Sunday, October 11, 2020

View Blue Iris on Roku

 

Stumbled on this article about viewing your Blue Iris web console view from a Roku.

Basically what you need is the IP Camera Viewer - Basic app. Note upgrade to the Pro version to get more than 1 view and a split screen view.

In Blue Iris, go to global settings-> webserver-> 'advanced'. In the first box, enter the IP address(es) of the devices which should have unchallenged access to the BI server as admin. Place a carrot symbol (^) in front of each IP address:


While I was in there I also upped the quality a bit since the default is 50% @ 720p. Still does not look quite as good as on the console but good probably good enough especially if you use limited views. (See below.)


If you invested in the in the Pro version (as I did after about 5 minutes) you can set up the "cams" (actually Blue Iris group views) from a web browser which is a lot easier than an on screen keyboard.

Note Easy Web Admin only works while selected on the Roku

From the browser to looks like this


Click on add new cam. Give it a name, the IP of your server, the port (probably 80 for most people) and the Stream URL which is /mjpg/[group name]. Not if you want to see all cams create a group like I have here called _all and add all your cams to that group.


If for some reason you get a time out message go out and back into the Easy Web Admin in the Roku and reload the page in the browser and it will resubmit after clicking OK.


Sadly the only way to edit a cam and to change settings like split screen view is in the Roku app.

Camera settings screen

General setting screen which includes the split screen config
Settings page 2

Since I have 4 consoles the split screen works perfect for me. That is what it looks like with all my active cams but not the weather graphics and cloned cams.

Though for general use I'll be setting the split screen to just show the yard cams and the house interior cams.


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Syncing time

The issue

One of the things suggested to save CPU on Blue Iris is to turn on the in camera overlay instead of having Blue Iris add it while viewing. Note this works most of the time but some instances in camera overlays mess with tools like LPR. But many of the clocks seemed to refuse to keep time. At first I thought it was the local ntp servers having problems and wrote a quick tool to test all my ntp server options. The real issue is I'm finding different models of cameras work with only some ntp servers. In a perfect world this would not be an issue but in the real world they are often off a bit from each other and for syncing of video you want them a close as possible. And it also means you need to know which cam works with which and set them to ones as close in time as possible. Plus I want to avoid uploading packets where possible given my network connection is 900 down with only 40 up and I'm backing up to the cloud contentiously. 

Main options I have to work with are:

  • internet time servers (time.windows.com for instance)
  • ntpd on OPNsense router box 192.168.0.1 using 0.opnsense.pool.ntp.org as source
  • Windows time server on a Blue Iris server 10.10.3.48 using 192.168.0.1 as source
  • NetTime on a Blue Iris server 10.10.3.46 using 192.168.0.1 as source
  • ntp service running on IoT Unifi network gateway 10.10.0.1 using 192.168.0.1 as source

Note just setting the time server you want to use on a Windows 10 PC gets complicated. Microsoft really wants you to use time.windows.com. Detailed instructions to change the server can be found here.


What worked with what

Hikvision

System->System Settings->Time Settings (ColorVu)

Basic Configuration->System->Time Settings (older cams)

Would not even ping most of these. In the end the only one it would connect to was the Windows time server

ColorVu screen shot


Reolink

Network->Advanced->NTP

Only seems to like the OPNsense box. Takes 3 screens to set all the time options.


Amcrest

System->General->Date & Time

Hard to say since there is no test button. You just set it and hope. I'll set them to diff servers and see what keeps time. Though it looks like it might do a sync on save so you can see if something works if the time was off. After a day it appears OPNsense did not seem to work as the time was WAY off.

Used Windows time server 

Dahua

System->General->Date & Time

Like Amcrest (some claim the Dahua makes many of Amcrest cams and the software is very similar) it is hard to say since there is no test button. You just set it and hope. I'll set them to diff servers and see what keeps time. Though it looks like it might do a sync on save so you can see if something works if the time was off. After a day it appears OPNsense did not seem to work as the time was WAY off.

