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Author Topic: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!  (Read 5922 times)

Risensun

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Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« on: May 06, 2010, 12:12:17 AM »
My goal is to make a home surveillance system consisting of 3 cameras recording to a PC running software like BluIris.

The camera must be able to:
   handle the elements
   have IR
   clearly show someones face up to 35 feet away day or night.
   Cost under 150$, preferably under 100$

None of the footage needs to be accessed real time, just stored for later viewing.

I haven't the slightest idea what I need for a camera so I have made a pro/con list between different types that may or may not be entirely accurate, so I need your help!

IP

Pros:
   No need to buy a video capture card
   Ethernet can be run from all cameras to a switch, then only one cable needs to be run back to the PC
   Ethernet is cheap!

Cons:
   IP cameras seem really expensive compared to their BNC/RCA AV counterparts.
   Power must be run separately??


Coaxial

Pros:
   Power and Video can be run on the same cable??
   Cheaper cameras

Cons:
   Must buy a video capture card (Like this one? http://store.bluecherry.net/4_port_video_capture_card_linux_120fps_bt878_p/pv-149.htm
   All cables must be run all the way back to the PC/Capture Card?


Please correct me if I'm wrong on any of this, I'm just trying to get a feel for what options I have.

Lastly, which type do you think would work best for me and what specific camera would you recommend?

Thanks!
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 12:17:15 AM by Risensun »

wrldtlvr

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Re: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2010, 12:47:11 PM »
I seriously doubt you are going to find a facial recognition camera capable of operating from 35 feet for under $100 or even $150. You will need a HD camera to do that.

Risensun

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Re: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2010, 09:48:41 PM »
I don't need a facial recognition camera, I just need a camera good enough so I can recognize a face at 35 feet

MmmDee

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Re: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2010, 10:06:38 PM »
I don't need a facial recognition camera, I just need a camera good enough so I can recognize a face at 35 feet

That's what wrldtlvr was talking about.  If you have a camera that's useful in providing a wide-angle view, then you won't be able to recognize faces at 35 feet (unless you already know the person).  If you use a lens that will enable you to see a face that law enforcement could use, you'd have to use a narrower angle lens (think along the lines of a telephoto lens), but in using the telephoto lens, you lose the big picture. To do what you want, some folks will use two or multiple surveillance cameras, one camera has a narrow angle lens focused on a choke point (a door, window, gate, etc), then the other cameras survey a much wider area with a wide angle lens.  Sadly, the narrow angle (telephoto) lenses suck for night time use meaning if you use these outdoors at night, your choke point would also have to be well lit.

For cameras, look at those with 1/3" CCD imaging elements (not 1/4" or CMOS elements), for specifics, you could find cameras containing a "Sony SUPER HAD" or similar quality imaging circuit (Google those words and you'll see what I'm talking about).  To get an idea of lenses needed, in order to visualize a 6ft tall man, at 35 feet requnres a 21mm lens (that same lens will result in an image capturing a 6ft tall x 8ft wide area (imaging elements and their capture areas, are not "square").

When looking at IR "lights", they are made up of individual LEDs.  LEDs are specified by "color" in terms using wavelength of light.  LEDs in the 905 to 940nm range are invisible, those in the 850nm range are usually visible (orange/red glow).  880 is "near visible" (ie, you'd have to stare at it).  Most cameras will work with the "glowing" IR sources, the Sony ExView (imaging element not camera brand) will work with the invisible IR sources.  Many folks dislike IR illuminators because the cheaper ones burn out over a few months.

Almost all USB webcams suck for surveillance, there was a recent Slashdot thread on them you might review for pointers.   BlueIris has a good reputation, though I've never personally used it.

Wireless cameras are convenient, but they will really bog down a network.  Multiple wired IP cameras will similarly bog down a network (you might consider having the security cameras on their own separate router).  

The normal analog surveillance cameras, wired to a DVR or capture card tend to work best (DVR better than capture cards).  They make siamese cables that carry video and have an attached power cord in lengths up to 150 feet or so.  Longer wired cameras are also possible using a variety of techniques (read about baluns).

« Last Edit: May 07, 2010, 12:53:58 AM by MmmDee »

ITFlyer

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Re: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2010, 07:22:42 PM »
I've used Blue Iris to monitor/record four security cameras on my house for over a year now, and I can't say enough good things about it. When I did have issues (that ended up being hardware related), the developer was very helpful and replied instantly.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2010, 01:11:59 AM by admin »

Risensun

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Re: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2010, 11:13:15 PM »
Thanks for your replies,

The setup I am imagining has a camera with a wider angle on the front of the garage looking down at the cars in the driveway about 20 feet away, and two cameras on either side of the garage with narrower views to capture anyone trying to enter the house on one side or the garage on the other.

Going with IP cameras would probably mean either upgrading our current router or adding another and just having two separate networks, one for media/files and the other for the security system, and I don't want to worry about another router.

Where we live there is no snow so rain is really the only thing to worry about, but only "water resistant" IP cameras I have seen are very expensive, so im thinking of going with analog cameras and will just have to run the 3 cables back to the PC.

The reason I'm leaning towards a PC based system is because I have not found any DVR system that allows you to record to a network storage or online storage, so if a thief walks off with the DVR I'm outa luck.  With a PC based system I can at least tuck a network storage HDD away and record to that over my network.  I could try and hide the DVR but I also want it to be easily accessible, so a PC system seems like my best option.

What do you all think?

MmmDee

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Re: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2010, 01:20:17 AM »
A PC system with adequate analog capture and peripheral card(s) is fine, so long as you don't try to do other things on that same PC while the video surveillance is active.  One of the nice features of the standalone DVRs is they (mostly) run a flavor of Linux and so reboot in the event of a power failure or whatever is pretty reliable.  PCs running Windows and Linux sometimes run into booting problems.

If you wish to "hide" the DVR, you can use IR extenders pretty easily.  With the PC, as you already noted, you can hookup NAS or if you want to hide the PC, there are any number of remote terminal setups you can establish.

If you go IP cameras, I would definitely use a separate network for those cameras as those cameras can be bandwidth hogs.

H.264 seems to be the video compression scheme of the day...
« Last Edit: May 10, 2010, 11:05:22 AM by MmmDee »

ITFlyer

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Re: Home Surveillance System - Need Advise!
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2010, 07:30:13 AM »
I set up a dedicated Windows PC running Blue Iris. I also have Mozy (offline backup service, unlimited storage for $5/month), so I have it continuously backing up the video files offline - so even if someone were to hunt down, find and take the video backup PC, the files are still backed up offsite.

 

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