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Author Topic: Sentinel Cam review  (Read 116361 times)

tjdavj

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Sentinel Cam review
« on: October 22, 2006, 12:02:48 AM »

This is my first post on this forum, so excuse me if I step on any toes..

I just purchased  the X-10 Sentinel package, complete with the weather resistant dome, since I live in the Pacific Northwest and figured it would be cheap insurance during the winter.
Here's some facts that really aren't apparent it the X-10 advertising sheets:

1. The Sentinel camera is not setup the same as the Vanguard camera! The Pan & Tilt characteristics are very different!

     a. Vanguard camera specs: Pan: 180 degrees Tilt: 70 degrees

     b. Sentinel camera specs:   Pan: 280 degrees Tilt: 30 degrees

While the Sentinel has 100 degrees more horizontal movement than the Vanguard, then major design flaw is that the Sentinel's Pan movement is not only limited to 30 degrees, but those 30 degrees are between approx. -20 and -50 degrees in reference to the horizontal plane.

In other words, with the camera mounted 8 ft. above the ground, you are unable to zoom in on anything more that 25 ft. in front of your camera.
[I have a 100 ft. long driveway and cannot even see who is there]

After examining the security housing, I'm fairly certain that I know why they limited the tilt of the camera. Whoever designed the clear dome forgot to consider the the optical requirements of the dome and made the last 3/4" of the dome taper out to the mounting flange. This caused major optical distortion as the camera tilted up towards the horizontal plane, so they had to limit the travel.

The only practical application I can see where you can use the full capabilities of the zoom is mounting the camera 20-30 ft. off the ground.

I will say that with the camera centered and @ full optical zoom [x22], I was able to read the type on a quarter(approx. 15 ft from the cam), and that I was able to access the "myHome" Internet application remotely and control the camera with very little effort. Oh, and most of all the video quality as far better than the standard x-10 cams.

Hope this helps,
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TakeTheActive

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2006, 05:41:35 AM »

1. The Sentinel camera is not setup the same as the Vanguard camera! The Pan & Tilt characteristics are very different!

     a. Vanguard camera specs: Pan: 180 degrees Tilt: 70 degrees

     b. Sentinel camera specs:   Pan: 280 degrees Tilt: 30 degrees

While the Sentinel has 100 degrees more horizontal movement than the Vanguard, then major design flaw is that the Sentinel's Pan movement is not only limited to 30 degrees, but those 30 degrees are between approx. -20 and -50 degrees in reference to the horizontal plane.

In other words, with the camera mounted 8 ft. above the ground, you are unable to zoom in on anything more that 25 ft. in front of your camera.
[I have a 100 ft. long driveway and cannot even see who is there.]

Nice review with an EXCELLENT explanation of the fault. Although I don't have any X10 cameras, the "Old Tinkerer" in me thought of a possible "workaround".

What about inserting a section of a 2x8 cut into a wedge (angle to be determined by trial-and-error; let's say 20 degrees to start) between the camera and your house to change the RANGE to approx. 0 and -30 degrees in reference to the horizon? That might allow you to see to the end of your 100 ft driveway. But, what would you lose closer to the house?


This is my first post on this forum, so excuse me if I step on any toes..

Welcome NEWBIE (first time poster)! :)  Please visit:

and introduce yourself.
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tjdavj

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2006, 12:34:53 PM »

TTA, thanks for the input, but the wedge idea doesn't work in my situation, as I need full horizontal coverage for maximum effect. I actually may have another idea that involves replacing the Sentinel package with the Video conferencing package, and buying a plastic camera dome for weather considerations.

Also, are you aware of anyone that has dis-assembled a Vanguard camera and posted their findings? I'm very interested in how the P/T travel limits are controlled. Externally, the Vanguard and Sentinel cameras are identical, so why do the have different P/T limits?, and can you modify them?

ps: Are you still having issues w/ W2K?


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DMC3551

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2006, 08:49:40 AM »

Sentinel Tilt Modifications

Please be forwarned, this modification is not supported by X10, at least not yet.

The way the tilt limit works on the Sentinel is as follows. As we know the head pivots up and down on the turret mounted to the base. Inside the turret there is a half moon shaped plastic gear that is actuated by a pinion. This pinion is meshed with the plastic gear to perform the tilt function.

On the side of the plastic gear is an aluminum piece of foil. You will also notice a sensor on the board right next to the pinion.  This is the tilt limit mechanism used by X10. Shorten the foil and you extend the degree of tilt. All I did was cut the foil just over a half lengthwise. This has afforded me an extra 40 degrees tilt.

The Fix:

  • Remove the 7 black phillips screws from the bottom base.
  • Once removed then find the four recessed phillips screws. Not the flat countersunk ones on the inner ring.
  • Remove these screws and seperate the turret from its base. BE CARFULL TO NOT PULL THE TURRET WITH FORCE AS THE CAMERA WIRES ARE VERY TIGHT AND THEY WILL BREAK
  • Turn the turret upside down and look at the half moon shaped gear. You should see the aluminum foil I mentioned before.
  • Carefully remove the foil with a small, and I mean small, flat blade screw driver.
  • Once removed then cut the foil, as mentioned above, and place it back. The piece of foil must be place towards the end of the gear. If the glue doesn't stick, you can also use a piece of aluminum foil duct tape cut to shape. This will actually stick a lot better than the old piece of aluminum.
  • Now reassemble the unit, but do not power it yet.
  • You must put the head in the 90 degrees position before powering it on. This way the sensor will pick up the foil and stop the head in the right position.

There you go, tilt is fixed. I did not look into the pan function as this was not a concern. My only concern was that I could not tilt past the 30 degree limitation. Also note that you willl still get some distortion because of the plastic dome mention in the previous posts by tjdavj.

