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CCTV at night

Discussion in 'Security Alarms' started by Charlie Brown, Oct 28, 2006.

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  1. Hi

    OK, I didn't do my homework very well. I have a digital video recorder with
    one wireless miniature camera attached, I did this initial set up because I
    wasn't sure how good it was going to be. It works fine but has a range of
    about 20m instead of the 100m spec, but the signal is going through a couple
    of walls. I now want to add cameras to it (3 more spare ports) but the
    dealer tells me I need IR cameras if I want to record at night, they all
    look a bit chunky and I like the discrete miniature type. Is there a way
    where I can use the miniature cameras but use separate IR lighting? The
    dealer says you can't do this, you need the IR cameras.

    Can anyone help?


    Charlie Brown
  2. The dealer is wrong. You can use a separate IR illuminator. Unfortunately, the ones with enough power to illuminate a long
    distance tend to be costly.


    Robert L Bass

    Bass Home Electronics
    4883 Fallcrest Circle
    Sarasota · Florida · 34233
  3. shady

    shady Guest

    Depending on how big or small a "chunky" camera is, here's a link for you...

    Without the sun shield, this camera is about 1.5" - 2" in diameter. If you
    can find one that has a black case instead of the silver one here, it would
    be much more discrete.

    I found this one through a quick google search, although I believe I've used
    this model with good results too. Just beware, the infrared illuminators
    will generally only work well within a 30 foot range.
  4. Matt Ion

    Matt Ion Guest

    You don't need cameras with built-in IR illuminators, but you do need cameras
    that can pick up the IR illumination. As Bass noted though, large high-power
    illuminators can be expensive.

    How about just using a motion-activated flood light? Your mini-cams will be a
    lot happier with that, and you'll be a lot more likely to simply scare the bad
    guys away with that.
  5. Thanks very much. I know its easy to go overboard with security systems,
    the fact is, I just want to protect a few valuables I have in the house, so
    IR range isn't important. FYI, I live in an old house that is historically
    listed, I am not allowed to fit heavy duty security equipment; and I want to
    keep the CCTV small and wireless. I called the local police crime
    prevention dept, they said CCTV is a waste of time and money, I'd be better
    off fitting good locks. this sounds stupid to me - why fit expensive locks
    to doors when you can push you elbow through a window? I just want a good
    picture that will stand up in court. Its difficult to know what to do
    living in an old house that you can't alter and too far away for an audio
    alarm to be of any significant use.

    I enjoy reading the cross talk, there's a lot of good information passed on
    this group.

    Charlie Brown
  6. Frank Olson

    Frank Olson Guest

    I agree. The motion floods are the "better idea". Quartz-halogen
    floods will allow you to employ color cameras (rather than black and
    white) which will make identifying the "perps" easier for the Police.

    If you want covert surveillance though, infra-red illuminators are the
    only way to go. They're cost increases with the distance to the object.
    Using a cheap camera with them isn't going to avail you much, however.
    You'll "see" a blurry object wielding another blurry object trying to
    get into what appears to be your blurry back door. :)
  7. Doug

    Doug Guest

    You can use separate IR illuminators but most IR illuminators are anything
    but discreet, also most manufacturers seem to exaggerate the range of their
    IR products especially the lower end products. Depending on the amount of
    ambient light, there may be other options such as using a very low light
    level camera.

  8. Frank Olson

    Frank Olson Guest

    Correction: "Their" ...
  9. jacolo

    jacolo Guest

    Hey Charlie,

    Well people that try things new learn the hard way like me, welcome to
    the club.
    I have a Web Site you should check out that has DVR systems and and
    many hidden cameras that are compatable with all the systems on the
    site. Wether you want a system that works from your computor or a DVr
    system that can adapt to your computror to monitor everything at
    anytime by connecting from any other computer.

    let me know what you think after you check it out.
  10. As Matt suggested, a motion detector light may be a good solution. Speco makes a decent one that looks and works just like any
    other motion-operated flood light. However, located inside the unit is a hidden CCTV camera. I've used these and they work well.
    Thieves are used to seeing motion-lights and they won't even guess that they're on Candid Camera. Heck, they might even look
    straight at the light when it comes on.

    If the historical society doesn't get all bent out of shape about it you could probably fit one of these on the side of each house
    behind a downspout or chimney and another under the eaves in the back. A 4-channel video card for your PC might be a decent
    substitute for an expensive DVR if you've got a decent sized HD in the 'puter.


