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Thread: PC based home surveillance system

  1. #1
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    Default PC based home surveillance system

    I'm looking to get/install a survellance system to compliment my home alarm, and a few beyonders have mentioned owning one...

    A few questions for anyone that owns one:

    What kind of equipment do you have? does it come as a kit? and how much should I expect to spend?

    Is it hard to install? (DIY)
    What's the minimum specs that I'd need for a PC to run it, and how much hard drive space do I need for decent retention?

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    I was considering something like this to add on to my existing Windows Home Server machine, but Im not sure if it is necessary since I live in a pretty safe community and not on the main road.

    On the software side, some programs you can take a look at are WebcamXP, Digiwatcher, Capture!, and plenty of others. I previously built a surveillance system for my parent's company running Digiwatcher, and it ran just fine on a 400mhz AMD. It depends what features you want, such as motion detection recording, the ability to view footage over the internet, etc...

    As for the camera, it might be a pain to wire in all those cameras especially if your house is big. You could take a look at wireless, or wireless network based cameras.

    As for other hardware, look into a UPS, or modify an existing UPS with a bigger battery for extra runtime when the power goes out.

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    You can run it on any old crap piece of computer made in the last 10 years. Install a distribution of Linux, throw ZoneMinder on there and configure it to set up your zones per camera. The computer should be free and the software is free from www.zoneminder.com and it's better than most of the commercial applications out there.

    Then all you need is to either set up some $5 webcams or you can get some wireless pan/tilt IP cameras for about $100 each so the total price depends on how many cameras you would want to set up. The cameras are your only real cost. Bingo bango, you're done.
    Originally posted by Go4Long
    or else what? you'll turn on the caps lock?
    you do realize this is the internet right? lol
    Originally posted by rob the knob
    mar, you are good guy at heart
    you must realize your limitations
    then you will be happy if you fine place in live
    Originally posted by blitz
    Jesus man, I know you like Transformers, but you need to get out more. No one should get this upset over a movie based on children's toys.

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    ^I wouldnt recommend those cheap webcams. Most webcams actually suck for surveillance, unless the lighting is good. Look for something with atleast a CCD chip (not CMOS) because you'll get better image quality and low light capabilities. There are some nice $40 sony CCD based cameras you can get on eBay. Im running those in my car's surveillance system and it looks great even in the dark.

    You could also get a multichannel video capture PCI card ($20 on dealextreme) for multiple cameras.
    Last edited by nobb; 08-10-2009 at 09:22 AM.

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    Hey I've had this idea kicking around in my head for a while now, just wondering how easy it'd be to set up.

    (1) Install security cameras, hook them up to your PC and have a software detect movement.
    (2) If movement is detected while the system is turned on, still images are sent to your Blackberry.
    (3) If you see an intruder, you "call in" to your PC program, which activates a train horn located in the room and leaves it on until you deactivate it through your phone.

    If someone's robbing your place and a fuckin train horn goes off, I'm going to guess they're going to run out of there as fast as they can...

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    ^ Im really interested in how you would get idea (2) to work. I would definately go ahead and replace my existing alarm system with a PC based system if I could get that to work.

    You would need some sort of interface or keypad on your doors so when you exit the house, you can arm the system like with a real home alarm. That way, when you are home, motion wont trigger the system. This may be even more effective since you can just directly call the police, whereas the home alarm company just sends out a security guy.

    Perhaps there is a home automation forum that would be better to ask these sort of questions?

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    Originally posted by Super_Geo
    Hey I've had this idea kicking around in my head for a while now, just wondering how easy it'd be to set up.

    (1) Install security cameras, hook them up to your PC and have a software detect movement.
    (2) If movement is detected while the system is turned on, still images are sent to your Blackberry.
    (3) If you see an intruder, you "call in" to your PC program, which activates a train horn located in the room and leaves it on until you deactivate it through your phone.

    If someone's robbing your place and a fuckin train horn goes off, I'm going to guess they're going to run out of there as fast as they can...
    Zoneminder and a simple X10 system would do all of this and be cheap.

    Originally posted by nobb
    ^ Im really interested in how you would get idea (2) to work. I would definately go ahead and replace my existing alarm system with a PC based system if I could get that to work.
    That's easy. Every still image has a checksum value so the software analyzes the still image and computes the checksum once per second. If the checksum changes it means the image changed, therefore detecting motion. I wrote an application that does it in Java 2 years ago, it was real short and simple.

    EDIT - I confused 2 with 1, sorry. To get number 2 to work, just install MisterHouse (Linux) or Active Home Pro (Windows) and it'll email you with the still images once the alarm is triggered.
    Last edited by Mar; 08-10-2009 at 10:19 AM.
    Originally posted by Go4Long
    or else what? you'll turn on the caps lock?
    you do realize this is the internet right? lol
    Originally posted by rob the knob
    mar, you are good guy at heart
    you must realize your limitations
    then you will be happy if you fine place in live
    Originally posted by blitz
    Jesus man, I know you like Transformers, but you need to get out more. No one should get this upset over a movie based on children's toys.

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    And then get it all tied into bluetooth, so it activated when you left the house, and deactivated when you re-entered!