I have done this and it works. This is not for the faint at heart as it requires a lot of manual dexterity to avoid breaking wires and postioning the turret for reassemby.

Hope this helps

DMC3551
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tjdavj

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2006, 11:56:29 AM »

DCM3551, Thanks for the reply.

This is exactly the information  I was looking for. I actually sent my Sentinel back for a refund and ordered the "Voice Calling" system that has the VK77A Vanguard camera, which is working fine with the exception that it has less pan than the Sentinel. Now that I have an idea how they are controlling the movement, I will see if I can modify the VK77A to duplicate the pan of the Sentinel. I will report back with the details.

Thanks again.
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johnsti

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2007, 06:39:33 PM »

DCM3551, Thanks for the reply.

This is exactly the information  I was looking for. I actually sent my Sentinel back for a refund and ordered the "Voice Calling" system that has the VK77A Vanguard camera, which is working fine with the exception that it has less pan than the Sentinel. Now that I have an idea how they are controlling the movement, I will see if I can modify the VK77A to duplicate the pan of the Sentinel. I will report back with the details.

Thanks again.

Were you able to increase the vanguards ability to pan more?
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tjdavj

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2007, 06:56:38 PM »

Quote
Were you able to increase the vanguards ability to pan more?

Nope, as far as I can tell, it's controlled in the firmware of the camera. I think they originally set it up to use a reflective surface like the tilt function, but at some point, changed it. I really can't remember the specifics, since I did the research so long ago, so take this with a grain of salt. It may be that I missed something, so if you're mechano-electronically inclined, take a stab at it. It's not that hard to dis-assemble, just be careful putting it back together. (I trashed the internal video cables by accident)

anyway, good luck.

tj
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HA Dave

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2007, 12:29:42 PM »

I just received my Sentinel Camera yesterday and only got to do a little testing with it last night.

Although I have been using security cameras (of various brands, including X10) for over a year, I felt like a newbie. This camera is in a class of it's own! Totally awesome optics, with a quick and pin-point accurate pan, tilt, and ZOOM (and I do mean ZOOM). I don't recall reading about the auto and manual focus anywhere so that was a nice surprise too. The quality of the video is equal to the type of video camera used to take home movies.

Setup is FAST easy and straight forward, the manual was clearly written and easy to understand. It didn't seem technocal at all. I am totally impressed with the Sentinel.

I use several cameras in my setup now, but I could easily replace most of them with this one camera... AND get better results. I could have saved considerable time money and hassle if I would have went top-of-the-line at the beginning. I have often read of people wanting to identify trespassers or read automobile license plates with a security camera. This is the camera for those difficult tasks.
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RickC

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2007, 11:19:07 PM »

I too bought the sentinal - very sharp picture - I found the exact same limitations as you on the tilt and zoom.  Nice if its 20 feet off the ground, you might see what you were really hoping for.  Added to your distresses mentioned - the pan is very jerky and sticks constantly - VERY irritating.
On top of that - X10's site that you have to go through for remote control is VERY iffy - sometimes never connect, sometimes connect with poor speed.  Other times works fine.
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tjdavj

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2007, 03:41:50 PM »

RickC,

Quote
the pan is very jerky and sticks constantly - VERY irritating.

Sounds like you have a defective drive assy.

I use the VK77A cameras which are mechanically identical to the Sentinel camera, and have had 1 of them replaced due to just this problem.

I would consider getting it replaced while it's still under warranty..

tjdavj
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bd0844

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2008, 02:40:38 AM »

Quote
What about inserting a section of a 2x8 cut into a wedge (angle to be determined by trial-and-error; let's say 20 degrees to start) between the camera and your house to change the RANGE to approx. 0 and -30 degrees in reference to the horizon?

The only problem with this approach is that the camera does not stay parallel to the ground as it pans, so the picture does not remain level.

 :) The FIX posted by DMC3551 seems to be one that increases the tilt without changing the other characterisitcs of the camera,  :( however it has the disadvantage of voiding the warranty.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2008, 11:42:39 AM by bd0844 »
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bd0844

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2008, 02:55:09 AM »

The Sentinel PTZ camera can operate wireless or wired.  There is a switch on the Sentinel PTZ camera that will turn off the wireless transmission of the video signal from the camera.  When I asked X10 if it was possible to have it both ways at the same time, wired to one location and wireless to another location, I was told "YES".  However, I was given no explanation how it could be done.  Please can any of the forum members help me on this one?
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HA Dave

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2008, 07:24:34 AM »

..............There is a switch on the Sentinel PTZ camera that will turn off the wireless transmission

......... When I asked X10 if it was possible to have it both ways at the same time


Just don't turn OFF the wireless.

If I understand it correctly... the wireless OFF... protects you from wireless interception/interference. Whereas the wired RCA video is always available. Set-up your two receiving areas... one an RCA-in and another using the video receiver.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2008, 07:29:00 AM by Dave_x10_L »
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steven r

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2008, 10:34:36 AM »

...Set-up your two receiving areas... one an RCA-in and another using the video receiver.
This is exactly what I do. I'm hardwired to the computer via a VA11A for AHP and have wireless connection to both TVs one through a VCR.
I have also observed that while the camera must be ON for all movement functions such as panning and zooming, turning the camera OFF turns off the wireless feed but the wired feed stays live.
I have no idea if the sentential is subject to image burn in if it stays pointed in one direction. In a previous chat Dave made the suggestion that I have it do a sweep a couple times a day. Since I already had a macro for that I simply put a couple timers on the macro as a precaution.
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bd0844

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Re: Sentinel Cam review
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2008, 01:20:48 PM »

Thanks "Dave X10" and "steven r" for your help!
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