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How to Set Up a Wireless Network Webcam

If you want to monitor your home remotely with a security camera, using a wireless network camera is the most permanent way to do it. You can make do with a standard USB webcam (or use your iOS or Android device as a webcam), but wireless network cameras are easier to position and they’re designed for the task. In this how-to, we’ll walk through the process of setting up a wireless network camera and using it for home monitoring.

For this how-to, we decided to use the D-Link DCS-932L wireless network camera, which you can connect to your network via ethernet or 802.11n Wi-Fi. Of course, specific setup instructions differ from camera to camera, but we’ve found that many of the basic features that you’ll want in a wireless network camera are similar for most models.

Step 1: Find the Right Place for Your Wireless Network Camera

Before you start configuring the camera, you should try to decide where to put it. The main limitation here is the power cord: You’ll have to place it fairly close to a power outlet, or you’ll have to use an extension cord–meaning that you probably won’t be able to position it in an elevated spot without leaving unsightly power cables dangling from your walls.

You’ll also want to test your network connection from the spot where you want to place the camera. The easiest way to do this is to grab a laptop, put it in the spot where you want to put your camera, and see whether you can get a reasonably strong wireless network connection from the laptop. If your laptop struggles to load basic Web pages over Wi-Fi from that location, you can bet that your wireless network camera won’t be able to upload a constant stream of video from there.

If you’re concerned about your camera’s wireless network reception in the spot you’ve selected, you can use a Wi-Fi stumbler app like InSSIDer or NetStumbler to see whether any nearby networks are running on the same channel as your home network. If your neighbor’s wireless network uses the same channel that yours does, the competition can make it harder for your Wi-Fi devices to connect to each other. Run the stumbler app. If you get strong signals from other networks on the same channel as your network, change the wireless network broadcasting channel in the setup interface of your wireless router to something that your neighbors aren’t using.

Step 2: Configure Your Wireless Network Camera

These directions are specific to the D-Link camera that we’re using. If you have a different camera, the setup process will vary, but it’s likely to be quite similar.

Start out by plugging the camera into a power outlet close to your Wi-Fi router. Connect the camera via ethernet to your router (if your wireless router has a built-in ethernet switch in it) or to a connected ethernet switch. Alternatively, if your router supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), plug the camera into a power outlet, open the D-Link setup wizard on the included CD, from a PC connected to the same network as the camera, and press the WPS button when the wizard tells you to.

Once your camera is plugged in, navigate through the setup wizard provided on the CD. For the setup wizard to work, your PC will must be on the same network as the camera. Depending on the version of your software and on your network connection, everything might be running just fine by the time you reach the end of the wizard. On my first attempt, though, I couldn’t get the camera to connect to the wireless network or register with D-Link’s Web-monitoring portal, Mydlink.com. Instead, I had to update the camera’s firmware and run the wizard a second time, using the following instructions.

First, run through the whole wizard and see whether the first attempt works. If it doesn’t, click the Camera Settings button at the end of the wizard setup process to grab the camera’s local network IP address. Open the camera’s configuration page in a Web browser by typing in http:// in your browser bar and pasting the camera’s local network IP address. From there, I logged in, using the administrator login and password that I had specified during my first trip through the setup wizard; clicked Maintenance, Firmware Upgrade; and updated the camera firmware to the most recent beta that D-Link had on its website.

Once I updated the firmware, I stepped through the setup wizard again, and this time everything connected just fine: I could remotely view the camera via Mydlink.com without a problem.

Step 3: Set Up Your Wireless Camera’s Motion Detection Features

Now you have a working wireless camera, and you should be able to view whatever it’s filming from anyplace where you have an Internet connection, either with Mydlink.com or with the camera’s Web UI. But unless you plan to be at your desk monitoring the camera feed 24/7, the “always on” functionality isn’t particularly useful. That’s why most wireless network cameras include support for motion-tracking features that respond to sudden changes in the scene–such as someone walking by the camera–and send the images to you via email or FTP.

You can usually access these email- and FTP-alert features through the camera’s Web-based configuration interface (the same one that we used to update the firmware above), though some manufacturers may include desktop software for you to use instead.

For this D-Link camera, open the Web interface and click Setup. Then click Motion Detection from the side menu, click Enable, and specify which blocks in the image you would like to monitor for motion. This ability to define what motion will trigger the motion detection software to activate the camera can be particularly handy if you’re worried about setting the camera off too often. For example, if your camera faces a window with a tree visible outside, you can exclude the regions where the tree might sway in the wind, so you won’t get email notifications every time a stiff breeze blows through (while still including the area that a potential intruder might pass through when breaking in at that window). Once you’re done, click Save Settings.

Next, let’s set up the camera’s auto-email feature. Click Mail on the left-hand side of the page to get to the configuration page. Here, you’ll need to find the right settings for your email provider–at right, I’ve filled out the settings for using Gmail’s SMTP server, which you can find at Gmail’s “Configuring other mail clients” help page. Next, check Enable emailing images to email account, and check the Motion Detection radio button to set the camera to email you images every time the motion detection sensor is set off.

Now you have a wireless network camera set up with basic surveillance features that make it perfect for monitoring your home, children, pets, or snack fridge at work.

Home Security Cameras & How to choose them

If you have ever thought about installing some security cameras around you home there’s no better time than now. Home security cameras are becoming more and more popular since they can help identify thieves, vandals or just who’s at your front door. They also act as a deterrent to crime since criminals will generally look for the easiest target. When looking to invest in some home security cameras there are some things to consider.

