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bluefoxicy 01-25-2014 05:05 PM

Door (video?) intercom
I'm looking at intercom systems since my doorbell does nothing.

I'm thinking there are at least 7 places where it'd be convenient to have a monitor. If we cut back the ridiculous ones (i.e. hallways where there's a monitor in a room right by), I get Kitchen, Master Bedroom, Computer Room. The addition locations would be the other bedroom, the bathroom, the hallway upstairs (where the two bedrooms, bathroom, and computer room are), and the main room outside the kitchen.

In any case, a useful feature would be the ability to add additional monitors. Even better if the video/audio stream can come through a home surveillance system so I can interface with additional cameras.

Two-location intercom (front and back door) would be nice as well.

Most systems I find seem to have several problems:
  • Poorly made
  • Only interface with one monitor
  • Only interface with one intercom (so you can't have one on the back door)
  • Use a "portable intercom" (I want fixed wall-mount plates, not a tablet PC)

Some provide features such as additional monitors, output to a home security system or a PC, or the ability to control two sources from one monitor. It's kind of mix-and-match.

gregzoll 01-25-2014 05:23 PM

If you have an android tablet, you can use Foscam Viewer with Foscam IP cameras. It allows up to four cameras to be viewed at one time. You would need a PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch, to allow you to power those cameras that you cannot pull power to, or do not want to have an outlet next to it, to plug in a wallwart (power transformer).

The PoE cameras are a little more expensive, but good for those areas that you want to place the camera and only have to pull the Ethernet to. You can also use Wireless for those cameras that you can easily plug into an electrical outlet, if the camera is going to be sitting somewhere that you are able to have close proximity to power.

Personally I would either do PoE IP cameras, or conventional Coax with power type cameras, depending on how much you are willing to budget for this.

For saving images, I use a Lenovo ix2-4 NAS for storage on my network. Typically a two month period, I will end up with almost 30,000 images on two of my cameras, and that runs around 10gb at the most of space on the NAS.

bluefoxicy 01-25-2014 07:47 PM


Originally Posted by gregzoll (Post 1296680)
If you have an android tablet,

I want something embedded into a wall. You know, a fixture. Like a light switch.

I want something like this:

Except exactly not like this:

Instead I want it like this:

Except, you know, a thing like the device above, and in multiple locations.

It's a fixture. A part of the house. It's not a thing I want to carry around with me; I want it to be in a fixed location, like a light switch or a thermostat.

bluefoxicy 01-25-2014 07:50 PM


Originally Posted by gregzoll (Post 1296680)
If you have an android tablet,

I want something embedded into a wall. You know, a fixture. Like a light switch.

I want something like this:

Except exactly not like this:

Instead I want it like this:

Except, you know, in multiple locations.

It's a fixture. A part of the house. It's not a thing I want to carry around with me; I want it to be in a fixed location, like a light switch or a thermostat.

gregzoll 01-25-2014 08:44 PM

They are out there, but you have to have certified installers for those devices install them. Plus you have to have a server running the software on it, that drives those devices. It costs more then you realize, for the solution that you are wanting.

bluefoxicy 01-25-2014 08:56 PM

Nod. Usually video surveillance systems with 8 inputs and 1-2 outputs cost around $800, plus the cameras. I guess you'd need similar, with a 2-way audio channel, to build a video intercom system.

Cheap single devices tend to be wireless or two-wire, but only run one monitor. The problem with a tablet is you have to go find it when the door rings, and it's never in a convenient location.

I have done a lot of uncertified installation. I mean you should see the light kit on my fan... it was too small, so I forcefully ripped both light kits apart and rebuilt the new light kit into the old cap. There were duplicate electronics that I had to redo, and the final wiring was different than either of the original light kits (which were somehow different from each other).

I never asked for cheap. I replaced $30 of light switches in my house with over $500 of switches (occupancy sensors, dimmers, multi-location occupancy sensing dimmers, fan control switches, timers, etc.), have my eyes on a $300 ceiling fan (I want a stainless steel one in the kitchen) and $250 track lights (plus $80 of lights to go into the fixture!), etc. You only need to build it once. :)

gregzoll 01-25-2014 09:09 PM

You are actually talking for the system that you want, the starting prices are around $30-35k, depending on where you live.

bluefoxicy 01-25-2014 09:18 PM

Well, that's a bit more expensive than I want to go yeah.

Why is it I can get a video with 2-way audio door intercom for $300; a 4 camera surveillance system with HD 1080p infra red cameras routed through a concentrator for under $1000; but I can't build a 2-way audio intercom system with video routed to multiple monitors for under $30,000?

I just want to be able to inspect who is at the door and communicate with them without going downstairs or leaving the kitchen. :|

gregzoll 01-25-2014 10:39 PM

I have one that looks out towards the front door, but when someone comes up to the door and knocks or rings the bell, I still do this thing called walking to the door, to see who it is.

If you want a simple solution, go with a PoE IP camera and a smartphone or tablet app, to monitor what the camera is seeing.

bluefoxicy 01-25-2014 10:54 PM

Last year there were 3 shootings on the corner on my block. There have been over 20 shootings within a 2 mile radius in the past 4 months. Not that anyone is going to come to my house to shoot me.

