Thursday, January 16, 2020

What size PC do I need for Blue Iris?

I would always suggest you get the fastest CPU and GPU you can afford with enough hard disk space to save about a week's worth of 24/7 video (you should always record 24/7). To figure the HD space is not that hard. Just use this tool. It will also tell you how much bandwidth you would need to get to the NVR or cloud storage.

You should also look at Optimizing Blue Iris's CPU Usage to get the most out of the hardware you have.

But if you are trying to sort the minimum CPU and GPU you can get away with or trying to justify the cost of an upgrade I should note it is almost impossible to get a definitive improvement number of X setup over Y unless you have both running side my side looking at the same cams. Things like the amount of motion the cams are seeing, overlays and other features in use factor in too. However this page Blue Iris Performance Statistics has a sortable and filterable table of config and load data collected from around 1400 user servers. But that still just gets you in the ballpark.

For instance I have this i7-4790 I bought used almost 5 years ago now with 10 outdoor cams  that was running 50-60% CPU when I looked at it the other day when it was relatively calm. Today it looks like this, maxing out about 72%
Iris2 load and config

I built a i7-8700 with those same 10 cams to replace the 4790 PC. Even after adding another 6MP cam it was running 20-30% CPU during the same period as the above. Today it is maxing about 21%
Iris6 load and config
While both have the same configs for the cams in common but even without the extra cam that is not definitive for the CPU because the newer machine also has a better GPU (730 vs 1050), twice the RAM and is running BI5 instead of 4. Though the newer system actually appears to be using the GPU where the older one does not.  Below are my other 3 servers to give an idea how motion, CPU and GPU factor in. All use an SSD for the Blue Iris DB and close to the same HDs for recording so the storage should not be much of a factor between setups. Note you can look at the motion column in the cam listings to get an idea of the amount of motion each cam relative to others on that server is seeing though the numbers are not relative between servers / consoles since the counts all start at server reboot. Also in almost all cases other than cam 93 the ones showing NoSignal counts are WiFi cams.

This one is close to max with 9 outdoor and 3 indoor cams on it.
Iris3 load and config
This one pretty maxed at 15 outdoor cams on it. Note I noticed the next day, after rebooting for updates, it was using the GPU pretty heavy. Similar CPU load though.
Iris5 load and config

And just to show the diff motion can make, this one with 23 active and 1 offline indoor cams that could handle a few more.
Iris4 load and config.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Some quick thoughts on license plate reading.

Prob is, thanks to TV, movies and even media, people think they should be able to log plates passing with something like a Ring doorbell cam so more and more people seem to be wanting to do this like local governments are.  But that is probably out of your price range. If you just want to be able grab shots of plates coming through a gate or other narrow / slow moving space it is not that complicated. I've been able to pull plates of people coming up my driveway at 100 feet with fairly cheap cams.

When it comes to reading plates you need:

At least 7 pixels per inch at the target distance. (that is rez AND lens view angle)

In my post Doing the math on pixels per inch at a distance for your cam I pointed out the math involved in getting the min number of pixels to be able to make out a plate.

The camera focused for that distance

Most cams are fixed focus and have the lens glued in place so you can not adjust it much less swap it out. To give you and idea watch this video of a guy that swapping out the lens in a Wyze cam. Sadly higher priced brands do similar. You might want to look at my compare between static and auto focus versions of a some Reolink cams.

Enough contrast to make those pixels usable.

See this post on low light which helps get you a bit more.

And if the target is moving, a high enough frame rate and shutter speed to minimize motion blur and get a frame in the target range.

There is some good info here about frame rates and such needed.

And if you are looking to read them at night you need to think about reflections.

Nelly's Security has a nice post about this.

It should be obvious but no tracking or battery powered cams.

But if you need convincing read this.

Then there are plugin options

Like this one for Blue Iris that is on my eval to-do list.
OpenALPR which has and open API and cloud based services.
This post shows how to link Blue Iris and SmartThings through a learning AI system for alerts.