Posts Tagged ‘ home automation ’

Using Your Security DVR or NVR for Automation

Written By:
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
8 Channel LT Mini

When it comes to home security there are many options out there.  When I was looking for a DVR I wanted a full featured DVR in a small package.  I came across the Techpro Ultimate MiniSeries DVR, this little unit is full featured and is great for automation as well.  It offers D1 realtime resolution on all channels, Dual Core processors, dual hard drive bays, alarm inputs and outputs, audio inputs, capable of two way audio, can handle up to four monitors, has a three year warranty, lifetime technical support, and free remote viewing apps for iPhone, Android, iPad, and Tablets.  There is not much this little machine cannot do especially when it comes to automation.

There are many reasons to why I like this unit. First is for the high quality analog recordings it can do.  D1 resolution at thirty frames per second.  This is a huge thing for me because when most systems record at D1 resolution they are not able to record at thirty frames per second on all channels, the most I was finding was fifteen frames per second on all channels.  With the thirty frames per second I know that no matter what is happening I am going to catch it and the recorded video does not look robotic.  The second biggest reason that I like this little machine is that it can handle two different hard disk drives, so that I can either extend the amount of time the machine can record or I can run the RAID configuration so I will always have a backup of the events even if one of the hard drives fail.

The two way audio capabilities of the Ultimate Mini DVR is fantastic for the application that I use it.  I have set up an old stereo that I had laying around to accept the audio outputs from the DVR and utilize it’s amplification to output the audio source from the DVR and relay it to some outdoor loudspeakers that I have installed.

8 Channel LT Mini Audio

This may sound crazy, but it has come in very handy in the past.  I can use the TechproSS application on my phone and speak through the DVR to those speakers.  This type of application could be used for many of things.  It is not however an intercom system, so whatever speakers are connected to it will have the sound come out of them.  For instance, if you had an office environment and you wanted to be able to communicate back and forth with someone, anyone else who has the speakers installed near them would hear part of the conversation.  But, it will work great if you have like a warehouse or yard and you wanted to announce something it would be able to handle that.   Now keep in mind that if you have microphones attached to the unit and are utilizing the audio out, if you have the channel selected with the microphone input, it will be broadcast through the speakers that are attached to the DVR.

8 Channel LT Mini IN.OUT

One of the best things about this unit is the alarm inputs and outputs.  Most people will think that I am crazy, but I can utilize these functions to do numerous different applications.  One of the functions that I can do is utilize one of the alarm outputs to trigger something.  I use one of mine to be able to open my garage door from anywhere that I have an internet connection.  I also use one of them to trigger an alarm siren on my house.  I use another one to turn on and off a light at my house.  They really can be used for almost anything you can imagine.  I have known of customers who have utilized the outputs to open gates, release Mag Lock doors, open blinds, and many other things.

There are a couple of things you will need to accomplish these things.  First you will need a relay coming from the alarm output.  The relay that I use and know works is an ELK-912. The reason that I like this relay so much is that it can handle multiple different types of power sources.  You will need some extra wire to connect the relay to the DVR and the device it will be controlling. If you are using this for turning on lights, I suggest you consult an electrician to help you not cause an electrical short or other problems.  You will want to follow the instructions that come with whatever relay you decide to use.  I am going to explain how I use the ELK-912 relay.  There are several different ways to accomplish the same result.  The first thing that you will do is to connect the positive wire from the device you are trying to activate to the Normally Open (N/O) on the relay.  You will then connect the negative from the device to the negative of whatever power supply you are using.  Then you will connect the common port on the relay to the positive of your power supply.  Next connect a cable from the negative of the power source to the negative of the relay.  You will then connect a cable from the positive terminal of the relay to the Normally Open (N/O) of the alarm output on the DVR.  The last cable that you will need to connect is from the Common Port of the DVR to the positive of your power source.

Now that you have your device connected to your DVR there are several different ways that you can activate it to test and see if it works.  The easiest method is to use the TechproSS Plus application on your phone or tablet.  Once you have at least one camera selected in the Live Preview, you will see a triangle on the bottom right of the screen with an exclamation point in it.  You will select this icon and another set of options will pop up, these are your alarm outputs.  You will select the check mark next to the alarm output that you want to activate.  If you have done it properly you will either have your garage door open, gate open, siren activate, light turn on, or whatever you attached to this output.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 5.07.33 PM

Another cool thing that you can do is to use the alarm inputs to trigger the alarm outputs to do something.  For example if you wanted your lights to come on automatically when you walk into a room, you could take an alarm motion sensor and have it connected to the alarm input of the DVR, have the lights for that room or area connected to the alarm output.  The input would then trigger the output to respond.  I use this type of setup at my front door, so whenever someone crosses my motion detector my siren goes off.

