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Security camera questions

Discussion in 'Hobby Electronics' started by Trevor Wilson, Apr 11, 2011.

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  1. A mate wants a set of security cameras around his home. I called a mate in
    the biz and found that the hardware is not badly priced, but the cameras are
    very expensive. For a high resolution camera (only), the cost runs to around
    $1,500.00 each. He needs to be able to identify faces at around 20 Metres.
    This rules out any of the usual solutions from Electus/Altronics.

    I figured that an alternate solution might be at hand.

    Buy a couple of standard HD video cameras (say, $300.00 ~ $400.00 each).
    Choose models with remote control (do the remote controls usually operate
    the zoom?) and use an external box with pan/tilt capabilities. Use a remote
    extender to the camera box, along with power and video feed. Take the output
    and feed it into his computer and the total cost can be kept quite low.

    Any thoughts?
  2. atec77

    atec77 Guest

    Obviously you are ill equipped to offer advice on this matter
    Sounds amateurish and is an dreadful concept , fact is wholesale a
    good 4 cam analogue installation excluding cable and labour at 540 tvl
    1/3" Sony inserts built from generic parts will run over $1200.00 for
    fixed cams , legally only a licensed cabler can install most of it and
    if you were to do so would be fined heavily , refer this person to
    someone with clue in the industry
  3. Yes, you've never done this before have you? With good reason.

    Don't give up your day job.
  4. **OK, so you don't know either. I assume you would be able to point out
    where I have it wrong, if you could.
  5. **Oh yeah. I have set up home security systems previously. They used cheap,
    shitty cameras. I've never used quality cameras.

    With good reason.
    **I'm not. Read my words: I'm helping a mate. I have no intention of doing
    the job. I merely posed the question. HD video cameras are quite inexpensive
    and my mate has plenty of time on his hands. I will simply point him in the
    direction. He will install and wire up. I don't have the time to bugger
    around with such things.
  6. atec77

    atec77 Guest

  7. It's been a few years since I've worked in the industry, but I'll try
    to remember, and keep up with changes.

    A $300-$400 "HD" camera is a combination device, you're not only paying
    for the image element and the interface electronics, but also for
    features that are directly marketed to end users who intend on hanging
    them around their necks, not bolt them to a wall.
    As such, you get less image element value for money, and more tourist
    value for money.

    Dedicated cameras are all image element and interface electronics, and
    come standard with mounting bits because they know *their* end users are
    going to bolt them to a wall, not wear them around their necks.

    Optional extras, such as B/W, Colour, auto-iris, infrared efficacy
    (especially for colour cameras where their IR response may not be as
    good as your typical monochrome camera). In addition, pan/tilt/zoom etc
    are all are options because you may not need certain features in certain
    areas, and probably don't want to pay for it either.

    In addition, dedicated cameras have optional weatherproof cases,
    touristy-style cameras may or may not, so you're gambling somewhat when
    it comes to cases, AND their mounting options (waterproof touristy type
    cameras only have a neck strap, no provision for bolting to a wall) are
    very limited - all bets are off, and it's up to YOU to find mounting method.

    I haven't even touched on the interface options of the cameras? Do
    they have composite video output as a option? USB? IP? What are the
    implications of each, and did you factor in the cost of interface
    electronics where required?

    Remote control of pan/tilt/zoom functionality also is better refined,
    in that the signals are transmitted during the blanking phase of the
    video signal, negating the need for an additional signal cable. Thus
    making installation costs lower.
    IP capable cameras inherently have two-way communication, so it largely
    a moot point as far as additional control cable costs go.

    Along with low cost, you also lose the right to use that video footage
    in court, if it came to that. Be sure to check your setup is going to
    generate court-acceptable footage if you need it, because otherwise
    it'll only be good for internal company monitoring (employee theft,
    slacking off etc).

    Yes, I have lots of thoughts, but the ones that are specifically
    pertaining to this converstaion include supplied software (for
    PC-centric installations), or features on supplied box that are going to
    be a HUGE drawcard (or drawback depending on your point of view).
    If you can get what you want from something that's sold entirely as a
    software solution, then great, but you may be losing out on other
    features or configuration options you might need just don't know yet.

    Do your homework.

    You clearly haven't, because you're posting a statement disguised as a
    If you've already made up your mind, then why ask?

    You didn't even state if cost (cheap) is the all-important option.
    This is a valid point.

    If you want full features and are finding if you can get that at
    ultra-low cost, there ARE going to be drawbacks. Not only in image
    quality, control and storage, but also system management, AND (again, if
    it comes to that) what you can legally do with your data once you've got it.

