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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics
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  #1  
Old 05-01-2010
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Security camera help

During summer months I plan to leave my boat at the dock behind my home, unattended, for several months. I would like to install a wireless, internet connected, camera that will allow me to monitor bilge water levels. Neighbors will monitor for suspicious behavior, but they are not expected to board and inspect bilges. I check the internet daily on the road, so a neighbor could check the pumps if I called and asked.

My question is - does anyone have experience with this and could recommend a wireless ip camera?
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Old 05-01-2010
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I have been doing this all winter, to check the snow load on my cover. I use a pair of Airlink101 "AICN777W" cameras mainly because they were not that expensive for Pan/Tilt and are standalone (no PC required). They have both wired and wireless. They worked fine all winter, even during the cold. They also have an auxilliary output, and (I think) an input, which could be connected to an extra bilge float switch. The 747 model is a bit cheaper, the 777 claims Mpeg4 for cell phones but I find them somewhat IE-centric and use a direct link to a still image on my phone and other browsers.

There are easier ways to monitor water levels than video, I think, but it's nice to pan around and see that all is well.

I also connected a serial-ethernet "Terminal server" to the NMEA output of my instruments, and leave the Wind speed/direction on, so I can check on conditions remotely. Not sure when it crosssed the line from "useful" to "geeky" but I like it.
Hope this info is useful.
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Last edited by redline; 05-01-2010 at 11:31 PM. Reason: (added camera model number)
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Old 05-02-2010
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Thumbs up

Just the information I was looking for! Thanks.

I noticed that the 777w has GPIO, but not sure how I'd hook it up to a bilge switch, so I'm considering the 500w for bilge monitoring and the 777w for overall exterior monitoring.
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Old 05-03-2010
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I have not played with the GPIO (yet), but based on the manual, you could connect a (fused) 12V source through a float switch to the GPIO In+ terminal and In- to ground. Then you would configure the Event Config / GPIO Trigger to Send Email.

I think it would email you a still picture, but if that's the only situation in which it does send a picture, you'd know that the float switch closed, even if the camera is looking elsewhere. If it's the regular bilge pump switch (you might want to put some voltage spike protection on the input because of the motor) you'd get an email every time the pump cycles. If you install a second dedicated switch just a little higher than the bilge pump switch, you'll get a notification email only if the water rises above the pump's cut-in; a sign of some problem.

Of course, if the problem is that the bilge pump is not running because the batteries are dead, the camera may not be running either, but that's a different issue (there are commercial vessel-monitoring products out there which would deal with that).

You're tempting me to do something similar when my winter cover comes down next weekend and I have to move the cameras inside. One thing - please let me know if you find a small weatherproof housing that fits these cameras. Most Pan/Tilt camera domes are huge (not to mention expensive).
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Old 05-06-2010
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I've also thought about using a weather proof housing, but since the boat is close to the house, I'll probably just install a camera inside the patio for overall monitoring. I haven't received the cameras yet, but I reviewed the online documentation and seem to remember a warning about exterior installations. Apparently, a bright light source (lightning?) can damage the picture quality.

I'm not too concerned about dead batteries, but a 110 outage is a definite possibility. Do you see any problems powering the cameras through an inverter.
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Old 05-06-2010
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Rick,

The 777 camera is powered with a 12V wall-wart so I would not expect a problem using an inverter; I have run mine briefly on my Xantrex Freedom25 inverter/charger. If you had any issues you could easily substitute a different power supply.

Depending how far your porch is from the boat; be aware these are not stunningly high-resolution cameras. The "3X zoom" feature give a pretty blocky view. The quality is ok for the length of the boat, but I did use two, one on the foredeck and another at the cabin entry (I wanted more detail of the winter cover over the cockpit area). Bright light does cause some flare. You'll be able to see that the boat is still afloat, certainly. ;-)

I just picked up a "dummy" security camera with dome (the camera is dummy, the dome is real) to see where I might mount it outside more permanently; possibly hanging it under the (future) radar scanner.
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Old 05-06-2010
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Can you post some pictures of your set-up? Maybe some links to what you used? I'm very interested in this too. (I bet a lot of people on here are as well.)

