Help building a web server / DVR security system.

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Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:08 am

I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction for what I'm trying to do.

I have a couple of cheap IP cameras, one is a foscam, the other a maygion, might buy more. The problem is there basic firmware just doesn't perform that well. They can e-mail a limited number of photos when motion is detected, but cannot e-mail video, so by themselves are very bad at catching much of anything useful. To actually record video, you need to have various special software running watching the stream and deciding to record, or else a dedicated DVR doing the same. I really hesitate to buy an off the shelf DVR though, because I just don't trust any of the affordable ones to not be junk or have limited software or bugs. I think I would much rather build some sort of custom dvr which is remotely accessible so that I can have a wide choice of different software, and ultimately have full control without limitation. Possibly linux based, possibly windows based. I am still trying to keep it budget, the cheaper the better.

The main things I'm looking for are.
1. The ability to run a good DVR software which can stream from the wireless IP cameras, detect motion, record video, control pan/tilt, all the basic stuff.
2. Be remotely accessible, so I can access it from a pc or smart phone anywhere, copy files, stream live, etc.
3. Software must handle 720P video. (seems a major limitation with many dvr's)
4. Efficiency is of relative importance, would be nice to have a low wattage system.
5. A huge plus would be if it could not only record the video, but also immediately upload it to a free ftp server or free file server as a backup copy, say if a thief were to take the DVR, there would still be a backup copy offsite (as long as he didn't find it before the upload completed)

Can anyone offer any advice? Is this the best way to go, or is there a better way? I know there are cloud based monitoring sites out there, but I'm a guy who just really hates monthly fees, I like doing things myself.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:21 am

Problem is going to be the IP cameras are likely sending the video in some wacky format. If not just use "motion" to detect movement and send you the video.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:23 am

I'm sorry I can't help you, but you are asking a lot of the same questions that I have. I will watch this space to learn with you...
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:07 pm

carl1864 wrote:I think I would much rather build some sort of custom dvr

Been there, done that. It's a large waste of money (good NVR software with a good customer support is expensive) and time in the long run. If you need a few cameras for personal use - get a dedicated NVR, there is a huge variety of them, just get one that will satisfy your needs (such as access from your smartphone/tablet) and will be compatible with whatever IP cameras you will select (you don't have to use your current cameras especially if they are crappy). A good starting point would be companies like Synology which make compact dedicated NVRs or provide a dedicated NVR software for some of their NAS units for more flexibility. You can't beat their compact size or energy efficiency with any junk you might be able to assemble using "regular" PC parts and in terms of price they are not significantly different compared to GOOD quality NVR software for PCs.

If you still want to rely on PC-based NVR, there are many companies which make such software (such as Milestone, Exacq and others), just Google them and compare their features and prices. A good starting point (for basic experimentation) would be a free Windows-based version from http://www.geniusvision.net/community.html
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:44 pm

I've done a bit of shopping for NVR's, but just not having much luck so far. Maybe I should have mentioned, I'm trying to keep my budget around $250 or less. I'm not intending on it being anything super fancy, just be able to record some 720p streams at a low 10-15fps frame rate when motion is detected, shouldn't be too taxing.

Anyways, in my searching, most budget NVR's from places like newegg, tigerdirect, or amazon could apparently not do 720P. I found various ones on ebay for around $100-$120 that are 4 channel at 1080p, and overall seem to fit all the specs, however you really never know how well Chinese firmware is going to work. Overall in my searching so far I could not find a decent NVR with any sort of good reputation and capable of 720P video for under $200. Maybe someone has a recommendation for any good ones I'm not aware of?

Which is why I was thinking about custom building one with a budget PC, like one of the mini pc's, like the "booksize" pc's. Just getting the best one I can within my budget. I've seen some free software like zoneminder which is linux based, and seemed to have a good reputation. If this is a good option, I'd be interested in hearing some advice to get me in the right direction, since I've never done it before. Or if its a bad Idea, I'd be curious hearing more as to why.

The cameras I have are compatible with most software out there, I can access them from my smart phone just fine, its just they have a limitation that they can't "record" video on their own, they can only "stream" video, to be recorded from a seperate device, or e-mail photos only.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:12 pm

"Zoneminder" is a pretty CPU-hungry and annoying to setup and manage (exactly what you would expect from such software for such price). Exacq makes much better software - better performance (in terms of video encoding), more user-friendly and easier to setup, it also runs on Loonix (if you're into that) and has mobile apps even for Windows Phone 8. They have a 45-day 4-camera trial version available, try them.

carl1864 wrote:Overall in my searching so far I could not find a decent NVR with any sort of good reputation and capable of 720P video for under $200. Maybe someone has a recommendation for any good ones I'm not aware of?

