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Author Topic: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions  (Read 48202 times)

RebHawk

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iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« on: February 27, 2008, 10:36:51 PM »

Hi all:
Based on what I've read here, the Astak IR cameras are much preferred over the X10 IR cams.  I've also heard mention of people mounting an Astak camera on an X10 Ninja Pan/Tilt mount.  So some questions:

1) I gather iWatchout/iWitness can handle up to 16 cams, requiring only one video receiver, and that iWitness can autoscan between all the cameras if they are all in the same HC. Correct?

2) I also gather that the Ninja has a built-in 2.4 gHz RF module that allows it to send video from a wired camera to the video receiver I've got hooked up to my computer via the USB interface.

3) Furthermore, some flavor of Astak camera can be mounted to the Ninja, which effectively makes iWitness think the Astak camera is an X10 camera.

I can think of at least 4 places around the house I'd like to put IR cameras, as much for capturing images of deer and other critters as anything else.

What models of Astak camera are known to work well?  It looks like they only specify an IR range for most of their cameras as 20 feet, which doesn't seem terribly impressive to me.  One application would be looking at the barn from the house, which is about 100 feet away.

Any thoughts and clarifications to the scenario I describe above would be appreciated.

Cheers,
--Lee
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Brian H

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2008, 06:47:33 AM »

2) No the Ninja does not have a 2.4 Ghz transmitter in it. It mounts an X10 Wireless camera that has its own transmitter. The Ninja has a X10 Addressable power supply that is turned on and off by X10 powerline signals. The pan and tilt functions are through a 310 Mhz signal from a camera remote or transmitter in the CM15A Interface.
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RebHawk

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2008, 08:47:30 AM »

Ok, so how are the Astak cameras integrated into AHP?  Is a wireless Astak's transmitter compatible with an X10 video receiver?  Or is some other scheme being used?

Cheers,
--Lee
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Brian H

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2008, 12:12:11 PM »

I don't know. Hopefully someone who has will provide the data you need.
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HA Dave

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2008, 02:29:08 PM »


Ok, so how are the Astak cameras integrated into AHP?  Is a wireless Astak's transmitter compatible with an X10 video receiver?  Or is some other scheme being used?


I am one of the Astak camera users. I use the wired Astak camera. IR cameras have a value! But they aren't superior to X10 cameras. Although Astak does make a wireless.. I don't know of anyone to have tried it with a X10 receiver. I have tried other wireless cameras with my X10 setup... and have been able to find at least ONE compatible VIDEO channel. You could be the 1st to try the wireless Astak.

I don't know of any manual available on how to intergrate other cameras into an X10 set-up.. but it can be done. I use an appliance module to turn my Astak ON/OFF.

The value of IR cameras is they don't require exterior lighting. The slip-side is... exterior lighting is proably as good as a deterrent as the cameras.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 02:31:25 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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RebHawk

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2008, 02:35:11 PM »

How would you say the Astaks compare to, say, a FloodCam?

Cheers,
--Lee
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HA Dave

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2008, 02:47:54 PM »


How would you say the Astaks compare to, say, a FloodCam?


Never used a FloodCam.. and haven't read enough good reports on them to consider one. But I do use the X10 FloodLIGHTS... and REALLY like them. They turn on my cameras!

The X10 cams are tough, durable, easy to hide, little work horses that are very easy to integrate into an X10 system. I use the big hunky silver IR Astak in a place where it is easy to spot. It (IMHO) makes a good deterrent as anyone can spot I have cameras because of it. It's picture is as good as X10's cameras... and it allows me to view my yard in total darkness also.
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RebHawk

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2008, 04:30:23 PM »

I am one of the Astak camera users. I use the wired Astak camera. IR cameras have a value! But they aren't superior to X10 cameras.

