With the holiday season upon us, I thought it would be great to have a look at how easy it is to setup an IP-based DIY home surveillance system that is both mobile friendly and has the ability to send images to the cloud for easy access.
For this exercise, I am going to use the D-Link DCS-2330L HD Camera & DNR-202L Network Video Recorder (NVR). Using the KISS principle, this is how this will be configured:
DCS-2330L – HD Wireless N Outdoor Cloud Camera
The DCS-2330L has been on our shores for a little while now and was selected as I felt it had a good value for money proposition when you consider it also supports night vision. At time of writing this unit was selling locally for around AUD$200-$220.The DCS-2330L HD Wireless N Outdoor Cloud Camera Specifications, courtesy of D-Link:
|Hardware||1/4” Megapixel progressive CMOS sensor
5 meter IR illumination distance
Minimum illumination: 0 lux with IR LED on
Built-in Infrared-Cut Removable (ICR) Filter module
Built-in PIR sensor (5 meter)
10x digital zoom
Focal length: 3.45 mm
|Field of View||(H) 57.8°, (V) 37.8°, (D) 66°|
|Housing||IP65 compliant weatherproof housing|
|Image Details||Configurable image size, quality, frame rate, and bit rate
Time stamp and text overlays
Configurable motion detection windows
Configurable privacy mask zones
Configurable shutter speed, brightness, saturation,contrast, and sharpness
|Compression||H.264/MPEG-4/MJPEG simultaneous format compression
JPEG for still images
|Resolution||16:9 - 1280 x 720, 800 x 450, 640 x 360, 480 x 270, 320 x 176 up to 30 fps recording1
4:3 - 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, 640 x 480, 480 x 360, 320 x 240 up to 30 fps recording1
NTP client (D-Link)
DDNS client (D-Link)
HTTP / HTTPS
UPnP port forwarding
RTP / RTSP/ RTCP
|Security||Administrator and user group protection
HTTP and RTSP digest encryption
|Supported Browsers||Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome|
|Event Management||Motion detection
Event notification and upload snapshots/video clips via email or FTP
Supports multiple SMTP and FTP servers
Multiple event notifications
Multiple recording methods for easy backup
|Remote Management||Configuration accessible via web browser
Take snapshots/video clips and save to local hard drive or NAS via web browser
|Mobile Support||Windows 8®/ 7®/Vista®/XP® system, Pocket PC, or mobile phone
mydlink™ mobile app for iOS and Android mobile devices
|Power||5 V DC, 1.2 A through external power adapter
External Power Adapter Input:100 to 240 V AC, 50/60 Hz
|Power Consumption||5.5 watts max|
|Operating Temps||-20° to 70° C|
|Operating Humidity||20% to 80% non-condensing|
|Dimensions||66mm x 140.5mm x 93mm|
Some of the camera’s features I am interested in exploring during this exercise are:
- Ease of installation outdoors
- Wireless performance
- Email alerts and
- External recording (i.e. to the cloud or a NAS)
As the DCS-2330L camera is a well sealed unit, to protect from the elements, a couple of extra steps are required compared to setting up an indoor unit.
The cover at the base of the camera has 2 screws which need to be removed in order to access the microSD slot.
I don’t have a D-Link wireless router so had to configure wireless by first plugging into the LAN. This wasn’t a bad thing as I needed to upgrade the firmware to the latest version anyway. To access the LAN port, the rubber grommet at the back of the camera had to be removed.
To configure the camera, the quick-start guide directed me to mydlink.com which directed me to download installation software for my desktop. The install software was extremely easy to use and follow.
Once configured for wireless the camera was ready to be mounted somewhere outside. Given this isn’t a PoE device, I’ll be restricted to where I can locate the unit initially due to location of existing power. For a more permanent installation, an electrician would be involved providing a power point close to the unit.
Turning the camera back on, it connected to the wireless network as expected and was accessible via the local network and D-Link’s cloud service, mydlink.com. The camera was also configured to send email alerts and record on movement detection.
DNR-202L – mydlink™ Camera Video Recorder
The DNR-202L mydlink Camera Video Recorder is a NVR that enables us to record from up to 4 compatible IP cameras to an attached USB storage device. This adds an additional layer of security by separating the video storage from the camera itself in the event the camera and its local storage is damaged.
The GUI interface is expected to provide a simplistic approach to configuring and management of the device. This is important as you can’t expect the general home user to be security system experts. Whilst the literature points to this being an easy to install, it turned out to be far more complex than expected.
I ran into countless issues trying to configure the unit on a new Retina iMac running OS X El Capitan. The app to assist with the setup would not run so I had to resort to configuration via the web browser. The problem with this was that none of the browsers (Chrome, FireFox and Safari) worked 100% with the web interface. Fortunately, I also have a Windows 10 machine so was able to fire up Internet Explorer (Microsoft Edge doesn’t work either) and complete the configuration.
Surveillance Station on the QNAP
Some SOHO NAS units such as the QNAP also come with surveillance software with similar functionality to the DNR-202L. Loaded the software on my QNAP TS-653 Pro and it found and set up the DCS-2330L camera without any issue.
This was certainly an interesting exercise. The DCS-2330L camera was extremely easy to set up and get going, my only disappointment was the lack of 5Ghz wireless support on the camera. The DNR-202L mydlink Camera Video Recorder was an unexpected challenge. The device is supported on OS X with FireFox, Chrome and Safari but it simply didn’t work for me. It could be that the software has not been tested against El Capitan.
That said, if all you were wanting was cloud access to the camera feed, you don’t really need the DNR-202L to achieve this as the DCS-2330L can do this directly with mydlink.com. However, the DNR-202L provides you with an additional level of security by keeping a copy of the camera recordings external to the camera itself as opposed to mydlink.com which streams of the microSD in the camera. Similarly, if you already have a NAS such as the QNAP, the included QNAP Surveillance Station software works well too.