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Thread: Web camera home setup

  1. #1
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    Default Web camera home setup

    There may be folks here who like the web cameras on the MWO site and that a few of us have at home. Lets use this thread to discuss what it takes to set up and install a home web camera. I will use my setup as an example to be able to give specifics. 6288 may have other suggestions as we go through this too as he is far more technical than I am.

    The process will come out over a series of posts.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    First post - The first thing to discuss is the Internet connection. The speed that is needed is dependent on where the viewers will be and how many are expected. If the viewers will only be INSIDE the house, then an Internet connection is not even needed.

    If the viewers will be limited (by not giving out the URL or by having a password required), then a broadband connection (DSL or cable) is fine.

    If you open the camera to the public and advertise where it is (like here on the MWO forum) you will get lots of viewers. If the camera will be at a cabin you only visit on weekends, then it does not matter too much. But, if it is your house and you need good speed for other things, the camera(s) could use up a lot of bandwidth (speed) in your Internet connection. So, faster Internet connection is better and the key part is the upload speed.

    If I go one notch lower than the largest image possible (1280x768) and have all the other settings for the best quality possible, I am using 320Kbps of upload when inside the house. Coming in from the Internet it will naturally be a bit slower, but it does take a lot.

    A few changes in the image quality (but still pretty good) and the upload requirements can change to less than 100Kbps. And that is still with a larger image than "6288" is showing as a default. The requirements would go down by reducing the image size to what "6288" has - which is still very good. So, you do have a lot of control right at the camera.

    If this discussion raises questions - or I have not been clear, let me know in this thread.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    Default Camera

    What type of camera did you go with and where did you find the best price?
    What should we reasonably expect to pay for a set up like this?
    KDT

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    Quote Originally Posted by KD Talbot
    What type of camera did you go with and where did you find the best price?
    What should we reasonably expect to pay for a set up like this?
    KDT
    Kevin,

    You are jumping ahead to the last chapter. But, that is fine. The new camera is a Toshiba IK-WB15A network camera. When we get to the last chapter the concept of a network camera will make some sense to folks. For something like this I typically go to www.amazon.com and see what prices they have and from whom. Major suppliers like Buy.com are there. plus, some lesser known brands. If it is something new for me i will stay with a bigger supplier like Buy.com or Circuit City. For something I know will do what I want and i am comfortable, I will go with a lesser known supplier and get a bit better price. I paid about $580 for this camera this spring.

    Other costs will depend on if you have to upgrade your Internet connection - do you have a network in the house - do you need to make network changes. In my case I needed 200 feet of network cable. each time I tried to make it or my son (we do this all the time and they always work but they have never worked going down to the lake for some reason ). For this outdoor cable I paid less than $50 and I will be putting it in conduit to protect it. What is nice with this camera is I do not need to string power 200 feet down to the lake as I did with the prior camera. I also bought a Buffalo Technologies Power over Ethernet transmitter ($65) to send the house to the camera down through the network wire. These added costs depend on your individual setup. The camera came with everything needed to have power and a short network cable. How to mount it will vary. I had an "L" bracket on the tree for the prior camera and re-used that. You will need to figure out how to mount it for your situation and buy what is needed for a bracket or a mast or ...
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    Getting back to the Internet connection. The different providers like Time Warner, Comcast or Bell South have different offerings. From what I have seen they all have a residential package and a business one. Some provide higher speeds at a higher cost. If you are to open up cameras to others to view, you might want to consider paying for an increase in upload speed.

    Another difference between residential and business is "port 80". When you use a browser to go to a web page, your browser knows the default port the web server is listening for request is port 80. So, you can type in www.amazon.com and get to their site. www.amazon.com:80 will also get you there. You normally do not worry about it. The business packages from internet service providers allow port 80 to be served from within the network. Residential packages do not normally allow port 80.

    What this means for us web camera folks is that if you put in a web camera at home on a residential internet connection you can not get to it at http://myhome.whatever.com from outside the house - since the service provider will block port 80. If you have the higher cost business package it will probably work.

    The easy way around this is the camera can be changed to work on a different port. Mine are running on ports 8001, 8002, 8003 and 8004. "6288" selected a different set of ports for his cameras. So, a residential package works fine. You will have to deal with it a bit differently at the camera.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    Default

    Just a follow up on the port 80 thing, we run into a lot of confusion at work regarding this. Http (hypertext protocol) is a standard which uses port 80 as a default. So if you do nothing to change this on a web server, this is the port that it will "listen" on. Besides the facts that Brad touched upon in his post, port 80 is also a dangerous port to open to the public. This is where the hackers will try and do damage and robots will try and attack. On my weather website I use port 80, since it is hosted on my providers space, and I just ftp my content. I let them worry about the hackers. But when you open up a port directly from your location (as in a camera), you have to provide the security. So changing the port number can be the first line of defense.

