In this article, I will explain how to turn an old Android phone or tablet into an IP security camera. The first thing you need to do is download a free app from Google Play called “IP Webcam”. You can find it here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pas.webcam.
The app will not only turn your device into an IP camera but it also allows you view your camera in multiple ways on any platform. You can stream your video and audio with VLC player, use a web browser, and even view it remotely on your phone using another app called IP Cam Viewer Lite. You can also download IP Cam Viewer Lite here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rcreations.ipcamviewer.
When you first install the app it will come up with some configuration options, as seen below.
The first option “Resolution” is the video resolution. The different resolution options depend on the capabilities of each individual Android device. On my older tablet the max I can go is 1056 x 864 but on my Galaxy S4 I can go up to 1920 x 1080.
The next option is “Photo Resolution” This is the resolution of still images that can be captured.
The “Quality” option allows you to set the video stream quality. For instance if you were going to view the IP Cam remotely on a 4G network you might want to set it to 50% for smoother playback.
You can set the screen orientation; I choose landscape. There is also an option to use your front facing camera if your device has one.
In addition, you are able to set the FPS (Frames per Second) limit. Limiting the FPS will help you conserve your battery as well as bandwidth.
The “Focus” option will allow you to set the type of Auto focus you want. Some options are Default, Manual, and Aggressive for taking photos and Smooth for video playback.
You also have the option to set a username and password when accessing the IP camera. This is highly recommended especially if you choose to access your IP camera remotely.
By default, the app uses the incoming port 8080 but depending on your network you may want to change that as well.
There are also a few miscellaneous options such as “Enable / Disable Audio”, “Disable Notification” which hides the notification that the app is running in the background and “Prevent Going to Sleep”, to make sure the device does not turn off. If you choose the “Prevent Going to Sleep” option it is recommended that you have the device plugged in so your battery doesn’t die.
You can Stream on device boot. This basically starts the IP cam app automaticity every time you devices turn on. This is helpful if you want to use the device as a dedicated IP camera.
Finally you have the “Start Server” option that starts the IP Webcam service.
Before you start the service it is recommended that you connect you device to your local Wi-Fi network. Once you have connected to your network and started the IP camera you will see a “How do I connect?” button that has some basic info on how to connect to and view the video stream. You will also see the “Actions” button that will allow you to do some basic things like Stop the Service, turn the LED on and off and run the app in the background.
At the bottom of the screen you will see the IP address of the device, the current incoming port and how many people are currently connected to the device.
As explained earlier there a several ways to connect to and view the IP camera. I will explain how to do this using a web browser. In my case I will use the Google Chrome Browser.
First, type the address shown on the IP camera into the address bar and click enter. Once the browser connects to the device you should be promoted to enter your username and password.
Once you have entered the username and password you will go to the instructions screen as shown below. Choose option number 5 (Use browser built-in-viewer).
That’s it. Now you should be connected to and viewing you Andriod IP security camera.
Now you can click the “Open Camera Controls” button for a few extra options.
Here you can turn the LED light on you device on and off. This is great if it gets to dark and you need a little extra light. You can enable and disable Autofocus. You can also take snapshots and enable audio so you can hear what’s going on. Obviously, the LED and audio options are dependent on your device having and LED light and microphone.
As I was testing, I did notice some lag with the audio and a choppy frame rate at full resolution and 100% quality. But with a few tweaks I was able to get a smooth frame rate and very good quality video stream.
At this point, you should have everything up and running but remember you are connected on the local network. In order to connect remotely there are a few extra things you might want to setup.
First, in order to access the IP camera from outside your local network you will have to know what the external IP address is. This is the IP address assigned to you by your internet service provider. The easiest way to find that is by going to http://www.whatsmyip.net. Once there, it will tell you your external IP address on the top left of the screen.
So if you’re external IP was 126.96.36.199, that’s the address you would type into your browser followed by the port number: 8080. Example 188.8.131.52:8080. Remember 8080 is the incoming port we chose when we first setup the IP Camera.
Now you will want to port forward your router to send any request that comes in on port 8080 the IP address of the device on the local network. If you remember that was 192.168.1.133.
The last thing you might want to do is get a dynamic DNS. It’s basically a service that assigns a domain name to an IP address. If the IP address changes, the dynamic DNS service automatically points to the new IP. This will ensure you can always access you IP camera even if your ISP changes your external IP address.