This is typically a little extreme, except we never use our front door for anything.  I also use this setup for a room in my house that we rarely ever go into, but when we do the lights automatically turn on when the motion sensor is activated.

The options of what the inputs and outputs on the back of the DVRs can be used for are virtually infinite.  I have only briefly explained some of the ways that I have used them, but I know there are people out there with imaginations that I could never compare to.  No matter what way you decided to use these, I know you will have fun.


Home Automation the Easy Way

Written By:
Friday, January 17th, 2014

What is Home Automation?
The ultimate goal is to be able to control everything in your home from one control panel. Imagine being able to turn your lights on and off, arm your alarm system, close your garage door, turn on your sprinklers, and set AC temperature without getting up from your sofa.

If that’s not cool enough, just add an internet connection and mobile phone so you can control your home even when you’re not in it! Until recently this has been expensive and somewhat complicated. Most likely you would have to buy specialized components and hire a company to install the equipment as well.

Home AutomationSome retailers, like Home Depot and Lowes, are now catering to DYI homeowners and have simplified the process by selling ready-to-go packages of the most popular home automation options. Some of these packages include a Starter Kit, a Home Safety Kit, and a Lighting/AC Control Kit with prices starting around $179.00.

In addition there is a whole new breed of self-contained, easy-to-install, affordable products that aim to change the way you interact with your home. You may say to yourself, “I am not a techie and this stuff isn’t for me,” but you’re probably already using the most popular home automation device out there… E-mail! Think about it, you don’t even have to go to the mailbox anymore if you choose not to.

Here is a list of some other home automation options you might find interesting:

Smart Home Security
Canary Smart Home Security Device
Home Automation -An all-in-one consumer security product designed to simplify home security and monitoring. This Wi-Fi device is packed with sensors to make your home smarter and safer. It has an HD camera, night vision, motion sensor, temperature sensor and microphone. Setup is as easy as plugging it in, downloading the app and connecting it to your Wi-Fi. The unit will learn your homes environment over time and send you notifications when something doesn’t seem right. You can use it as a security system, a baby monitor, to check in on pets or the elderly, and more.

Home Monitoring
Spotter Multi-Purpose Sensor
Home Automation - SpotterSimilar to Canary, Spotter has sensors that monitor and notify you on specific conditions or changes to conditions in your home. It monitors motion, sound, light, temperature and humidity. This compact device can be attached to almost anything and monitor it for you. Attach it to you baby’s crib and monitor motion or sound. Put it on your washer/dryer or even use it to alert you if the humidity of your humidor is not right.

In the Kitchen
Smart Refrigerator
Home Automation - Smart RefrigeratorThis category is very new and there is not one particular product specifically that does it all, but a bunch of really cool ideas are coming soon.
Just imagine a refrigerator with a built-in touch screen that keeps an inventory of all your food and can send you a text message when a certain item is about to expire. Some smart refrigerators even have cameras inside so you don’t have to open the door to see what’s inside.

Smart TV’s
Home Automation - Smart TVSmart TVs are televisions that are Wi-Fi enabled. They have the capability of a set top box along with the ability to run built-in apps like Netflix, Amazon Video or even a Web Browser.
Roku or Apple TV
Home Automation - RokuAnother alternative to buying a new Smart TV is to buy a Roku or Apple TV device. You can simply connect either device to your existing TV via an HDMI cable and they will add “Smart TV” functionality. Both of these options offer tons of channels, apps and games. You can watch virtually anything you like on demand. Some channels are monthly subscriptions, some are pay-per-view and some are totally free.

Simple Automation
WeMo Insight Switch
Home Automation - WeMo Insight SwitchThis is probably the easiest and most affordable way to get started with your smart home adventure. It’s simply a Wi-Fi enabled smart plug with a companion app for your smart phone. You can basically plug anything into it and turn it on or off from your phone. The app will allow you to set up basic functions like turning a device off at a certain time or day of the week. You can also extend the functionality using the “IF” app options. You set up scripts based on the “IF-Then” protocol. For instance you can tell it to switch, “IF” a device has been on for more than 4 hours “THEN” turn it off.

