If you want a little bit of security but don’t want a load of holes and wires around the house, consider a WiFi Security Camera. For about £60 Foscam have a range of cameras that simply need a power source (could be a solar battery) and they connect to your home WiFi signal (or a MiFi if using in the field or a repeater if using at the bottom of the garden). This is a quick post showing the cameras I use and have recommended to others. So far I have setup five in various home and office locations.
For INTERNAL use…
Foscam FI8916W Wireless IP Camera with IR Night Vision and Remote Viewing
This is an internal camera that can monitor a room or be placed in a window to look outside. It can be rotated remotely and has Infrared. Be aware that the Infrared LED’s will bounce off of a window and create glare if you are pointing the camera outside at night. I turn my IR off as the outside security light comes on if there is movement. You can also listen into the room and speak back!
These WiFi cameras just join your home WiFi and then will email you or upload via FTP when they sense movement. You can set the camera up with a dynamic DNS service to view a live stream from any web browser or app. I set mine to email my free iCloud email address as I don’t use that email for anything else, this then pushes a popup notification to my phone whenever it senses movement.
For EXTERNAL use …
Foscam FI8904W External Wireless IP Camera with Night Vision and Remote Viewing
This can be mounted on the wall outside – you only need to run the power cable to it. Same functions as above apart from the ability to pan and tilt the camera – it’s a fixed view.
REMOTE MONITORING from anywhere in the World
I use an app on the iPhone and iPad to monitor ALL cameras. They can all display in a grid… IP Cam Viewer Pro £2.49
The cameras can also be set to email pictures on movement or you can just go to a web page and view a live video stream!
The following pictures are grabs from an iPad …
Below shows the IR kicking in slightly and also the controls to move the camera and turn the IR on or off…
Configuration via a web page…
Security note: It’s important to update the firmware on any camera you buy and change the default login to a strong one. Once these cameras are open to the internet they become targets for hackers wanting to see your images.
Third Party Software
You can also install third party software such as Blue Iris that will allow you to connect multiple cameras and record events. This can also be accessed anywhere in the World if you install it on a PC that you can access remotely (Port forwarding). You can set the software to delete the recordings after a set period of time – once you know there is no need to review them for security reasons.
Adding an extra IR light
The camera’s above come with Infra-red LED’s to allow for “night vision” but if you are monitoring an area further away then you may want to consider an externally mounted IR light. This can be mounted away from the camera and will automatically turn on when it detects low light. If you want to watch wildlife in your garden you could easily add a couple of these units hooked up to 12 volt batteries without actually flooding your garden with light. The difference it makes is quite amazing and is not visible to the human eye.
A warning about IR and night vision
Most good quality cameras come with a motorised IR Cut Filter, this is a little filter that sits in front of the lens and STOPS Infra-red light. A daylight sensor is used to push the filter in front of the lens in the day and to pull it away at night. This makes daylight pictures have much more realistic colours. The models above can be used at night but the onboard LED’s will bounce off a window at night causing glare, so don’t point them to look outside a window if you are planning on using night vision. They allow for the LED’s to be turned ON/OFF in the software but there is no function to allow the IR Cut filter to be disabled – perfectly fine if monitoring inside or mounting the camera outside. Onboard IR LED’s also attract insects and this can cause problems with motion sensing recordings.
Many other daylight security cameras come with a fixed IR Cut Filter and therefore can not be used with any IR light.
You can HACK the camera to stop the onboard LED’s from coming on and therefore use an external IR light. The IR cut filter will still switch in and out after sensing daylight. Another alternative is to remove the IR Cut Filter and put up with off colours during the day to have greater security at night. See Removing the IR lights in a Foscam FI9805W by Greg Pyes
Many people buy the wrong security camera for the monitoring situation they have as the IR Cut Filter isn’t always explained (or known) by the seller.
Here is a picture of my external IR light flooding a dark area. To the naked eye, this is pretty dark. The onboard LED’s have to be hacked on my camera as it is pointing out of a window.
You might want a WiFi camera for a number of reasons – an office cam page on your website, a baby or dog monitor, a bird station watcher or weather camera but if you are wishing to use it to aid security, you should display CCTV warning stickers – firstly as a visual deterrent, secondly if you wish to use the images to prosecute and thirdly to inform anyone on your land that recording is in progress. Here’s a good page to read about the UK law regarding CCTV.