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Old 10-26-2010, 12:38 AM   #1
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Default Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Anyone ever considered or actually installed a home security camera system, or
know anyone who has? I'm thinking about it, as we have cats we leave behind and
we thought it might be a hoot to be able to sneak a peek at them while we're on the
road. (Oh, and I love tinkering with computer hardware/software and peripherals,
as a way to keep current with all that stuff )

Any insight or experience with installation/setup/problems would be interesting to hear
about.
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

I'd be willing to try something like this. If the system/connection ever had a hiccup you wouldn't know if your house was gone or if the power was out.
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Old 10-27-2010, 01:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Well, I'm having a crack at it. I picked up 3 DLink 920 IP Cameras at Best Buy.
They were on sale for C$79 + tax/each. I also upgraded to a newer router which
I also got at Best Buy for C$89 + tax. It's a DLink DIR 655 Gigabit N capable router.
I have just finished a semi-horrendous day trying to get some support from DLink
L1 support. One good call, one bad call, and one, I'm still not sure about.
The basic setup wasn't too bad, but it turns out the security settings caused some
problems for an older laptop we still use for email. Much trial and error and stress.
However, it's installed and our laptops are online.
Tomorrow, I tackle the cameras. I think it'll be uglier.

note: DLink has some newer cameras (1130 and 930L) that can access their DLink Viewing
DNS website, for people like me, who really don't know how to open router ports and apply
dynamic DNS to allow remote viewing of my cameras. I've decided to stick with the
920 cameras, as they might be a little harder to set up, but I like the learning curve
that goes with them, and they were on sale (regular C$119+tax).
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

I curious to know how you'd do it using a dynamic IP address. Or do you need a static IP address?
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:38 AM   #5
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

My limited understanding and emails back and forth to DLink sales and support indicate
you assign static IP adresses, open 3 ports, and then create a dynamic DNS entry at a
free web server to access them remotely.
I plan to try this all today/tomorrow, so I'll let you know if it works.

I was hoping to get it working before Friday.
There's a space shuttle launch (2nd last forever?) scheduled on Monday afternoon.
We may head down for a week. Or two.
We also never made it to Key West last Spring, and it's another place I'd like to visit.
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:51 AM   #6
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Well I was partly right, but then I had no idea what was involved.
Firstly, you need to get the cameras connected wirelessly, and secured,
both with encryption and password access protection. This part I managed to
do myself, and everything seemed to work flawlessly. When I established the
IP address of each camera, I set it as a static IP address to the router, so no matter
what else I connect to it, or when, or in what order, the cameras will always be the
same IPs. This is important when you actually try to log into them using a web browser.
Actually, at this point, I could access and view all 3 cams via a web browser, and used
each camera's router IP address as the URL. Enter userid and password and voila!!!

The next part is also relatively simple. Simpler than I expected, in fact.
I had to log in to the router, and get my WAN IP address, which may or may not
change. I'm not sure what might cause this address to change, but if it does while
we're away from home, all bets are off. You must get the IP address that your ISP
knows your router by. It will be part of the roadmap to the cameras
Next, still in the router, you have to create 3 application rules allowing each camera
to use a router comms port. In the DLink it's actually under "Advanced" then "Application
Rules", and you create 3 rules from drop downs and assign pseudo-names like camera1,
camera2, and camera3 for example. You allow any type of traffic, a wide open schedule,
and a port # which is in the range somewhere above 80.
Reboot the router and cameras via power off/power on.
Assuming everything comes back up and connects, open a browser window and attempt to
reach a URL address of 11.22.333.444:## where 11.22.333.444 is your ISP IP address of
your router which you already know and wrote down somewhere, and ## is the port number
of each of your cameras in order, if you have more than one, like me. No dynamic DNS
server involved, just a web browser and some opened ports.
If it works, you'll get a sign in window asking for your userid and password for each camera.
There are some camera features and settings you can tweak to your heart's desire, and enjoy
watching whatever happens to pass by your cameras.
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

If you leave a PC on at home then a program that sends your Wan IP address everyday to your hotmail or gmail email account would be handy.

http://download.cnet.com/IP-in-Your-Ema ... 45030.html

I found "IP in your Email" - don't read that aloud !
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Old 10-28-2010, 01:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Does all that stuff I wrote yesterday make sense?
Anyway, regarding periodically changing WAN IP addresses, I've sent a contact us
question to my ISP regarding basically the same thing as what you found online.
Their online FAQ suggests that they only provide dynamic IP addresses for residential customers,
which may change periodically.
Ok I thought, so I asked if they could send me some sort of notification (email?) if/when they
"periodically" change my IP address and let me know what it is. Or, failing that, could I call in
(if I can't access the router/IP remotely) and after being properly identified (they have all kinds
of security Q&A stuff on file for me), provide me with my "new" IP address that the router sees?
I told them I have some applications which require a known IP address to function properly.
I'll see what they say. Here's hoping they'll try to satisfy the customer.
Failing this, I'll pursue the free DLink hostname/domain/website thing with them, as the doc on their
free DDNS site suggests they can handle dynamic IP addresses and can update your space accordingly
when it changes. I'd just rather not have to rely on someone else to provide me with access, particularly
when it's free.
We know how reliable that can be???
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Old 10-29-2010, 01:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

