Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wyze RTSP updates

As mentioned in Should you get a Wyze cam? Wyze has released updates to the RTSP firmware versions.

"Update 8/10: Went to add a Wyze V2 out by the gate now that I have power and found they updated the RTSP firmware so though it might now do person notifications. It has disappointing video compared to the 720p Foscam I hoped to replace. And the sensors seem iffy but I'll leave it a bit to see how well the person notifications work."

It even looks like there is now a beta available of the next release. (See below.) So from now on I'll have to note which version the cam I'm talking about is running. The above was in reference to firmware demo_V2_RTSP_4.28.4.41 on a cam I was planning on using at the gate. TODO: add link to Wyze / Foscam compare and how sensors stopped working on 87 in heat.

First off despite the option to turn on person detection showing up for just the latest of my Wyze V2s when I added it and only for that cam for some reason, person detection is still not supported in RTSP firmware. I confirmed it did not work with the demo_V2_RTSP_4.28.4.41 firmware.

I started this post as an update to the above and on the Pan RTSP firmware. See related Pan video. So I went to my downloads folder to get the version number for the Pan firmware and noticed the last version I downloaded on 8/25 appeared to have an older version number (demo_Pan_rtsp_4.20.3.48) than the one I had downloaded before on 8/10 (demo_Pan_rtsp_4.29.4.41). Interestingly when I went to my tablet to confirm which I had installed on the camera the app would not even finish loading. Even after a repower. I had to install the Wyze app on my phone to go check that it was indeed demo_Pan_rtsp_4.20.3.48. The reason seems to be conflicting info. In this post the later firmware is listed both as beta and the current version. demo_Pan_rtsp_4.29.4.41 appears to be the same 5/10/2019 update form the pan beta zip. Note they have started making links to the bin files now instead of the zips and you can not see the folder listing online so file compile dates are now hidden. So it looks like I still need to update my Pan cam. Note with RTSP you can not update the camera from the app. You have to do it manually via the SD card.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

My current setup

Currently 53 (1 added since last pic) cams on 4 Blue Iris servers linked into my home automation so it can highlight cams groups on consoles based on various sensors being triggered. It can also switch the distributed video to show a console automatically depending if the alert and alarms levels are high enough. As in a someone opening the parcel box at the gate will always trigger the cams pointed that way and switch the maina video to that console. Motion at the gate though only highlights the cams on the console those cams are on but only switch the main video is the alarm is armed.

I'm always upgrading or adding but here is the latest picture of my setup. (See older pic below.)

Note the 70 inch display shows the site wide distributed video stream and can be used as a monitor for video editing or any of the security camera consoles. The camera consoles will highlight (just show) groups of cameras when triggered by Homeseer based on triggered motion or contact sensors. Depending on which sensors and the current alarm settings the main video stream may be switched to that camera console as well. Triggered sensor also give verbal notifications. So for instance if motion is sensed at the gate with a glance I can see if I'm getting a delivery or a visit from wild live or a neighbor's escaped livestock from any where there is a TV. I can return the setup to the previous state with one voice command.

A quick and simple video show how my system is setup to return from triggered events with one voice command.

Here is an example of a guy looking for stuff to steal. Since I live in a neighborhood of mostly 5 to 10 acre lots seeing anyone is pretty rare. Predators and loose livestock are a much larger issue. So as I was in the middle of conference call I ignored the first alert but when a second came I could easily make out the guy trying to pull the motion sensor off the tree. Unfortunately he took off before I got down there but he did not get anything and if not for this setup I might not have known he was even about much less had video from 5 cams and good screen grabs of his face for the neighbors and cops.

Future Goals:

Looking at adding a DeepStack server when I get the time. Or something similar. I want something I can train not just tell people from non people like the current Blue Iris plugin. The LightHouse cam used to be able to recognise your pets so this seems reasonable. So I want to work toward telling critter types apart at some point. If I can get it to tell my dogs apart even better. The bare minimum I want to get to is alerts telling cat vs dog/coyote vs racoon/opossum/skunk/armadillo vs pig/cow/horse/deer. Yes I've actually had all those and more in my driveway. There is even been a mountain lion spotted in my neighborhood few believed in till someone caught it on a security cam in a nearby neighborhood.


This is how it happens. Your setup just grows and grows.

August 2019

Added 4 Blue Iris server and dedicated monitor and increased main monitor to 40 inches
May 2017
Added 11th screen (not counting the unused laptop one.) 3 dedicated to cams. Note too indicator lights added behind cam monitors.

May 2016

10 screens, 2 dedicated to cams.
May 2015
Bookshelves added.

August 2013

Mid digital conversion. you will notice 29 low rez cmas on the Blue Iris monitor. Some are new IP cams and some are being pulled from Geovision servers,

May 2013

2 screens switched to larger portrait mode ones.

January 2012

Using 2 Geovision (analog cam servers) here with another down at the shop. Starting to standardize on 1080p monitors too.

December 2011

Just the one 16 cam Geovision server at the house here. Note how dark some of the cams are.

