Archive for the ‘ CCTV Articles ’ Category



Networking Tools for the Professionals (Open Source)

Written By:
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

open-source-artwork

DNS – Domain Name System

There comes a point where some of us create intricate networks for our Small Businesses or Homes and run into issues that in some cases can be stressful without the correct networking tools. In this article I will be showing you some great networking tools and some tricks here and there on how to properly fix your network issues.

I will turn you to the first tool called “DIG”. This is a tool that is made by the Internet System Consortium which is the same group that produces BIND DNS Server software which runs on almost all DNS Servers world-wide. So why not use the same tool? When it comes to DIG, it’s intended to perform DNS queries using the Command-Line. This alone is helpful but it’s not just that. In some occasions you want to know why you are getting strange replies from a specific DNS server. With this tool you will get that extra Input that you need to make the changes and fix the error. I have used it to diagnose why some apps are running slow. It will also allow you to do a reverse lookup by using the -X switch and the IP Dig will give you the Domain Name for that IP address.

If you have been getting incorrect replies, it is possible that your DNS recorders are set incorrectly. Use DIG to match your DNS records and see if everything matches by using
<code> dig @4.2.2.2 www.mydomain.com </Code>

Advance Note:

If you need to troubleshoot DNS problems with servers that use TSIG, DIG will let you specify a TSIG key to use with your queries.

Security Scanner NMAP

This is my baby 😉 this tool is known by many in the industry. It is a tool that will allow you to scan your network. It is very lightweight but do not get me wrong when I say lightweight as it is very useful. NMAP will allow you to perform tasks as simple as a ping sweeping to see which IP addresses are active and responding. It will also allow you to perform complex scripts to scan networks for vulnerabilities. One other great feature is the ability to analyze packets and determine what OS that box is running.  I normally use it to check what ports are open or available. It supports UDP and TCP scanning. You can give it a single host to scan or a CIDR “Classless Inter-Domain Routing” block or an entire list of hosts and networks from a specific file or folder. NMAP comes with NSE “NMAP Scripting Engine” which combines custom script and existing NMAP Functions to perform a more specific discovery. It is also widely used by Hackers (B,G,W).

There are many scripts that will allow you to learn how this great tool functions at NMAP.ORG. I believe there are about 170 + scripts.

Since we are talking about UDP and TCP with NMAP, lets dive in more into this since it has to do with SecurityCameraKing.com’s Security Cameras and Recorders. When port forwarding please do not open the UDP ports, only open the TCP.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol) works similar to TCP but it ignores all Error Checking. When sending UDP packets, the packets are sent but it will not wait to ensure that the recipient receives it properly creating errors. This is one of the reasons why I do not port forward the UDP ports of any of my Surveillance Equipment as I require it to ensure all packets are sent and received properly, which is one thing that TCP will do for you. To make take it more into perspective, have you ever played an online video game and your opponent in occasions skips from one location to another? This is what it would look like if Gamers would use UDP. This happens when you lose packets and then start to receive the new packets. The player will seem to have teleported to a new location. Many Gamers would see this as Cheating, as they would believe that the other person is using a LAG Switch when they are not. Games today will boot you from the session if they see these packets being lost to ensure no one uses these switches.

lag10

Keepass

Keepass is a utility that has an encrypted Database to store all of your Passwords. It is very useful for Net Admins that have to save all the usernames and passwords for all of the Equipment that they manage. We all know that we should not use the Default settings or even use Usernames such as Admin, User etc… as well as short passwords or even use the same password for all the Devices on your network. Since an attacker has the ability to gain access to one of your Devices, you do not want them to access another using the same creds as the one they penetrated. With Keepass you can use a single password to access your Database, a key, or both using what is called a two factor authentication.

This can also be used for Computer UserNames and Passwords since it will allow you to create Groups and sub groups of sub groups. A must for anyone that manages any kind of Network where you need all the information in one location and encrypted.  It is cross platform Windows and Mac OS as well as my favorite, Linux. It has been ported to all of these Operating Systems so there is no excuse not to use it.

