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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:17 pm 
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At Alex's request I am going to author a somewhat more comprehensive article on setup of Video Surveillance on Windows Home Server and on the EX495 specifically.

I know that a lot of people are interested in doing this. For many of us, the home server is on 24 hours a day, so what better place to host security recordings, especially with the wealth of software on the market and the price of security cameras getting lower all the time!

It is a bit beyond the scope of this article to make recommendations on what hardware you want to go with. I would caution the intrepid adventurer to do some research however. The big names in security cameras such as Axis, Toshiba and Panasonic enjoy quite good support from 3rd party software companies. It is also key to choose a camera that is appropriate for the application. Want good low light performance? Pick a camera with a low LUX rating. Want to stream the camera through the Internet? Pick a camera that broadcasts in an industry standard format that will be supported by all browsers.

I was looking for a camera with good industry support, some audio capabilities, and good low light performance. The cameras would be installed at the front and rear of my home in sheltered areas. I suspected I could get away with buying the "indoor" version of a camera that offered both indoor and outdoor versions. Ultimately I went with the Panasonic BB-HCM511A, which is available for a very good price from http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16881180023&Tpk=bb-hcm511a.

Image

It is worth noting that this camera does not include a power supply but does support Power over Ethernet (PoE) which means you can use a single CAT5e or CAT6 cable with a power injector to power the camera, or you can use a network switch that has power over ethernet ports.

Putting the camera on the network was pretty trivial. It comes with a preconfigured address in the 192.168.0.x subnet, the same as most home networks. You can either web into the camera and begin setup, or you can use the included Panasonic setup CD from a Windows PC to set the camera up.

Once up on the network you can easily access your camera by going to the camera's URL. It supports some basic features such as programming of the camera "home" position, programming of a daily camera reboot, network port forwarding, etc.

If you really want to do surveillance though this will not cut it. You will need actual surveillance software that can pick up the feed from your camera and record it, either continuously or under conditions such as when motion is detected or during specific hours.

When investigating software to do this, it can be a bit overwhelming. There is free software (which doesn't support my camera or the WHS operating system) and there is $500 professional software which can do just about everything. Key considerations for me were that the software had to run as a service (so that if my server was restarted the software would start automatically), had to support my hardware, and had to offer some easy remote way to view the camera feeds and the recorded video.

Ultimately I ended up giving the Blue Iris software a try (http://www.blueirissoftware.com/). They offer a free 14 day trial with all of the features turned on, which really gives you a chance to try things out before deciding if it's right for you. Even though their website is pretty spartan, the software is quite robust, and there's even a basic support forum available to get configuration help. Importantly the software can run as a service, supports Windows Server 2003 (so should be no issue to run on WHS) and gets regular updates. Most importantly it's inexpensive. A single camera license is $29 and a license for up to four cameras is only $49. That's the lowest price full featured software I could find, anywhere!

It is worth noting that you will probably want to use remote desktop on your WHS to set the software up. While it might be possible to set it up using the Advanced Admin Console, I simply chose to use full blown RDP and administrator account to do the software install. The screenshot below will give you a general idea of what the Blue Iris interface looks like when running in remote desktop;

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Once you have Blue Iris installed, there is some house keeping you will want to do. You will want to immediately go in to the options and set the software to run as a service, and very importantly, you will want to check the box that says to display video during remote terminal sessions! If you forget to do this you will only see a black screen in place of your video and a note about "remote session detected".

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Be aware that if you are running the software as a service that when you access the WHS remote desktop or console you will see no indication the software is running (even though it is). However, if you launch the application it will launch the GUI and operate normally.

You also need a place to keep recordings. I created a new share in the WHS called "surveillance" and created a "new" and "old" subfolder. Blue Iris allows you to set how long you wish to keep recordings for before archiving them, either by length of days or by a size limit. This is very handy in preventing the recordings from consuming all of the disc space available in the WHS! By default the recordings are in an AVI format using XVID codec. If you want to playback recordings directly from your surveillance share on a computer you will need to load XVID or you will need to use a media player that can handle the XVID codec.

