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Security Camera advice

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by seige101, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
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    Palmer, MA
    Anyone deal with DVR based security Cameras? Looking to purchase this 8 camera system from Costco

    Any tips or advice? From my research cameras with more TV lines will provide a clearer more detailed pictures. The DVR does DI real time at 30 fps per camera. What should i look for in a system? CMOS or CCD based cameras?


    How does the Infra red illumination work? There is 5 outside lights on the building and a street light facing the road approx 30' from the building.

    Thanks

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  2. boatboy63

    boatboy63 Member

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    I am not an expert at these by any means, but have had a system at my home for a couple of years. I will give you my findings. I started out with the ir like what you are looking at. Everything sounded good but I quickly found the downfalls. First of all, whenever a manufacturer lists a distance with ir, cut it in half. They will seldom do anything near what is advertised. My biggest problem with ir is that even though they claim you can't see ir, the bugs can. I set mine up and had everything aimed to my satisfaction. I set it up so that it would record all the time, but would alarm on motion. Everything seemed great during the day. When night rolled around, bugs would start swarming toward the ir source, which is around the camera lens. IR attracts them much like a bug zapper does. Be ready to hear alarms all night long. Fog is also your enemy as ir will light up the fog and not allow you to see an image past the fog.

    There are other options I would recommend if you want to use ir. They make ir lights that you can buy and mount away from your cameras so the bugs won't be directly in front of the lens. If you are trying to watch your driveway, you can mount the light to the side of camera view and not have the bugs setting off alarms or disrupting your view. Spiders are also attracted to ir so if you use what is on your cameras, be ready to remove cobwebs at least weekly from around your cameras. Don't jump too far if you are looking back over video and see a spider crawl across your lens. It will look like a monster.

    My option was to install more lighting in terms of fluorescant security lights and not use an ir source. These lights use 1/4 the energy of a standard security light, plus they light up the area and deter people from coming onto your property due to the added light. I actually mounted a security light in my barn and used a high quality black/white camera to view what was going on. I would be willing to say that 99% of the cameras out there will change to b/w at night anyhow so expect to lose your color at night.

    Don't mount the cameras toward the sun or any moving light source such as cars driving by. If you do so, the light will temporarily blind the cameras and you will simply have a white screen with no detail. It will also cause motion alarms. It is better to mount them high looking downward if you have a light source that can come into view. Don't mount a metal surface of a camera to a metal surface that is grounded. When I first attached an exterior camera to the exterior metal siding of my barn, I had rolling lines on my tv screen. I could not figure out what was going on. I just happened to discover it by taking mounting screws loose from camera while someone was looking at tv. Ended up screwing a block of 2x4 to siding of barn and then attaching camera to this block to insulate them and get rid of the lines. During heavy rain, the lines would sometimes come back as the rain was grounding camera to barn.

    Be prepared to replace exterior cameras on a regular basis. This is because of static electricity caused by nearby lightning. I have had several to go bad during bad storms. Also had lightning to travel from camera to my dvr about 200' away and take out my dvr. I was using RG-59 tv type cable with these as it will insulate/shield wire from outside electrical disturbances. Many of these cheap cameras will simply use a 4 conductor phone wire. This contains 2 wires to supply power and the other 2 carry signal to dvr. Manufacturer claims this makes it easier to connect, but truth of matter is, you will reduce signal quality and voltage over extended lengths of cable. I recommend using a power supply that plugs into an outlet near the camera and use RG-59 or RG-6 tv cable for your signal. The telephone type cable is so small, it loses voltage/signal at less than 100'.

    The 600 line camera will provide decent video. Don't go with anything less. The new internet type cameras they have does much better in video quality, but they are very expensive. Start with this package and you can build up as you get more experience. Good luck. You will be ready to pull your hair out before it is all over with.
    StihlHead, btuser and seige101 like this.
  3. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Boatboy thats exactly the kind of info i am looking for.

    I figured the distance claims for the IR were using perfect conditions. Fortunately we only need 20-25' max at night.

    There is 5 outside flood lights on 3 sides of the building now, seems like I should add another one in the front and an entire fixture in the back. I am using 14w compact fluorescent bulbs there now. There is also a small 7w fluorescent bulb inside.

    Any tips for mounting height or locations? I was thinking under the soffit on the corners etc.

    The systems i was looking at had BNC Siamese cables they had a shielded video wire and then like an 18-2 for the cameras power supply.
    The building this is being installed on is fairly small at 20*16 so i think the 65' pre-made cables will do the trick. If i need to i can make up my own, i have the crimping tool.