And… our last tool is NTOP fron NTOP.org

This tool is a must for anyone that needs to monitor their Network traffic. It is built in on many routers and firewalls. I have a PFSense Firewall on a WatchDog Appliance. The PFsense allows me to run NTOP since it runs on FreeBSD.

NTOP will allow you to click on the WEB GUI and show you details about that particular host, protocols, or even conversations and flows. I found something interesting about Ntop’s output, such as identifying workstation users by their email addresses and “passively” detecting the OS of network hosts through packet analysis.

NTOP will even allow you to do Traffic Recording and probe your network. There are many things you can do with this tool. While writing this article I came across a site that has a lot of information when it comes to Security and anonymity. Go ahead and check it out at https://www.privacytools.io/

If you have any ideas or questions about this or any of my articles feel free to give me a call at 866 573-8878 ext 116 or send me a quick email at jmalave@techprosecurity.com

6131iC447063AF7E668BC

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Frame Rate vs Resolution in Security Cameras – What’s More Important?

Written By:
Monday, July 27th, 2015

Frame-Rate-Vs-Resolution

Frame Rate vs Resolution? Which is more important when it comes to the best recording with security cameras? This is one of the questions that I am asked the most at Techpro Security Products. It is an important question to ask at the time the purchase is made, but it’s also important to understand the answer when you are setting up the DVR or NVR to record in the manner that you want. This is true at both of these points in time for the same reason. It’s going to affect the quality of the recorded video and how much hard drive space you need to have installed in the recording device. There are actually two other factors that will affect the video quality which we’ll take a look at in this article as well: compression and the bit rate.

In the security camera world, the video quality produced and recorded by your system is very important. It can make the difference in your recorded footage being able to help law enforcement to catch those responsible for criminal activity or not. If your surveillance video doesn’t provide enough detail to recognize a person or vehicle, then it’s not going to be nearly as useful to investigators.

Resolution –

The resolution ratings for a camera or recording device are a measurement of the vertical and horizontal pixels which the device is able to process. The more pixels in an image, the higher the level of detail that will be displayed and/or recorded. The native size of each frame also increases in size as the resolution goes up and it will be possible to zoom in on the image to a greater degree without pixilation or loss of detail occurring. This means that not only will a camera offering megapixel video give you a much higher level of detail, but you will also be able to zoom in further.

The security cameras that we carry today are rated for resolutions ranging between 520 TVL (with an analog system) up to 2 Megapixels (with an HD-CVI system) or up to 8MP (with an IP camera system). No matter which type of system you choose for your application, you will be able to operate them at a lower resolution through the settings available in the recording device or the camera itself. The resolution that your security camera system is capable of processing is the basis for the video quality you will get but the following elements heavily influence the final picture quality:

Frame Rate –

All video is really a series of pictures or frames, just like the old flip books. As a general rule, the video’s animation will be smoother when you’re viewing more frames per second. This concept is the same as if you were to flip through a flip book at greater speed. Our DVR’s and NVRs give you the ability to customize how many frames per second are being written to the hard drive with the majority of resolutions which are available in the security camera industry today. The maximum frames per second is limited with higher resolution cameras (3 megapixels cameras and those with higher resolutions), but cameras of this type more than make of for it with incredibly high picture quality. This limitation exists because of the increased data required for these higher resolution cameras.

Compression –

Transmitting surveillance camera video requires a significant amount of data to be handled. The higher the quality of the video being transmitted means that much more data has to be processed. Without compressing this video, it really would not be possible for a security camera system to offer megapixel quality video. H.264 is the best type of video compression that is available today, although there are other types which are being researched currently and may be available down the road.

Generally, this type of compression sends a complete picture as one of the frames (referred to as an iframe), then in the next few frames it will only send the data for the portion of the frame that has changed. This allows the system to not have to resend the redundant portions of the picture again. This drastically reduces the amount of data that needs to be handled by the system’s processor.

