Recently, I’ve setup a new security camera liveview system with TinyCam Pro app and my Korean Note 2 (which I don’t use) by my front door. Ever since I moved to my new house couple years back, I have been working on my own DIY IP security camera project to make my house more secure and also so I can watch my house when I am traveling. I know many of you probably have Android devices that are collecting dust somewhere in your garage and this is a great way to put your older Android devices into new uses.
Over the years, I’ve had many strangers knocking on my door. The worst is the U.S. Census guy, who once you let into your life, he will NOT LEAVE you alone! I remember moving into my house and couple days later the U.S. Census guy asking for 3 hours of my time to ask me personal questions I did not want to answer. By law, you cannot ignore U.S. Census guys once you get into contact with them but by law, you have the right to remain silent also. We’ve seen a burglary attempt on my neighbor’s house, a hit-and-run case where the scraped my neighbor’s car (probably at least $2,000 worth of damages), and so many damn visits from AT&T (to sign up for their TV service, I always spend about 30 minutes total a year talking to them and telling them I can’t sign up because they don’t have Korean TV service like DirecTV, which I am using at the moment).
With so many solicitors that take up your time along with thieves and strangers you shouldn’t have to deal with eye-to-eye, I’ve recently updated my security system to have a 24/7 liveview right by my front door, which alerts me the moment they step on my property, I don’t have to wait them to hit the doorbell. The next time someone tries to take up my free time to sell me something, they can keep talking to my door. No thanks, I have the right to remain silent and I intend to use that right 100%. (I know, I am being a bit cynical but hey, if you are in the U.S., learn to exercise your rights!) This will also help me when my new phones arrive though, the door will be open before the UPS/FedEx guys hit the doorbell.
For those of you who get into trouble with law in the U.S., you would benefit greatly from never opening your door to officers. They CANNOT enter your house unless they have a warrant, and yes, you can stay silent even if they keep knocking on your door. Unless you murdered someone or engaged in a criminal action and they have a warrant, you DO NOT have to talk to officers ever! All of this is helped greatly by having a liveview. A simple peephole works too but it’s better when your liveview alerts you as they walk up your driveway or stairway. Not saying you should be a criminal but if you were a smart criminal like in the movies, you would also give yourself plenty time to get away if you had a simple DIY security system.
Also, there are many other uses like as a baby monitor (that you can watch your baby for your wife at work), watching your fish/pets while you travel, and even watch the birds lay eggs on the tree next to your house. But simply, I am just obsessed at building the best DIY security system on a dime, it’s just fun to build a home security camera system like those bad guys on TV/movies.
First, you will need to get some wireless IP cameras. You can recycle an old Android device using IP Webcam app as a camera but I do highly recommend getting a dedicated unit as they usually come with panning, infrared night vision, and waterproofing for outdoors.
Here’s a list of different IP webcams I use, each with different purpose:
- Lofttek Nexus 543 – This is an outdoor, 100% waterproof, IP cam on my front door. I also use Foscam FI8904W on my garage door. Both of these are nearly identical in performance and there’s actually many more on Amazon which all do the same thing. They don’t pan much and they are great for places where you don’t have to move your camera much. These don’t have great resolution so if you really need to capture the bad guys (or license plates), I would recommend getting a 1080P outdoor IP camera. But they do a fine job for close-up videos.
- Wansview Wireless IP Cam – This is an indoor camera with full 360 degree panning and also only $39! I love this camera because you can move the camera remotely in full 360 degrees. I have like 5 of these all over my house and it gives me birds-eye view of every room. Also it comes with infrared night-vision, which works quite well. You can also place these outdoors so long as they are somewhat protected from rain. I have one of these right outside my garage as there’s an overhang and rain won’t get to it. There’s also a white color of this camera. Definitely this is my favorite camera because it’s cheap and has many features. I also have a Foscam FI8910W, it does the same thing as Wansview but just costs more.
For mounting your Android device to the wall, I used 3M picture mount. These things are awesome, they can hold your Android smartphone or tablet for years and also do not put holes in your walls.
Well, when I first started this project, it was just for fun but I may start buying up some more premium security cameras in the near future.
Once you have your IP webcam setup, you will be able to access each of them through an IP address on your web browser. All of these IP cameras come with its own micro-computer that allows you to setup motion detection to FTP and additional options like audio output to speakers. They all have microphone so you can hear using the TinyCam app but the quality isn’t the best but you can replace it with an external microphone.
After setting up the webcams, setting up on the TinyCam app is easy. Just download the app, set the IP, set the port (most likely 80), and also ID/password if you set one on the camera.
With TinyCam app, you will be able to also set motion detection to make sounds if you are using your Android device as liveview. E.g. If you want to be alerted when someone drives up to your driveway (through the camera pointed towards your driveway), alerted when someone is on your backyard (perhaps you have unwanted guests often like opossums/raccoons), or when someone walks up to your front door (like my setup). With the PRO version (which I highly recommend), you can have it recording when motion is detected to your SD card on your Android device, or even uploaded to your Dropbox/FTP.
The hardest step is getting your camera setup outside your house, so you can watch your camera when you are outside your home’s wireless internet. You will need to setup a DDNS (Dynamic DNS) and also port forwarding. Since that’s a whole chapter of learning curve by itself, I should have another tutorial on that. But for now, grab an IP webcam and TinyCam app to setup your own DIY security camera system.
Also, using a good router helps you setup the system if you have multiple cameras. My current setup is Linksys E4200 with DD-WRT firmware, you can see how to do that here. DD-WRT aftermarket firmware is great since you will be able to setup your cameras with custom IP address, port-forwarding, and much more (which I should have more in detail later). But DON’T use AT&T/Comcast router that comes with your AT&T/Comcast internet service, they sorta suck a lot.
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