Posts Tagged ‘ Video Surveillance’

Home Camera System DVR

Written By:
Friday, May 7th, 2010

A home camera system DVR or home camera digital video recorder could be exactly what you need to acquire the peace and comfort of twenty-four hour seven days a week security and surveillance. Technological improvements have reduced the price of Closed Circuit Television or CCTV monitoring so that not only can businesses enjoy their benefits but the average homeowner can as well. Not only is a home camera system DVR affordable, but it can also be accessed whether you are at home or on the road.

What exactly is a home camera system DVR? It is a group of individual component devices that work in tandem to provide constant monitoring of your home both inside and outside if desired, and at the same time record this monitoring for future use. A typical home camera system DVR consists of 1 to several cameras, a processor or CODEC/capture board, and a digital video recorder. There are many variations and additions available for this basic description. Let’s take a look at each device within the system and see how it can work for your home.

The first device to consider for a home camera system DVR is a security camera. There are various types of cameras with many additional functions than simply recording video. However, the basic camera is a digital, color camera that can capture still digital pictures or motion video. Security cameras have different resolutions, focal lengths, fields of view and other characteristics. To determine what functions need to be included on your cameras, talk with one of our digital security experts.

Most of today’s digital security/surveillance cameras are so sensitive that they can capture images not only in broad daylight, but in situations where there is very little available light. These cameras are called day/night cameras and they contain a very sensitive electronic chip that allows them to function in conditions with low light. On the other hand, if you need a security/surveillance camera that can “see” in total darkness, those are available too.

Infrared or IR cameras can produce black and white images in total darkness. They do this by projecting an infrared light from around the camera lens at the target area. This light is invisible to the human eye but is the equivalent of a spotlight to the IR sensor in the camera. These cameras are excellent for use in monitoring nursery rooms and other indoor rooms at night, dark driveways, garages, and other areas that have no existing light.

There are also security/surveillance cameras that have a pan, tilt, and/or zoom function. These cameras have the ability to move sideways, up and down, and telescopically zoom in on activity, all automatically if needed. These are excellent for monitoring large areas such as large yards, farm land, and other large places.

Digital video is basically many digital photographs taken within just one second. This creates the illusion of motion and this is how motion pictures are created. If you consider the size of a file for just one digital color photograph, it can be fairly large, so taking several digital photographs a second can add up to a really large file size in no time. This is where the processor, capture board, or CODECs (CODEC is an acronym for COmpression DECompression) are needed. They process the digital data sent from the camera, then compress the digital file’s size so the digital file is much smaller without sacrificing the quality of the video. CODEC is an acronym for COmpression DECompression.

Finally, the processor sends the final digital file to the DVR. A home camera system DVR or digital video recorder is actually the same thing as the hard drive on a personal computer. It stores the digital file continuously until the hard drive is full and then re-records new video from the beginning. If necessary, data can usually be copied to another device if needed for distribution.

A home camera system DVR also has the versatility of being viewed from almost anywhere in the world. Today’s systems can be networked over the internet making accessibility possible anywhere that internet accessibility is possible. This is particularly useful if you travel a lot or are away from home for an extended period of time. This can also provide you with 24/7 monitoring by a security/surveillance and alarm monitoring service.

As you can see, there is a home camera system DVR for just about any application. Talk with one of our digital security experts today to get your custom designed system.


License Plate Capture Basics

Written By:
Friday, August 7th, 2009

As a security dealer, one of the most common requests you will receive from your customer is license plate capture. License plate capture is often confused with license plate recognition so I will first define the difference between the two.

License Plate capture refers to the ability of the security camera to capture an image of a license plate as it passes through its field of view and to record that as an image on a DVR (digital video recorder) so that it can be retrieved at a later time.

License Plate recognition refers to the ability of either the security camera or the recording device to interpret the license plate image as data that can then be compared against other databases.

In most cases license plate capture will satisfy your customer’s needs. There are some great applications for license plate recognition, but we will save that for another article. There are several factors you must seriously consider when attempting license plate capture. They are :

-    Is the traffic controlled?

-    Does the traffic come to a stop at a certain point?

-    How close to the license plate can the camera be mounted?

-    What is the lighting condition?

