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Author Topic: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?  (Read 12254 times)

grobert

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Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« on: April 16, 2009, 07:42:20 PM »

Hello all; I have two kits giving me 2 color and 4 B&W cameras, 2 X vanguard, 5 pan & tilt, VCR commander and USB capture. I have set up a basic system at my small commercial office and even smaller at my home. I cannot get the picture to stabilize and or be consistant. Let me preface this with the fact that I have used X10 automation products in my home for at least 10 years. I have a stable lighting scheme for my intire home (interior / exterior) set up so I am not here to bag on X10.

Remote internet access is poor. Quality of the color cameras is 50/50 at best. B&W is better with some light but not what I'd like. I know a wired system would likely provide the stability I desire and would be easy to install at my office with lay in ceilings. My home, not so much. Two story 2500 sq'. I am to the point where I am considering scrapping the whole thing but wanted to give it another honest attempt to tweak it to acceptable operation levels. Can anyone point me in the right direction? I am rambling here so I'll try to be more concise;
1. How can I get the cameras to provide a steady picture that does not drop in & out every few seconds? If the answer is keep adjusting the antennas then there is no way.
2. How can I get the color cameras to show a descent color picture in Vanguard?
3. How can I get a stable accessable internet connection to a "on line" vanguard system?
4. I see one Vanguard problem may be caused by Vista. Any options there.

Thanks in advance for any help; I hate to scrap what I have done but if it takes more money to buy a camera system that actually works then that is what I need to do. I WAS motivated to buy these largely by price but if it doesn't work whats the point?
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hawk1

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2009, 09:01:55 AM »

Cameras can be a big pain the ___!  There are so many variables to getting them to work.  Most users can get a 3 camera system to work with no problem. (most of the time) But getting 4 or more can be quite the chore.

I don't know anything about the vanguard software but I do know a little about the wireless cameras.  The antenna of the receiver is really directional.  I my self bought a Home Security Camera that came with a receiver/dvr/vcr commander with 4 channels, and it so happened that my x10 system was capable of showing on one of those channels.  So now I have a good receiver with a omni directional antenna.

So many items interfere with these cameras so making them work 100% is null and void.  Cordless phones in your office or home, microwaves, anything that runs on the same 2.4 frequency will really give you problems.

Noise and signal suckers will frustrate you to no end!  Cameras won't switch, cameras won't turn off because something is blocking or sucking the PLC going to the cameras.

Phase issues.  I'm sure you know what this is having x10 in your home to control lights.

Some things to try: put antenna totally flat with the ground pointing up. (i know you didn't want to here that) But that is the only way I was able to receive all of my cameras.

If you have the money buy a different 2.4 camera with a receiver that has 4 channels.  Most of the time you can get the receiver to pick up the frequency that the cameras are on by adjusting the frequency on the cameras and receiver.

Make sure no noise and signal suckers exist.  Start unplugging and see if the cameras work better, if they do than you probably need some noise filters.

You didn't say what transceiver you were using to switch the cameras, but I assume it is the cm19?  If so the range on this thing is very poor.  There are some modification for the antenna, just do a search here on the forum. You also might want to get you a v572 transceiver.  You'll never have range problems again. http://www.wgldesigns.com/v572.html  I personally have one of these baby's and I couldn't live without it!

Software: For some reason the AHP and Iwitness software that I use is a cpu hog when recording video and just doesn't work the way I want so I'm making the move to Blue Iris.  You might want to check this out for you. http://blueirissoftware.com/

But after all this you are right.  The price is right.  But..... is still need to do some things to make it work right.  I'm not saying that all users had to buy a phase coupler, noise filters, different transceiver, plc amplifiers, different software, but I did.

I hope this gave you some ideas to check.  But sure the guys and gals here at the forum can solve any of your x10 challenges.

 >!
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koopr@sstelco.com, I don't know what I'm doin but I'm havin fun doin it!

x10dude

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 03:56:26 PM »

I personally scrapped my X10 cameras because of the VA12a (USB capture) driver's extremely low quality, the unreliability of AHP 3.236, and of course the poor quality of the cameras. I ended getting a professional dvr with wired cameras.

Hawk1 the reason why you get the CPU hogging is because the VA12a driver has memory leaks, which will render Windows to its knees in about 24 hours and subsequently crash AHP. I don't know if the AHP/VA12a combination is what does it, but if the new blue iris software works for you, it'd be good to know.

grobert depending on X10's on-line service is another very frustrating experience. I have not seen one single person that can reliably use it. I, for one, went with LogMeIn to access my machine remotely. X10's on-line service appears to be something that they do for fun - when they feel like it. It can't be relied upon for any mission critical application. Personally, I take security as mission critical, so I'd rather not even deal with their on-line service.

