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We're thinking we'll go ahead and install a video surveillance system this winter. We're not so much worried about home security while we're home as we are about being able to see what happens when we're gone. Also we want to be able to see all areas of the property at all times, monitor the goats when they're ready to go into labor, monitor for predators etc.

I've been looking at video surveillance systems online and it's overwhelming. I can't figure out whether we should do wired or wireless, how many cameras we'd need, where to mount them, what kind of wires it involves etc. etc. If we had a best buy anywhere around I'd go there but we don't....I don't think we'll be able to hire somebody to install it.

If it wasn't too expensive, we'd like the camera to put one of the cameras about 250 feet from the house. Is the wiring expensive?

We'd like to be able to use our large screen TV in the living room to watch on and also be able to put another TV in our bedroom so we can watch at night. Is that possible or can you only have one monitor hooked up?
 

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If you want to monitor when you aren't home, then you want IP cams that can upload to the web or send you an email. Simple cams that wire to your tv won't cut it.

250' of wiring and sensitive electronics have a drawback of being VERY susceptible to lightning or ground currents, and someone with a pair of wire cutters. A 120 volt line going to a line conditioner and then a UPS with a battery will thwart and thief with wire cutters if the signal is wireless

Foscam makes the entry level IP cams. Range is somewhat limited and can also depend on what sources of interference you have (electric fences, CB & shortwave, radio and tv stations). The Foscam cameras have an optical filter on the lens that allows fairly good color rendition, but at the expense of night vision.

Wanscam is less expensive than Foscam, but has no IR filter and can see much better with the little IR diode lights at night. One other feature I like is that the Wanscams default to IR light emitting diodes OFF, while Foscam defaults to them ON. The Foscams will go through hard-to-get power supplies like batteries, and low voltage makes them more wonky. However... the Wanscam show daylight scenes in weird colors, so it is a trade-off. Both of the indoor versions of the cameras will function outside IF they are mounted in a protected area, such as under eves or some sort of shield from rain and mid-day sun. They have the advantage over the outdoor models in that you can pan them around.

At 250' the little stick antenna on either isn't going to cut it. You will need a small directional antenna or a cantenna on the cam, and another at the house for an access point.

Sending output from a computer to a tv is trivial in comparison a cable or adapter generally will do it.

I will warn you that properly setting up an IP camera system is not for the faint of heart and you may want to curse manufacturers. The instructions in pidgen English for the cams can be outdated and wrong, and it can take a few tries to get things functioning. If you don't assign a static IP address to the cams, a power failure can make what you thought was a good local web link disappear according to the whims of DHCP and reappear somewhere else. The monitoring software for seeing the cams on the web is a HUGE security hole, and needs be disabled or removed if you don't need it or aren't using it.

As I type, I am also monitoring other parts of our property by layering browser windows showing different IP cam images. What I find particularly useful is the microphone feature, since most activity has some noise that accompanies it and that alerts me more than motion.

We have some different wired cams that feed our tv and we sometimes use picture in picture for watching the area while watching, but a better way would be to dedicate an old laptop or a pad as a monitor, away from the tv.

If you want to play around with the tv, there are a lot of old VHS and VHS-C cameras available on CL and ebay for a song. Most have a power adapter and are capable of sending the signal thru an RCA cable or two to your tv. Mount in a protected place and you will have a camera that has MUCH better resolution, and when you set it up you can zoom it to cover exactly what you want.

The cost of a system can mount up very quickly. Start with one or two Wanscams to get your feet wet for a couple hundred. Full pro systems run in the thousands.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response, Harry. I'll have to read it again and look up a few words..... :) I don't know why it has to be so difficult, you'd think it would be easy to make them more user friendly in this day and age.

I don't know if this will make a difference or not but I don't necessarily need to monitor when we're not home, just want to be able to review the recordings when we get home.
 

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I've got a system similar to that Zmodo one, but mine's a 4 camera system sold by Night Owl. I installed it just over a year ago, after a neighbor's house was broken into, and it's handled the weather just fine. It provides a decent enough image, good enough to see a visitor coming down the driveway and identify make and model of a vehicle, but making out a license plate is only really possible if they get really close, within 40 feet or so. The night vision is okay, and the 30' night time range is pretty accurate. Beyond 30', you're pretty much only going to see stuff that will reflect the IR light, like an animal's eyes.

One thing I noticed with that Zmodo one is that the cameras are only 480 tv lines. That's pretty low resolution. The cameras with my system are 600 tv lines, and that's still pretty low resolution. To get an idea of what it will look like, find a video recorded at 640x480 and then view it full screen on a 1920-1080 monitor. The HD cameras mentioned by Harry will provide a much better picture, but at greater cost.

I've got the viewing program running on my PC all time, with the camera displays on my second monitor. Over my home network, the viewing program works great. However, for remote/Internet access, your Internet service provider needs to allow traffic over certain network ports, which mine currently doesn't, so I don't have remote access. Same goes for the email alerts.

To display the camera feeds on your TV with a system like this, you'll need to have the DVR placed next to your TV for the BNC connection, or if you want to connect over your home network or view it from a second TV, you'll need computers hooked up to the TVs. I'm thinking about getting a cheap Windows tablet or two to use as an extra monitors. There's also an Android app that allows access to the cameras on your phone or tablet.

Also, the video captured by the cameras is a special format that can only be viewed by the camera software. To view it in Media Center or other video players, it needs to be saved and then converted to a more common format. The software to do that is provided, but it's separate from the main program and not really user friendly.

