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How To Set Up Home Video Surveillance For Under $200

I’ve long enjoyed the comfort of knowing I have video surveillance at my house. Generally, I like it for the sheer geekiness of it, but after having my truck stolen right from my driveway even while living in a somewhat remote area, having a webcam also gives me a sense of security.

After eight long years, my then-cheap $100 web camera died, so I jumped on Amazon and bought a new one. I lucked out by not paying attention to the product details and ended up with a two pack instead. I eagerly ripped open the boxes and set them up and since my wireless router was old, I had also purchased a newer one of those as well.

With two cameras, a new router, a Dyn account and some free time in my hands, here’s how I went about setting up my own home security system.

The first step was to set up my router.  Simply following the instructions failed, so it forced me to manually configure it — not a big deal as I know a bit about networking. I made a quick call to Comcast to have a technician refresh my cable modem, which made everything work at last. I’ve always had great, friendly and helpful tech support from Comcast, so huge props to them.

Once my router was on line, I had to reconfigure my Dyn account on the router which was simple enough. I’ve had a DynDNS Pro account for a long time and Linksys (as is the case with most other home routers) made setting this up easy.

I connected my cameras, set the DMZ option in my router to one of my camera’s IP addresses and used port forwarding to make the other camera available on another port. I pointed one camera to its usual observation point and the other to my fish tank. Camera one and two were then ready to go with one more change needed.

I then did a quick search of the Apple App store for Foscam (the camera manufacturer) and was pleased to find a free app.  I quickly downloaded it and set up my cameras.

 

iPhone Feed

I can now gaze happily at my driveway and Koi swimming happily from anywhere in the world with the ability to see and control both cameras with patrolling and IR light control. Here’s a shot of the driveway and the fish tank.

 

Dave's Outside Feed

Dave's Fish Tank

Shortly after setting this all up, I also decided to use the camera’s ability to send email.

I added DynECT Email Delivery Lite to my account. Dyn Standard SMTP was also an option, but I wanted to experiment with the delivery tools and have some reporting while I was at it.

The mail interface on the camera was simple. Since authentication is required, I simply checked the box and added the credentials and mail started working immediately. One oddity of the Foscam FI8918W cameras that I used is that you must enter your information and click ‘submit’ BEFORE using the test feature.  The text next to the test button indicated that in a sense, but it wasn’t very clear. Here’s some shots of their interface.

 

Dyn - A

 

Dyn - B

With these settings complete, I now get an email whenever motion is detected.  Using the settings above prevented wind or other minor events from triggering a email. Now I have a record of any activity in my driveway. Since I read my mail on my iPhone, I can quickly and easily see any activity, shown here from a different perspective.

 

Dyn - Motion Alarm

The fishcam was set up just for fun, but the view of the driveway is a great security tool. The addition of the iPhone app and motion triggered emails that include the images make the solution a reasonably good security tool at a very low cost.


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Whois: David Lemaire

David Lemaire is a Software Development Director at Oracle Dyn Global Business Unit, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.