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Surveillance/security cameras

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Surveillance/security cameras

Postby BrooklynRowHouse on Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:14 pm

Does anyone have any experienced advice regarding modern security cameras?

I live in a very safe neighborhood, actually one of the safest in NYC. But we have occasional issues, mostly petty vandalism when the bars close at 4am. This morning, for instance, I came back from the dog run and noticed that my neighbor's brand new Honda Pilot had two slashed tires.

Sean, the cop across the street, came over to check it out and he and I had a long chat about the 'hood. He works nights in undercover at a neighboring precinct and comes home for "lunch" around 3am. Over the past year, he's seen a few skels checking out cars, looking in windows, etc. He chased and busted one of them for possession of drugs and burglar tools last month. His theory is that kids from outside the 'hood are hooking up in the park down the street after hours and hitting the neighborhood to do mindless damage and steal whatever is loose.

Sean's house has four security cameras covering the block. Unfortunately, he's upgrading to a new hard disk this week and they weren't turned on last night so they might as well have been four bricks.

Anyway, he wants to convince a few of his neighbors to install cameras too then when something happens on the block at least one camera will catch it. Since Sean works with the Brooklyn South Street Crime Unit he can get complaints fast-tracked and if we can show suspicious activity on the street we can get more 12-8 undercover patrols assigned to the neighborhood. It seems like a reasonable idea to me.

How good are the night cameras? And how well do the wireless cameras work?
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Postby Greg on Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:59 pm

I bought one from Radio Shack a few years back when I was having trouble with a neighbor. I think I paid about $125 for it. It is made by Swann and has a wireless receiver. It is color and has some night vision capability. I fed it in to a VCR and ran 6 hour tapes.

During the day with good light the picture is good enough to identify someone. At night, you can only tell height and weight and little more than that. You will get some sense of when something happened because of the tape counter, but the picture is not good enough to identify someone unless you catch them in the same clothes and right after something happens.

Changing tapes was a major pain. If I was going to do it again I would get a better quality camera and get something that can record to hard drive on a loop. I would look for higher quality image over a color picture.
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Postby jeepnstein on Mon Oct 22, 2007 9:52 am

Funny you should mention this. I'm getting ready to do a small system for one of our parks that is getting hit pretty hard right now. I've decided to use this system...http://www.smarthome.com/77303.html. We've ordered from them before and they are good on price and have a decent variety of gear.

You could save some money if you didn't go with a dvr. Some of the time-lapse vcr's out there are a reasonable buy these days. I'm kind of a video tape kind of guy because you can just hand it over if you actually document a crime. You can then walk into court, swear on the Bible, and say "Yes, that's the tape and it hasn't been touched." and most jury members will be able to understand it. DVR's can be a bit clunky at times in that regard.

I have a few other sources that deal in the corrections and law enforcement industry, but they tend to be a bit on the expensive side for a home owner or small mom 'n pop.

My favorite solutions came from my Dad. He went to the Wile E. Coyote School of Industrial Design. I would imagine that your local authorities would frown on the "Minivan with a Tiger and an Automatic Door", or the "Mouse Trap Vending Machine".
"Pure Stinking Genius, that's what that is. Hey, can someone get me a fire extinguisher?"
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Postby BrooklynRowHouse on Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:43 am

I've been buying my X10 and Insteon gear from Smarthome for years and even had them as an advertiser on my site until recently (when I decided to dump the low-paying ones). So I checked there first. But I still have questions, which are probably more appropriate for a home automation newsgroup.

What I'd like to get is a good quality, day/night camera which does wireless and also has infrared. I have a way to disguise a 12v transformer but with all the oak wainscot in the bedroom now, not a coax cable. The wireless would beam to a dedicated server in my bedroom TV stack and dump to a hard disk. Wireless would also let Sean (the cop across the street) tune into it.

Speaking of Rube Goldberg, that's my older brother too. When I had the loft, I had a problem with streetlifers breaking in through the fire escape door. So I got a German Shepherd puppy, Paco, that I'd found in the alley behind my building. He nabbed his first bad guy when he was only eight months old. I came back from a dog walk early one Sunday morning and Paco discovered a burglar who had just broken into the place. Paco chewed him up badly enough that the cops followed the blood trail down the fire escape and through the alley to the Bleecker Street subway station. The perp was gone though.

The problem was that Paco and I became inseparable. I took him with me when I went out of town and even occasionally on gigs so I needed another solution.