Goji Smart Lock
Goji Smart LockThe highly anticipated Goji Smart lock is not only impressively designed, but may change the way you enter and allow access to your home. This lock will replace your standard front door lock and is a snap to install. It is a sophisticated electronic lock system that will allow you to manage access to your home on a person to person basis. It connects to your home Wi-Fi and allows you to lock and unlock your door via your mobile phone even if you’re not carrying your keys. It can also be set up to automatically unlock and re-lock when you walk up to your door, based on your low-powered Bluetooth proximity. The lock also comes with a backup key and has optional programmable keychain “FOBS” for children that don’t have a phone. One of the coolest things is that you can grant or deny access to your home to anyone at any time, simply by sending them an invitation access key. You can invite them for a week or give them one time access only. Then Goji will notify you of each person that enters or exits your home and can even send you a picture alert via text message. This is great for letting you know what time your kids get home or who’s at the front door.

Nest SMART Thermostat
Home Automation NESTIf you have ever use a digital programmable thermostat then you know how confusing and frustrating they can be. Most people that have one have given up on the advanced features and simply adjust the temperature higher or lower as needed. Now there is the NEST Smart Thermostat. It is not only extremely stylish, but it’s super easy to install, as simple to use as the old school round dial thermostats, and actuality learns automatically. This can save you hundreds of dollars per year. Although you don’t need to program anything, there are a lot of options for the adventurous. The NEST UI is impressive and simple. It has built-in motion sensors that know when you are home, learns your patterns, makes sure you are always comfortable, while also lowering your power bill. The nest app allows you to monitor and control the temperature of your home remotely, setup schedules, view usage reports and more.

Nest Protect
Home Automation NEST ProtectWow! When was the last time you got excited about a smoke alarm? Most of us can’t stand them. It’s not that they are not important, but most of the time the only thing it’s doing is alerting you that you don’t know how to cook! Well, that has all changed with the new NEST Protect. This is the first innovation in smoke alarms since the 70’s. Of course its Wi-Fi enabled and has a companion app. It will detect smoke and carbon monoxide as well as alert specifically to the room where the smoke or CM was detected. If it’s a false alarm, you can simply stand below it and wave your hand to silence it. No more climbing up on chairs and ripping the batteries out. In addition each NEST Protect has built-in motion detectors and LED night-lights that automatically turn on and light your way as you walk through the house at night.

These are just a few of the self-contained home automation options available now, but this is only the beginning for this very popular and fast growing market.
If you’re interested in an easy to setup, somewhat affordable smart home solution, this may be a good starting point for you.



Written By:
Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The DVR is commonly used or mostly used as a recording device for Video surveillance, some DVRs have Audio Inputs (almost everyone now days), but your unit also may come with extra outputs to execute actions like turn lights on, unlatch doors, open the garage of your house, etc.These outputs are located in the back of your DVR, and can be NO (Normally Open), or NC (Normally Closed).  The NO output (Normally Open) means the initial state of the output position before activation, in this case there will be no continuity between connection points while the output is not activated; once the output is energized, there will be continuity between both connection points. Normally Closed output has the inverted effect, meaning there will be continuity between connection points while the output is inactive, and once the output is active it will be no continuity between the connection points.  Keep in mind that these outputs are no power supplied, meaning they don’t supply power from the contacts, so you can use them as contacts to control external powered circuits; also, this contacts have certain tolerance, from 0.25 to 2 Amps, depending on the model of your DVR and the type of voltage you are using.

For example, if you want to unlatch a door at your office, you will need an external 12VDC Power Supply, a 12VDC Electrical Strike, and 18/2 AWG cable.  You will have to mount the Electrical Strike at the door, run 18/2 AWG cable from the Electrical Strike to the location of your DVR, connect one wire of the 18/2 cable to one of the connection points on the NO output of your DVR, and the other wire to the negative side of the 12VDC Power Supply, and run 1 wire (preferable red) from the positive lead of the 12VDC Power Supply, to the other connection point of the NO output you are using from your DVR (see figure 1)

These outputs can be used for different applications like turning lights on or off in front or back yards, operate garage doors, temporarily deactivate or activate sensors like motion detectors or door switches.  Best of all, these output can be program to interact with the cameras, for example you can activate an output every time the camera motion detection is activated, so if the camera detects movement, automatically will activate the output, and if you are trying to protect an area (for example, your backyard) you can connect a 12VDC relay to one of the outputs of your DVR, to energize a loud horn, so it will scary anything away, or if you may want to allow your pet to get into certain area of your house ( example given, the screen patio, or Florida room) you can have the output deactivate the motion sensor or the door contact of your alarm for this area, so it won’t activate the alarm.