November 2010

5th added. Note upper right monitor was switchable between TV and computer monitor so I could watch digital sources on it.

October 2008

4th screen added for seconde Geovision server.

October 2008

Soon after I moved. 3 screens but no dedicated monitor for cams and even the big screen was analog.

October 2008

Desk setup with 2 monitors.

July 2008

Moving in

June 2007

At the old house

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Viewing the night sky in color with an Amcrest IP4M-1026

So called Starlight cams seems to be becoming a thing so I thought I'd see what is possible with a camera I already had. You can look at my video Night sky Aug 10th 2019 and Night sky Aug 9th 2019 to see what I'm talking about here.

With a few simple tests the Amcrest IP4M-1026 seemed to have the best low light video and the widest view. Mainly I wanted to try and capture some of the neighborhood's fireworks displays.  My first test with pretty much default settings came out OK with lightning.  It seemed to me it switched to night view earlier than it needed so I played with the options to get the video linked above.

I was surprised how much I could make out by just moonlight. It basically looked like what I would see looking out the window.

Below are the setting I used. You might be able to tweak this a bit further with experimenting but I'm happy with the results. Though the fireworks capture was pretty much a bust as they were a lot more subdued this year and the few that did make it into were mostly blocked by the trees. Thinking now I'll add another cam to close to double the 118 degree view. Note I also did a test with a GW5747MIC 5MP Optional TWO-Way Audio PoE IP Camera 1.9mm 160° Wide Angle Night Vision Sony Starvis HD 1920P Security Mini Dome 5 Megapixel Built-In Microphone and Micro SD slot, Audio in/out Recording but the view was not only no wider but not as good in low light.

Added video without the Moon to show when it is too dark to even see out you can still see the horizon glow of Austin, the planets, at least 1 star, the bard and trees. Here are compare pics from my cameras that catch bits of the same view all from the same time, 8/21/2019 at 10PM local despite what some of the on screen timestamps say.

Screen grab from the posted video
Snapshot directly from Blue Iris
Snap shot from Reolink RLC-411WS (5MP Version) of west end of barn in sky pic
Snapshot from RLC-511W across south deck. Note plane from video and above Amcrest snapshot is just above far horizon. 

Snapshot from Reolink RLC-511 (non WiFi) of mid drive. Ton of IR down here so any bits not lit are hard to see.
From Hikvision DS-2CD2035-I overlooking the pool area (not currently up). Note when the moon is up you can usually see the horizon in this view.
Just in case you think the Amcrest is optimized for night, here is a snapshot from high noon.
Amcrest IP4M-1026 snapshot of sk with sun skirting top of frame.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Doing the math on pixels per inch at a distance for your cam

Seeing a lot of posts where people are talking up 1080p cams with wide angle. Let's do the math on that. There is a simple calculator online to get the width of the area being viewed by a cam with a given view angle. For example let's take my old work hours the Foscam 9800 series that is 720p and 70 deg view angle.

So at 20 feet the view width is 24.4 feet or 293 inches. 720p resolution is actually 1,280 pixels so when we divide the pixels by the view width you get  4.3686 pixels per inch. So a face, about 6 inches wide will be 26 pixels across at 20 feet with this cam. 40 is considered to be the min. So even with the best lens focused for 20 feet this is still not going to cut it.

For convenience I worked up the charts below from my compare sheet. Note these charts assume the camera is focused for the target distance and not the upscaled resolution some cams advertise. Despite claims, outdoor fixed focus cams seem to be focused at around 20 to 30 feet. You might get a "decent 2X screen grab" of targets within +- 10 feet of that. Of course for a large range of  depth you really should look at a camera with autofocus like the Reolink RLC-411WS I've tried. Though it has had the occasional glitch as well. For long distance something adjustable like the Microseven 6-22mm 3MP Manual Zoom Varifocal Len HD 1080P.

Not those are best case numbers under perfect conditions. While 7 pixels per inch is bare min 14 is the more accepted min. If I change the wanted pixels per inch to 14 the last chart becomes

Note 12 degrees is a fairly extreme telephoto lens in the range of 22mm
70 is standard though up to 90
between 90 and 130 is often called wide angle
180 to 360 are often called 360 view cameras

For a more indepth info look here.

For a visual compare here I am about 33 feet from the cameras.
First an old Foscam FI9804PS 720p and 70 degree view angle

Noew compare that with a Reolink RLC-511-5MP 5MP with auto focus but zoommed to widest view of about 90 degrees.

We can obviously see a lot more  and it looks clearer. Just for comparison here is the view from a 1080p  M7B77-WPSV1 at max zoom to a view of about 12 degrees located about 190 feet way.

The main diff appears to be the angle .

Now crop the images down to just me and the cart and make them the same size for a recognition compare. Note the sizing is done by the browser. You might interpret a bit more with a smart resize.

