Basic Video Surveillance System – Do It Yourself
For multiple reasons, video surveillance systems are increasingly popular for home and small business. At digishop.org, we target these categories. In this article, we bring to your attention several security aspects of this market segment, for minimizing the cost while increasing the efficiency.
We begin by bringing to your attention a typical scenario for a security company chasing a new client:
A sales person comes with a “very good deal”, such as free surveillance system of $1,200 value including installation, if you accept a 3-years monitoring contract with them, for $40.00/month.
Important to mention: the offer is for a typical security system with central unit, three door contacts, one motion sensor and one smoke sensor.
The math is quite simple: you must pay $480/year, or $1,400 over three years. Apparently, this does not look too bad: if you take for granted $1,200 the price of security system as they claim, for $200 extra you have the system installed by a technician in about 40 minutes, or you pay $300/hour installation fee!
Let’s look further on the surveillance job of the security company. Practically they do nothing until appears an alarm signal from the client, when they check if there is a true signal or not. If a true alarm is acknowledged, they try to reach you by phone, to inform you about an intrusion attempt, or about a fire alarm. If they do not find you, they call the Police. If the Police comes on place and there is no sign of intrusion and if this happens the first time, you get only a warning for a false alarm. If the surveillance company calls the Police again after a while and the Police finds again a false alarm, they will charge you this time! You cannot dispute with the security company; they always claim a perfect system, no glitches whatsoever. If you still insist that the surveillance system had a glitch, they will send you a technician to your premises, but his visit is not free. Usually, the field technicians have low expertise and they end up by doing something wrong in your system, which will create you more problems later. Again, you cannot prove the technician’s expertise level. He is certified by the security company to do this job. You are at the total mercy of the security company. You could break the contract, but you will be charged for this, according to the contract terms. This scenario is not hypothetical. It happened to us several times, turning into nightmare the video surveillance, with a lot of money loss.
Fortunately, technical progress in multiple domains such as video capture and storage, wireless communications, Internet and cellular telephony to name just a few of them, make property surveillance much more reliable and more affordable than it was until several years ago. The schematic Basic DIY 24/7 Video Monitoring shows how simple and affordable is to do yourself a 24/7 video surveillance system, monitored by yourself.
The key piece of your video surveillance is Foscam FI8910W Pan & Tilt IP/Network Camera with Two-Way Audio and Night Vision (Black) which is an integrated unit with high quality color video camera and microphone, infra-red – IR LED for illumination in the dark, pan/tilt function for improved exploration, embedded IR-cut filter and video recording system. The unit can be wirelessly connected to a local area network and further to Internet. However, Internet is increasingly popular and most likely you already have local wireless network installed and running in your premises. Up to four such cameras can be connected to the same wireless router. Any computer, tablet and smartphone (iPhone, Android and BlackBerry) can be used to see the images from cameras if you provide their addresses. Foscam camera has an IR-Cut filter for enhanced color picture quality. With this camera, you have two-way audio, 300 degrees pan and 120 degrees tilt, motion detection with email notification and image upload via FTP. With this camera, you can do video and audio remote monitoring from anywhere in the world where is Internet connection.
The Foscam Blue Iris Professional software allows you to define Motion Detection Zones, has H.264 compression recording, e-mail and SMS text messaging alerts. This software supports several IP camera brands including Foscam FI8910W Pan & Tilt IP/Network Camera and Agasio A502W Wireless IP Camera with IR-Cut Off Filter for TRUE COLOR Images.
We recommend Medialink – Wireless N Broadband Router – 150 Mbps – 2.4GHz – 802.11n w/ Internal Antenna for your local area network – LAN, if you do not have already other router. However we keep posted this router on our list of devices for DIY surveillance system.
You must protect your surveillance system against either intentional or involuntary power failure with CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD Intelligent LCD 1500VA 900W with AVR Tower UPS, which can be used also for powering your computer and your wireless router.
We do not include in our list the smartphone, which we suppose you already have. This is more and more a commodity in these days and also in the immediate future. Using a software application such as IP Cam Viewer for Android, IPad, my Droid 2 and 3 phones, you can listen, control and record your camera from anywhere in the world with Internet connection.
With continuously shrinking prices, we cannot provide you the exact amount for each DIY option mentioned below. You make yourself the calculations by going to the provided links.
Let us summarize our recommendations for using DIY remote video monitoring over Internet:
DIY Option A: You need a single Foscam FI8910W camera. You have the wireless router, backup power supply, and the smartphone. Your investment is below $99.99.
DIY Option B: You need four Foscam FI8910W cameras and also Foscam Blue Iris Professional software. You suppose to have the wireless router, backup power supply, and the smartphone. Your investment is below: $450.00.
DIY Option C: Option B , where you must add the backup power supply. Your investment is below $595.00.
Now, you compare DIY Options A, B and C with:
Security company: $1,400.00 for three years, or $467.00/year and hassle. It is up to you to make comments and to decide which way to go.