Ideally, you will mount the camera within a few feet of where the car will come to a stop or slow down. Also, you will attempt to come in from as little of an angle as possible. Each camera should only be responsible for a single lane of traffic (8-10ft). So 2 lanes of traffic, 2 cameras should be used. Now, keep in mind that Megapixel IP cameras are a different breed of camera and we are discussing the use of analog CCTV cameras. Each camera should use a lens that will allow it to zoom in tight enough to where the plate is at least occupying 25% of the captured video image. You do not want to see anything other than the plate with this camera. You can use a different camera as an overview camera to allow you to see everything going on in the traffic lanes.

If you are fortunate enough to have decent lighting, then you may be able to get away with a standard low LUX day/night camera (usually a box camera mounted in an outdoor housing). If there is no light at all, then you will need to use an infrared camera or combine the box camera with an infrared illuminator. When using an infrared camera, you need to watch for IR bounce back, so don’t get a camera that is too powerful. In certain circumstances, you will need to use a WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) security camera in order to filter out certain light spectrums that are causing you problems. For example, you may have an issue with incoming headlights in California when trying to capture plates from the front of a car, or perhaps break lights in the rear are causing the iris to close.

I recommend starting with the least expensive solution and testing out a single camera to see if it will work for you. If you have issues, then progress to the next level. Once you have the camera installed, you will need to configure the DVR. I recommend setting the DVR to the highest resolution available, even if it means sacrificing frame rate. Recording at D1 will give you an image 4 times as large (4 times as much detail) as an image recorded in CIF resolution. Be sure to check both daytime and nighttime recordings.


CCTV Lens Technology

Written By:
Friday, August 7th, 2009

One of the main considerations when installing a security surveillance system is the lens.  Without lenses, the system would be useless.  Most cameras come with a choice of lenses, while box type security cameras require you to choose the lens and purchase it separately.

When choosing a lens, there are a few things to keep in mind.  First, how far do you want to see, and what level of detail do you want to see.  Lenses with a fixed focal length are simply known as fixed lenses.  Fixed lenses are available in a variety of focal lengths, however, the most common fixed lens is a 3.6mm lens.  This lens will give you approximately 75 degree field of view and will allow you to see a fair amount of facial detail up to about 30 feet.  This would be a great choice for an overview camera.

If an overview camera is not sufficient to capture the desired field of view or distance, then lenses with various focal lengths can be used to achieve the desired result.  The human eye equivalent of a CCTV Lens is a 3mm lens.  So, anything smaller than that would be considered a wide angle lens and anything larger would be considered to have some level of magnification.  For example, a 2mm lens would allow you to capture a much wider angle of view than the human eye, but the distance that you could see in any detail would be small.  In comparison a 100mm lens would allow you to see a high level of detail at a great distance, but the angle of view would be very narrow.

Let’s suppose that you aren’t sure what distances or angle of views will meet your needs, or that the distances and angles may change from time to time.  Then, in that case, a lens with a variable focal length would be needed.  These types of lenses are known as varifocal lenses.  These lenses are basically manually operated zoom lenses.  Varifocal lenses are also available in a variety of focal length ranges.  One of the most common sizes of varifocal lens is a 2.8-12mm focal length.  This lens can be adjusted from 2.8mm (wide angle) to 12mm (zoom) to accommodate a range of camera requirements.

Although varifocal lenses would be considered zoom lenses, in the security industry a zoom lens is a lens that can be mechanically or electrically zoomed.  These types of lenses can be remotely zoomed in or out from the DVR or other remote method.  This would allow the camera to act as an overview camera most of the time and then be zoomed to capture a small detail when needed.    The most common zoom lens you will find is a part of a Pan/Tilt/Zoom or PTZ type of camera.  These lenses have a motorized zoom, while the camera itself has a motor allows the camera to move up or down and rotate.

The camera lens is like the human eye; without them we couldn’t see.  Without lenses, your security surveillance system would not be able to capture images.  And, just as we use telescopes and magnifying glasses to enhance our vision, you can enhance the functionality of your surveillance system to maximize its capabilities.