    Basically, if your lunch was free, you lose your whining rights.
  8. Geoff

    Geoff Guest

    This mob might be worth looking at, they have an Aussie rep and you can
    get board cameras for about twice the cost of a webcam, but they are much
    nicer cameras.
  9. **NOW we're cooking!
    **You'd think so. However, I've examined the output from a $400.00 HD
    camera. It is excellent and very likely suitable for the purpose. In fact,
    the performance is nothing short of astonishing. In fact, I did some work at
    a pub I fitted a sound system to a few years back. They upgraded all their
    surveillance equipment to digital (it was all analogue) and I had the
    opportunity to play with the equipment. Since the cameras were mounted in
    domes (which my mate says is a *very bad thing*) I judged the results as
    possibly inferior to a domestic handycam. Of course, I could not do a
    side-by-side comparison. I was hoping that someone may have done so.
    **Indeed. I am aware that there is a fair bit of jiggery pokery involved,
    but my mate is reasonably handy.
    **Pan/tilt empty cases can be purchased quite inexpensively. IR response of
    the handicams is unknown to me. Arranging some IR floodlighting is not
    difficult, nor that expensive however.
    **Like I said: A weatherproof case is not difficult to obtain, nor onerously
    **There's where stuff does get interesting. If I can use high speed USB or
    Firewire for video and control, then things are simple. If I need to take an
    HD feed, then things get a little messy, but not insurmountable. My mate is
    willing to keep cables quite short (<5 Metres) to keep things sensible and
    cheap. Interface electronics will depend on what the camera feeds out (of
    **Running one or five cables is pretty much inconsequential, given the short
    cable runs. I'm happy for him to run separate cables for power, video,
    pan/tilt and remote control. It's not a big deal. IF it can be made to work,
    of course. I'm relying on the camera having remote zoom capability. This is
    something I've only touched on, as the sales droid at JB HI Fi had no idea.
    Oh, except for one thing. One part of the Miranda store had a dead zone for
    video surveillance. They rigged up a cheap digicam and organised it to work
    and, by all reports, it worked fine for their needs.
    **Sure. I looked at that option, but, again, the costs of professional
    equipment, with adequate resolution (full HD) is quite expensive. If my mate
    was prepared to live with (say) VGA resolution, it would be a no-brainer.
    I'd just buy him a professional kit and let him hook it all up.
    **Not my problem. But I will ensure that he is aware of that issue.

    Be sure to check your setup is going to
    **It is was for commercial premises, I would certainly ONLY use professional
    equipment. This is domestic only.
    **I was curious if anyone had done what I propose and if it was successful.
    If someone had tried it and it had failed, then I would likely can the idea
    out of hand.
    **Indeed. When I quizzed him on his needs, I went to the usual catalogues
    and quickly found that the Electus/Altronics solutions are inadequate for
    his needs. My security mate provided the minimum specs of the equipment that
    I would need for the job. Then my mind wandered to domestic digicams. And, I
    have to say, their performance is surprisingly good.
    **I expect drawbacks, but the cost is potentially around $1k, compared to
    almost $8k for a professional set-up. That is a huge temptation to try it
    out. Worst case, my mate is stuck with a couple of domestic digicams and
    some cables, that he can't use.
    **Thanks a whole bunch for your input. I appreciate it.
  10. **Outstanding. Unfortunately, I've been referred to their Australian
    distributor, but I will await pricing details. Their product appear to be
    almost ideal for my needs.
  11. Don McKenzie

    Don McKenzie Guest
    might work, if the local price isn't good.

    Cheers Don...


    Don McKenzie

    Dontronics Blog:
    Dontronics Site Map:
    E-Mail Contact Page:
    Web Camera Page:
    No More Damn Spam:

    These products will reduce in price by 5% every month:

    Bare Proto PCB for PIC or AVR projects?
    "I'd buy that for a Dollar!".
  12. Generally speaking, the IR sensitivity of monochrome cameras is better
    than colour cameras, but I've been made aware of certain colour cameras
    with a better-than-usual IR response. I have no idea how they do it, if
    it's done entirely within the CCD, or they use composite CCDs to do the
    job, either way, they cost more. :-(
    That's where things fell over from my thinking. You're very rarely
    going to see a less than 5 metre length for ANY single CCTV camera, let
    alone most or all of the cameras, so that complicates things if you want
    to use tourist grade cameras.

    USB by itself (just a raw cable) is good for about 5 metres or less.
    There are protocol timing issues you cannot work around. What you CAN
    get however, is a USB extender, (Around $40 at the retail level, cheaper
    if you look around) that changes the protocols to give you something
    like 50 metres with eithernet cable.

    I have no idea what can be done with firewire, with the release of
    USB3, and it being backward compatible with USB2, AND it being faster
    than the current firewire, there's no incentive to try it either.

