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Old 06-14-2012, 01:30 PM   #1
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


Since this is a DIY forum, I figured I'd post a little DIY project I did with piecing together a rather solid video surveillance setup.

Please note, this software is Linux based. If you were curious about this solution and are a Windows/Mac user, sorry.

Some background info: We bought our first house in January. With us working longer hours, I felt a sense of comfort having eyes on the place, so I set up an indoor camera I already had and forwarded the IP through the router for remote checkups. As time passed I began to think... how nice would it be to have outdoor cameras rolling in case we ever need them? Sure, we live in a good area, but there's always enough bored kids around to at least warrant the thought in the back of your head.

I had hoped that there would be a solid Linux based package to handle this, seeing as though I tend to run Linux on most of my systems to begin with. Plus, since I already had a Linux server running 247, it would only make sense to utilize and already-running box for these purposes. I found ZoneMinder and Motion when I was searching around for software solutions. ZM worked great, but I ran into some snags when I began to use higher resolution cameras. Instead of diving too deep into fixing it, I wanted to give another contender a shot, so I checked out Motion. My setup has been running beautifully for a few weeks now, so I put together two videos (YouTube length limitation) going through some basics with the setup process.

My server is a low end quad core (Q8200) with 4GB of RAM and a software RAID array mirror. I originally set it up to run an array of services - web/file/print/backup server, lengthy downloads, etc. I ended up just tacking Motion onto its duties and it's done great since. The Motion feeds are shared out via Samba, so I can connect to that shared folder and view the feeds through VLC, Totem Media Player, etc. So far I'm very happy with the setup. My server isn't pushed that badly, however I acknowledge it is a quad core (though a lot end quad core). It does decent on electricity draw too... considering the price of electricity in the area and some quick calculations with my wattage meter, it'll likely run me 50/yr.

I haven't had an absolute "need" for it just yet, thankfully. I hope I never do. So far Motion has still provided me with several things, though... For one, there were 3 kittens living under my ground level deck I had no idea about. For two, it captured an epic fail I had when I slipped with a plate of freshly made burgers from the grill. My fiance's question immediately following the usual "are you okay?" was "oh my gosh was the camera on?!" Love it.

In all seriousness, it has given me an additional sense of security, especially after what I heard the other night. A few cars were broken into, with the only common link being the residents said a week earlier somebody was going door to door selling security systems. Yeah right, more like somebody scouting and doing some homework. Ironically, had they come to my house, I would have had them on camera when they were trying to sell the product a week prior. But, alas, they never came to my end of town, which is almost a bummer now that I think about it.

How To Guide Utilizing "Motion" On Linux:




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Last edited by roasted; 06-15-2012 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 06-14-2012, 02:30 PM   #2
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


Where's the fail! I want my money back

Thanks for the tutorial. I'm going to try one of the Samsung WiFi with the web server. I only need one so the cost is OK for one.

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Old 06-14-2012, 02:57 PM   #3
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


A lot of cameras actually have decent on board features these days. My camera in particular allows motion detection recording onto an SD card that I can put within the camera. In the event somebody takes the camera, though... I'm stuck...

I'm going to be doing another Motion setup at my fiance's parents beach house... They found out that the house next to them (which was on the market for sale) had somebody living in it while the owners were several hours away at their regular house. Creepy! In their case I'll probably get a Nettop (Atom powered super slim/small computer) and an indoor camera. With it being indoor, there should be little/no motion detection going on unless somebody truthfully got inside their house. I'll hook it up to a Dropbox or Ubuntu One cloud service, so that way even if somebody breaks in and steals the camera AND the nettop (after all, if they have enough time to hang out in the place with nobody there and search for it, they're likely to find it and get it) that way the feeds are at least saved externally in a place out of the thief's reach.

Considering the lack of feeds that SHOULD be seen unless somebody breaks in, the 2GB Dropbox limit (5GB for Ubuntu One if I go that route) should be significantly more than enough.

Should be an interesting setup, though.
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Old 07-04-2012, 02:40 PM   #4
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


Interesting post, good video tutorials as well.

I run an 8 ip camera system on a windows machine, where I use BlueIris for motion detection, archiving, and streaming.
Recently I started running ubuntu on my laptops and was a little disappointed that there was no desktop gadget equivalent (I use gadgets to constantly view ip camera streams on the desktop). Don't suppose you would have any advice on doing something similar on ubuntu?