As for the reception on the cameras, people here have modified the cameras and receivers with omnidirectional antennas. That seems to help. Look in the "mods" section.
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grobert

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2009, 04:57:57 PM »

Thanks for the replies guys.

As an old school X10 user I have a properly sized resister at my home panel between the two phases. My problem is not with the X10 high frequency signal over the electrical wiring, the pan and tilt bases work fine. My problem is the wireless cameras provide an unacceptable video signal too often. A blip once in awhile OK but every three seconds? Optimal placement for one doesn't work for another. Even when you get all three working OK panning a camera can mess its video up. I've done some research on this and the universal response seems to be very low quality. I wish X10 (cameras the ones I bought) could be hardwired so at least I could get a steady consistant video. Just because something is inexpensive does not give license to perform poorly. Cheap DVD players work fine. I was (am) hoping to find a way to salvage my $400 investment. I never expected to get inexpensive cameras to provide HD quality video but I did expect them to provide a steady consistant video.

I am now seriously leaning towards scrapping it all and getting a four channel DVR hardwired system but still holding out hope. I'm not down on X10, just down on the video quality of their cameras.
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hawk1

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2009, 05:04:14 PM »

I hope you mean capacitor and not resister.  The x10 wireless cameras can be converted to wired!  Here's a couple of links to get you started:  http://forums.x10.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=tuqsk38hlvslsrpaeksjk0a0k6&topic=13139.msg73205#msg73205

http://forums.x10.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=tuqsk38hlvslsrpaeksjk0a0k6&topic=17716.0

« Last Edit: April 18, 2009, 05:13:39 PM by hawk1 »
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grobert

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2009, 05:06:10 PM »

X10dude, Off Topic but I just reread your post, I too started using my office logmein to monitor the office system. Works good but if the cameras are providing a poor video you see a poor video remotely. I see they have logmein for Iphone but I unsure what good it will be on such a small screen.
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x10dude

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2009, 05:25:39 AM »

note that I don't use the X10 cameras, so the quality I get on logmein is quite good. I don't have an iPhone, but I use the HTC Fuze (windows mobile 6.1) with logmein. For what it is, I'm quite pleased with it. I can see what I need to see - AHP and my DVR
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mike

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2009, 08:18:28 AM »

all good info/comments.  I too use logmein FREE for same thing on occassion.  I found AHP & Vanguard software video driver conflicts and blips pix every 1 sec on win7 here.

But I can add you CAN have GOOD video if you do what I did:  put the stupid cheap X10 receiver 3-4 feet away from the cameras and run coax rca line back to Va12a at computer.  sounds dumb, but I was able to put all 4 cameras near same location pointing different directions outside my house and have good solid color & b&w video - when the crappy software doesn't mess us switching between cameras or when I try to run both AHP & vanguard software. 
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HA Dave

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2009, 09:44:37 AM »

It's easy to browse the forums here and read negative comments about the X10 cameras. Although the little "digs" on X10 cameras posted here... aren't the full story.

My first camera... was a Kodak 110 (or 126?) Instamatic. If I remember correctly... the camera was a present about 44 years ago. I could mention that the pictures it took were awful... with peoples heads cropped off, people standing too far from the camera, and people with the sun to their backs. Or I could just mention it was my first camera (and a great little camera at that) and with it I learned to take pictures.

X10's cameras are tough little workhorses! They are easy to setup with a full surveillance system... compared to many others. And a great beginning camera. I would recommend them to anyone. Don't expect perfect results from your first camera. But do expect the results to improve as you gain experience.

I've purchased (and use) other brands of cameras for my setup. And I like having a big clunky IR camera mounted on a Ninja. It's obvious enough even a high burglar should be able to spot it (and hopefully move to a easier target). I had the lens fall off of one of those IR cameras... and another one filled with rain water. I can easily handle the problems with intergrading other cameras into my X10 setup.. [and maybe more should be posted on doing that]. But I still use X10 cameras with excellent results.
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Home Automation is an always changing technology

mike

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Re: Can the cameras ever be adjusted to work right?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2009, 08:51:24 AM »

FYI, after buying Vanguard system to use with my AHP, NOW they tell me it is totally uncompatable with AHP with Iwitness plug in!  Gotta use one or the other but not both.  Had to unistall all AHP and plug ins and reinstall MINUS Iwitness to stop the flashing pix in Vanguard. 
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