Security DVRs and Internet Connectivity

Written By:
Friday, August 7th, 2009

The introduction of digital video recorders to the security surveillance industry allowed for a whole range of additional features and functions that were previously unavailable. With video cassette recorders, not only did you have to search through hours of recorded footage just to find that one small event, but you had to physically be in front of the VCR to do it. Of all the functionality that DVRs have brought to the industry, the ability to remotely connect to the DVR over the network or Internet is perhaps the most important. Now we have the capability of monitoring the security of our home or business no matter where we are on Earth. As long as the DVR is connected to the Internet, it is accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. And, not only can you monitor live video; you can also download recorded footage, change your DVR settings and control your PTZ cameras.

Now, let’s discuss some of technical aspects of making the connection between your DVR and the outside world. The first thing to consider is the type of Internet connection. Most homes and businesses are limited to either cable Internet or DSL. Cable Internet is supplied to you by your cable television company, while DSL is supplied by your phone company. The main difference between these two types of connections is their speed. Both claim DOWNLOAD speeds of at least 6Mbps, but, of the two, only cable Internet will provide the UPLOAD bandwidth necessary to accommodate high quality streaming video. Keep in mind that remotely viewing video is totally dependent on how fast the Internet connection can UPLOAD or send data out, not how fast it can DOWNLOAD or receive data. So, while either type of connection will suffice, the best quality experience will be obtained with cable Internet†.

†Many of you may wonder about a T1 data connection. These types of connections cost considerably more than cable or DSL, and the bandwidth they provide (1.5Mbps) is  only barely sufficient for moderate streaming video requirements. So, if only for the sake of cost effectiveness, a T1 connection should be considered only when cable Internet or DSL are not available.

Now that you have chosen which type of Internet connectivity you will have, you need to consider what kind of equipment your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will provide or has provided to you. In most cases, when the Internet is installed in a business, the ISP will provide you with a modem and a router or a combination modem/router. Any time more than one device will be connected to the Internet simultaneously, a router is required. However, when an ISP sets up a connection for a home user, many times only a modem is supplied and you will need to purchase a router in order to connect your DVR.

Another factor to be considered is the proximity of your Internet connection to your DVR. Obviously the ideal situation, and most often the norm, is that the DVR will be located in very close proximity to the Internet connection. However, there may be instances where this is not feasible. In these cases, there are a few options. Ideally, the best option would be to install a cable between the DVR and the Router or Modem. A physical cable always provides the best signal quality. Another option would be to use “power line Ethernet adapters”. These units utilize the existing wiring inside your home or business to transmit the Internet connectivity. One unit connects to an outlet near the DVR and the other connects to an outlet near the router and they talk to one another. Both devices must be on the same circuit to work, so there is some limitation as to the situations where they can be used. The last method that should be considered is wireless. A wireless router will be needed and a wireless access point would be installed at the DVR. Although wireless technology is fine for surfing the Web, transmitting video is another matter. With wireless, the farther the access point is from the router, the more unreliable the signal will be. 300ft is the theoretical limit of most wireless Internet connections, but inside a house with walls and electronics running everywhere, 100ft is a more realistic number. So, if you can just run a physical cable that 100ft, then you will have a much better experience.

Now that you have everything physically connected up, there are some settings that must be configured in your DVR and your router to open the door to the Internet. Any device that is inside your network that needs to be accessed from the outside needs to be assigned an IP address and a port. The IP address can be compared to a phone number and a port can be compared to an extension. The router can be compared to a switchboard operator. So, when you want to connect to your DVR from outside your network, you will need the router’s IP address, and the port number of the DVR. The router will then “route” the request through to the DVR. This is called “port forwarding”. We won’t go into great detail on this procedure, as the procedure for port forwarding is different depending on the brand of router being used.

Once all the connections have been made, and your router has been configured, you can connect to your DVR using Internet Explorer Web browser or, if you wish, the DVR client software if it is included with your DVR.

In conclusion, when properly installed and configured, your security surveillance system can allow you the freedom to travel away from your home or business while still maintaining the peace of mind that you would have if you were right there. If you have any questions, or need any assistance with any of the configurations that I have discussed here, please feel free to contact us directly at 866-573-8878.


DVR Lock Box Overview

Written By:
Thursday, August 6th, 2009
This video provides an overview of our DVR Lockboxes.Now that you have put a lot of time and money in protecting your business or family, make sure your investment is protected as well. Our DVR lockboxes can be bolted to any surface and provides you a secure place to lock up your DVR so it cannot be stolen or tampered with.