The issue with this in relation to the video quality produced is that if you choose different types of video compression, or adjust how often the iframes occur, it can severely affect the picture quality that you get. Our DVRs and some cameras give you these configuration options in order to provide the high level of customization that will allow you to set up your security camera system to meet your needs in the best possible manner. It is a very good idea to contact our technical service department before making any changes to this portion of the settings menu.

Bit Rate –

This setting allows you set a limit on the amount of data transmission that each camera can use every second. The more data that is used by each camera means that it will be able to give you higher video quality, but it will take up more hard drive space. Since all of the DVRs and NVRs that Techpro Security Products carries are designed to overwrite the oldest footage once the storage space fills up, this is important. If you have the bit rates for your cameras set high enough so that they give the best video possible, it’s going to use up your hard drive space faster and cause it to be over written sooner.

It’s certainly understandable to want the best video quality possible but you need to understand everything that goes into that quality and make sure that your system is designed to meet your other needs. For example, this may be accomplished by installing additional hard drive space in order to get your surveillance system to hold the number of days of recorded footage that you want. Our sales team can make sure that the system is designed to meet your desires and needs. Our tech support team can also help you to make sure that everything is configured correctly on site, which is part of Tech Pro’s free service.

For a more detailed and visual look on resolutions, check out our resolution comparison page which included some side by side video comparisons.

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The Advantages of a Pan Tilt Zoom PTZ Camera

Written By:
Friday, July 24th, 2015

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It can be difficult choosing the right security camera for your needs. There are so many different types and sizes to choose from. Most cheaper security cameras are limited. The only view you get is the one that it is positioned in. If you have ever tried to video a moving subject such as a child, an animal, or an adult, you know that they will not just stay in the field of view of the camera. The purpose of a security camera for the most part is to keep an eye on your products, property, family, and or personnel. Any criminal would try their hardest to stay out of the camera’s field of view. With a pan tilt zoom camera it makes their attempt to hide from the camera almost impossible. If a security camera has a 60 degree viewing angle it will capture some objects but in greater detail than a security camera with a 90 degree viewing angle that will capture more objects but with fewer details.

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The size of a cameras lens and or “focal length” is the main factor when it comes to determining the field of view. A camera with the focal length of 3.6mm will have a field of view of 78 degrees. A camera with the focal length of 5.1mm will have a field of view of 58 degrees. A camera with the focal length of 6mm will have a field of view of 51 degrees. A camera with the focal length of 9mm will have a field of view of 39 degrees. The smaller lenses are also known as wide-angle lenses, which can give you a larger field of view than cameras with a larger lens. When it comes to lenses in security cameras, bigger does not always mean better. With wide-angle lenses, the objects will appear smaller within the camera image but it will cover a larger area. The wide-angle lenses are meant for monitoring larger areas such as foyers, warehouses, back and front yards and parking lots. The other lens options are larger lenses, also known as narrow-angle lenses, and have a smaller field of view. These lenses capture a smaller and more limited area, but the objects will appear larger and more detailed. The purpose of these types of cameras are for narrowing in on a specific target such as a doorways, hallways, cash registers and other objects of value.

field of views

There is a lens option called “fixed lens” which means the focal length is set permanently and cannot be adjusted by the cameras user. When choosing one of these lenses it is very important you choose the right field of view because you can not adjust it later. “Varifocal Lenses” allow the user to adjust the cameras lens by using certain adjustment knobs and screws. Of course a camera with this ability will make the camera more expensive. Although they are more expensive, you have the capability of making the adjustments you may require later. The focus settings on these types of cameras may have to be adjusted from time to time. In order to unsure you are able to switch quickly between narrow and a wide field of view your best option would be a “Pan Tilt Zoom” camera also known a PTZ camera. The PTZ camera has a motorized varifocal lens that can be used to change the cameras field of view from your digital video recorder, network video recorder, tablet, computer or smart phone. In order to change the view, you will need the control panel which is normally sold separately. PTZ cameras are named for their capabilities, you can pan, tilt, and zoom in on what you want to focus on. Unlike all other cameras, the PTZ camera has a full field of view.