    If you ever want to run an "experiment" at home, start a simple web server on your PC (you must have the appropriate software). Start this up with just a simple page that says "hi". Open up the port with your firewall software with logging enabled, and look at the log in a few hours. There are automated systems out there just waiting to jump on a new port 80 socket they see on the internet.

    Nice thread Brad, I'll contribute more as time allows.

    Steve

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    Steve,

    Thanks for jumping in here with added comments. It is amazing what the hackers are doing on the Internet. A couple of years ago we opened up a new hosting area with no servers installed yet. Within a matter of minutes the attacks had started trying to get their way in to see what was there.

    You are right - don't run things on port 80 unless you are prepared to protect yourself.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    Yes, thanks for this thread. I realize that it is not strictly on the subject of Mt Wash, but it does offer more information on some of the systems that are used there and might allow us to emulate them in some small way. I know that I have already picked up a few bits of information that will help me with some longstanding problems on my network.

  9. #9
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    Chapter Two - When the Internet connection comes into the house it is through either a DSL modem or a cable modem. It used to be that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) used to say that you could hook up one computer through to the internet. If you wanted to do multiple computers, you needed to pay them for multiple addresses. Not really the case today. Pay for one address and manage to support multiples inside your house.

    To do this you need a "router" which will split the signals out to multiple computers. You can do this with a wireless router or a wired one. Many new homes have network cable strung throughout the house to every room. So, a wired router might meet your needs. If you have laptops, then a wireless router is the answer. Some ISPs will provide a wireless router as a part of their package.

    These routers have one input for a network cable and typically 4 or 8 output plugs for network cables. Think about where to place a wireless router in the house. It should be central so that computers in any room can connect. Wireless signals travel well on a flat plane. They do not go up well.

    Next is the selection of how to connect a web camera. They come in 3 major flavors. Many connect to a VCR to record - either with wires of wireless. These do not fit the type of capability we have been talking about. They provide a very closed solution. The thing to look for is a "Network" or "IP based" camera. This is a device that attaches to your home network just like your computer does. It has a network address. To set them up and deal with configuration options you use a browser. This works from inside the house - or, as we will see, it can also be done from outside the house through the Internet.

    A wired connection to the camera gives a faster refresh rate - and probably a more stable connection. If you can go wired, it is probably a better solution. Our old lakeside camera was wireless back to the house. The newer version from the same company is wired only. With a new feature called Power Over Ethernet (PoE) the power to the camera is carried through the network cable. So, if you can get the network cable to the camera - and get a PoE model - then it is quite simple to install. Just have to string one cable to it.

    If you go with a wireless camera, then it must be compatible with the wireless router in the house. There are 4 flavors of these. 802.11x where "x" is "a", "b" "g" or "n". "a" seems to have limited use today and the signals go not carry very far. The norm used to be "b" and the new normal one used is "g". "n" is the new one and there are some issues with them. My preference is to stay with "g" for the near future.

    If you go to most electronics stores (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.) you will see Linksys wireless routers. They are certainly a major brand. D-Link is another brand that shows up a lot. I will be able to talk to Linksys and Buffalo Technologies products. We used to have Linksys as the single vendor across all the houses in our family. They are nice because they are simple to set up. My experience is that the Linksys products last about a year to a year and a half. They they seem to have a problem. I am sure there are folks around who have not had a problem in years - not my personal experience.

    So, when we needed to replace the wireless router in the house in Maine, we did it with a Buffalo unit to try them out. The set up is a bit more complex. We will see how well it works.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    Brad, great thread with a lot of valuable information. The "details" are the key for me since I know the basics and most of my dealings have been with gaming.
    My setup consists of a DSL based internet service in which I do pay a little more for a faster upload speed. I also have purchased for a nominal fee a static IP address. DSL, particularly personal DSL, normally uses a Dynamic IP which means that your IP expires on a regular basis and is continuously replaced by a new one. I'm not sure how that would affect a web cam but I know for gaming it works fine.
    I have a Static IP because I host a server called Teamspeak that allows for talking to one another while in a game. My router, which is a good choice for those who have both PC's and laptops is a Linksys BEFW11S4 ver. 4 I have had it for maybe a year and so far it has worked great. I can plug my PC's into the back plugs and have 100Mbps over my network and at the same time use my laptop wirelessly because it supports 802.11b which is the old style. Look for one that suppports 802.11g because instead of 11Mbps it will handle 54Mbps over your network.
    Also I find a lot of people get wireless routers for their home and even business, set it up just enough to get on line and then never go back to set up the security. This is important because anyone in range of your router can connect simply as looking for an available, unsecured connection and signing in. Your router should be encrypted and password protected.
    If You need help with this and have a linksys router I will be happy to help.
    Steve
    Is there really any BAD weather???

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