The primary job of the camera is to enable you to see what is taking place using a monitor or TV. You will also, more than likely, want to record what is taking place for evidence later on should something happen. For this you will need to plug the camera into a security DVR (digital video recorder), NVR (network video recorder) or some other device such as a computer with video recording capabilities. However this article will focus on some tips for choosing the correct camera.

So first you need to decide where you want the security cameras and the field of view (FOV) they will provide. If you were only thinking of installing one camera you would probably want to put it on the front of your garage or on a perch looking toward the street. You would also want a fairly wide field of view so a camera with a 3.6mm lens would probably be best. This will provide a good overall view of someone approaching you home.

A home security camera with a 3.6mm lens provides good overall coverage, however if your goal is to get facial details of someone at a distance greater than 20 to 25 feet you would need a larger lens in the camera, either a 6mm or 8mm. The larger the lens the more detail you can see at a particular distance but your field of view will be smaller. It is similar to looking through stronger and stronger binoculars. So you need to decide what your goal is and whether one camera will suffice or if you need 2 or more.

Lighting is also a factor for good picture quality. During the daytime pretty much any security camera will provide a good image. However at night or in low light conditions you may need to use supplemental lighting. This could be an external garden light or floodlight and you could also have them be motion sensitive. If installing additional lighting is not possible or desired you would need to use infrared security cameras. These type of cameras will provide a color picture in the daytime then switch to black and white and turn on there infrared illuminators at night.

Another factor you want to consider is the video resolution the camera can provide. This is usually stated in lines of resolution or TVL. Standard analogue cameras will usually state 380, 420, 480, 550 lines etc. and the higher the number the more resolution or sharper the image will appear. However there are other factors such as the quality of the lens or DSP (digital signal process) used that can make one camera outperform another so the lines of resolution are important but not the only factor.

When first looking for a home security camera to fit your needs it may seem a bit overwhelming. So by first determining what area you need to cover, where you want to place it, the lighting conditions and if it is for an overall view or a more detailed view you have a good place to start. If you really are not sure which camera is best sometimes the only way to really get started is to purchase a camera see what kind of results you get and go from there. Most retailers will offer a trial period where if the camera doesn’t work for you needs you can simply return it for a different camera.

Of course, you could always contact us at Rustyice Solutions for some advice on the best way to go about introducing video security to your home. So if you are considering enhancing your home security to include video, why not give us a call today. Its free!

What is video management software?

Video management software running on a Windows or Unix/Linux server, supplies the basis for video monitoring, analysis, and recording. A wide range of software is available, based on the users’ requirements. A standard Web browser provides adequate viewing for many network video applications, utilizing the Web interface built into the network camera or video server especially if only one or a few cameras are viewed at the same time.

To view several cameras at the same time, dedicated video management software is required. A wide range of video management software is available. In its simplest form, it offers live viewing, storing and retrieving of video sequences. Advanced software contains features such as:

  • Simultaneous viewing and recording of live video from multiple cameras
  • Several recording modes: continuous, scheduled, on alarm and on motion detection
  • Capacity to handle high frame rates and large amounts of data
  • Multiple search functions for recorded events
  • Remote access via a Web browser, client software and even PDA client
  • Control of PTZ and dome cameras
  • Alarm management functions (sound alarm, pop-up windows or e-mail)
  • Full duplex, real-time audio support
  • Video intelligence

Video management: Monitoring & recording

Video management of a network video system includes video monitoring, which can be conducted from a Web browser or specific video management software. Video recording can be conducted from video management software installed on a PC or through the use of a Network Video Recorder (NVR), which is a hardware box with pre-installed video management software.

In a network video system, video can be viewed from any point on the network provided there is access to a Web browser. Each camera has a built-in Web server with an IP address, so to view the images on a PC, one simply opens a Web browser and types in the camera’s IP address in the Address/Location field:

Even though video can be viewed directly from a standard Web browser, video management software can be installed if more flexible viewing options, as well as the ability to store and manage video, are required. A wide variety of software solutions exist on the market, which range from independent solutions for a single PC, to advanced client/server-based software providing support for multiple simultaneous users. Common functionality includes video monitoring, event management functions and alerts to alarm events via siren or e-mail for instance.

What is a video encoder?

A video encoder, or video server, makes it possible to move toward a network video system without having to discard existing analog equipment. It is ideal for integration with existing analog CCTV (closed circuit television) system. A video encoder brings new functionality to analog equipment and eliminates the need for dedicated equipment such as coaxial cabling, monitors and DVRs – the latter becoming unnecessary as video recording can be done using standard PC servers.

A video encoder typically has between one and four analog ports for analog cameras to plug into, as well as an Ethernet port for connection to the network. Like network cameras, it contains a built-in Web server, a compression chip and an operating system so that incoming analog feeds can be converted into digital video, transmitted and recorded over the computer network for easier accessibility and viewing.

Besides the video input, a video encoder also includes other functionalities and information which are transported over the same network connection: digital inputs and outputs (I/O, which can be used to trigger the server to start recording and transmitting images, or activate alarms and devices such as lights and doors), audio, serial port(s) for serial data or control of pan/tilt/zoom cameras and devices. With image buffers, it can send pre-alarm images. A video encoder can also be connected to a wide variety of specialized cameras, such as a highly sensitive black and white camera, a miniature or a microscope camera.