Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hardware: Remote Home Security Camera on the cheap

I was away for a conference last week and wanted to keep and eye on the house (my spouse Jo went with me) when I was away.

I have a couple of old IP cameras in my junkbox that I set up, one of them (an Airlink 101 SkyIPCam250) pointing at the sump pump hole (those of you that live in rural areas know what this is - mine normally gets very little water in it, but I like to be sure) with a battery operated clock and thermometer (to see if the furnace is running) in view:

The cameras have web pages that you can log into to see the video, but with the double NAT on my Xplornet fixed wireless I cannot connect from the outside Internet.

So I set up the cameras to FTP pics every "N" seconds to a Win7 machine running the FileZilla FTP server.  Note that just about every IP camera every made supports FTP - google for the manual of whatever camera you have.

Note that these old cameras do NOT support motion detect, and unfortunately are too old to be supported by the EXCELLENT ContaCam - FREE Video Surveillance software (which I use at work with some newer IP cams - the BEST free one I could find for my needs).

On the Win7 machine I made a command line "batch file" to loop and copy the changed pics to my Google drive every minute using robocopy (a GREAT copy backup utility built into Windows):

     echo start
     robocopy "c:\...\ftp" "c:\...\google drive" /s /r:1 /w:1
     timeout N
     goto top

Note that you will have to change the "..." to match your directory structure, and the timeout N argument to an integer number of seconds that you want. See the robocopy help (type robocopy /? at the command prompt)  for the explanation of the command line switches. It also just occurred to me when I was writing this that I could have also just set the root ftp directory to the google drive folder and eliminated this step - DUHHH!

Now I can login from anywhere in the world to my google account and see the pics up to the last minute in my google drive  from anywhere - it worked great. Even though I was not expecting any issues, was nice to see everything was OK.

I also had the computer BIOS set to restart on power restore (usually under POWER settings) and Win7 to auto login and restart the bat file -  the power WAS out for a few minutes while I was away and it all came back up fine

I am going to look at the second hand store and get a wall outlet powered clock to put in view. Then if the power goes out, I can see by the difference in the 2 clocks to see how long it was out.

Oh, BTW, The other camera has infrared and it set up in a "hidden" location, anyone breaking into the house would be recorded and the pics copied to the net outside the house before they even found the camera!

Incidentally, they used to do this in the early days of closed circuit TV in the 1950's by pointing a camera on a bank of analog meters - poor man's telemetry!

I get a kick out of the things that you can mash up out of your junkbox :-)

Eric Pierce VA3EP - See the Disclaimer in the Introduction

© Eric Pierce and "VA3EP Amateur Radio And Other Geek Pursuits", 1952-2099. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Pierce and "VA3EP Amateur Radio And Other Geek Pursuits", with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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