If you've read my previous blog entry about the Wheelie Bin Thief you will probably have noted that I have a CCTV system around my house. Before people start calling me paranoid it was originally intended as a cat cam network to keep and eye on what those balls of fur actually get up to. After a while it started to grow so we could check on the house over the Internet if we were staying at a friends place for the night or we went away on holiday.
Most friends are quite fascinated by it and usually think it cost me a fortune, well to be honest it only really cost me around £50 to put together. If you are looking at having the same kind of system I have in place, have a look around your home for any webcams you might have. I have about 6 of them I managed to pick up some dirt cheap a while ago at Homebase of all places for £5. Another camera I have which isn't as cheap is a wireless camera which I use for places not close enough to my PC which cost me £20
This little camera can either be powered from a 9V battery or off a power adaptor I plug the receiver unit into the video card on one of my PC's upstairs. You can pickup this camera from Skyline Select for around £75 however I managed to get it cheaper from a shop in Thailand for £20 but it no longer appears to exist anymore.
Anyway pulling this all together I used a very clever piece of shareware software called SupervisionCam by Peter Kirst. This only cost me £25 at the time to register which I consider a real bargain. If you don't register it you will get a "Unregistered" on all of your webcam views.
Anyway SupervisionCam allows you to plug as many camera feeds as your PC can cope with into the system and will display these camera feeds as real time over the Internet on a web page! What is even cooler is that Supervision cam detects movement and when it does you can get it to record what it sees or you can get it to email someone with the picture, play a sound, upload a picture somewhere and now even SMS someone. In addition to the web interface Supervision cam also comes with a handy little bit of software called Supervision View which is a little app that sits on your desktop instead of you having to watch a web page for updates.
At the moment I have an external hard disk which I get SupervisionCam to record the past 5 days of movement. If something strange happens and I need to check on it I go through the past 5 days footage on speed review around that time to see what happened. If you are worried about someone actually breaking in and stealing the PC that is watching your home you can get Supervision cam to upload details to an external FTP site or email you, at least you can catch the thief on camera.
SupervisionCam has had all kinds of success with people who swear by it. It doesn't only have to be used for protecting your home you can also use it to do things such as records flowers opening at night and then speeding up the footage. You can also use it to broadcast what is on your screen across the Internet or just simply using it to keep an eye on your kids as they play in the garden.
I've noticed a lot of houses in my area with external camera however none of them are hooked to the Internet. It would be a great idea if people hooked these camera's up an some sort of community site to keep an eye on their neighborhoods.
If you're interested in setting up your own CCTV system using your computer and some webcams and get a bit lost or have any questions, please drop me a line I'm always willing to help!