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Next order of business is to get our camera programmed. You right click on an open area of the application and choose "add new camera". Generally speaking for IP cameras this is pretty easy. You simply input the IP address of the camera. Port number is typically 80 although you might have to make a note of what port number is showing up in your browser when you are connected to the camera. Blue Iris does a pretty good job here, offering generic templates as well as support for quite a few IP cameras. You probably want to check their compatibility list first to make sure your IP camera is supported. You enter a few other properties such as a camera name, "short name", etc.

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At this point you are up and running! You should see the camera displayed in Blue Iris and now can get on with the task of setting it up to either record continuously, or record motion. A handy feature with motion recording is that you can program it to only key on a portion of the displayed image, so that for example a bush or tree that moves frequently will not trigger recording. You can also program multiple schedules in for a camera and have that camera record only at certain times. To add to the mind boggling options you can even set things up so that you will receive an email or text message of a motion detection event occurs! I will not delve into all of these options here, suffice to say, most users will want to set up simple motion recording which you can see below;

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You should now be in pretty good shape. You can access the software through remote desktop and view your live camera feeds as well as recorded clips. It's worth noting that since the HP MSS does not have a sound card, I have no way to test whether or not audio will work through remote desktop. Might be interesting if someone with a USB sound card plugged in to the MSS can test this out.

But wait. What about being able to access the cameras without having to access the desktop on the MSS? Those crazy German engineers have you covered here too. BI has a built in Web Server. It will be important to make sure you change the server port to something other than the default of 80 since that's already used by WHS. You can also set a password for web viewing. These options are all quick to set up in the BI program.

Then it's just a simple matter of accessing your server followed by the port number for Blue Iris... in my configuration it would be accessed by going to http://gizmo:8000.

The default for BI is to come up with an Active-X interface that only works for Internet Explorer. However, they thoughtfully include a Java viewer and even a basic JPEG viewer for browsers that don't support either Active-X or Java. Each interface has its own URL so you can really just access the software via the correct URL for the plugin you want. Below is an example of accessing the Java interface on Safari running on a Mac.

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I have control over my cameras and can not only view my cameras but review my recorded clips too! If using the Active-X interface you can set up the BI software to also stream audio to the browser, but this will only work for live video, not for recorded clips.

One of the really powerful things about the web server built into the software is that through port forwarding you can quite easily check your security from anywhere on the Internet through any browser. Traveling abroad? Just log in through the web interface to your home IP address (or homeserver URL) followed by the port number and you can review your security logs.

A word about performance. One of the big speculations about WHS and Surveillance recording centers around how much of a hit the server will take. With one camera installed and recording on motion you can see from the stats below that performance impact is negligible. Even when viewing the web interface and playing back clips I don't see the CPU activity spike above 50%. The server in question is also running Squeezebox Server, DC++ and several other services in addition to the normal HP MSS fare. I plan on adding a 2nd and possibly 3rd camera soon and will provide an update on server impact. I don't expect users will run into performance issues until they go over 4 or 5 devices.

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I hope that this has been helpful to the community and will try to answer questions. I can also put together a screen grab of the software options, speed, etc, if that would be helpful.
:encore:


Last edited by jmpage2 on Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:36 pm 
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Great post .. I have a whs so I think I'm going to give it a try .. I have 4 ip cams currently using dyndns.org for monitoring and remote setup.

Thanks for the info.

2 days later ... Ok ... I got blue iris on whs up and running ... my whs is a hp 475 with original processor but 2 gb ram upgrade. I tried installing 4 ip cams and it was molasses .. I removed 1 which was an outside camera view (at night) and it became more responsive.

Later today I'm testing saving the videos to a freenas in a closet and backing up videos to ftp ...

Thanks again.


Last edited by toddlorensinclair on Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:42 pm 
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So to confirm, the Panasonic camera you got was rated for outdoor?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:35 pm 
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dbone1026 wrote:
So to confirm, the Panasonic camera you got was rated for outdoor?


No, the BB-HCM531A is the outdoor rated version. The one that I got was the BB-HCM511A which specifically says "not for outdoor use".

From what I have been able to determine, there are absolutely zero differences between the physical bodies of these two cameras. A review of the technical documentation shows that the outdoor version has the following extra bits and pieces;

1. Sun visor (not needed by me as my units are under porch overhangs).

2. Soft SD card door (probably a little bit more water resistant, not too worried about this).

3. Rear cable cover along with foam tape and some "emergency" tape (tape that only sticks to itself).

The instructions indicate to place all cables through the rear cover, then secure the cables into position with the foam tape. Then attach the rear cover and emergency tape the whole thing down 6" of the ethernet cable.

