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Need advice setting up security web cams that can record

Hello to all, I need some expert advice on setting up web cam's viewable online and records to hard drive.

I would like to set-up three cameras that can be acesible via internet and that will record to my hard drive. Preferrably color or but I will consider B/W. Will be attached to Ethernet network (wired) and lighting conditions are low light. I am open to either battery operated or AC powered, preferrably AC powered? i want to monitor activity while I am away and record the activity as well. Open to suggestions.
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ctrevino30
Asked:
ctrevino30
1 Solution
 
CHurst5841Commented:
I operate a D-Link Wireless-B/G Network Camera in an office I oversee.  The model number is DCS-2100G and it can be found at http://www.dlink.com/products/?sec=1&pid=389.  I find the picture quality to be okay and the features are great.  It can be accessed remotely through the internet (if enabled in the control panel).  It has a couple downsides though.  For one, even though it is a wirless camera, it requires an AC Adaptor (and thus cable) to either be strung up the wall (I used this method with a cable conduit) or be placed in the wall.  Second, the camera itself has to occasionaly be reset by removing the power cable and plugging it back in (i.e. it stops sending out video signal).  Third, it lacks movement ability and zoom ability.  

I have no idea what your budget it is.  There's a whole slew of D-Link products that can be found here http://www.dlink.com/products/category.asp?cid=58&sec=1.  Here's a Linksys one http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=33&scid=38&prid=650 (the only one they current manufacturer.  

Hope this helps!
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ctrevino30Author Commented:
Well I am looking into wired options, placing drops near the device is not a problem. How many cameras do you operate? I have heard that I can only set-up one IP address that can be accesible directly from the internet thus reducing the number of cameras I can have? Do you know anything about this?.
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CHurst5841Commented:
I currently only operate 1 of the things.  I've never really hard of somthing quite like your saying, but I can imagine how it would be a problem.  I suppose you could always assign different ports for each camera to operate through.  If you have cameras A, B and C and A is assigned ported 1, B is assined port 2, and C is assigned 3 you could access camera B through:

Http://IP_Address:2

Also, the wireless video cameras can be plugged in through wired connections.  In fact you have to do this initially, in a wireless camera, in order to set network settings.  So it really doesn't matter which kind you buy.  
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kode99Commented:
It all come down to how much you want to spend,  this is a area where you really will get what you pay for.  Nothing wrong as long that as the expectations match.

I would suggest looking at these Axis video servers combined with decent quality traditional cameras.  The reason I say to go with regular style cameras is selection and also price.  You can get cameras that are suited to many different situations but so far the selection of actual web based cameras is more limited.  Although this is changing quickly.

Because of your low light requirement I would actually not recommend any direct network camera because I have yet to see one that has true low light capability.  Color is a waste of money as well.  Good quality cameras actually switch to black and white for low light operation.

Here is the top of the line video server that will handle up to 4 video standard feeds, does motion sensing and has a built in web server and will dump pictures to a standard FTP server - at up to 25 frames per second(which is way more than you need).
  http://www.axis.com/products/cam_241/index.htm

Or you can look network cameras which also have similar capabilities but even the 'low light' versions are not very good  performers for low light,
  http://www.axis.com/products/video/camera/ 
  lower cost small size unit,
  http://www.axis.com/products/cam_205/index.htm
  lower cost unit with motion sensing built in.
  http://www.axis.com/products/cam_210/index.htm

  Low Light version,  rated down to 1 lux (For low light appications I use cameras that are more like 0.05 lux- so I don't really consider this a true low light camera)
  http://www.axis.com/products/cam_2420/index.htm

In addition these camera's and the axis video servers will work with most network camera software.  

The Axis equipment is professional grade and also carries a higher price.

Then at the other end of the scale,
  http://www.x10.com/onsale/dod_cameras.html
The whole X-10 camera system costs less than just one good network camera.  So while I do not recommend it,  it is compelling just on price alone.  Not professional grade but if you really need something and this is all you can afford it is probably better than nothing.

I would rate the D-Link camera gear as mid range between the X-10 bottom and Axis top - both in quality and price.

As for accessing the video remotely it can be done in a number of ways.  One you can provide direct access to the cameras's by routing specific ports to the camera IP's.  So Camera's on say 192.168.1.10, 192.168.1.11 and 192.168.1.12  each locally accessable via standard browsing on port 80.  Then the router is set to have port say 1000 -> 192.168.1.10 port 80,  port 1001->192.168.1.11 port 80  etc.  as already pointed out.  Also you can have access to the 'server' where you store the video in the central port,  typically there will be a capability to have web access or access via a client program so you only need to have a link from the server to the outside.  This depends on the software used.  Here's an example recording software package,
  http://www.netcam-watcher.com/

You could also use a VPN configuration and then simply browse to the specific camera over the VPN connection to the network.

If you wish to provide a bit more detailed description of the situation and what kind of budget you have I might be able to make some more specific suggestions.

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CallandorCommented:
I tried an X-10 camera and I can say the image quality is pretty bad.  There are lots of better cameras from www.smarthome.com; I got the color day/night one and the quality is very good.  If you have multiple cameras, smarthome also has devices to let you switch between them or record from all of them.  There is free motion detection software out there like HomeWatcher which will let you send captured frames to an external ftp site.
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ctrevino30Author Commented:
Thanks to all for your input especially kode99.
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