    Robert L Bass

    Bass Home Electronics
    4883 Fallcrest Circle
    Sarasota · Florida · 34233
  11. Jim

    Jim Guest

    No one seems to have remembered to mention that not only are
    "inexpensive" cameras not going to give you a good night picture .....
    they also don't have "day/night" capability.
    Even good color cameras don't do too good at night, even with infra red
    illuminators. Mfg's produce cameras that will convert to black and
    white cameras at night. Black and white cameras detect infra red
    illimination much better than color cameras. In some cases giving you
    much more than a two fold better picture than a color camera. Also,
    even "day/night" cameras have a problem of staying in focus in both the
    day and the night conditions. Better cameras provide compensation for

    I do cameras .... but truthfully .... I don't think they have much
    value. Usually you just wind up with a video of a complete stranger
    breaking into your house. No one will ever identify him. You can only
    hope that if the police keep the video that someday they may catch
    someone and remember that he's on your tape.

    In my opinion ....your best bet is good lighting, good locks, make your
    home look occupied when it's not, some lawn signs or window stickers
    and a reasonable security system. Then if you want to add some video
    ..... go for it.
  12. You are all a great group of guys willing to help out us non techy people.
    I am willing to spend whatever it takes balanced against what is reasonable.
    It is annoying that advice is not easy to get from the institutions; the
    insurance companies are not in the slightest bit interested if you try your
    best using modern technology, it seems the old adage of bolt your doors and
    keep your head down still applies.


    Charlie Brown
  13. dylan

    dylan Guest

  14. Matt Ion

    Matt Ion Guest

    Yup... and again, when a big bright light comes on in his face, the "perp" is a
    lot more likely to simply leave, BEFORE doing any damage.
  15. Matt Ion

    Matt Ion Guest

    Ooooo I like that idea.
  16. Matt Ion

    Matt Ion Guest

    Yeah, I think part of the police skepticism comes from the numerous "cheap"
    systems out there, in use mostly by homeowners and cheap-ass businesses, that
    record low-res, low-quality video from tiny camreas with cheap plastic
    wide-angle lenses to time-lapse VHS tape using cheap tapes on cheap transports,
    ending up with video that's pretty much useless. Put a couple of bucks into the
    system, and you can get plenty of useful video out of it.

    A "good" basic "pro" camera will run you a couple hundred bucks, with another
    $50-$100 for a "good" lens. How much do you really expect to get from a
    "complete four-cameras-with-TV-and-built-in-recorder" package that costs $200 at
  17. Bob La Londe

    Bob La Londe Guest

    Don't they have one that uses a receiver and transmits the video over the
    electrical wires?
  18. Cameras have their uses but not high in the priority of things. Look
    at the two example links. In the 1st one, the camera really did
    nothing. The house owner got a call from the auto dialer. Obviously
    the security system detected the intruders, not the cameras. He call
    the police when he saw the thieves on camera. 12 cameras? You can
    have a very reliable system for much cheaper, and can pay for a
    monitoring service here in US. Relying on yourself to receive the
    phone and call the police isn't that reliable.

    The 2nd example is bad if you have any valuable to protect. The 1st
    priority is to deter, detect and scare intruders away before they can
    do anything. A fairly simple alarm system will do. As some say, you
    need a decent camera and recorder to catch real thieves - not those
    tiny CMOS camera, even worse for night vision camera. You have to
    understand in that part of the world, they are stealing a 21 inch
    curved screen TV, and perhaps a toaster. In that case, a tiny camera
    may work, but it just serve to capture the face of a local thief well
    known to the local police.

    My opinion is that camera is really deterrent for business who have to
    let everybody into their premises. And for perimeter security to deter
    potential thieves and vandalism. It's difficult to avoid false alarm

    To protect the windows, simple magnetic detector will do. And if you
    are serious, vibration glass detectors or better, acoustic detectors
    turned to the breaking sound of glass. Then PIR indoor is almost fail
    safe, unless you have a pet roaming around in the same room. If an
    alarm doesn't scare the thieves away, they can always smash your camera
    and your recorder, unless you have some sort of internet camera with
    remote file server to store the images.

    Most security can be battery operated, but cameras are two high powered
    for batteries. In California they can just turn off the main switch at
    the front of my house.
  19. Back to night vision CCTV. Firstly, trying to catch them in the act is
    dangerous thinking when you can deter them, keep them away, and scare
    them away.

    Size is everything. Those miniature cameras are really bad. In
    daylight it's OK. At night all you can see are silhouettes. Night
    vision means they take away the IR filter for ordinary use, and add IR
    LED's. They are big and some actually emit faint red lights for all to
    see. I have a 12 LED IR light that looked like a small poor ordinary
    torch. I've seen 36 and 72 high power LED's. A 50 W light bulb with
    an ordinary camera looked better than a cheap 12 LED IR light. So an
    PIR controlled flood light is cheaper, lower power consumption, and
    have better images.
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