So... I simply ordered the rear cable cover from a parts company for $27 shipped. It has not showed up yet, but when it does I plan on just installing it onto the body along with some foam tape I already have, use a $8 roll of "emergency tape" I bought on Amazon and take my chances with the whole outdoor/weatherproof thing.

It has been as cold as 20F here and the BB-HCM511A camera continued to operate with no issues. Once the cable cover and tape job is done I expect it to go down to 0F just like the pricier outdoor model. It will also at that point be splash resistant although I probably wouldn't take a power washer to it. A user over at a camera forum has had his BB-HCM511A camera installed "outdoors" for over 18 months with no ill effects. As long as it has shelter from the elements I don't think it's going to have many issues.

It's also worth noting that there are new versions of two of these cameras, the BB-HCM711A and the BB-HCM735A. These new versions record at higher resolution and record in H.264 format which uses 30% less network bandwidth then MPEG4 that the older cameras use at the same resolution and frame rate.

I am not sure if Blue Iris will support these cameras, but I expect it will since other H.264 capable cameras are supported.

I am considering purchasing one for a front corner installation since it would be a view of the whole front of the house and I might be able to make out license plate numbers, etc, much easier with the higher resolution video.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:36 pm 
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Sweet! Thanks for taking the time in posting your work! I'll be looking to do this too in the near future.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:55 pm 
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If anyone wants to see what the web interface looks like, here's one of the many internet available feeds that you can take a look at;

http://lucky.iswizards.com:8088/

You can click on "java/jpeg" banner at top if you'd like to view with a non MS browser.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:41 pm 
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Re: MediaCenter, DVBLogic for IPTV

In our kitchen, we have a media center/touchsmart computer and we have a camera feed from our front door. We pretty much leave that PC in Media Center mode all the time. I don't have my Windows/iPhone with me all the time. But if you do, then I see why that would be convenient to you. We don't do it much, but it is nice to know that we access the feed from several areas in our home. However with a baby on the way, that might change quick.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:06 pm 
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JohnCz wrote:
Re: MediaCenter, DVBLogic for IPTV

In our kitchen, we have a media center/touchsmart computer and we have a camera feed from our front door. We pretty much leave that PC in Media Center mode all the time. I don't have my Windows/iPhone with me all the time. But if you do, then I see why that would be convenient to you. We don't do it much, but it is nice to know that we access the feed from several areas in our home. However with a baby on the way, that might change quick.


I think it ultimately comes down to needs. From a surveillance perspective it doesn't do a lot of good to be able to monitor a feed if you can't see that person who is snooping around your property at 5AM. Recording on a continuous loop is one option but still makes it hard to rewind and review if something happens.

A perfect example would be that a few years ago at another home a local kid smashed one of our windows. It was probably an innocent mistake but there was no way for me to know which kid did it and get them to own up to it.

This is one area where having motion recording, etc, becomes very useful.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:00 pm 
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jmpage2 wrote:
If anyone wants to see what the web interface looks like, here's one of the many internet available feeds that you can take a look at;

http://lucky.iswizards.com:8088/

You can click on "java/jpeg" banner at top if you'd like to view with a non MS browser.


It does NOT work with a MS browser either unless you have installed the blueiris software. First you are prompted to install the blueiris active x software and if you download and install it you are then prompted to install the MP42 blueiris codex.... :( This it appears you need to install from the cd.

Image quality at night, is in my opinion is near worthless unless one is so close to the camera they could reach out and almost touch it. Now that could be do to how the homeowner has their property lighted at night, or to the camera ability to see in the dark.

I'd really like some help in attempting to understand the difference between the image quality of this camera and the image quality of the d-link camera that works with their WHS software.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:18 pm 
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Teknmage wrote:
jmpage2 wrote:
If anyone wants to see what the web interface looks like, here's one of the many internet available feeds that you can take a look at;

http://lucky.iswizards.com:8088/

You can click on "java/jpeg" banner at top if you'd like to view with a non MS browser.