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A useful innovation that is available with a PTZ camera is “Auto Tracking”. Auto tracking is a built-in firmware program that monitors any change in pixels generated by the video. When there is movement the pixels change as a result and the camera will then move and will focus on the pixel variation in an attempt to center the pixel fluctuation on the video clip. As a result the camera will follow or “track” the movement. This program also allows the camera to estimate the size of the object moving and the distance of the movements from the camera. These estimates help the camera to adjust the camera’s optical lens in and out to stabilize and focus on the movement. Once the movement exits the camera’s field of view, the camera will automatically return to its pre-programmed position until it senses movement again. In order to exit a PTZ cameras field of view which is 360 degrees you must exit the room, and if you are outside you would go around the building.

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PTZ cameras are normally used to monitor a larger area with a single camera and a conventional PTZ camera is normally pointed at a specific area. This limits the video recorded unless it is being monitored and controlled by a person or auto tracker software.

Salient points you should know about IP/PTZ cameras:

– PTZ cameras can store a fixed number of preset positions. In order to choose the view you want, you set each view to a numbered button. It can also be programmed to auto shift between those positions for a set amount of time.

– Many PTZ cameras allow users to draw a small box with their mouse and zoom in on that selected area.

– With some PTZ cameras the administrator has the ability to designate users to change the position of the camera, but only one user can change the position/view at a time

– Some PTZ IP cameras can freeze the image, move to another position then release the freeze so the user can only see the targeted areas.

– the speed of the PTZ features can be adjusted.

– it is possible to limit the maximum pan and tilt angles.

– the quality of the zoom feature is restricted to the resolution of the camera chosen.

All in all a PTZ is one of the most technologically advanced cameras available today.

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Can Security Cameras Capture Ghost Activity?

Written By:
Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Ghost photography has been around almost as long as cameras have existed. Usually these consisted of multiple or long exposures, or other photography tricks.. and the gritty, grainy nature of early photography led to the authenticity to these pictures.

Spooky

Spooky

But many skeptics of the time, such as magician Harry Houdini, knew how these images were achieved and were able to successfully show how they could be either rationally explained or recreated using natural phenomena.

Back then, cameras were a novelty, and moving image cameras were only available to the rich. Now, we live in the age of surveillance where everyone has a high resolution video camera in their pocket. And, surveillance cameras are literally everywhere we work, live, play, and drive. We also have several long-running incredibly poplar television shows that claim to hunt these ghosts and claim to capture ghost activity.

"What was THAT?!"

“What was THAT?!”

There are billion dollar movie franchises like “Paranormal Activity” where the premise is entirely based around the idea of catching spiritual entities on a surveillance camera.. that’s how deeply ingrained the concept is in our culture.

Cost 5 bucks to make, made a bazillion dollars.

Cost 5 bucks to make, made a bazillion dollars.

We’re on camera at least 70 percent of the day now. So with all that surveillance footage being shot.. millions of hours of footage being shot every second.. why aren’t we seeing ghosts more often than we are? And why aren’t they more consistent in the forms they take?

Well, thanks to YouTube and other video sharing sites on the Internet, we can take a closer look at these claims and try to see if there is any validity to the claims, or whether there’s a more everyday, rational explainable for what we’re seeing.

So with this article, let’s examine a few popular viral security camera videos that purportedly show some sort of supernatural phenomena. After each one, we’ll examine the most plausible explanation for it.

Disney Land Ghost

In this incredibly grainy video, we see an undated after hours security camera tape from Disney Land. After a few seconds.. a floaty ribbon of light appears to move from left to right on the footage.