    USB loading *might* be an issue. If you're using high def cameras, AND
    they require a fair bit of the USB comms loading, you can easily limit
    out. Basically, it's like you have an 8-port USB hub on your computer
    all with high speed devices trying to squeeze their entire bandwidth
    over a single USB interface.
    Your typical motherboard has perhaps 2-3 USB hosts, with 2-3 way hubs
    at each one. What you need to do is find out which plug goes where, and
    evenly distribute the cameras across all of them. How easy this is
    varies from nearly impossible to reasonably easy with some testing, the
    right tools, and a bit of know-how.
    However, not ever having tried it myself, I really don't know how much
    USB bandwidth a typical live HD video feed eats up, so some testing here
    would need to be done first.

    If you're talking composite video, then it's still ifffy. Many
    consumer grade cameras don't offer that as an option (some do with funky
    conversion cables), but at least you have some luxury with cable length.
    200+ metres with RG59/U, or longer if you spend more on cable.
    I've heard some people use baluns with twisted pair (Ethernet style)
    cable, with some success, but you can't expect real length improvement
    unless you use an active interface.
    You're buying your stock from JB HIFI?
    Sorry dude, I'm trying here, but I *REALLY* can't help you if your
    stock supplier is JB HIFI.
    This is something the original fitters should have handled.
    I've had an unfortunate amount of dealing with idiot installers too.
    :) Good luck with that. The first time he needs to take someone who
    clearly appears on video to court for stealing (or whatever), and the
    other lawyers start asking questions, the claim falls flat on its face.

    You WILL get blamed for that, I assure you. At least get all that in
    writing, so you cover your arse. It's also a ripe recipe for losing a
    friend (the voice of experience).
    In that case, it easier in that he's probably less likely to take court
    action against an unknown thief, on account that he probably can't
    afford the entire legal course to win back the cost of a 2nd hand TV.
    If you want easy, something like webcams with POE (Power Over
    Eithernet) makes things REALLY easy, if not a bit more costly.
    Out of the box, it works for monitoring, many come with bundled
    software that lets you do recording too. It's not feature-packed by any
    means, but overall, it ends up by far less stressful.
    What you're likely to find at Jaycar is along the lines of the cheap
    chinese CCTV offers at an inflated cost. If you want more than that,
    you need to spend more.

    Kinda like a mate of mine who back in the 70's welded a lawnmower motor
    onto a bicycle, along with a lever for the clutch, and another smaller
    level for throttle.
    On an ordinary steel framed and wheeled bike, he managed to get it to
    nearly 100Km/h before shitting his pants (they used a following car as
    the speedo). He said he never worked out how the bike held together,
    nor how it stayed upright at all. Let alone the fact he lived to tell
    the story. They dumped it into the boot, drove back, dismantled it and
    never tried again.
    He could have purchased a normal motorcycle for little more than the
    money and trouble he spent on this pointless venture.
    In the short future, he did just that. The first of many motorcycles
    he's owned over the years. And happy with all of them.

    I suppose what I'm trying to say is, tell your mate to be done with it
    and buy a motorbike.
  13. terryc

    terryc Guest

    And there is your problem; high quality video into garbage. You would
    need a very high definition capture/converter card/dongle.

    Also, it isn't just the cameras, but the constant lighting needed 24x365.
  14. atec77

    atec77 Guest

    A dedicated dvr is the right solution and atm are cheap
  15. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    if you can't get remote zoom using "LIRC and a led" you might have to
    use a couple of solenoids or modify the camera replcing the switch
    contacts with reed relay contacts.
  16. keithr

    keithr Guest

    At $300-500 this would appear to fit the bill.
  17. Jeßus

    Jeßus Guest

    On Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:58:27 +1000, John Tserkezis


    Interesting thread. On the topic of security cameras, I have an issue
    I've been meaning to looking into, namely how to stop spider webs in
    and around outdoor cameras... many of mine are only good for 2-3 days
    before spider webs obscure the night view and require cleaning. Any
    ideas, anyone?

    Also, been wondering about the viability or running external IR
    lights? Do they even exist at all? I did have a look around several
    months ago but didn't find anything along those lines. Cheers
  18. Don McKenzie

    Don McKenzie Guest

    I have 5 permanent security cameras, here is one of them:

    A feather duster every 2 or 3 weeks generally sorts them out.
    Perhaps it a geographical problem. I am in Melbourne.

    Cheers Don...


    Don McKenzie

    Dontronics Blog:
    Dontronics Site Map:
    E-Mail Contact Page:
    Web Camera Page:
    No More Damn Spam:

    These products will reduce in price by 5% every month:

    Bare Proto PCB for PIC or AVR projects?
    "I'd buy that for a Dollar!".
  19. atec77

    atec77 Guest

    Krunchy , ask your pest exterminator
  20. Peter

    Peter Guest

    Surface spray. Good for six months
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