Show off your work!

Edit: Here's a housing 4" Waterproof Outdoor Dome Network Cam Shell Housing NW - eBay (item 390192135923 end time May-06-10 19:43:37 PDT)

Regards,
Brad
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Old 05-08-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redline View Post
Rick,

Depending how far your porch is from the boat; be aware these are not stunningly high-resolution cameras. The "3X zoom" feature give a pretty blocky view. The quality is ok for the length of the boat, but I did use two, one on the foredeck and another at the cabin entry.

I just picked up a "dummy" security camera with dome (the camera is dummy, the dome is real) to see where I might mount it outside more permanently; possibly hanging it under the (future) radar scanner.
The "zoom" feature is apparently a digital enhancement created by IE and ActiveX. When I inquired as to why I wasn't receiving a picture, I was informed that IE v8 does not work with these cameras. They work with FireFox just fine, but without the ActiveX (and its security issues). The zoom and motion detection are also ActiveX features so are not available through FireFox.

Let us know how the dome works out and where you found it. The link Brad included looked helpful, but they seemed too small for the 777w from my quick look.

What kind of range were you getting to your router? I had reception problems until I installed a higher gain antenna on the camera, so now I have a very good response from the 60' from dock to router.
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Old 05-08-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bene505 View Post
Can you post some pictures of your set-up? Maybe some links to what you used? I'm very interested in this too. (I bet a lot of people on here are as well.)
Purchased this camera - AirLink 101 SkyIPCam777W Wireless Infrared Motion MPEG4 Night Vision Network Camera w/Pan & Tilt Control, Microphone Airlink AICN777W

Camera's web site - Internet Cameras – AICN777W

You'll need this - DynDNS.com Dynamic DNS: Free DDNS Service
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Old 05-08-2010
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I have a few photos, will try posting them. There isn't much to my "installation" as the forward camera is sitting on my zodiac which is inverted on the forward deck, and the aft camera is on its bracket which is wedged between two of the stoppers next to the companionway. Each cam's power cord runs under the nearest hatch, with the wall-wart inside.

Range is not an issue as I have an Engenius EOC-3220 WiFi box on the stern arch set up as an AP and WDS repeater from the main marina AP across the road, so the cameras only have to reach ten or thirty feet. The boat's AP covers the 600-800 feet to the office, which is sometimes marginal because of a large metal-covered hangar in right between. Last year I was much farther back in the yard and it worked as well or better.

I saw the domes (from Hong Kong) before; there are many like that designed for fixed-mount cameras. Domes for pan/tilt tend to be much much larger. I don't know the model of the one I have, the clear dome portion is about 8" diam which is overkill but all I could find. It may be too big&ugly to mount on the arch, but maybe up the mast it will be less noticeable. I took a chance for $80 at a surplus/electronics/alarm shop in Montreal.

A friend sent me these links for the Airlink cameras, I've found several to be very useful, especially the still image links for my iPod Touch and Blackberry, neither of which did much with the live video.

Techplay | Airlink SkyIPCam Foolery

Airlink101 SkyIPCam 747W - Working : ZoneMinder

You can also use the syntax

username:password@camerasite.dns/cgi/jpg/image.cgi

to quickly pull up the image without extra clicks or typing (but not on IE, they removed that feature in the name of security).

I should mention that I have a couple of port-forwarding rules on the main marina AP (I installed their system, so I have full config access), to reach my cameras (and NMEA server, and VOIP TA) through their firewall. Whether they work anywhere else is hit-or-miss, but generally if the baot isn't at my dock, it's because I'm aboard.

...spent the last few days rewiring my AC entry instead of playing with the cameras... at least the cameras are accessible.
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Last edited by redline; 05-08-2010 at 10:06 PM. Reason: remove smilies to show correct punctuation
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