Which Astaks do you use?  I ask because, while you're probably correct that the Astaks that use CMOS sensors aren't superior to the X10 cams, the Astak CM-906D (and its wired brother, the CM-906W) use a CCD sensor.  CCD sensors are much superior to CMOS sensors in low light conditions (read: much less noise, much greater sensitivity).  We use LogiTech webcams at our observatory for looking at the daytime and early evening sky (for cloud monitoring). The Pro version is the only LogiTech we can use for this application, since the cheaper webcams use CMOS instead of CCD, and thus have an unacceptable level of noise.

I have a two-pack of CM-906D's on the way from Wal-Mart.  I'll try to get them to talk to IWatchOut and will report back.

Cheers,
--Lee
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HA Dave

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2008, 06:00:18 PM »

............. We use LogiTech webcams at our observatory for looking at the daytime and early evening sky (for cloud monitoring). ............

My point exactly. Every home... and every camera placement has it's own requirements. If someone is new to surveillance cameras (and we all are in the beginning)... it may be impossible to know what is needed or what to expect. I use several completely different cameras in my set-up. Each has both benefits and.. problems. IMHO the best camera is the one that meets it's requirements... but doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

IR cameras do have a great cool factor... mainly because they can see in the dark. However, dark areas around a home aren't exactly a plus for security. Adding motion sensor floodlights will increase security by being a deterrent... but may actually reflect off the glass lens cover of an IR camera... and interfear with getting a clear image. Whereas good outdoor lighting (floodlights) are a known deterrent to crime... cameras that are not seen provide NO deterrent.

Of course surrounding a home with razor-wire fences, with tall poles at all corners, and cameras and floodlights at the top of the poles.... may provide a level of security. But the "compound-look" would likely reduce BOTH WAF and Neighbor Approval Factor.

I use my big chunky silver Astak IR camera where an intruder can easily spot it... DAY OR NIGHT. But.. If ALL my floodlights burned all night.. instead of just being motion sensored. Or if ALL my cameras were as easy to spot [as the Astak]... my home would more closely resemble the forementioned "compound".

Selecting the best camera for each location around a home may take a little trial and error. But the X10 cams really are tough, durable, easy to hide, little work horses. And they are very easy to integrate into any X10 system.... and they don't cost much ether. That's why I recommend them.



« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 06:28:11 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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RebHawk

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2008, 08:39:01 PM »

Quote
Whereas good outdoor lighting (floodlights) are a known deterrent to crime... cameras that are not seen provide NO deterrent.

I'd be interested to know your source for that statement.

Actually, there are DOJ studies that show that crime is NOT deterred by lighting...  and in fact may make it more likely.  As a personal anecdote, my grandfather's tack room was robbed... and all the outdoor light on the barn did was give the thieves better light to work by :/  Check out www.darksky.org for specifics (and by the way, the IDA is NOT against all lighting or even most lighting... their crusade is against bad lighting that either wastes energy, doesn't do its job, makes things worse, or all three).

Regardless, it's for sure that BAD lighting is much worse than no lighting at all.  Why?  Because if your lighting provides "pools of darkness" and glare for the perp to hide in, then you are in trouble.  The perp can easily see you, but you cannot see them, because your eyes are shut down from the light, while theirs are adapted since they are in the shadows.  Next time you are driving around town, take a look at the parking lot and other lighting, looking for dark pools and bad glare in areas that are supposedly "well lit as a deterrent to crime".   Once you actually look, you'll be surprised.  98% of ALL lighting projects in this country were laid out by people with no real clue as to what they were doing, because there wasn't ANY standard for lighting designers until about 8-10 years ago...

Back to CCD vs CMOS, yes, CMOS is cheaper, but a CCD camera has over 2x the range and lower noise, so you do get what you pay for, especially if the cameras in question are for night use.   I agree that everyone needs to make their own choices, I was just trying to provide some information concerning the differences in the two technologies so folks who might not know the difference between CMOS and CCD could make a more informed choice...