The system boots up quickly and recovers from power outages nicely. The DVR runs Linux, but after the initial setup, you don't have to mess with it. Mine sits back in a storage area, and everything I need to do with it can be done through the remote admin/viewing app on my PC. The only issue I've had with it was with the automatic overwrite setting, which is supposed to make it record over the oldest files when the hard drive fills up. Mine just stopped recording instead of overwriting, but switching it from automatic overwrite to overwrite files over 30 days old got it recording again.

Basically, it's a good starter system for around $200, but I'm planning on adding some HD IP wireless cameras and a dedicated server, plus some PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) cameras. Good ones aren' cheap though, so I'll have to wait until I can fit them into my budget.
 

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If you check the reviews, you will find the common problems - instruction manual that is useless, night vision is so limited as to be useless unless in a small room. It really is meant more for home use in suburbs than any larger area. The little power supplies for the outrigger cameras are undersized, which may be why the infrared diodes aren't lighting things up enough. On the positive side, since it is a packaged system, a lot of the issues with a build-yer-own are eliminated.

I don't think it will do what you want it to do, and I would avoid it. I also would avoid ANY system that does not also have a capability to record sound. I mentioned before how it cues me, and I can sense that it might even be MORE important to you to hear a goat complaining because of a predator or going into birth.

Some of the advanced cameras used by tv stations cost up to three or four thousand EACH and can pan, tilt, and zoom. However... my home page is a set of about 36 mostly professionally maintained webcams from around the country and world. Today there are only 4 of them that are not functional. Usually it is about 8 to 10. I do not see that buying expensive makes things more reliable, it just gives better pictures when they work.

AXIS Q6042-E Network Camera $2700 +- Example here of image:
http://www.madriverweathercam.com:8888/view/viewer_index.shtml?id=3576
I sometimes watch the cattle in the field moving around. It is a sweet setup.

Go on wunderground.com and click to see various webcams people use. Most of them have limited resolution - barely that of an old VHS tape recorded on extended mode, but they serve a purpose.

Only you can decide that balancing point that you want of cost vs. performance. IMO, one good camera with some control and a good location is more valuable than a lot of cameras.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We would like to be able to identify the type of predators at night, not just see eyes reflected, and we need to be able to see them further away than 30 feet for sure.
 

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Game cams might work for that, or you could increase the night lighting level with additional lighting. Do a web search for "infrared floodlight"
 

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I am tech savvy enough to know that any IP based surveillance system that I can see on my phone via the internet is most certainly going to be viewed by people that I do not know. I would not be terribly concerned with showing the private life of the goats. But I think in-home systems are insane.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
OH - I just looked at the infrared floodlights. Thank you so much for that, you just eliminated one problem with the search.

I'm really having trouble finding a starter system with audio and PTZ in my price range. I wonder if we could start out with stationary cameras with wide angles? We can definitely add more or better cameras later if we can find a system we can add on to. I'm looking to spend about $1000.00 maybe slightly more but that needs to include the DVR, cable, cameras - everything. I've been looking on Amazon so long my head hurts.

We only have satellite internet out here and I'm not internet savvy and don't understand anything about networks etc. I just want to be able to watch live video and also record, and we need to be able to see well enough to identify predators and see if anybody's sneaking around. It's not necessary for us to be able to watch when we're not home. We could put something higher resolution in the areas where people might want to steal stuff so we can recognize faces, maybe? And yes - I really want the microphones.

It's really important to me to be able to have the monitors both downstairs and upstairs. I'd like to keep the microphones turned on at night and flip on the monitors if anything wakes us up.

We could probably get a baby monitor or something like that in the goat barn, separate from this surveillance system. . . . just thinking out loud.
 

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An intercom to a shop with a listening feature has been around for a LONG time. My grandfather had one set up in the 1930s. Locally, a neighbor has one and hears the ghosts in his shop regularly. Rigging up something to monitor a goat barn is pretty inexpensive and simple.

I'm not sure how much the zoom feature would be of benefit to you. For starters, get one or two wanscam PT cams, a 100' (RJ-45 jack) cat 5 or 6 cable, and try hooking it or them up to your computer. You likely can do one for under $100 with cable. Wifi is only reliable at less than 50' unless you start making mods and adding antenna. Don't be tempted into buying the PTZ cam they have. Reviews are terrible. Stick with the CHEAP ($36+-) basic black PT cams and just make sure they have shelter from rain. That will get your feet wet and if one breaks you aren't out much. Use the videos on YT to guide you through setup.

An aside - the OLD X-10 wireless cams (no longer sold but available cheap on ebay used) have a simple receiver setup that plugs up to a tv, and the range can be surprisingly good - more like 75 or 100' if you use a metal reflector behind the antenna paddles. Resolution is not good, but it does give an idea of what is going on.
 

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my brother has a wireless Ip baby monitor that would be perfect for a kidding barn , you can hear every little noise and watch it from you pc or tablet and pan the camera around as well as carry the little receiver around to hear
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I just found out you can't remote view with satellite internet so I guess IP monitors are out for us?
 

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I just found out you can't remote view with satellite internet so I guess IP monitors are out for us?
Nah. There are ways around it. You can have it send an email upon event, or you can use FTP to upload still pics. Those are much more bandwidth friendly. Remote live video viewing is possible; google chat and various other videoconferencing programs use standard ports, and you can request certain ports be opened if you want to chance it. For your local wifi, not a problem at all. I view mine on my desktops and Android pad all the time.
 
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