Otherwise, I am also curious about what cameras you settled for.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:35 PM   #5
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


I felt kind of the same way, but I haven't used Windows on my personal systems in years, so I was kind of bullheaded with "No, I WILL use Ubuntu and I WILL find a product that does what I need." It sort of felt like I had 2 choices - ZoneMinder and Motion, and at the time I had understood Motion to be for USB cameras only. ZoneMinder can be a little finicky, but if you fine tune it, it's easily one of the best computer based CCTV programs out there. I had enough issues with it to warrant trying out alternatives, and once I fired up Motion, I realized just how awesome it was. It actually runs lighter than ZoneMinder and I find it to be less fussy. In fact, I haven't had a single issue with Motion as of yet... everything I tell it to do... it does. I'm sure some people out there might not find it to be as feature packed as they want, and that's fine. I simply needed a way to utilize network cameras to run on configurable motion detection based recordings with the ability to block out certain areas of the image I don't want triggered. Motion did that (and then some) perfectly so I've been sitting tight with it ever since. Others I've talked to are a little meh about the fact it doesn't have a web GUI, but if you set up a Samba share, it really negates the need for a GUI since I can run the RTSP streams within Totem or VLC (or even Firefox or Chrome) and pull up past feeds from the file share easily. In fact I often leave up the RTSP stream running through Totem, so if I hear a noise late at night and I'm on the laptop I'll just CTRL + TAB to Totem and see what's up. The only thing I'd like to figure out yet is how to pull in both RTSP streams into 1 field of view instead of having them in independent windows, but that's a task for another day, as I'm still knee deep in a bathroom renovation!

I'm using Vivotek IP8332 outdoor cameras, as well as an indoor Foscam FI8918W, but I don't use the indoor camera with Motion for actual surveillance. I just have it set up so I can check in on the puppy and see what he's doing. The Vivotek's are used for continual monitoring, though. In fact, I'm headed outside now to refocus the one I have on the back deck - ever since I tried to focus it better I can't seem to get it back the way I want it. Ahh I think I might have a touch of OCD.... :D

Last edited by roasted; 07-04-2012 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:30 PM   #6
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


Hmmm, streaming through totem in conjunction with some sort of start up script and devoting a workspace to all of the cameras may be an option I should consider.
Otherwise the IP8332 which is built into its outdoor enclosure and supports poe seems nice.

I'll have to consider that stuff for the future. Thanks!
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:33 PM   #7
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


I also recommend locking the computer or recorder for your security camera up in a very secure location. A metal equipment rack cabinet bolted to the wall works, or a closet with a dead bolt lock a solid core door.

The reason for this is that locally, we had a jewelry store get broken into a few months ago and a significant amount of merchandise was stolen, and the store trashed. The perpetrators were smart enough to realize that they were being recorded, so they took the hard-drive deck the cameras were connected to along with them....They have not been caught yet! Just remember your system is only as strong as it's weakest link, and if that box is stolen, your camera system is USELESS! Not just because there's nothing to connect your cameras to, but because the valueable evidence about the theft/burglarly is now gone too!
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:48 PM   #8
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


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Originally Posted by av-geek View Post
I also recommend locking the computer or recorder for your security camera up in a very secure location. A metal equipment rack cabinet bolted to the wall works, or a closet with a dead bolt lock a solid core door.

*snip*
I couldn't agree more with av-geek. If I were running a jewelry store with my current Motion setup as I'm running at home, I'd likely set the system up to rsync to an offsite location for redundancy. In the case of my future mother-in-law who has a beach house 3 hours away, she wanted to set up an indoor camera. Of course, my mind defaulted to setting up a small nettop (since an Atom is more than powerful enough for 1 camera with using Motion) within her beachhouse pointed at the door. That way if the door opens, it records. The curve ball is I was going to set the save directory to either be Dropbox or Ubuntu One's cloud folder... so when it's "saving" the feeds they're actually being written to an online resource on the fly. There aint no stealing that data.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:04 PM   #9
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


Quote:
Originally Posted by av-geek View Post
I also recommend locking the computer or recorder for your security camera up in a very secure location. A metal equipment rack cabinet bolted to the wall works, or a closet with a dead bolt lock a solid core door.