    Thanks again
  4. boatboy63

    boatboy63 Member

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    I can't really give you any advice on where to mount them. I would have to be onsite to make that determination as there are a number of factors involved in where to mount them. As I said before, you don't want them mounted where headlights will hit them head on.

    You also have to realize, according to the specs on these cameras, they are rated for a 50-55 degree field of view. To put this in perspective, if you stand in the corner of a room and look outward, you are viewing 90 degrees. You could not mount 1 of these in a corner and see both walls adjacent to that corner. You can get a wide angle lens for some cameras, but it will cause the camera to lose detail at a distance. Mounting under a soffit would be ok, but you want them high enough so an intruder couldn't reach up and move them. When I set mine up, I did it so that you could not "sneak up" on them without being detected. If you mounted 2 of these on 1 corner looking down adjacent sides, that's what would happen. You also don't want them aiming toward any smooth surface parallel to the camera. If you do, the IR will reflect off the surface and "blind" the camera.

    Another downfall of infrared is that it will "wash" out facial detail at night. If you look at the video on the link you provided where the 2 people come walking toward the camera, you can see what I mean as they get closer. I noticed how they didn't walk directly toward it probably so it would not be obvious. Also, if you look at the nighttime video, notice how it is dark close to the camera and all light sources are off in the distance. This was intentional when they made the video to make the distance appear greater than it is in most scenerios.
  5. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    Costco cameras are using the BNC connections? If so, it must be a bit better than what I have seen in the past. Most were rj11 type phone jacks. I do this professionally, so I can lend some assistance. If these are considered hybrid or day/night cams, they are using color during daylight and black and white afterwards. This allows the use of Infrared light collection. If all the cams have IR illuminators, that answers the question. The rated distance is very misleading and using 50% is a good start to reality. The other issue is the angle of the lens. A 50 degree lens is relatively long, maybe an 8mm or so. This is not optimal with IR cameras for overall exterior views. It would be good for hallways or driveways. IR camera overall are not useful IMO. You would be better served with a hybrid camera less the IR built in, and if there were low light areas, suppliment the light source. You can get IR floods which can cast a 300 ft deep blanket of IR which any black and white camera will see. Your eyes will not. You can see the bulb as a dull red light, but your eyes can't see the cast. Motion sensitve lights would be an easy add to help out.

    First, if the cams are rj11 connections, leave them on the shelf, or at least consider this a 3-5 year system that will likely be a complete wash if any component fails. This has been the problem with these "plug and play" systems; no support down the road with parts or service.

    If they are BNC cameras, you can always replace the cameras with other units down the road. What most likely goes on these cams is the iris. If it is an electronic iris, your looking at a 4-5 year item, especially outside. To position these optimally, create overlaps of views. I routinely have one camera looking past or underneath another. The advantage is that you have no blind spots and you have protection against attacks on the cameras going unseen. The DVR should have motion recording options. Use them. Always. No sense clogging up your hard drive with dead recordings. 5 cams on a 500G storage will only get you 10 days or so of backlog. Motion recording will expand that significantly depending on the level of activity.

    Given all this, the cost of that system is at a level where being a throw-away system is not unreasonable. A name brand DVR in my industry starts out around 500 dollars, and decent cameras start around 200. These products have expectations of 5-7 years and routinely go longer.
  6. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    It's hard to beat the Costco systems for value. Make sure you seal everything well, and leave the silica packs in the camera to suck up any moisture that can get in there (just from the ir in the housing). If it's a sealed unit any moisture will heat up and steam the electronics, causing a 5yr camera to die out in less than a year. As far as "is this a good system?" that depends on you. I've had roiling arguments with customers who can't understand why they keep getting woken up at 3am when a deer walks across their yard, or that a $4500 IP camera with motion tracking software can't see through a ski mask. I try to point out to customers that "we're in the image capturing business, not the motion picture business".

    You want one at your front door, a really good, tight shot, because even if they're going to break a window to get in they almost always ring/knock on the front door to see if anyone's home. They may gain entry through a window but they're going to carry their stuff out through the door.

    Also, if you're going to point one at the driveway, get down low so you can catch the license plate. This is harder than you think because a lot of cars don't have front plates but invaluable when checking who's been in and out of your driveway (possibly checking to see if your home).

    Eight cameras is a lot for a house (depending on what you're looking for) so if you were to use 5-6 of them you'd have a couple as spares. More than likely it will be the DVR that dies out long before a well-installed camera, and when the hard drive on these units breaks you throw the box away and get a new one. Make sure it's in a decent spot where it gets plenty of conditioned air and not in a damp basement or under a pile of dirty clothes in the bedroom closet.