Probable explanation – VCR Tape Wear Artifact

Believe it or not.. there are some businesses that still use tapes and VCRs to record security footage… Incredible, I know. But it’s true. At this point it’s the video equivalent of an 8 track tape. But, these are usually businesses that have had the same systems in place for years and the businesses believe they are too expensive to replace or perhaps they just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Either way, what we’re seeing here are the results of of an over-used VHS tape, probably the same one they’ve been taping and re-taping on for years. As anyone who is old enough to have recorded footage on EP mode several times over on a video cassette will tell you, these can produce some odd artifacts and “ghosting” effects on the tape.. sometimes strikingly so. So much so that over the years, VHS tapes have acquired a post-modern ‘creepy’ status solidified by “THE RING” series of films which used the “ghostly look of old tape to it’s advantage.

Gas Station Ghost

One of the few ghost stories that actually became a news story on CNN, this one involves a chunky blue cloudy blob of an apparition that floats around to a few separate places on the screen before flying off.

Probable Explanation – Bug
Moths and other bugs are not uncommon hindrances to security cameras. If one gets too close to the lens, it will appear out of focus blob, and move somewhat erratically, much like the one shown here.

Daytona Beach Hotel Ghost

In an old luxury hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida.. a white blob of a specter appears to float around the bar area. A security guard was reportedly sent to investigate, but was “spooked” and declined to do so. The head of security of the hotel reports of other ghostly phenomena such as noises, wails, keys jangling, but here we’ll only focus on what can actually be confirmed.. the video.

Probable Explanation – Bug.. again.

Again.. judging by the path the ‘ghost’ takes moving across the image of this hotel bar.. sort of an arcing curve.. it could very well be a bug… probably a small moth walking across the lens. Or, it could be an anomaly in the digital video.

Jakarta Angel

In this video, you’ll see what purports to be a hotel or mall in Indonesia. It starts with a person walking by, nonchalantly, then suddenly a large glowing object falls out of the sky like a lightning bolt, lands, then immediately flies back up into the sky, all in the span of about a second.

Probable explanation – Computer Animation
One of the least convincing videos on this list… It’s fairly evident that this “angel” was created in post-production with graphics or animation software, as it’s movement resembles something you might find in a video game.

Woman walks through a ghost in Tokyo

Probable Explanation – Creative Video Editing.

Much like the proliferation of video cameras over the last 20 years or so, video editing and special effects software has been put in to the hands of just about anyone with a computer. And now that we even have small computers in our pockets, anyone can edit or add an effect to a video.. and most of this software comes ready-made with tools and tricks to maintain the original camera’s look and fidelity or glitches… in other words.. it’s really easy to fake videos these days.

The problem with definitively proving whether ghosts or paranormal activity exists through a video format, especially these days, is that there are dozens of ways that footage can be either faked or simply be misunderstood natural phenomena. So while these videos are entertaining, they are a poor method for “studying” this phenomena or trying to use it as proof of it’s existence. Like UFO videos, they’re occasionally entertaining, and fun to speculate about. But, it’s always wise to first cast a skeptical eye on supernatural claims.

If you want to try your luck with capturing a real ghost with a security camera, we have lots of cameras to choose from. Check out our Secuirty Camera Systems (that do not use VHS tapes!). Who knows, maybe you’ll capture a ghost! Or, in any rate a bug that resembles a ghost for a really nice YouTube upload :)

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How to Configure an Eline ELI-SIP-EMVD-21-4R ONVIF IP Security Camera

Written By:
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

ONVIF cameras are getting very popular and more of these type of cameras are able to integrate almost 100% with our NVRs. Today I will explain how to use the ELI-SIP-EMVD-21-4R ONVIF IP Dome Security Camera with an NVR-ELT4-POE4. I will demonstrate how to find the camera on the network, basic IP configuration to use with the POE NVR, and some of the settings you will need to set to record motion.

Lets start by connecting the cameras on a POE switch on your network. It is recommended that you install all the necessary tools to find the cameras on the network once they are connected.