The reason for this is that locally, we had a jewelry store get broken into a few months ago and a significant amount of merchandise was stolen, and the store trashed. The perpetrators were smart enough to realize that they were being recorded, so they took the hard-drive deck the cameras were connected to along with them....They have not been caught yet! Just remember your system is only as strong as it's weakest link, and if that box is stolen, your camera system is USELESS! Not just because there's nothing to connect your cameras to, but because the valueable evidence about the theft/burglarly is now gone too!
I wonder how many stores have the same issue. They have cameras all over pawn shops and whatnot but I bet they just have a dvr sitting on the desk in the office. I would alter a gun safe to hold the computer.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:56 PM   #10
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


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I wonder how many stores have the same issue. They have cameras all over pawn shops and whatnot but I bet they just have a dvr sitting on the desk in the office. I would alter a gun safe to hold the computer.
Oddly, that would be a decent alternative, so long as you can get proper air circulation. Problem is you'd need one heckuva bit to drill some wiring/air flow holes!
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Old 07-14-2012, 12:22 PM   #11
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


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Oddly, that would be a decent alternative, so long as you can get proper air circulation. Problem is you'd need one heckuva bit to drill some wiring/air flow holes!
You could use an angle grinder with a cutting disc or a diamond disc to cut some 6 inch (or whatever) square holes and weld some vent covers on. It would take a bit of work and some creativity but I'm pretty sure you could make something pretty nice
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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My Home Video Surveillance Setup.


For multiple network cam setups have a look at BlueIris software. Reasonably easy setup and works with just about any brand cam so you can mix and match as desired.

I have a 6 cam setup recording continuously to a home theater PC that draws pretty low power using Intel Core i3 with on-CPU graphics. You can also run BI on an Atom based system for even lower power use. BI also provides a webserver so you can access all the cams remotely via one URL (helps to create a URL at dyndns) from a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Hard drives are so cheap there is really not much need to record only on motion. I record continuously to a 2 TB HD and have it set to dispose of videos when they get to be 2 weeks old. No real need to review the recordings unless/until something happens.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:22 AM   #13
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I heard of BlueIris. I immediately lost interest in it when I saw it was Windows only, but of course that may appeal to some users here, so it's important to keep that in mind. It looks like the full license is 50 bucks, which in the grand scheme of things isn't bad if you consider the price of your grill, deck furniture, etc. If you already have an old Windows tower laying around and don't want to venture into Linux, this makes sense, and I encourage users to give these solutions some serious consideration. Other people may preferred the dedicated DVR/NVR solution, which is perfectly fine too.

I know I may be in the minority here, but I already had a Linux server set up in my basement for doing 300 other things (not sure how I'd operate without it - I'm so spoiled by all of its automation and housing all of the family's backed up data, my own cloud server, video surveillance, etc), so it only made sense for me to find a Linux based solution - which I landed a home run with "Motion". You know the software is doing its job well when you've been so busy that you actually *forget* you're even running video surveillance on your own property, all the while it's still running without a hitch. I guess that's the point though, no?

Seriously... regardless of your preferred platform, put some consideration into home video surveillance and understand that alternatives exist depending on your preference. I don't have any cameras inside (that's a bit much for me), but there's been times I've been sitting on the deck with friends and they realize that the light fixture in the ceiling is actually a camera, and curiously/creepily ask why I have it. Since most of my friends are gun owners, my one liner response tends to end the conversation and bring everybody on the same page: I have cameras for the same reason you carry a gun to the grocery store: "just in case"
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:52 PM   #14
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I don't use Linux but it's good to know there is a Linux platform out there for this.

I have 2 cams pointing outdoors and also several indoor cams. Getting high quality outdoor video that can be used for identification is challenging, especially in low light and night unless you pay $$$ for the cams or have good light sources. So I have a few indoor cams in strategic locations along likely ingress paths.

Nothing is foolproof. The alarm system is for immediate deterrence but if something actually happens the video setup might help after the fact. Besides, it's a fun gadget hobby.

BTW, I'm glad I don't go to (at least I hope) the grocery store that your gun totin' neighbors use. Nothing worse than civilians with itchy trigger fingers making fatal mistakes....
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:00 PM   #15
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BTW, I'm glad I don't go to (at least I hope) the grocery store that your gun totin' neighbors use. Nothing worse than civilians with itchy trigger fingers making fatal mistakes....
Ha, my buds aren't hillbillies that run around shirtless with suspenders loaded with shotguns. We often go to the shooting range. I'm just not that interested to carry a handgun. Some of them, however, have them at all times.

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I have 2 cams pointing outdoors and also several indoor cams. Getting high quality outdoor video that can be used for identification is challenging, especially in low light and night unless you pay $$$ for the cams or have good light sources. So I have a few indoor cams in strategic locations along likely ingress paths.
I hear ya. I ended up grabbing a 48 LED IR light off of Ebay for less than 20 bucks. It lights up the deck area quite a bit more.

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