It does NOT work with a MS browser either unless you have installed the blueiris software. First you are prompted to install the blueiris active x software and if you download and install it you are then prompted to install the MP42 blueiris codex.... :( This it appears you need to install from the cd.

Image quality at night, is in my opinion is near worthless unless one is so close to the camera they could reach out and almost touch it. Now that could be do to how the homeowner has their property lighted at night, or to the camera ability to see in the dark.

I'd really like some help in attempting to understand the difference between the image quality of this camera and the image quality of the d-link camera that works with their WHS software.


I did not experience the same issues when viewing with Active X on an XP SP3 laptop using IE7.

night quality is actually respectable. I am able to make things out on my unlighted front porch just from surrounding lights in many cases... at least to the extent of being able to tell if someone is there.

As far as being able to recognize specific people, objects, etc, then yes, with any camera you will need some kind of auxiliary lighting.

It's also worth noting that I have no idea what software version the link I provided is actually running. I just did a google search on blue iris remote view and many sites that are open on the internet come up.

The link I provided is not my camera or the web server that I am running. The camera I am running is considered a professional surveillance camera. I believe it has lower lux rating, and a few more capabilities than consumer models from D-Link, Logitech, etc. I'm also not aware of too many options that will be safe to use for outdoor applications.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:23 am 
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Night quality depends a lot on the local lighting conditions, sensitivity of the camera ("low-lux") and the weather and phase of the mon. (Not kidding on that!) And if you are using a camera in a window it is very dependent on the lighting in the room and window reflections.

What works for one of us may not work at all for others. A home in an area with street lights in extremely different from one in the woods.

-------------

As for the "tape loop"... I record both continuously and based on motion, depending on the specific camera, generally contiouous outside and by motion inside. The recording is done in segments, fixed-length withh continuous and fixed length after motion ceases for the motion cameras. These are then saved with the oldest segments being deleted when the free storage is reduced to a pre-set threshold. When I am away I set the threshold rather low, allowing the storage of events further back in time. When I am home I set it much higher, typically only saving a few days. (Some packages use a size of recording, either total or per-camera, rather than the minimum free space.)

As stated above, the key is to capture the event and retain it for a period sufficient to determine what happened later on.

Of course if the intruder takes the WHS s/he also takes the recorded record! One of my clients uses a USB-attached but unmanaged hard drive to store the video, locating the drive INSIDE a wall! Excessive? Maybe. YMMV (mine does)!

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:14 am 
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One good option if you are concerned about removal of the WHS itself during a burglary would be to use a kensington lock secured external drive to put the recordings on.

Or, even better, have the share with the recordings backed up in real time over the internet to a secure location.

My WHS sits in my basement with a pretty heavy duty lock on it. The average thief would not screw around with it, or have the smarts to take the hard disks out.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:20 am 
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jmpage2 wrote:
My WHS sits in my basement with a pretty heavy duty lock on it. The average thief would not screw around with it, or have the smarts to take the hard disks out.


Unless the thief is reading this thread :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:28 am 
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jmpage2
I just finished setting up this software on my MSS and I have my 2 old cameras working with it. I have a panasonic BL-30C and a Linksys WVC54 and they both work with this. I set up to record every 3 minutes for 5 seconds but a couple of questions crossed my mind. Right now I have RDP'd into the server and have the Blue Iris software minimized. After setting up recording can I close the software and log off as long as the service is running? Will I lose the recording setup if I do that?

yowzer


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:42 pm 
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yowzer wrote:
jmpage2
I just finished setting up this software on my MSS and I have my 2 old cameras working with it. I have a panasonic BL-30C and a Linksys WVC54 and they both work with this. I set up to record every 3 minutes for 5 seconds but a couple of questions crossed my mind. Right now I have RDP'd into the server and have the Blue Iris software minimized. After setting up recording can I close the software and log off as long as the service is running? Will I lose the recording setup if I do that?

yowzer


Yowzer,

I ran into the same thing! If you set it up to run as a service as indicated above then you can safely close the application and it will continue to run. Keep in mind that after changing it to run as a service you will want to restart the box. When you launch Blue Iris it will say "connecting to service". You can close it and it will continue recording and running the webserver, etc.

Good luck!


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