Used Windows time server 

JideTech

System->Time

Not sure if this is working or not. Comes set to time.windows.com which seemed to be working. When I set it to a local one it changed the date to 2036 and stayed there till I "Synced with PC time". Then tried to dup and could not. Set to OPNsense box. After a few days the time seems to be hold so think is OK. Note there is no option to set DST start and stop.  

Foscam

Basic Settings->Camera Time
OPNsense seems to work OK. Note this old enough there is no option to set DST start and stop.

Escam

Again OPNsense seems to work OK. 






Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Quick outdoor audio compare

Overview

Been seeing posts wanting cams with audio lately. My Ring compares playlist has some examples of the diff between a ColorVu and a Ring doorbell that contain audio but when outside doing a bit of weeding around the bird feeder and hearing coyotes playing near by I thought I'd grab the footage form 3 near by cameras to show the diff between them.

The 3 cameras are:

Dahua IPC-HDW4631C-A mounted under the window AC unit

Reolink RLC-511-5MP mounted on side window frame

Hikvision (ColorVu) DS-2CD2347G1-LU (far one) mounted on the soffit at the corner of the roof

Placement of cameras

The links to the videos are:

  • The Dahua video
  • The Reolink video
  • The Hikvision/ColorVu video


If you watch the lower timestamp you should hear:

  • Various bird calls and till 11:28:40
  • @11:28:40 you should hear my footsteps and the hedge trimmer starting up.
  • @11:29:37 you should hear me walking through the dried "weeds" crunching them and a jet passing overhead. Then me tossing the branches into a pile off screen.
  • @11:29:58 I start using the hedge trimmer again.
  • @11:30:07 I stop and you can hear what sounds like coyotes yapping a few hundred yards away.
  •  @11:30:23 you should hear me say "listen to that" (meaning the coyotes) in a normal speaking voice.

It is totally calm so there is no wind noise to deal with. I should probably do another sample with speaking when there is wind and when the house main AC unit (around the far side of the house) is running. I'm amazed how loud that AC unit sounds on footage compared to when I'm in the yard.


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Fact check: Amcrest cameras are Dahua rebrands.

 I hear people say this a lot but when you try and ping them down they never seem to be able to tell you which model is which. There are post like this one where people claim they have up Dahua firmware on some models of Amcrest cameras which they think implies Dahua made them but they do not know which model. Usually I just don't have the time to look into it with so little to go in. This one claims to have upgraded an Amcrest model I have, the Amcrest IP8M-2496EB, so I thought I'd take a it to see if I could actually find a Dahua model of that cam and if the Amcrest was any cheap or if there was any other reason to buy the Amcrest of just getting the Dahua (if there was on). The firmware mentioned, DH_IPC-HX5X3X-Rhea_MultiLang_NP_Stream3_V2.800.0000014.0.R.191203.zip, is used by a few models.

The Dahua wiki shows 3 8MP bullet models including the IPC-HFW2831T which is one of my current favs. Nothing that looks close to the Amcrest. But I'm not finding my Dahua 6MP model there either so not definitive.


A look at the Dahua product selector seems a bit more promising as it has my 4631 listed but still nothing that looks like the Amcrest. However the IPC-HFW4831E-SE is close and the specs match. The actual case is just a bit different.


A quick google search shows the IPC-HFW4831E-SE can be had for as little as $150 The Amcrest IP8M-2496EB can be had for as little $95. So I guess the main factor is price. But as my tests have shown you are generally better off with the 6MP Dahua IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA for as little as $110 and get a serious zoom and audio too for that extra $15. There does not appear to be an Amcrest equiv of the 6MP Dahua IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA.

If you want to compare the camera software features between the 2 8MP cameras you can get the Dahua manual here and the Amcrest IP8M-2496EB manual here.


So lets try another. The Amcrest IP4M-1026  which has similar low light performance to the Dahua 6MP IPC-HDW4631C-A Note you get 20% more rez plus audio for just $10 more than the Amcrest. The Amcrest it pretty distinctive with its angled shade and case. None of the Dahuas look anything like it. Same goes for the "eyeball" version IP4M-1055E. The closest Dahua match appears to be the IPC-HDW2439T-AS-LED-S2 which appears to be cheaper than the Amcrest.