Regards,
--Lee
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RebHawk

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2008, 10:44:05 PM »

Here's a link to various studies that show the lack of a correlation between lighting and crime prevention, and perhaps more importantly, the very real negative health effects of not sleeping in a dark environment (to include a very measurable increase in breast cancer rates):

http://www.darksky.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=62906&orgId=idsa

One correction to my post above, it was an Institute of Justice (IoJ not DoJ) report to congress that I was remembering.

Regards,
--Lee
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HA Dave

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2008, 02:14:30 AM »

Here's a link to various studies that show the lack of a correlation between lighting and crime prevention, and perhaps more importantly, the very real negative health effects of not sleeping in a dark environment (to include a very measurable increase in breast cancer rates):

http://www.darksky.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=62906&orgId=idsa

One correction to my post above, it was an Institute of Justice (IoJ not DoJ) report to congress that I was remembering.



GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

I don't know if everyone knows WHAT "dark skys" advocates.... but I do. I respect your rights to have envirormental opinions. But please... this isn't the place for that.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2008, 02:38:22 AM by Dave_x10_L »
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RebHawk

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2008, 02:29:56 AM »


One correction to my post above, it was an Institute of Justice (IoJ not DoJ) report to congress that I was remembering.



GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

I don't know if everyone knows WHAT "dark skys" advocates.... but I do.

The "DOJ report" you mention isn't a DOJ report... as is clearly marked.

"This report was supported by National Institute of Justice Grant Number 96MUMU0019 to the University of Maryland at College Park. Points of view or opinions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States Department of Justice".

Yes, and I corrected myself before you replied.  What exactly do you think "dark skies" advocates?  Do you seriously believe bad lighting is a good thing?  And the health effects are not some sort of joke or something cooked up.  The link to breast cancer is real.  The link of the effects of poor lighting on birds and other wildlife is well known.  And I challenge you to provide just one reference showing that lighting alone has ever prevented a crime.   Service stations (at least around here) are some of the most over-lit places there are.  And they are also the most robbed.

Note that I DID NOT say all lighting is bad.  Just lighting that intrudes into your bedroom when you are sleeping, light that is GLARING, thus hides perps in glare or shadow pools.  I'm all for good lighting that is evenly distributed and actually does it job.  And so is the IDA. 

Or am I misunderstanding your comments?

Regards,
--Lee
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HA Dave

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2008, 02:53:37 AM »


Or am I misunderstanding your comments?


I think your ranting! Your environmental opinions.. are fine.. and I have no problem with that. But your feelings are not factual information. I have no intent to debate your emotional commitments.

I was editing my comments earlier..when you replied. Sorry.
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RebHawk

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Re: iWitness and Astak IR Camera Questions
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2008, 03:26:19 AM »

Dave:

Sorry, I wasn't intending to rant.  However, the fact remains that most people think "more lighting is better and safer" when it's not.  *Good* lighting is better and safer.  I've spoken to more than one cop who *hates* glaring floodlights around businesses.  Why?  If he comes into the lot on a call, and the floods are illuminating him, but the perps are in the shadows or in the building, he's one big fat illuminated target, while he cannot see them at all.

I'm also not much of an environmentalist... the way most would define it LOL.  I have no problems cutting trees and hunting animals :D

As for dark skies, my profession is astronomy, so that is the main reason I'm interested.  But another reason has to do with my niece and nephew.  I grew up sitting out behind the house looking at the stars and letting my imagination run wild, as did many who grew up where and when I did.   Now from my parent's house, you can barely see the brightest stars.  I think it's a shame that kids can't marvel at the stars these days without driving for 30+ miles to get out of the city glow. 

Around here, everyone walks within about 20 feet of the ground, and 100% of the outdoor crime occurs within about 10 feet of the ground :D  Seems kinda silly for our tax dollars to be wasted lighting anything above that level, now doesn't it?

Now, since you state that my comments are not "factual" information...  what facts do you base that statement on?  Can you point to any documented evidence that more lighting in some way prevents crime?  Or do you just think that it's "common sense" that more light is better in every case for preventing crime?  Do you have any direct personal examples of lights preventing, say, a home robbery?

Cheers,
--Lee
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