing the last number in the address. If I have 3 cameras I might use something like the following:
  4. Save the settings on the router
    1. Some routers might need to restart/reboot when you do this.

Test Your Cameras:

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.

  1. Open a web browser
  2. Type the IP address followed by a “:” then the camera port number
    1. Example:
    2. The port number for the camera is set either in the “IP Webcam” app or in the manufacturers setup for IP Cameras
    3. I recommend giving each camera a different port number. Using the IP address from before, do something like this:
    4. These different port numbers come in handy later when we want to access the cameras remotely.
  3. You should be presented with a page or pop-up to enter a username and password. Enter the username/password for the camera you are connecting to.
  4. If entered correctly you should now see the camera webpage, which might contain some controls and will show the video feed from the camera.

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.

Setting up Video Surveillance Server:

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.

Users Manual: http://www.moonware.ch/private/Netcam%20Studio%20-%20User%20Manual.pdf

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.

  1. Start recording when motion is detected.
    1. Netcam studio offers a bunch of features to customize this. Not only can you can you have it start recording when it detects motion, you can even have it start recording when motion is detected only in parts of the camera screen.
    2. For example you might not want to detect motion in the lower portion of a screen because you have a cat and you don’t want the cat setting it off every time she walks by.
  2. Start recording when audio is detected
  3. Schedule times when motion and audio detection is enabled
    1. This is a cool feature that allows you to setup time zones for every day of the week when you want to enable motion and audio detection. A good example would be to enable these when you go to work and while you are sleeping.
  4. Send emails when events happen
    1. Events could be motion was detected, recording started, audio was detected etc
  5. I believe you can buy a pro version which unlocks text messages.
    1. Most people seem to have smart phones now so, for me at least, emails suffice.
  6. Continuous recording

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.

Advanced: Accessing your server and camera feeds remotely.

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:

  1. Login to your router
    1. This is just like what you did when you assigned a static IP address for your camera
    2. You can login to most routers by styping in “” into the address bar of a web browser.
    3. Enter your username and password
  2. Follow your routers instructions to enable port forwarding for your cameras
    1. Using the IP addresses and ports from before you will want to configure your router as follows:
    2. For camera with the IP address”
      1. Port / Port range: 80
      2. Local IP Address:
      3. Local Port: 80
      4. Protocol: TCP
    3. Note the wording and settings might be different based on the make/model of the router you are using.
  3. Save / Apply these changes.
    1. Your router might need to restart at this point.

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

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:

no-ip : http://www.noip.com/free
Duck DNS : http://duckdns.org/

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.

Additional Notes:

  • This is not a flawless system and is not intended to replace actual security systems.
  • Security is more important than I can emphasizes in this document. PUT A GOOD PASSWORD ON EVERYTHING THAT ALLOWS YOU TO! This includes your router, cameras, computer, etc.
  • Tiny Cam Monitor is also a really good app for viewing you IP cameras either locally or remotely
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