Because of the low amperage resistance and the limited voltage capability of these outputs, they cannot be operated on circuits of more than 24VDC, and cannot be operated in AC voltage.  The good news is that if you need to control an AC powered circuit with one of your DVR outputs, you can do it by using an External 12VDC or 24VDC Relay that can handle AC voltage on its contacts.  The connection is a little bit more complex, but you still saving money by using the outputs on your DVR, instead of buying expensive controllers.

For instance, if you want to control the garage door at your house, the first thing you need to do is check the garage door controller manual to find out if the openers are 12VDC, 24VDC or 24VAC operated control circuits.  If they are 12VDC or 24VDC operated circuits, you can used a 12VDC or 24VDC External Power Supply, and the same circuit show on figure 1, but you will replace the Electrical Strike for the points of connection for signal input at your garage door controller.  If you garage door uses 24VAC for the control section of the garage door, you will need to get a 12VDC Relay that can handle AC voltage on its throttle, and a 24VAC Power Supply, to supply the voltage needed to control the garage door (see figure 2).

One of the most interesting applications I have seen using these outputs, is the utilization of one of these outputs to control the activation and deactivation of an AC system inside an office, where the AC unit will activate only if the camera see motion detection on the entrance of the building, and will give a deactivation signal after certain amount of time, by programming the temporizer in the thermostat of the unit, or if the DVR comes with the option, give certain amount of activation time to the output.

Some DVRs are also equipped with Alarm Inputs, which give you the option of adding devices to activate alerts and buzzers on the DVR, or you can redirect these inputs to activate an output, every time the device connected to the input of the DVR (example, motion detector) activate this input.

Just like the Domestic Burglar and Fire Alarms now days that come with Video and Audio Inputs,  to connect cameras and microphones over the Alarm system, like Comcast Home Security Systems, the DVR gives you the option to connect no only Surveillance Cameras, but Motion Sensors, Door switches and contacts, microphones, and it gives you alerts every time one of these devices is activated.

Our DVRs come with these particular outputs, and one of the biggest advantage we have, is the ability to control these outputs over the network, so you can execute actions anywhere you have your computer or laptop, and an internet connection.  It is also available in the Apps used on your smart-phone, so these outputs can be controlled anytime, and anywhere with a touch of the screen on your mobile device.


Residential Security Cameras

Written By:
Thursday, February 16th, 2012

residential security cameraOne of the most important things you can do for your home in today’s society is to make sure that it is secure. The best way to do this is to install a residential security camera. Your home is an expensive investment, so you need to make sure it is as safe as absolutely possible. If you do end up becoming the victim of a robbery or other form of crime, having a residential security camera will prove to be extremely helpful in catching the perpetrator. It will not do you any good to have a camera, unless you have the perfect hiding place.

You will have the peace-of-mind that you are looking for in a residential security camera. You will be able to look at what is going on in your home while you are away at work or travel, as well as monitor your home from a remote location. There is also the ability to be able to record and monitor the outside and inside of your home through the use of a residential security camera. They are going to provide you with the real-time monitoring that you are looking for, but at a price that is affordable for almost any budget.

Your typical security monitoring system is going to come complete with your choice of a residential security camera, processing unit, monitor and a digital video recording device. There are a lot of systems that are capable of using your computer as a replacement option for the monitor, processor and digital video recording unit. This is going to save you even more money than having to buy the complete system right from the start.

Multiple camera uses

Your residential security camera could be an indoor or an outdoor type of camera. Outdoor cameras are different from indoor security cameras in the sense that they are enclosed within a case that will protect them from any of the elements that the weather may throw at them. You may often find that the outdoor cameras are given a rating in association with how much damage they are able to sustain from the elements. The majority of outdoor security cameras should have a rating of IP66 or IP67.

