Wouldn't it be nice to check on your home while you're at work or away on vacation?

The doorbell rings and the front door camera pops up on the Touch Screen controller in the kitchen. You see that it is a man in a UPS uniform. So you check the driveway camera and you see the UPS truck parked there. Now you know it is safe to answer the door. And using your Web browser, you can check on your home from anywhere in the world as long as you have Internet connectivity! You can also use your iPhone, iPad or iPod or Droid to view your cameras!

There are many options here and we can help you make sense out of it all. Call or email us today for a free quote or read on for more information:

 web based camera server
Web based camera server showing 3 cameras.

  

Overview

Cameras around your home have a variety of applications. Want to see who is at the front door before you open it? Want to check on your home while you are away? Want to record the cameras so you can see what happened yesterday? These scenarios and others are all possible. Basically you would use some cameras, and some type of device to convert the video in to a web based stream or to get the video on to a TV or touch screen controller.

Cameras

There are many options here. The first thing to consider is do you want a Web Camera or a standard camera with video output?

  • Web Camera—The web camera is a single camera that has a Web Server built in. Once you give it an IP address, you can point your browser at the device and you will see the image on your computer. Some web cameras have pan/tilt/zoom capabilities. There are also wired (via Ethernet) and wireless models (via 802.11 wireless networking). The down side is that if you need multiple cameras, you will have to point your browser at multiple IP addresses to see each camera and there usually aren't any options for hooking the video to your TV (they are usually web only). Some newer web cameras allow you to see multiple cameras in a single web browser window, but they are more expensive.
  • Standard Camera with Video out—In this case, you would have several wired cameras around your home. These cameras have a composite video output that can easily connect to a single TV, all TVs in the home (via a modulator) or to a color touch screen controller. Cameras are available in color, B/W, and with or without night vision. Night vision cameras allow you to see images even in low or no light situations. The down side is that typically you can't get pan/tilt/zoom capabilities and you need another device to get these cameras on the Web (see below).

Video Server

A video server device will take in a standard composite video signal from one or more cameras and convert it to some format as follows:

  • Web servers—A web server from companies like Axis Communications will take in four or eight video cameras and allow you to view them from anywhere via the Internet. It could also have DVR capabilities so you can record the cameras.
  • DVR—A DVR (Digital Video Recorder) from companies like Dedicated Micros will take in 4, 8, 16 or more cameras and allows you to record and watch the live or recorded image on a TV. It could also have a Web Server built in (see above). Some of the options will be number of cameras supported, size of the hard drive (which equals how many days of video it can store) and whether it has a web server built in.
  • Analog Modulator—A modulator from companies like Channel Plus take in composite video and modulate it on to an unused channel that can be viewed on any TV in your home. The device would have 1, 4 or 8 video inputs each of which can be mapped to different channel on your TV. So channel 42 could be the front door, channel 44 would be the driveway, and channel 46 would be the backyard. Analog modulators are not used much anymore in this digital world.
  • Digital Modulator—A modulator from companies like Channel Plus and Zeevee take in component or HDMI video and modulate it on to an unused channel that can be viewed on any TV with a digital tuner in your home. The device would have 1 or more video inputs each of which can be mapped to different channel on your TV.

Internet Connectivity

In order to be able to view your video cameras remotely, you will have to have some form of high speed Internet connectivity like DSL, Cable Modem, ISDN, ETC. The other thing is that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will have to allow in-bound connections to your home. Some ISPs only allow connections outbound unless you buy some upgraded service or business class service which of course costs more money. Call your ISP and ask them if inbound connections are allowed. Even if they say no, there are some ways using port mapping to get around it.

Internet Router/Firewall 

Once you have determined that your ISP supports in-bound connections, you will need to configure your Router or Firewall to allow in-bound connections to the camera server. Firewalls by default will only allow out-bound connections. Most Firewalls (but not all) will allow you to configure it to allow in-bound connections. Check the documentation that came with your Firewall or call us and we can take a look for you.