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Security Camera to record on hard drive

Posted on 2006-07-19
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Last Modified: 2008-02-26
Hi Experts

I have been tasked with the following:
We need to monitor and record (to hard disk) our "goods out" dept while they are packing as some customers are "claiming" shortages even though we know we've sent full consignments.
Our intention is to record the packing then security tape seal all boxes before sending.
The camera needs to be good enough quality to read text on an inner box about quarter inch high, and at the same time be able to cover the area of a pallet (say about 4 feet square - so "zoomable"?). The recording will be switched on/off as required as opposed to running full time.
The recording needs to be able to retrieve this information too.
We would like to have computer remote control (from anywhere - so IP camera?) over the camera movements - pan tilt zoom etc...
We currently have remote access over VPN to our LAN - if that helps. Wireless is an option.

The question I have is, what would be the best way to implement this?
What hardware? What software? At the quality I'm looking for, how much drive space will say a 5 minute clip take up etc ...

I would really like to have advice from somebody with some kind of experience as opposed to some "googled" links (after all, I always start there before coming here!!).

Many thanks

Nick
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Question by:Nick Denny
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by:Callandor
Callandor earned 200 total points
ID: 17142582
I have researched this also and concluded that this camera would be the best solution for my purposes: http://www.trackercam.com/TCamWeb/clearptz.htm.  The camera is controlled by a network cat5 connection, and sends video over a coax line.  If you connect it to a capture card with hardware compression like the Hauppauge PVR150, you will get a sharp, real-time capture that you can vary the resolution, depending on sharpness desired.  640x480 capture to mpeg2 will take about 2GB/hour, and this can be further compressed 3x to wmv format with little loss in quality.
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garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 17142761
I've both researched this and built a system for a friend's store that works very well.   For a capture card, we used a GeoVision GV-800-16.   It works very well; and the software allows full remote access, control, playback, etc. of the recordings.   I built a custom computer to use expressly for that purpose, but you could use an off-the-shelf system (or a spare) -- you just need a good capture card.   I definitely recommend GeoVision -- they have several models to choose from that can capture fewer (or more) cameras, and support higher (or lower) framerates.

We did not use cameras as good as what Callandor suggested above, so I won't suggest anything different -- but you may want to use one really good camera (like that) and a couple of lower-resolution cameras (and much less expensive) to capture the overall area.

Note that the hard disk space you'll use will be MUCH less than suggested above.   Any reasonable surveillance software package (and GeoVision's package is very nice) only captures when there's motion -- so most of the time it is using NO hard disk space.

Here's one source for the GeoVision cards - you can Google for more sources or information on them:  http://www.apexcctv.com/geovisioncards.html
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by:garycase
ID: 17142770
... in the system I built we're using 7 cameras (the card supports 8), and my friend can log in from anywhere and watch her store, select which camera to watch, playback any camera from any selected time, pan, zoom, etc.   I log in occasionally just to be sure all's well -- it's really a slick system.   I've been very tempted to build one for my home (just for grins -- but also as a really nice security system).
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Author Comment

by:Nick Denny
ID: 17144612
Thank you for your input.

My thinking here then is, a dedicated mid spec PC with a GeoVision capture card with say a 250-300 gb HDD (maybe RAID 1).
PC connected to camera 1 as suggested by Callandor and perhaps a lower spec camera 2 for wide area coverage.
PC connected to internal network so able to remote to it for full control from anywhere.
Full control will be from pc housing GeoVision card? (Either remote or locally)

Motion sensing is probably not the right way for us as there is continual movement within the area.
As the guys in the dept would need to switch it on/off would they need access to the PC keyboard/mouse or can this be done locally by them (i.e. from within the surveyed area). If not then motion sensing on camera 1 only?

Gary - does the GeoVision include all software required? Seems to say it does reading their site.

Thanks again.

Nick

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by:garycase
ID: 17147987
Yes, the GeoVision cards come with their software.   You've probably already found their site; but just in case here's their home page (I meant to post this along with the sales site I posted yesterday):  http://www.geovision.com.tw/english/index.asp    I don't know what the pricing is, but they also sell packaged DVR systems using their cards (see the site).

You can enable or disable motion-sensing from the PC, or you enable motion sensing and just turn the cameras off/on => when they're off, obviously there won't be any motion :-)    But even if you just record continuously a 300GB dedicated hard drive would capture a month's video if you're only recording 8 hours a day and using only 2 cameras.  [assumes MPEG-4]   Note there's a HDD Calculator on the site -- it shows the amount of hard drive space you need for various cards at differing qualities and video complexity.  For a GV-800-16 (16 cameras, max 800 FPS) with MPEG-4 at high quality and complex video, you need 268.8GB to record 8 hours a day for 7 days.   With only 2 cameras you'd get 56 days (8 times that) => and if you used motion sensing you'd get much more.

I think you'd be surprised at how well this works -- and how much space you save with MPEG-4 and motion sensing.  From a security perspective, I wouldn't think you'd want the "guys in the dept" switching the recordings on/off => somewhat defeats the purpose of confirming the full consignments.    With the recording capacity you'll have, I think you could simply let it run -- the GeoVision software will "wrap" the recording space (you'll lose the oldest recordings) when it fills up;  but as I noted, with what you're planning that would likely be well after a month, even with 24 hours a day of recording if you use motion sensing.   ... and you could always add more hard disk space to make that buffer even larger.
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by:Nick Denny
ID: 17155662
I put forward the above proposal and it was accepted in principle, so thanks guys.
Nick
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 17155763
You're welcome ... I think you'll like the system (it's pretty slick).
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