Tools and utilities can be found in here

After one of the cameras is connected to the switch, open the search tool and select the option labeled “Device obtain an IP address automatically” option to make the camera get an IP address from the DHCP server of the router.

Device Search tool

Once the camera appears in the tool, select the device ID, “Device obtain an IP address automatically” and click modify.

The next option will be to access the cameras web interface and change some settings. We will need to change the encoding, FPS (Frames per Second), bit rate and bit rate type. Below is a screenshot of what I recommend these cameras to be set at:

Stream 1Stream 2

In this kind of setup, it is very important to be consistent. The key to having your network stability good at all times is to a consistent bandwidth throughout your devices. IP cameras can definitely make your network unstable if these devices are not set correctly. Some cameras can be set to use a higher amount of bandwidth when there is a lot of motion happening, as an example.

Another thing to configure in these cameras is the Time. In order to have the time in sync with the NVR, the GMT for both the camera and the NVR needs to be set to (GMT+08:00). Also, make sure that DST is set to “ON” on both the camera and NVR and the NTP is OFF. We need to make sure that after the GMT & DST has been set on both devices, the time needs to be changed manually to your current time. Save these settings and reboot the NVR.

Time GMT

Another setting I would change is the channel name. This is not required but is just a personal preference. I like to identify my cameras based on location so they are easy to manage when pulling footage.

Camera name

Our next setting to be configured is the Motion Alarm on the camera. Most likely the camera will be already configured to record motion, but just to be sure I will check the settings as follows:

Motion 1 Motion 2 Motion 3

Click on the tool range icon and select all to get the days of the week selected. Select for the beginning time 00:00 and for the end time 24:00. These settings will allow you to have a period of 24H of motion recording. What this means is that the camera will have the schedule for motion alarm for a 24H period but motion recording will only occur when there is an object on from of the camera.

Click on “motion area” to make sure the entire region is selected. You can click on the reverse button to clear the entire area, then you can simply select different areas as you like. This particular type of setting allows you to mask shadows or any other unnecessary objects that could possibly trigger false alarms.

Now that we have configured the camera we can add the camera to the NVR. Connect the camera to the back of the NVR on port 1 of the build in POE port. 

NVR POE

After the camera is connected, allow a few minutes for the NVR to assign an IP address to the camera. We will need to make sure that the NVR settings are correct.

The easiest way to figure what to do at this point is to connect the recorder to the power supply that comes with the unit and then connect an Ethernet cable from your router to the Ethernet port of the NVR. After the unit turns On, you will then need to go to the network settings of the NVR. Of course, you need to be connected to a monitor to see these settings.

Most of our NVRs will have a new interface, the “blue interface”, and the menus will be spread out a bit different than the previous version. At this point you will notice that there are 3 parts of this window menu: The top is operation, mid is info, and bottom is setting. Go to network and the following page will display:

setting-network-TCPip

Depending on the type of NVR you have, some will have additional settings, but overall the steps are the same. We will be focusing on getting an IP address for the NVR. Click on DHCP, apply and save. You will be kicked out of that menu and in a few seconds your NVR will contact the router to get an available IP address.  Go back to the network settings to see what IP address you received. Normally, what I will do is to set the IP address to a digit higher than what the NVR was assigned. This way I will avoid any IP conflicts in the network. Certain router’s DHCP settings will start from 192.168.1.100 all the way to 192.168.1.254 and it also depends on the network scheme and who configured the router initially. Assuming that the router’s scheme is within the numbers above I will set the NVR with the following IP: 192.168.1.200.

Now that I have that out of the way, the next thing to do is to configure the IP cameras address. Many times customers and installers connect all the cameras at the same time without considering that it could cause a major problem when trying to assign an IP address to the camera or even to have the cameras show up in the tool finder (IP Search). Nowadays, most of our cameras are configured as DHCP. Therefore, if you have a router in the same network as the NVR, then most likely the camera will get an IP address from the DHCP pool setup in the router as soon as it is connected to the the POE switch that they will be connected to.

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