    Finally, if you don't have an alarm system get one. You can get very reasonable monitoring rates nowadays, or even just have the panel call/text your cell phone. Coupled with a video system you can remotely view from your smart phone is very cool.
  7. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Thank you for the replies everyone! Keep them coming!
    I started installing the system this past Thursday and so far i am pretty impressed with the features and image quality!
    I have 7 cameras installed currently 6 outside and 1 inside. I have one blind spot on the back of the building as you can see in my diagram below. Will install the last one there soon. I mounted 2 of the cameras that are visible from the street in blatantly obvious locations,3 are in semi hidden locations and 1 your will never see unless you know it's there.

    Unfortunately the building has a very low roof line so the cameras could be reached from ground level, however you will caught via another camera if you are trying to tamper with one. The DVR it self will go into alarm mode if there is a loss of video on any channel. The plus side it you get a very clear face shot and will even see a face if they are wearing a hoodie or a baseball cap

    In testing i could clearly see my face once i was within the fenced in area (15-25' from the camera). The IR/night vision is pretty darned impressive, i was able to clearly see my face and read the writing on my t-shirt with all the outside lights off. With the outside spotlights on i am able to see clearly in the cameras entire vision.

    I had played around with the system at my house before i installed it at it's location. It was pretty neat to be able to view it on any computer within the house and via my cell phone. I also had a friend remotely view from their house a few states away!

    When i get the remote access setup at it's current location i will really start playing with the motion detection settings. I have heard from a few people on another forum that i could have the system constantly recording on each channel at a lower frame rate (5fps was suggested) and when there is motion detection have it boost up to the full 30fps about 1 minute before during and after motion is detected.

    There is alarm ports on the DVR it self that could be hooked up to door/window sensors or motion sensors. There are also alarm output contacts that could be wired to an outside siren or flashing light or even an alarm system.

    The key on the image is green line is a 6' tall fence, blue is a 3' fence that will upgraded to 6' and eventually around the entire complex hopefully with barbed wire on top. Red are the current camera locations and yellow are the very untitled.JPG approx lines of sight.
  8. Julian

    Julian Member

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    Storm about a month ago fried all for of my cameras,dvr,router and my crestron control unit. Not a cheap fix
  9. cesaro

    cesaro New Member

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    Hi, I work in the computer industry(I'm computer and network technician) but I do sometimes do some analog video camera installations. I got into this field by accident. My landlord was having some security trouble in one of the buildings he owns. To make the story short, I ended up installing around 24 analog video cameras total in three different buildings. Since he did not know much about video quality he bought a cheap video system. He does not like this analog video system anymore and he would like to replace it with a new ip digital video system. He thinks that by switching to this new technology he will eventually be able to watch his buildings on the internet.
    I do not know much about ip video cameras, I've been talking with some people about it and I have come accross some terms like ip video camera, ip over coax, etc....but for right now I would like to have some feedback on a very specific set of questions :
    1.- Am I gonna be able to use the same coax cabling already installed ?
    2.- Am I gonna be able to power these cameras when cable runs are very long(500 feet) ?
    3.- Am I gonna have to assign ip addresses to all diferent ip cameras ?
    4.- Am I gonna need some type of device to bring the video signal from one end to the other when again the cable run is very long ?

    I need to start this project right away therefore any help would be really appreciate it..ThankU
  10. whill52

    whill52 New Member

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    Hi cesaro....
    Yes, I have tried some of the Ethernet over coax systems. It does make the job quite easy. Usually I like to install new cabling if it is all possible because then I actually know what I'm working with. Sometimes the cabling is already in place with the coax in the run and the run may be longer than network standards. And when the job is very price competitive this is also an excellent option. The brand that I have chosen to use was Nitek. I had used oroducts in the past for analog video transmissions. They make a system called Etherstretch. They offer both stand-alone units and the ones I used with a gigabit switch built-in. The switch provided Pelee power to the cameras in addition to receiving the Ethernet over coax. Here is a link to the unit I used

    http://www.nitek.net/products/networkextenders/ER16500C.htm

    I'm not sure how many cameras you need to do in this job. They also make single channel units. I have used those on a few jobs analyses do one or two cameras and they seem to work quite nice. Most of the runs I was doing were over 500 feet. I did not need to install any type of repeater to make it reach. That was also an advantage. Let me know what you think and how the job goes.

    Thank U for posting....whill52.....

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