So we are 1 for 3 which means some of them my indeed be made by the same people that make some of the Dahua cams. If Dahua makes all of its models is still a bit unclear. The Chinese supply chain seems to cross a lot.  But I don't think it matters all that much. Once you sort the specs you want for a cam you can see what models of what brands match up and then see if any one has loaded a more feature rich firmware on it or even give it a try yourself. It seems that in many cases the loader with not load something that will brick the cam though in some cases you might lose a feature you liked and not be able to go back.

You might also want to look at this Wikipedia entry which outlines known Dahua security issues.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Dahua IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2 vs IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA

Mention in here:

8MP PoE Security IP Camera - OEM IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2 2.7~13.5mm Vari-Focal Lens 5X Optical Zoom, Ultra 4K Bullet Outdoor Starlight Camera with 196.85ft Night Vision,SD Card Slot,H.265,IP67  Specs sheet

6MP Outdoor POE Bullet IP Camera IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA, 2.7-13.5mm Motorized Varifocal Lens, 5X Optical Zoom Security Camera with Built-in Mic, IR 197ft Night Vision, Smart H.265 WDR, SD Card Slot, IP67

Overview

First note, oddly they seem to use diff and conflicting plugins so you can only view the stream from one or the other in IE at the same time.

Second I had a 256 GB SD card from my old LG V30 phone that I had previously used in the SereneLife IPCAMOD47 failure which I tried to use in the IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2  after formatting it but it appeared as 2 drives and failed to format. I did not have a second to 256 GB to try so it might have chosen that time to go bad. Sticking the 256 GB SD back in a Windows 10 PC it says only 47 MB like the second drive listed in the camera now. Sticking a 128 GB into it seems to work OK. I was able to recover the 256 GB SD with SD formatter.

Third you will notice (if you click on the images) the form factors between the 4Ks (3840x2160, Aspect ratio = 1.78) and the 6MP (3072x2048, Aspect ratio = 1.5) are quite diff. Most of the 4K's added pixels are in adding width not height which might factor into you choice.

The tests

One of my Reolink 511s is starting to have moisture issues so I thought it would be a good time to upgrade the IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA with a IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2 and use the IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA to replace the 511. Before that though I wanted to do a quick compare so stick the IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2 next to IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA and captured some video and snapshots from them and the Amcrest IP8M-2496 in the same location to get both zoomed and wide compares. 

Videos

Daytime

These videos the Dahuas start off on max zoom. You can see me stepping off and dropping eye charts at about 50, 100 feet and at the gate about 188 feet from the camera array.  There is an old license plate on the cart I'm pulling for reference too. At about 1:24 PM I start back from the gate. About 1:40 PM both Dahua cameras are zoomed to max view angle to compare with the Amcrest. 

IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA video

IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2 video

IP8M-2496 video

Nighttime with IR

The 6MP looks slightly better to me. Start with just IR lights on (note mainly from IR flood). Shortly after the start the white driveway lights come on the go off just before the end of the video. The driveway lights have almost no affect on the video detail. Passing cars give indications of motion blur affects from the slow shutter speed.

IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2 video

IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA video

Nighttime low light color

The 8MP does way better here. Both cams are set to manual 1/12 exposure, color mode and 0-100 gain range. Otherwise all default settings. Start with just IR lights on, mainly from IR flood, but they seem to have no real affect unlike the HikVision ColorVus that tend to get a purple tint when IR floods are on. About 9:38 PM the white driveway lights come on making a dramatic change in both videos. 

For instance the old school house across the street lit by its own security light is about all you can make out on the 6MP though if you look real close can see where the sky is slightly lighter the trees and shadow on the ground. After the driveway lights come on the detail is better but 50 foot detail is still not as good as in IR night vision. Though past 50 feet it was better in color mode.

By contrast the 8MP actually appears to be in color though again the details are few. You can kind of make out the eye chart silhouette and moon shadows. After the driveway lights come on the detail is almost that of day time. 

Passing cars give indications of motion blur affects from the slow shutter speed. Shortly before the end of the video the driveway lights go back off again showing how quickly the cameras adapt.

IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS-S2 video

IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA video

In pics

The UPS box is at about 160 feet.


