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Author Topic: A Video Camera Must Read  (Read 5123 times)


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A Video Camera Must Read
« on: December 20, 2006, 07:43:39 PM »

Video Cameras Must Read – Part 1
By Don N & KDR

So you want to add some cameras, now what?  Well, there are a few things you need to think about:
What type of camera(s) do you want?
  • Wired cameras
  • Wireless cameras
  • Color or black and white cameras
  • Wide angle lens cameras
  • Zoom cameras
  • Night vision cameras
Where do you plan on mounting them; inside, outside, down low or up high?  These and other camera options can all be answered if you ask yourself first, how will I be using the camera(s)?  We will talk more about using a Pan/Tilt device later, but if you plan on using them keep in mind that when you pan or tilt your camera you are also panning and tilting the antennas. You can easily pan or tilt right out of reception.

Please note that any references to specific model numbers in this article are for X10 equipment and more information can be found by doing an advance search on the message boards for that particular model number.

Wired Cameras
Cameras come with all sorts of cable lengths attached. The X10 Anacondas come with 60 feet of cable attached. The cable is hard wired into the camera. Later, if the camera goes bad or you want to switch it out you have to pull all 60 feet back out to remove the camera or cut the cable. It takes about a 7/16 drilled hole to pass the cable end connector through a wall or floor.

Some aftermarket cameras, and there are many, can have different cable setups. Example; cameras made by Astak came with a 100 foot cable and is detached from the camera. The camera comes with a short lead and RCA plugs attached for audio, video and power. This makes pulling the camera down easy since it unplugs at the camera. However, you need a much bigger hole going through walls and floors to allow the cable end and plugs to pass through. A 3/4 inch hole is needed for these cables. So, look closely at the cable and plug setup before you invest in a wired cam to insure you can run the cable where you want it. If the camera cable is to short you can make up an extension cable to get greater distances, as much as 200 to 300 feet.

Wired cameras typically offer the best video. They are not prone to the interference problems of wireless cams.

With most wired cameras sound is available and separate jacks are provided with the cable for the video and audio portions that can be plugged directly into your TV or VCR. However if you are using the VA11A USB Adaptor to connect to your personal computer, there are no provisions for the audio to be connected to the VA11A.  Thus, loosing any audio being captured by the camera. (Other options may be available to utilize your computers sound card to receive the audio signal.)

Wireless Cameras
Although the camera is not wired electrically you still have to get power to the camera. Several methods for doing this will be discussed later.

The video is transmitted by a RF signal to a receiver. This signal is subject to interference from large metal objects, your computers local wireless network system, cordless phones, etc.  When RF signals pass through a wall or floor, especially at a diagonal, that wall or floor will look thicker to the RF signal. So stand where the camera will be mounted and look towards where the receiver is located. Any objects within the line, like refrigerators and such will offer an obstacle for the RF signal and could degrade the signal or block it completely.

Wireless cameras are advertised usually 100 to 300 feet for the RF distance. This is not the typical distance you will get. Depending on conditions you better plan on 30 to 50 feet.

All wireless cameras will need additional equipment to record or view what the camera sees.  The Wireless Audio/Video Sender is required to view camera activity on your TV.  If you're using motion detection to activate your camera, add a VCR Controller to capture the activity on tape.  The iWatchOut Plug-In, Wireless Audio/Video Sender, VA11A USB Adapter are needed to view or record camera activity on your PC.

With most wireless cameras sound along with video is transmitted from the camera's RF signal and received by the Wireless Audio/Video Receiver (VR31A).  The Audio and Video Outs from the VR31A can then be connected to a TV, both audio and video will be received.  However, when the USB Adapter (VA11A) is used to connect the VR31A to a personal computer, there are no provisions for the audio to be connected to the VA11A.  Thus, loosing any audio being captured by the camera. (Other options may be available to utilize your computers sound card to receive the audio signal.)

Color or Black and White Cameras
Color cameras are great in applications where there is full natural daylight or plenty of artificial light, (higher wattage bulbs). In low light and during the hours of dusk to dawn, color cameras tend to wash out to shades of grays and blacks instead of color. If the camera application is going to be low light only, you may want to consider a black and white camera, for the image tends to be a bit more crisp then the color cam in this condition. Please keep in mind that you will need to add plenty of light to the viewing area when there is little or no daylight for either of these cameras.

The image, using a 60 watt bulb for the light source will be a bit washed out and have a reddish yellow tint. A 100 watt bulb in the same application will be much brighter and the reddish yellow tint will be much less. The light source will need to be very close to the subject.  More then five to six feet away from the light source and the image starts to become washed out.

Wide Angle Lens Cameras
These are all color cameras from X10. They offer a larger field of view then the standard X10 cameras and are an excellent choice when a large area is to be viewed for activity. Its light requirements are the same as the color cameras above. A small amount of curved distortion may be noticeable and a reduction of detail is to be expected. This will vary somewhat based on the distance from the camera to the area being viewed. In some applications using a wide angle camera will eliminate the need for a pan/tilt base.

Zoom Cameras
These types of cameras are generally of higher quality due to there optical abilities. Maximum magnifications of 22X and 44X are available from X10. With the higher quality and functionality also comes a higher purchase price. Expect to pay 5 to 10 times the amount of a standard camera.

Night Vision Cameras
Night Vision Cameras from X10 are more sensitive to lower light levels. These cameras are not true, no light or what is called 0 Lux cameras. Most of these types of cameras are Black and White cameras as well. Additional light will need to be added to illuminate the object being viewed.

There are aftermarket Night Vision Cameras that are rated as 0 Lux cameras. These cameras come with a series of Infrared light emitting diodes that surround the camera lens and illuminate an area in front of the lens anywhere from 5 to 40 feet depending on the number of diodes and there power. This light, invisible to the human eye is seen as reflected white light to the camera. You can get these cameras in color and they have an excellent color image in daylight and low light applications. However in zero light the colors render more like a black and white image rather then color. Some colors can be seen but will vary depending on the type of surface the infrared is reflected off of. Example: Dark blue cloth will be white in appearance and the same color on metal will render more blue then white.

This concludes part 1. In part 2 we will talk about mounting your new camera(s). Considerations to think about when picking your locations and planning in advance for future expansion should you decide to add onto your system.
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Re: A Video Camera Must Read
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2008, 06:28:31 AM »

Don;  I bought three of the Anaconda Outdoor Video Camera with the 60 feet of cord for receiving audio and video.   I noticed just before the RCA type connectors there is a modular plug on that end of the cord.   It looks to be 4 pins and could possibly be a telephone modular or a RJ45 or RJ41.   Anyway,  can I add to the length using twisted pair or CAT5 with modular connections?.   For one of the cameras I could use 100 to 120 feet of cord.   OR... do I have to go buy a 100' cord to accomplish getting the distance?   Thank you,   Tom
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