The Foscam image cropped
The Reolink image cropped

Lastly the Microseven image cropped.
So a 1080p cam with a 12 degree angle and focused for distance yet almost 6 times the distance away would be better for pulling a plate at the gate than the 720p with 70 degree view. Obviously the 5MP at the gate wins though probably by not as much as you would have thought. I should note here too the Foscam was only doing about 1 fps till I ran power out there so I hook up and access point via Ethernet Over Power. I did that so I could stick a Wyzecam V2 out there but that was a bust. Given its 110 degree view you get a shot like this.

First here is the Foscam from the Wyze compare test. I'm a bit further out in this one about 60 feet from the cams. You can see the zoomed Reolink image behind it. Note images were resized to match width of widest image (the Roelink).

Here is the save shot form the Wyzecam V2

And the uncovered Reolink zoomed to its max of 31 degrees horizontal.
Note the glitch in the pic turned out to be a config Blue Iris issue. Inspect sets it to be a generic RTSP and you want to set it as a Reolink.
And lastly a similar shot with the Reolink unzoomed.

In case you are wondering here are some shot with me much closer.
Foscam shot of me at the parcel box
Wyzecam V2 shot of me at the parcel box

One last distance compare back down the drive about 85 feet from the cams. Between the Microseven still zoomed the max.

And an Amcrest 4K IP8M-2496EB with about 112 degree view angle.

For those that think you can just zoom in, here is what you see if you zoom in to match the Microseven.

But there is one more factor to consider, focus. Autofocus can add a lot though when it gets it wrong it can make your cam useless too. Here is a close up shot with the Foscam where I'm just 7 feet away. The cart maybe double that.
Note the plate looks good but the logo on my cap is blurry. I'm too close for the range this cam is set too.
Here is the same shot from the Reolink zoomed out to the max.
Notice both my face and the plate are in focus because the camera has adjusted.
The down side, something flying too close to the lens can leave you looking like this.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Should you get a Wyze cam?

I'm seeing that question a fair bit these days. The answer is of course it all depends on what you want to do with a cam. For instance 6 of the 51 cams I currently have online are Wyze. And I have a 7th I'm planning on replacing an old 720p cam at the gate watching the mailbox with. But you need to think about what you plan to use it for.  They are great for places you want to setup something quickly to monitor something. Or in a place like out at the gate where it might be easily stolen so you want something with audio but cheap. For example only 2 of the 7 will be mounted in a permanent way. Compared to others here are the pros and cons I've see running them 24/7 in RTSP mode.

Wyze Pros:

  • Cheap (~$30 with shipping) though for the "3 times the price" I often see quoted you can get some really killer cameras. I just picked up 2 Amcrest IP4M-1026EWs for $64 each for example. For ~4X the price you can get 5 MP with zoom and auto focus or even 4K for example.
  • Can record local and to free cloud (and to NVR with hacks or one off supported firmware)
  • Easy to setup. I have 3 in the barn just stuck on walls by the magnetic base.
  • Wide 110° view. Good for getting a good bit of the room though not as good for distance without a lot more pixels.
  • They are adding person recognition to cut down on "bad" notifications. I have not had a change to try this personally though so not sure how well it is going to work given the limitations of the camera hardware and bandwidth if attempting a cloud solution. Update 8/10: Went to add a Wyze V2 out by the gate now that I have power and found they updated the RTSP firmware so though it might now do person notifications. It has disappointing video compared to the 720p Foscam I hoped to replace. And the sensors seem iffy but I'll leave it a bit to see how well the person notifications work.  Update 8/28: see Wyze RTSP updates.


  • Only WiFi and the WiFi is weak. Expect a lot of drop outs if you plan to stream to a NVR. I suggest putting any WiFi cam on a smart plug so you can restart it remotely if not automatically.
  • Just 1080p which is the bare minimum these days given how cheap cameras have become. Especially with a 110° view. Remember one of the main factors in recognition is pixels per inch at the target distance. Take a look at Doing the math on pixels per inch at a distance for your cam
  • USB powered which generally means power nearby.Though some have reported being able to use POE to USB adapters. At that point though you are talking similar price of cams with POE built in.
  • Indoor cam by design. While there are cases that are supposed to shield it from weather again that negates most cost savings. Also this does not change the in focus range of the camera which is setup for medium size rooms. Having the target in the focus range of the camera is the other main factor in being able to recognize the target. Though focus range can also be an issue with many cameras since most these days are not just fixed focus but glued in place to prevent altering so it is important to match the camera to the target. 

Note for non RTSP use:

It only triggers once in 5 minutes and only uploads the first 12 seconds of that. Does record local 24/7 though and you should absolutely do that. While the cloud recording is a nice backup you really should not count on it catching anything, especially outdoors, since the odds the movement the first triggers it will get the best 12 seconds of video for you are about the same as hitting green light in city traffic when you are in a hurry.

Also for those thinking of using outdoors.

Think about what you expect to see with this cam. As I said above this camera has a wide view for such little resolution. Compare the view of this old Foscam 720p cam

Here is the same shot from a Wyze cam V2 located next to the Foscam
Note the motion pixilation in the shadows

And a similar shot from a 5MP Reolink one of those 3 times the price cams mentioned above.

More info:

To see more of what I've done with Wyze cams see my other posts here and samples I've posted on YouTube.