It's a huge rush to answer the door. I have to go down some stairs, out of the warm room I'm in into the less-warm house. Before I can do this, I must put on pants so that I can answer the door. Often I come to find no one at the door, sometimes a door tag or packages, as I have elected to not show up pantsless at the door. Sometimes I am getting out of the shower, and have to towel off first, which is even worse because then I have clothes sticking to my body since I towel off inadequately.

In this day and age where everybody has a 55 inch wide screen LED backed LCD television and an 8 megapixel HD video camera on their cell phone, I should be able to press a button on a nearby wall and see who is outside. Messing with my phone to do this is a lot of effort--it actually takes longer for me to start and navigate the Nest app, for example, than to walk downstairs and manipulate the thermostat by hand (I often use the web site instead because it's twice as fast than waiting the 15 seconds for Nest to load on my phone). Finding a floating, battery-powered dedicated device that I probably left in another room is also a pain--if I am in the kitchen, I will probably realize that I left the damn thing upstairs; if I am upstairs, it will probably be in the next room if not in the kitchen.

This is not a matter of "ooh shiny I have a camera I can look at!" This is a matter of a solution which is objectively better--lower effort, less time, less neurological stress, more consistent (i.e. doesn't take 5 times as long because I am trying to towel off and find pants)--than walking to the door.

It appears that, in this day and age, you can obtain for $50 a supercomputer with a high definition television screen in your pocket and watch movies instantly while talking to someone on the other side of the continent; but you cannot have an intercom with video feed looking out your front door without a loosable device for less than the cost of a brand new sports car. Odd, because you can get exactly that for about $150, except you only get one monitor, and it's a mobile tablet rather than a mounted fixture.

If you wonder why I care so much that the damn thing is a mobile device, it's simple: my parents had cordless phones my entire life. Guess how phone calls were made? Step 1: Spend about 2 or 3 minutes finding the phone. Losing the remote control for a TV is a common joke in television shows, even though it never leaves the same room as the TV.

The companies making this stuff are not making what I want it seems. What I want does not exist. Oh it's technically doable in like $300-$500, all the pieces are there; just nobody has packaged it in a shiny little box.

I shall have to get $500 together and build one then.

gregzoll 01-25-2014 11:23 PM

Personally I would be moving, then going through all of that expense.

bluefoxicy 01-25-2014 11:39 PM

The expense of moving would set me back decades financially. I found that I could shave about 40 years of financial burden down to 10 years--accelerate my retirement by 30 years, or live in extreme luxury on slum-level salary--by buying a cheap house and paying it off in 3 years.

This place is a run-down slum, but I am a pest and I do know how to tone down the bull**** and run some serious negotiating skills. I'm just not the archetype in my daily life. I've had council tear down a burned down house, I'm going to plant some fruit trees and flowers, I've been cleaning up the litter, the neighbors have gotten into it too. I'm intending to build a small park one day; I've gotten several neighborhood organizations involved, and the city has started to show support.

It's the little things. I defy all norms, tactfully; that's why my house has occupancy sensors and fan switches, and everyone else's has single pole switches. That's why my landscaping is all useful and edible plants, from fruit trees and berry bushes down to lavender that I put into my pillow. I may try to make a bay laurel live, but these -15C temperatures will probably preclude that.

The world is not made for people like me. That's why I keep finding that you CAN do certain things, but that nobody actually sells that. For example: vent dampers that could integrate with a wireless thermostat (i.e. the Nest, the Ecobee, etc.) to create a software-configurable zoning system. I'd need 7 vents at like $100-$150 each (transformer like $30, motor $30, on-board SOC $8, wifi chipset $11, frame material $20, manufacturing and distribution overhead). They just don't sell such a thing.

gregzoll 01-26-2014 12:02 AM

The problem is, that if you put any kind of money into protection of the property or people in that home, by just putting up consumer grade video cameras, which will be easily disabled or demolished, is not the best way to do this.

Really it is not going to set you back decades, to get out of that area, if you are living in a Combat zone. It really is not worth it, along with no insurance company is going to cover your expenses for loss, even if you put up the cameras.

You would have to have a manned 24/7 room, watching a 360 view of the property, along with having flood lights up at least fifty feet in the air, to allow the cameras to make out subjects at night.

Your budget again is not in line with the equipment that is used in those environments, where you have people that may attempt to disable or damage it. You need to increase your budget and look at the same equipment used in Correctional facilities, that is not only Bullet Proof, but can stand up to someone trying to take a baseball bat, 2x4 or Tire Iron to it.

bluefoxicy 01-26-2014 12:09 AM

You know, aside, I find it hilarious that most things that can take a bullet can't take an angry child with an aluminum baseball bat. Bullets only put tiny holes in people--we happen to not handle that very well. Blunt trauma is a different matter.

gregzoll 01-26-2014 12:30 AM

Here you go for commercial grade entrance Video Intercom systems As for Vandal proof video cameras Storage for the images

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