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Author Topic: Overview of Video/Software Options?  (Read 9982 times)

ultradianguy

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Overview of Video/Software Options?
« on: April 10, 2009, 12:43:00 PM »

Hi - I've been using AHP and a variety of automation products for some time, but know virtually nothing about the camera offerings, video receivers, software etc.  There are clearly a variety of cameras, options for receivers/senders, and appear to be several software programs. Is there a post somewhere that provides an overview of the choices, and helps someone new figure out what they need to accomplish a particular goal?

I think one of the more frustrating things with X10 is figuring out the differences between many of the products.  THere are precious few comparison charts, which would help a lot.

Thanks,
Michael
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x10dude

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2009, 04:12:12 AM »

Unfortunately, it is what it is with X10. I spent hours and hours reading product documentation, postings, etc. to try to figure out what to get. At the end, I ended up simply putting the cameras & video receiver/senders boxed in a closet - essentially throwing them away.

From what I recall, here's what you'd need:

* a video converter for your PC. The latest is the USB VA12a
* a video receiver to connect to the VA12a (if you want sound, you'll need to get the one with sound output)
* cameras (wired, PTZ aka ninja, wireless)
* AHP plug-in (iWitness)
* camera remote control (optional)

Here are some things to consider:

THE VIDEO CONVERTER (VA12a)

* when it works, the quality is actually not bad, albeit the refresh rate is not that good, but you can distinguish between moving people versus static things

* The driver is soooooo buggy that in using AHP 3.236, I wasn't able to keep my machine running for more than 24 hours before it locked up and needed a reboot. The driver appears to have memory leaks that slowly eat up resources until Windows is left with nothing

* The VA12a driver only works with AHP 3.236, which as you may have read, it's the buggiest AHP version out there. Personally, I'm on 3.228 - one of the reasons why I can't use AHP's video features.

* if you're using any X10 security, you don't want to be on 3.236 because of incompatibility with OnAlert. Another reason why I moved to 3.228

* they have fixed some driver issues with the latest driver release, but using AHP as part of my security system is more important that getting the cameras to work. I bought another dedicated professional system that does a much, much better job

CAMERAS

* From what I read, they are all CMOS based, meaning that they don't have optical resolution or true image sensing. For that to happen, you need actual lenses (e.g., CCD). CMOS is all software based and very low quality - especially at night or distance. I believe this is why X10 sells some software that supposedly enhances all your videos. All it is, is extrapolation and wasted pixelation in my opinion

* the wireless cameras transmit in the 2.4ghz frequency, meaning that if someone parks in front of your house with a 2.4ghz receiver, they can see everything that your cameras see since they broadcast on a consumer non-secure, open frequency (all 4 channels). If one of your neighbors has one of those X10 transmitter/receiver combos to transmit from one TV to another, they'll likely be able to watch your cameras too

* also, because these cameras use the 2.4ghz frequency, if you have a wi-fi network nearby (yours or close to your house,) you'll need to configure the router to transmit on a nonstandard channel to avoid conflicts with your cameras. Good luck doing that with your neighbors' router. All of mine have wi-fi networks, which reach my house and caused my cameras to be snowy at all times

* wired cameras may be a better option, but then you'd need a video multiplexer (like a DVR board in your computer.) I don't know if X10 has those.

THE RECEIVER

* its reach is horrible. You'd definitely need to modify it to replace the antenna it comes with (a wi-fi router antenna does a good job)

* the sound quality (Vr38a) is indistinguishable most of the time from the static it picks up

Well, there you have it - my recent experience with X10 cameras on AHP - for whatever it's worth. I'm sure other people have been able to do other things with them, but the fact that I have a mix of requirements, it just didn't do it for me.
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Tinman55

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2009, 08:33:15 AM »

I would recommend a 3rd party video software called "Blueiris" For $50 for the full version you can't go wrong. It will integrate with X10 AHP by using the "windows command" feature in the macros. Blueiris supports many IP cameras as well as analog cams and has all the full features built in. They offer a free 15 day demo you can play with. I too had bought all the X10 cams and did get it to work but the quality was poor.
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hawk1

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2009, 09:33:05 AM »

Can you give us a little more info on how this software works with AHP?  What about motion sensors? Does this software have a command line for recording? Or for switching cameras? How do you use it with your AhP system?  Thanks
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Tinman55

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2009, 10:15:23 AM »

Sure, the Blueiris software supports the DDE input to do several commands. There is a free addon utility for Blueirs called BI command. With this you can tell Blueiris to do many things. Here is the readme file contents:

BI Command is designed to use Blue Iris DDE commands for external call.

Usage:

bicommand.exe <command> <camshortname1> <camshortname2> etc.

You can use as many camera short names as you want, and which are available.