Both of those ratings ensure that the camera housing is going to protect all of the internal components from any potential dust or dirt that may be in the air. That rating also ensures that your camera will be able to withstand the powerful spray of water from any direction. Your camera with a rating of IP66 or IP67 will be able to withstand water depths of up to one meter, so you can rest assured that your camera is taken care of.

A residential security camera is essentially a Closed Circuit Television camera that is capable of producing a high quality color video. The cameras will also be able to produce a quality video image in a setting where there is low light or no lighting at all. The image sensor chips that are within the cameras are a Charged Coupled Device. The circuit chips that are integrated within the cameras are able to produce an electrical impulse from the light that will be focused on them from where the lens is. The electrical impulses are actually then transmitted into digital video data down the line.

Day and night vision cameras are able to produce a high quality video within a low lighting condition. Night vision security cameras are capable of producing high quality color video as long as there is a small amount of lighting and a high quality monochrome video would be produced under infrared conditions. Night vision security cameras work by producing their own IR light to be able to light up the targeted area. Typically, these cameras have a wide array of IR Light Emitting Diodes that are going to envelope the camera lens and make sure the target area is covered with IR light. The light may be seen by the CCD, but it will be invisible to the human eye. The LEDs are essentially like a hidden spotlight. These cameras tend to work wonderfully when used as a baby monitor, since they can record audio.

Residential video surveillance systems

Residential security systems are able to operate on their own through the use of a DVR to record the video and they can also be networked. You can network these IP cameras through the use of the Internet, which means that you are able to monitor your home at any time or any place through the Internet. This type of security camera is extremely useful for anyone who has to travel. They are also great as a nanny cam, since you will be able to monitor your home while you are at work.

There are a lot of other features that are available on the residential security camera. The cameras can be purchased with pan, tilt and zoom capabilities in addition to their other regular features. You will be able to position the camera and move it horizontally or vertically to be able to increase your range of view. The zoom lens will also be able to enlarge the subject using the telephoto lens.

Residential security cameras are able to be used anywhere throughout the home, regardless of if it is inside or outside. There are multiple recording and monitoring options that are available for your new security cameras and all of them are available for purchase and installation for a price that anyone can afford.

There are a few simple places that you may want to consider when looking to hide your security camera.

Plantsresidential security camera

They are often the most overlooked places to hide your residential security cameras. You can choose to make the most out of even the smallest in potted plants or the biggest trees to implement the perfect placing of your security cameras. Everyone has flowers, flower pots or some type of tree around their home. Now you can place your residential security camera within a flower or a plant, so that way it will be hidden.


It doesn’t matter what type of security camera you have because they can all be hid within a plant, tree or even vine. Your camera can be hidden either on the inside or the outside of your home. Plants can be strategically placed within your home, so that way you will have plenty of different angles to choose from when placing your security cameras.


There is always the possibility that the tree limbs may move and obscure the visibility of the camera, so you may end up with a partial image.

Surround Sound Speakers

The majority of us all have a surround sound system within our homes, or else some other type of speaker that is used on a regular basis. If you are able to use your surround sound system that you have installed in your home, you will have multiple speakers surrounding all of the different areas of your room.


Surround sound speakers are the perfect place to hide your residential security camera. Even if you decide to place the cameras behind or atop one of the speakers, you are still going to have a wide viewing area.


Even though this is a great option for hiding your cameras, you may encounter difficulty in hiding them or wiring them. There is always the possibility of having to upgrade to a wireless security camera to eliminate the need for wires. You are not going to be able to utilize a standard residential security camera in this situation. You are going to have to get one of the smaller micro cameras to install within this situation.

residential security camera Closets

Any closet with shutters can become the most convenient location to hide one of your security cameras. You may be able to have the closet where you want to place the camera be used as the perfect landing place for monitoring the room.


You will be able to hide the cameras within the closet and allow the perfect opportunity for the lens to be able to capture the entire room through one of the shutters that is partially opened. This method for placement will be one of the hardest to detect. Anyone who is not an expert is not going to be looking for a camera within one of the closets. There is always the option of placing the cameras higher or lower within the closet to achieve the desired view.


The only downfall that you may encounter when you are moving your clothes around in the closet is that you may potentially move the camera. However, if you place the camera in the close securely, the potential for movement will be avoided.

These are just a few of the options for hiding your security camera. You can choose to hide your residential security camera within any number of places around your home. The possibilities are virtually endless with your new security camera.