OK, final chapter.
I stopped by a mall kiosk store of my ISP and asked one of the agents
my question about when and why do IP addresses change. I got the
"did you know you have 3 heads?" stare, and decided to excuse myself. I also got
an email reply from them, Internet Support, which said could I call them, and
select Cable Internet as my option, as they may have to do live troubleshooting
an a tech may have to schedule a service appointment.
Clearly I was wasting my time with L1 support at my ISP. It is irritating. If my
satellite provider could get me my internet, the other idiots would be gone so fast
they wouldn't have time to change my IP address.
So, I got an email from the sales guy at DLink, who is very friendly and has some
knowledge of their products, and he suggested how their DDNS site works, sort of.
So I thought what the heck, and created an account (free), and created a hostname
(free), and entered my current WAN IP address. I then logged in to the router, and
found a DDNS option under the advanced settings, and after a bit of reading of the
margin notes, I added the website info to the router's DDNS function, and then saved it all.

I then opened a browser window, and using the URL window, pointed it at my hostname,
myname.dlinkddns.comort# and voila, my camera responded, through my router, with a
request for a userid and password. I didn't need to specify my router's WAN IP address, but was
able to reach my 3 cameras via the internet.

If I read the instructions, and added the correct account info into my router, and combined
them with what was in the "how to" info on the DLink DDNS site, I'm now thinking my router
may be able to auto-log onto the DLINKDDNS site whenever my IP address changes, and
update it somehow. At least, that's what I think will happen. Their website simply maintains
my current WAN IP address, when my router tells it to update it.
I'll let you know when it happens, if it does.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Hi Vic,
I knew very little about all this before I started, and the final phase of
using a free DDNS site like DLink's was all trial and error and some (hopefully)
common sense/logic. I should mention that it worked fine (we're on the road right now)
last weekend, when we stopped to try it. Then on Monday, we noted it had stopped
working, and I thought "what did I miss, or not set correctly?" but it's started working
again today, so we're thinking we may have had a power failure at the house (our town
run power utility is famous for them) and somehow the router didn't power up correctly
afterwards. It may have taken a second hit to reset it, and now it works.

I've seen the DCS920 cams for sale at Best Buy USA for US$69 on sale as they are
apparently a discontinued model now. There are 2 newer models that have built in
access to the DLINK DDNS website right out of the box, if you're looking for something
less confusing. I just had to take a crack at it myself, and I'm satisfied with the results.
If you or anyone else has any questions, please post them up and I'll try to answer them.
I also have some contact names at DLink if you need them.
Also, I think the DCS920's have motion activated sensing/recording, but I can't recall.
I like them.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:23 AM   #11
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

We're home and the same issue with the free hostname at Dlinkddns.com website is occurring here.
We can't get at the cams through our router using a browser and the Dlinkddns site to access them
either yesterday (Sunday) or today (so far).
If we go at them through a browser, using the ISP provided IP address and port numbers, we're fine.
Conclusion: Dlink's free DDNS site isn't perfect in terms of availability. That may be by design,
because they offer an upgrade option, which may get better access, but it's NOT free. My theory is
they randomly do maintenance and/or deny access to gently push you towards upgrading for $$$.
But, while we were away, we were able to have a look at the house and the cats, when we had time
to stop and use some free Starbucks wifi access.

If anyone has any questions, either post or PM me, and I'll try to answer as best I can.
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:04 PM   #12
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Still working, intermittently through the free DLink ddns site.
If I "refresh" the ip address by re-entering it into the window
on the "Modify Host" page, it starts working again for a while,
then stops again.
You get what you pay for, or so it seems.
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Old 12-12-2010, 04:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

I'm new to the forum and found this thread while looking around. A friend gave me a demo of his new remote cams a few days ago...they are really impressive. He has two of these http://foscam.us/foscam-fi8918w-wire...ite)-p-49.html. He has control of pan, tilt and IR through his laptop while traveling. The picture quality is exceptional. There is sound but it wasn't too impressive. He did mention he had a little trouble getting everything connected properly but said he had great support from the company. He's on a winter RV trip so I'll learn how the cams worked when he returns.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

The DCS-920s are pretty basic, no audio, no tilt or mechanical zoom, but there is a
remote access control panel with a digital zoom, and other tweaks for the images.
It wasn't as complex to set up as I thought, once I got some help from DLink's support
people.
The only issue is the intermittent nature of the Dynamic DNS free site. Sometimes
we can access our cams over the web, and sometimes not. I've made some minor
changes to the router's settings to see if anything else works, and I'm just waiting
to see how long our current access lasts. I also sent the Dynamic DNS website's
support an email asking about the problem, and am also waiting to hear back on that.
As I said, maybe you get what you pay for?