My brother from Denver is an EE and came to town on business for a few days. He was in love with Canal Street's electronic surplus stores. He disappeared for a few hours and came back with a box full of stuff that looked like WW2 hardware. By the end of the day he'd built a Flintstones-looking device with solenoids and motorized timers. I was skeptical but it actually worked great. There were even tremble switches and a delay with a bell warning that would let me shut down the system before his sirens and old Police Squad revolving light went off. A hidden button over the elevator door armed/disarmed it.
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Postby jeepnstein on Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:41 pm

I'm not much on wireless cameras. My plan is to usually run everything to a closet or into the basement. I hate a bunch of exposed wiring in living spaces in a house. If you go wireless, I'll be interested in your experience.

If you could do wireless cameras from several locations and record them at a central station then you could have a serious neighborhood watch program. That's an application for wireless that has a lot of promise. Of course, if you have neighbors who value their privacy for whatever reason, you could be opening a can of worms.

For obvious reasons, I'm not going to talk about the system in my house. Let's let it suffice to say it'll get ya before you ever figure out you've dropped an alarm. There's no obvious clue that the place is wired.

J.
"Pure Stinking Genius, that's what that is. Hey, can someone get me a fire extinguisher?"
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Postby BrooklynRowHouse on Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:03 pm

jeepnstein wrote:If you could do wireless cameras from several locations and record them at a central station then you could have a serious neighborhood watch program. That's an application for wireless that has a lot of promise. Of course, if you have neighbors who value their privacy for whatever reason, you could be opening a can of worms.

For obvious reasons, I'm not going to talk about the system in my house. Let's let it suffice to say it'll get ya before you ever figure out you've dropped an alarm. There's no obvious clue that the place is wired.


You shouldn't. I'm not so much worried about a break-in here. I've got several armed LEOs for immediate neighbors, central station and every possible entry to the house, including skylights, has a hard wired dual-mode sensor. Even when the system is disarmed, some vulnerable entries are wired to a chime in the keypads that tells me, for instance, if the garage door just opened.

The second and most formidable ring of defense is 150 pounds of alpha, protective and alert dogs. There are only four people they'll let in the house if I'm not here, and I'm not sure about half of them because it hasn't been tested yet.

Then there's a third ring I'll keep to myself <g>.

I'm not sure what the practical range is for these wireless cameras. They're 2.4GHz, I believe, so they should do a couple of hundred unobstructed feet, which is good enough. I believe there are repeaters if you need more range. What I'm more concerned about is picture resolution. Can these things, for instance, pick up a license plate in the dark at forty feet?
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Postby Abuela on Mon Oct 22, 2007 2:32 pm

I'm interested, if anyone has them, on links to more info about the wireless cameras that can connect to a PC and how well they work. I don't need the level of resolution to be able to read a license plate -- just to hopefully get a look and who goes in and out of the ladies room in our faculty suite, so that we can finally catch whoever is going in there to deliberately piss on the floor. :evil:
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Postby BrooklynRowHouse on Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:22 pm

Abuela wrote:I'm interested, if anyone has them, on links to more info about the wireless cameras that can connect to a PC and how well they work. I don't need the level of resolution to be able to read a license plate -- just to hopefully get a look and who goes in and out of the ladies room in our faculty suite, so that we can finally catch whoever is going in there to deliberately piss on the floor. :evil:


Something like this?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826216001
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Postby jeepnstein on Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:27 pm

Abuela wrote:I'm interested, if anyone has them, on links to more info about the wireless cameras that can connect to a PC and how well they work. I don't need the level of resolution to be able to read a license plate -- just to hopefully get a look and who goes in and out of the ladies room in our faculty suite, so that we can finally catch whoever is going in there to deliberately piss on the floor. :evil:


Hmm.. Let me think about that one. I think we covered a device for that very contingency back in Wile E. Coyote University.

J.
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Postby Abuela on Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:39 pm

BrooklynRowHouse wrote:Something like this?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826216001

Along those lines, but smaller (we're scouting out a place to put it but something that big wouldn't work) would be better, and even cheaper/lower resolution would work - just so we can get a halfway decent look at someone who is about 5-15' away from the camera as they exit the ladies room.

Also something that gets packaged with a receiver of some kind is best - I can monitor it from a PC just 10-50' away, depending on whose office it goes in. Otherwise I guess I'd need to get a wireless router to connect to it.

Dumb question: Will I need special software to stream this onto my hard drive (with time tracking), or do these usually come with something like that?

If you know of any boards where folks really know their stuff when it comes to spy tools like this, please let me know. Our Public Safety office thinks it's basically a big joke, and a bunch of the women here in my faculty area are getting to go major vigilante on their asses.

Sorry to take this off track - we're just was very unhappy with what's going on and the fact that clearly no one is willing to address it.
"Finished" is all a state of mind. ~Angolito

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

My house journal: http://retrovation.blogspot.com/
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