Digital Imaging w/ IP Cameras
Just recently, I decided to replace my self-contained surveillance system with IP cameras. The older 8-camera/1 monitor/controller system has been slowly biting-the-dust after years of power-surges, electric brown-outs, lightning and just flat out power failures. Four of the cameras have, now, seen their final day and the four others… well, who knows? Time is not their friend. In an effort to protect the whole shebang from power disruptions, I had the system on a battery back-up, but even that device gave up the ghost, a few months ago. Rather than replace it all with something similar, I elected to go with separate PoE (Power-over-the-Ethernet) IP (Internet Protocol) cameras. The beauty of a PoE camera is that if set up correctly, only the network wire is the required connection the camera needs to operate at its location. The power is provided by the network switch or a PoE power-injection adapter sandwiched along the wire run (usually near the network switch). The simple switch is on battery back-up, so power is continuously supplied to the cameras, regardless of rest of the house.
I was able to find a relatively inexpensive and versatile PoE PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) Waterproof 300KP camera for about $179.00. Presentation size is 640x480
There is also a “wireless” version of this very same camera, which when powered only by its AC adapter, at its site, provides a solid “wireless” image to the (within range) AP (Access Point).
Set up of the PoE-version on my network switch has been relatively simple (due to the 12-port PoE switch) and the locally-loaded software included allows complete control and visualization on, literally, any computer screen in the house, be it a full blown desktop or wireless laptop. That is very cool, considering you can go outside your home and keep an eye on things.
For the past few hours, I have been busily preparing it for use on my home network. It allows you to lock it down, with a hierarchy of user levels and passwords, preventing intruders from “looking.” It also has a “snap shot” mode, which allows you to take images that are totally printable.
While this stretches the concept of artistic digital photography, it is clearly a more practical application of digital imaging. I used my security system, years ago, to allow me to sight, focus and subsequently shoot through the lens of my SONY DSLR. Even though the SONY a700/a850/a900 had REMOTE control capability, you did not see “real time.” It was only after you took the shot that you could evaluate any part of the image. Eventually, I replaced the security system’s camera with a USB Web Cam, which was simpler to coordinate.
I digress. The point is, you do not have to go to ADT to do this kind of security upgrade to your home. If you already have a network switch in your home, you’re halfway there. Consider each camera you add as its own little computer on the network which you can “talk” to. The router/network switch will assign it an IP address, when the camera is connected and powered up. If you do not have this automatic DHCP feature, you can assign your own manual IP address, as long as it does not match another one that may exist on your network.
I will include images of the system, just for discussion purposes, but I have to say… it has never been cheaper to do this and have cameras as capable.