You can watch the videos to see how fast the zooms and focusing work but are some quick snaps to see how the cams compare in max zoom. The calculated DORI numbers are


Click on an image to see close to full screen and rapidly switch between.

The 6MP camera view

The 8MP/4K camera view
Just to drive home the diff distance makes, here are views from the cameras mounted about 20 feet from the UPS box. 
View from another Dahua 6MP in widest view mode.

View from an old Foscam FI9804WS 720p cam.

I used the 6MP Dahua and will use the new 8MP cam in max zoom but while I have them all together I though I'd get some wide angle view compares as well. Not e how much the auto focus improves the detail. The 50 foot chart is clearer even to the 6MP camera than the fixed Amcrest 4K. The Dahua 4K is even better. Granted it is also almost twice the cost of the Amcrest.
The Dahua 6MP in widest view

The Amcrest 8MP/4K wide angle view



The Dahua 8MP/4K in widest view

Nighttime with IR







Nighttime low light color







Friday, August 28, 2020

SereneLife IPCAMOD47 - hard pass

Outdoor PTZ IP Security Camera - 4X Optical Zoom - Starlight Night Vision 2mp HD 1080p Home Wireless WiFi Video Surveillance - Two Way Audio, Cloud Storage, Alexa Show - SereneLife IPCAMOD47

Note description says 36mm lens but I think they mean 3.6 mm lens and it is fixed, not zoom (see below).

Manual and specs can be found here

When I went back looking for an alternate to this I'm wondering if I meant to order this 5 MP cam given it looks exactly the same though has totally diff specs and only $20 more. Already boxed this one up to go back. Below is why.

Cons:

  • Appears the only way to set up is via phone while cam is wired
  • In cam web interface is only available after setup via phone. In fact it does not even seem to get an IP address from DHCP till after you set it up via phone by scanning a tiny, hard to scan QR code.
  • Requires creating account to use app needed to setup
  • Zoom appears to be only digital and no zoom controls in web interface.
  • No common protocol support so forget using an NVR including Blue Iris.
  • Even less feature controls than any of the dozens of cams I've tried (See screen shots below)
  • Web interface wants plugin for IE that antivirus blocks from installing (see screen shots below) though plug does not actually seem to be needed. On Chrome you get not video at all though it does not ask you to install the plugin
  • Phone lost connection and would not reconnect despite web interface still working.
  • Mute speaker and mic controls in web interface do not seem to work. You will need to mute your PC to avoid feedback during viewing via the web app if cam is within ear shot
  • Takes long time to boot up and be ready
  • NTP requests to odd server triggers IPS alerts but you can at least change it. (See screenshot) 
  • Time defaults to 1971 and no option to sync with PC. Only can turn off sync and set manually at which point sync turns back on when saved
  • Note factory reset does not seem to actually reset all settings.
  • Firmware update gets flagged as network Trojan though probably mistakenly.

Pros:

  • Has motion triggered lights
  • 512 GB SD card support per manual though ad says 128 GB max. Seemed to work with a 256 GB SD fine. Though when I pulled the SD card when getting it ready to send back I did not find any video files on the SD. Just a "backup" file. Though I did see clips in playback interface. 
  • Default login appears to be random string though you do not seem to be able to change it

Stuff that would be pros but did not get to try

  • 2 way audio
  • Alexa support
  • Starlight sensor for color night vision

Screen shots

Network options

On screen display settings. If you turn on Display name you get a prompt that only takes letters, not numbers.

SD card screen

Motion settings page 1

Motion settings page 2 though both would fit on one easy.

Recording schedule screen

Maint screen


Other screen which is volume settings.

WiFi setup pops up right after first login

No video/audio stream on Chrome. Pan tilt controls also appear to be dead.

Yet Chrome did get a pic from the camera. It just goes blank when you click the play button. Note it does not auto play.

On IE you get prompted to install a plugin

IE after ignoring plugin install request

Time setting screen. Note the odd ntp server.

Typical download option. At least the plugin comes from the same place as the firmware update

Should you click Run here you will most likely get a nasty message from your anti virus program that just says I'm not letting you do this.