When they work, they're great.

Those Foscams are quite impressive. I'd be curious to know what issues he had setting
them up. If he uses a free Dynamic DNS website for remote access like I do, I wonder
if he sees the same intermittent access to them through the web?
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:55 AM   #15
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

He's traveling so I just sent an email to see what problems he had. I'll let you know when I hear back from him.
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Old 12-14-2010, 03:05 AM   #16
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Loren gave me a quick reply. I remember that he upgraded to the new cams and they are working fine. It seems he had some of the same problems with his original models as you are having. Here is his explanation. It's a bit like greek to me but I assume you can figure out his comments.

My problem with my original Foscam was not working on wireless. The 2 Replacements worked fine.

Getting them set up with a wireless router is real challenging. If he doesn't have a static. (Permanent) address that will be a problem as the cable providers switch the dynamic addresses occasionally. If he has a business he probably has a static address. If residential he doesn't. He can get around that with DYNDNS Which is what my IP cams are using. He can pull up DYNDNS and check them out. I pay $20.00 a year for mine.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:45 PM   #17
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Hi Jim,
That's exactly what I'm dealing with. Mine are for home/personal use.
My internet setup (and probably his) is via a cable company, and they rent me their modem,
to which I attach my wireless router, and then my laptops and cams link wirelessly to the
router.
ISP/Cable company --- cable modem/WAN IP address --- my wireless router <<>> cams
I
DYNDNS.COM website/
hostname/updated with
my WAN/IP address <<<<<<>>>>> remote access via web browser (at Starbucks for example)

The problem for residential users is, most ISPs don't guarantee a static (constant) WAN IP
address. They can, without warning, change the IP address that the internet sees as your home
internet portal. In order to access your home hardware over the internet, you have to
know your assigned WAN IP address (eg. 226.195.37.100, it's a value you can see if you log
into your router's information screens). But since the ISP can change it, you might be out there
and suddenly can't get to your home cameras.
To get around this problem, some router/IP cam manufacturers host a Dynamic DnS
website so you can create a free user account (like DlinkDDNS.com or DYNDNS.com)
and add 1 free hostname which contains your home WAN IP address.
You then tweak your home router and enable a setting called Dynamic DNS, which
monitors your home WAN IP address, and if it gets changed, forwards the new address to the
free hostname and updates it, so you can get at your router via the internet. All you need to
know is your DYNDNS.com hostname, and then any assigned local IP addresses and passwords
you have, to actually gain access to your hardware.

I created my account/hostname at DLinkDDNS.com initially, and set my router up to use that
free website as the place to update my home WAN IP address, if it changes.
As it turned out, it was flaky and the access was on/off intermittently.
Last week on Thursday, I changed my router's target website as DYNDNS.com which is supposed
to be the "sister" site to the first one, on spec. I also sent an email to the folks who support these
sites, and asked about the flaky access.
My access through the internet has been fine ever since. Go figure?

If any of that makes sense to you, my work is done.
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Old 12-15-2010, 03:44 AM   #18
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

It's interesting you both ended up with DYNDNS service to solve the issue. I'm not sure I'll go that direction but they sure seem like they might offer piece of mind when traveling. I'll talk to Loren about them after he has a chance to run them through their paces over the next few months.
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:06 PM   #19
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

I've been fine since last Thursday now using DYNDNS.com.
I also got an answer from their support folks, and it basically was a shoulder shrug.
They said they had "No idea why it was flaky" at DlinkDDNS versus DYNDNS.
So I'm staying at DYNDNS for my update website, and we'll see how it goes.

I do think I'd like to know how those high-tech Foscams perform remotely.
They aren't that expensive, at US$150, considering I paid about $90 (with 13% tax)
each for my "dumb" DCS-920s. If the setup is similar, I might grab a couple.

Mike.
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:24 PM   #20
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Default Re: Who's minding the store??? (Home security camera related)

Mike - it sounds like the setup is the same for the FOSCAMS as the ones you are using. The software allows up to five cams so you could have both inside and outside cams. I don't know about your video quality but the FOSCAM was really good. I don't know if there is zoom control but he rotate/tilt option allows you to take a look around the room.

Loren said he called to FOSCAM folks and they were great to work with so give them a call if you have questions. Maybe there is a chance the software would allow you to use your current cams and simply add a FOSCAM or two.
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