Available commands:

trigger:   triggers an motion event - will call set up alerts
recstart:   starts manual recording of the camera(s)
recstop:   stops manual recording of the camera(s)
snapshot:   takes a snapshot of the camera(s) and stores it in the recording folder
reset:      resets the camera(s)
enable:      enables the camera(s)
disable:   disables the camera(s)

Example "bicommand.exe snapshot cam1 cam2 cam3"


This is freeware. If you payed for this tool please report to dwayne@gmx.org
or leave a message at http://www.cam-it.org

As far as Blueiris...there are all kinds of email alerts and ftp options and motion detection. It is really solid program. As far as my usage....I have a macro that when my X10 floodlight senses motion it sends a trigger for my macro that then executes the windows command, which is a simple .bat file as follows:

bicommand.exe recstart cam1 cam2 cam3

then I have a 30 second delay and then issue the

bicommand.exe recstop cam1 cam2 cam3

There is no need to switch cameras...this software supports up to 25 cams.....I currently monitor 9 cameras 24/7.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 10:20:14 AM by Tinman55 »
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hawk1

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2009, 05:48:38 PM »

Thanks!  How many x10 cams do you monitor with it? And what other kind of cams do you have and how are you inputting those into bi?  If you don't mind me askin'.
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Tinman55

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2009, 06:06:33 PM »

I do not use X10 cameras anymore.....but i did have one x10 cam at one time. I had  the video reciever running into a pci capture card which in turn BI would support it. I currently use all IP cameras....some are Axis and Sony...1 y-cam and I is a Speco analog running into that same capture card. All of my others are accessed through my network. That is the beauty of the BI software...you can really mix match your cameras. I have never bought any of mine new....Ebay is a wonderful thing  ;D  I will say of all my cams the Axis 207 will give you great daytime color quality and pretty decent B/W nighttime, but they are not easy to find cheap. I still run 3 Axis 205 cams, which really perform excellent for daytime use and can be had usally under 80.00 on ebay.
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ultradianguy

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2009, 01:53:18 AM »

Thanks X10Dude - that was a very lucid, if disappointing, explanation.  Alas - I think I'm not going to even attempt to add the video at this point in time.  Sounds like a massive exercise in frustration. 

Michael
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HA Dave

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2009, 11:20:50 AM »

...... I spent hours and hours reading product documentation, postings, etc. to try to figure out what to get. At the end, I ended up simply putting the cameras & video receiver/senders boxed in a closet - essentially throwing them away.

Thanks X10Dude - that was a very lucid, if disappointing, explanation.  Alas - I think I'm not going to even attempt to add the video at this point in time.  Sounds like a massive exercise in frustration

If you check your phone books... you'll see that installing security cameras [and] monitoring is actually a professional indever.

Much of this X10 stuff [often enough] isn't plug-N-play! But it isn't so complex as to be impossible for the average user ether. If you take your time... read the directions.. and test your parts and pieces before and during the setup process... you can achieve professional results. And I might add at a fraction of the price.

Besides the added convenience and security you get with a good camera/monitoring system... you also get the feeling of pride for a job well done. DON'T jump in over your head. But don't just give-up ether. Try a one camera deal... think of it as a learning/training aid. If you have problems... we'll be here.
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x10dude

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2009, 03:50:10 AM »

Thanks Dave. We all appreciate your being here for us, but if you read through my post (i know it's long..), I didn't give up because I couldn't do it, but rather because the quality of the cameras just sucked for my needs. Unfortunately, I didn't figure that out until I had had all my system after the 30 day return deadline. I spent my time initially on the other X10 stuff I had purchased. I bought it all all the same time.

The driver quality was just the icing on the cake that just about made me throw all of it away and get a real, professional system. True, I paid quite a bit more for the professional system, but I got exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it. Yes, I did install the pro system myself.
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HA Dave

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Re: Overview of Video/Software Options?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2009, 12:08:11 PM »

... if you read through my post.. I didn't give up because I couldn't do it, but rather because the quality of the cameras just sucked for my needs.
.....I got exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it. Yes, I did install the pro system myself.

Often when I post... I think too much about the hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of future readers of the post. I have read enough of your posts x10dude... to know... you don't easily give up

But many of the visitors to the forum never even register or post. They sort through and read enough to get what information they're looking for... then make their decidesons. Maybe... more often than I should... I post for these readers instead of my fellow forum members. I apologize.. if when do this... I sound offensive.

IMHO... camera setups require different skill-sets than Home Automation does. I think a background with photography is better suited to a good camera setup... than is technology knowledge. I have read enough posts to know that plenty of people install cameras in places without lighting... or subjected to direct sunlight. Therefore making the camera setup useless... by the installation design.

I am also concerned that we might forget... this is security... NOT photography. The highest quality, best placed, fully automated camera can easily be defeated by a ball cap and sunglasses. OR WORSE... a user could get fine professional images of the person that killed a family member. Of course the desired results are to deter crime. To cause potential intruders to past our homes by... and choose some other persons home instead. I do not believe... that the desired result can be altered by selecting a [Sony] CCD imaging device.. over the cheaper CMOS one.

I do believe.. that if a crime happens to the well prepared.. the video collected could be helpful to the police. I have tried a few different types and brands of cameras. I have seen the glass lens just fall off of an IR camera. I have seen an advertised as "outdoor" camera fill with rain water (then freeze). And... I have seen the X10 cameras perform reliably day-in and day-out. They are tough little work horses.. and they cost nearly nothing.

Of course... most of what I posted here isn't really in responce to you x10dude. Although I do think it could be helpful to ultradianguy and maybe others that haven't taken they're security to that extra step yet.

« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 04:50:34 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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