Friday, September 7, 2018

Running a camera on battery

What I wanted to achieve.

I wanted to get a cam on my mailbox which across the street. But the closest place to an outlet that could get line of sight is over 300 feet from any building and across the driveway. So we are talking major construction to run a line or POE cable out there. I already have a couple cams down by the creek running longer distances from my super AP ( a UniFi AP Outdoor+ with a Ubiquiti Airmax Omni AMO-2G10 10Dbi 2.4 GHz Rocket antenna) so I started to wonder what kind of battery would it take to power a camera.

Experiment 1

Hooked a Foscam FI9804P 720P Outdoor HD Wireless IP Camera to a 12V 9Ah Compatible Battery normally used in pairs in my UPSs and it ran 35 hours.
Temp UPS battery setup

Experiment 2

Same Foscam FI9804P 720P Outdoor HD Wireless IP Camera but with a Duracell Marine Battery (Group Size 24) and it ran about 6 days. Was not sure it was fully charged since that seemed short so switched it back to the UPS battery which only lasted about a day this time. Running it dead might be taking a toll on it. Put it back on the big battery and up for 6 days so far.

Experiment 3

After talking to a neighbor and looking up some specs I started thinking a Wyze cam v2 might be a better way to go. About 1/2 the power draw, has audio and 1080p instead of 720p. Also smaller and needs less IRs to see so less visible. Of course the downside is it only records to the cloud and SD card right now unless you seriously hack it. Also not sure about its WiFi range but will make a good experiment. I'll first try it in parallel with the Foscam on the big battery and the Wyze on the UPS battery. Since it is an indoor camera I also bought the Frienda Camera Cover for Wyze Cam 1080p HD Camera and iSmart Alarm Spot Camera, Black Skin Cover with Security Wall Mount, Weather Resistant, Against Rain and Dust and some adapters to power USB off a battery. Camera, cover and 25 foot power cord total cost just $46.96. Add another $9.99 for a 32 GB SD card for redundancy sake.

Here is what it looks like with the cover on. It is a rubber like material which should seal it pretty good.
From front

From bottom
Ran into a problem with the power adapter I rigged up from WINOMO Car Auto Battery Terminal Clip 12V DC Cigarette Lighter Socket Adapter and Car Charger RAVPower 24W 4.8A Mini Dual USB Car Adapter with iSmart 2.0 Tech, Compatible with iPhone X 8 7 6 Plus and Galaxy S9 S8 Plus S7 S6 Edge Note 8 - Black seems the RAVPower is not long enough to make contact in the WINOMO. Ordered a Anker 24W Dual USB Car Charger, PowerDrive 2 for iPhone X / 8/7 / 6s / 6 / Plus, iPad Pro/Air 2 / Mini, Note 5/4, LG, Nexus, HTC that will hopefully work better.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wyze Cam Pan 1080p Pan/Tilt/Zoom Camera

Wyze Cam Pan 1080p Pan/Tilt/Zoom Wi-Fi Indoor Smart Home Camera with Night Vision and 2-Way Audio

Setup was easy.

The password would be filled in above but see below.

No the QR code will not work even on my network since the password was blanked.

However when I went to check the video a week later for some samples to post and it had quit recording after a day. The camera was still tracking movement just not recording to the cloud. I had not put an SD in yet so there was nothing to check there. So I deleted the camera from the app, reset the cam and did a readd. But it would not connect. I wasted hours trying stuff. Finally I tried setting up a wide open Access Point (AP) and noticed the password was still filled in. I removed it and it connected. Repowered and it still reconnected so I wiped it all and readded to the secured guest network and it still works. While I was at it I stuck a 32 GB SD in it.

So far it looks like it is running just under 1 Mbps bandwidth.

So far the main drawbacks are:
  • Only records to SD or the cloud
  • Only saves triggered video. No 24/7
  • You can only view video from the phone app (no web viewing).
  • No easy way to change WiFi password.
  • Some suspicious network activity has been reported so only use on a guest or other isolated network.
  • The above also probably means you should think twice about putting the app on and phone or tablet that has sensitive info on it.

  • Free 7 days of cloud recording.
  • Ridiculously cheap at just $38 including shipping.
  • Seems to do an OK  job of tracking (by doing pan and tilt) and marking moving object in the video. (See videos below.) Note people have reported being creeped out by this and have to admit it does feel a bit weird and makes the camera seem a bit alive. I was actually surprised how little video was saved vs the amount of time the cam appears to be panning to look at things.
  • Can save / send video to a huge number of services
  • Alexa support just added.

I posted some sample videos on YouTube with the motion and sound detection at the default values and motion detection masked to around the dog door. Unfortunately I can not really show you the mask because when you go back in to modify the mask it only shows till the video kicks in and then defaults back to the whole screen.

Basically it is top to bottom from the wall socket to the edge of the window.

Main things to note here are how random the video is. It was triggered by noise way more than motion.

Lastly connecting the cam is slow and fails fair amount. Being an encrypted guest network might be a factor in that though as mentioned above I would definitely suggest isolating from your network like that.

Since the cam does not record 24/7, if this was my only cam in there I would be thinking of taking off the mask and cranking the sensitivity. Though that would probably make finding video of actual motion harder to find. As is I already have 2 cameras recording 24/7 in there to me it is mainly another motion detector and hopefully gets a close up of who is using the door should I need to know. If they made an outdoor version of this I'd definitely have a spot for it and would probably recommend at double the price. Would think about a couple for the barn if I could monitor on a local PC since most of my cams are to let me see what is going on (as in what has the dogs upset) with as little distraction / time wasted as possible. Having to open an app, connect to a cam and find a notification just does not do that. To notify you with a video if something is moving where there should be no motion it is not bad. Especially for the price.

Update: 8/11/2018 More issues.

Found these instructions online for using Tiny cam to bridge the cam to the local NVR. They did not work for me. Might be some sort of manual firewall config though. Note they seem to connect to the server not the cam directly so you might be burning as much down bandwidth as up using them. When you test your connection it says it is receiving something but dropping all frames even if you point it at an address that does not respond which is either misleading or something else is going on.

However, trying to debug first I checked the regular app and it could not connect either till I rebooted the cam. Even after rebooting the cam it kept dropping out. So that might be an issue too. Oddly there are plenty of recordings which would seem to indicate the stream is getting to the cloud.

On a whim I tried connecting with the Amazon Show. But it now seems to think my one cam is two cams with the same name and will not connect to I rename one.