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    Originally posted by natejj
    And then get it all tied into bluetooth, so it activated when you left the house, and deactivated when you re-entered!
    There's an application called BlueProximity that will do this, it'll run certain commands based on the proximity of a specified bluetooth device to the system. I have it set up on my machine.
    Originally posted by Go4Long
    or else what? you'll turn on the caps lock?
    you do realize this is the internet right? lol
    Originally posted by rob the knob
    mar, you are good guy at heart
    you must realize your limitations
    then you will be happy if you fine place in live
    Originally posted by blitz
    Jesus man, I know you like Transformers, but you need to get out more. No one should get this upset over a movie based on children's toys.

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    Originally posted by Mar

    There's an application called BlueProximity that will do this, it'll run certain commands based on the proximity of a specified bluetooth device to the system. I have it set up on my machine.
    That is sweet, Mar you seem to have all the answers haha.

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    I've installed and configured probably 5 dozen networked camera setups using Axis cameras: http://www.axis.com/

    Fantastic stuff, great user interface, and very simple to understand. They offer both Wireless and Wired network technologies, however some do need a hardwired power line. I recommend running power over Ethernet for them. The quality is top notch compared to basic web cams, they are pricier however. They have pretty much every style you'd want.
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    Originally posted by gqmw


    That is sweet, Mar you seem to have all the answers haha.
    I've got both my house and car completely wired up with custom systems run by multiple computers with SSH access to control them from anywhere. I can be sitting at work and turn on my porch light with a few keystrokes.
    I can turn on the media computer in my car from my living room couch, remote into it, upload new songs, then turn it off.
    My newest project is the surveillance system where I'll be able to view my cameras over the internet.

    haha ya, so if you got any questions about custom installs I should be able to help you out! I got ADT wired into my house but don't see the point in paying for it.
    Originally posted by Go4Long
    or else what? you'll turn on the caps lock?
    you do realize this is the internet right? lol
    Originally posted by rob the knob
    mar, you are good guy at heart
    you must realize your limitations
    then you will be happy if you fine place in live
    Originally posted by blitz
    Jesus man, I know you like Transformers, but you need to get out more. No one should get this upset over a movie based on children's toys.

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    Sorry, Im still confused on how the "arming process" would work. Has anyone sucessfully managed to use BlueProximity with any software based surveillance program? Using bluetooth is more automated, but I can see more room for error with that compared to just a traditional keypad used for arming the system. Not everyone in the house (atleast not in my house) is as technically savvy, so ideally, making the system easy to use for the user is a huge plus.

    ActiveHome Pro seems to be targeted mostly for home automation, not security.
    Last edited by nobb; 08-17-2009 at 09:48 AM.

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    Originally posted by nobb
    Sorry, Im still confused on how the "arming process" would work. Has anyone sucessfully managed to use BlueProximity with any software based surveillance program? Using bluetooth is more automated, but I can see more room for error with that compared to just a traditional keypad used for arming the system. Not everyone in the house (atleast not in my house) is as technically savvy, so ideally, making the system easy to use for the user is a huge plus.

    ActiveHome Pro seems to be targeted mostly for home automation, not security.
    Zoneminder has various command line commands you can send to it over the terminal and BlueProximity allows you to specify commands to run when a bluetooth device is detected within a certain distance. Just put that Zoneminder command into the BlueProximity settings and voila.

    It all depends on which software you want to use and if you've got an extra computer laying around to use as a server for doing so.
    Originally posted by Go4Long
    or else what? you'll turn on the caps lock?
    you do realize this is the internet right? lol
    Originally posted by rob the knob
    mar, you are good guy at heart
    you must realize your limitations
    then you will be happy if you fine place in live
    Originally posted by blitz
    Jesus man, I know you like Transformers, but you need to get out more. No one should get this upset over a movie based on children's toys.

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    Originally posted by Super_Geo
    Hey I've had this idea kicking around in my head for a while now, just wondering how easy it'd be to set up.
    ...
    If someone's robbing your place and a fuckin train horn goes off, I'm going to guess they're going to run out of there as fast as they can...
    Liar.

    You just want it to get the girls to turn around while jogging.
    Quote Originally Posted by killramos View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    The AHS system is quite good.

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    If you want to get a quality system, I'd say go with Axis...

    My company is a authorized Axis partner. If you got the dough, they have amazing camera's, and software to go with it.

    Depending on the types of Camera's you can also use other software along with it (linux based DVRs, etc...)

    PM me if your interested...
    Sig was pwned by Moderator!

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    Original Post Removed. (Please read the Forum Rules and Terms of Use before posting again, or risk getting banned).
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    Another vote for zoneminder. For what its worth though, zoneminder does much more sophisticated image checking than simple checksums. It does proper motion analysis and each image can be divided into zones, so for example, your cats don't set off the motion detect but a person walking in the room would.

    I have run it for every security system I have built before and I am always happy with it. Just make sure your cameras are V4L2 compatible and not just V4L since support for V4L was dropped from recent linux kernels. This rules out some of the $5 ones.

    For indoor use you can usually get away with cheap webcams and a small array of infra-red LEDs, but for outdoor you generally want decent CCD cameras in weatherproof enclosures.
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    Is there perhaps a Windows equivalent of ZoneMinder? It sounds like a neat concept to try out but personally I rather run Windows over Linux.

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