Under $200? Probably not, but for exactly $200 you can get, for example, Synology DS213j. It does not have HDDs but you have to buy them anyway, even if you waste around $200 (this includes RAM price) for an Atom-based PC barebones (and you should use at least 2 HDDs in RAID1 if you don't want to lose recorded data right when you need it due to one HDD going bad). According to Synology, this NAS is capable of "125 FPS @ VGA (640x480), 50 FPS @ 720p (1280x800),
25 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)" when recording videos from cameras, meaning that, for example, you can use 2 720p cameras, each outputting at max of 25fps, or even 2 1080p cameras with about 12.5fps for each, or any similar config. If you need a slightly more capable device, there's a DS114 model, which has more power available but only a single HDD bay (so no RAID). Synology includes 1 free camera license with each NAS, the extra licenses cost money (and cost can be significant) but since you only have 2 cameras - it would cost you around $50 for extra camera license for second camera. You might even find these devices used, for slightly less price. If you need to compare their features (including the camera compatibility and the IP camera video encoding capability), use this: http://www.synology.com/en-us/products/compare_products
Anyway, like I said before, whatever you'll buy - make sure it will be compatible with whatever IP cameras you have.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:40 pm

For Linux just get a camera and run motion against it. Works on almost anything and will do whatever you tell it. Command line only I believe.


http://www.lavrsen.dk/foswiki/bin/view/Motion/WebHome

Edit:

I run web servers on all my machines, any Linux distro will set up one for you. It's not at all hard to have the server display your motion results on line. It will too do all the standard stuff as well, email you, phone alert, ... whatever.

It's free of course.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:39 pm

Thanks for the replies and info.

I really want to keep it to free / open source software, and as far as that Synogy unit, although I'm sure its good, I would never support a company which charges a "license fee" for each extra camera.

I may try the motion software or also the zoneminder. Thinking I might just try a live version of linux, on a laptop, and experiment before potentially building a dedicated system.

Any idea just what sort of system specs would be required to run motion or zoneminder with currently 1 640x480 mjpeg camera, and 1 720P H264 camera. With headroom to add perhaps 2 more roughly 720P cameras?

Also I'm curious, do you have your servers set up with a dual router / dual nat system, or what type of protection do you have? I've never set up a server, or a dual nat before, its all new to me, but I think I'm going to need some sort of peace of mind that if the server gets hacked (a possiblity with a newbie like me setting one up for the first time), the other PC's on my network are completely safe.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:09 pm

carl1864 wrote:I would never support a company which charges a "license fee" for each extra camera.

:roll: I guess giving away a free copy of their NVR software with each NAS is not enough, they must also give everyone the max number of camera licenses for free... And set up a PayPal donations link on their main site instead.

carl1864 wrote:Any idea just what sort of system specs would be required to run motion or zoneminder with currently 1 640x480 mjpeg camera, and 1 720P H264 camera. With headroom to add perhaps 2 more roughly 720P cameras?

It's a freeware crap which is supported by random enthusiasts, you are never guaranteed any specific performance target for specific hardware. All you can do is buy different hardware and do your own experiments to see what would be "enough".

carl1864 wrote:Thanks for the replies and info.
Also I'm curious, do you have your servers set up with a dual router / dual nat system, or what type of protection do you have? I've never set up a server, or a dual nat before, its all new to me, but I think I'm going to need some sort of peace of mind that if the server gets hacked (a possiblity with a newbie like me setting one up for the first time), the other PC's on my network are completely safe.

Dual router? Dual NAT? Why? All I ever did was to forward necessary ports in teh router to the IP address of NVR and set up the DDNS (almost every good NVR device/software has its own free DDNS service provider). Always worked fine and I never had any security issues (you don't have to give admin access to every viewer or use it for mobile device's apps).
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:18 pm

JohnC wrote:It's a freeware crap which is supported by random enthusiasts, you are never guaranteed any specific performance target for specific hardware. All you can do is buy different hardware and do your own experiments to see what would be "enough".


Yeah the stuff your fancy paid guys ripped off is "freeware crap".

Zoneminder, written by a friend, is perhaps the most comprehensive and powerful security app out there. It will do anything you can think of.

Motion is simple, bulletproof and will haul an assload of cameras on a simple system.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:51 pm

I do not care who "ripped" whom, all I care about is ease of use, the amount of useful (and easy to configure) features and the quality of tech support and I could not get any good combination out of existing freeware crap, at least without wasting a lot of time and money on it. If you consider these programs "simple, bulletproof and powerful" - good for you. I don't.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:22 pm

JohnC wrote:I do not care who "ripped" whom, all I care about is ease of use, the amount of useful (and easy to configure) features and the quality of tech support and I could not get any good combination out of existing freeware crap, at least without wasting a lot of time and money on it. If you consider these programs "simple, bulletproof and powerful" - good for you. I don't.


OK, the command line does not scare me. I do like the control it affords. You want it all done for you, cool, pony up suckka. You are paying them to make it easy for you, not for the software.

Motion detection code is available from a host of free programs and is actually pretty simple. Run a form of difference on the frames, toss the ones that are the same, and keep the rest. A little time shift to grab a few frames before and after and ... we are done. Make em' into a movie if you want. I just want to see what occurred.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:42 pm

carl1864 wrote:I really want to keep it to free / open source software

If you really want to keep it all free and open source then as far as I'm aware zoneminder is the only option. Now I haven't used zoneminder for at least 4 years and I understand it has undergone a bit more development recently but from my experience there are a few things you should be aware of.

It's not a DVR, it's a CCTV security system. What do I mean by that? Zoneminder is all about detecting movement and creating short video clips and stills of that movement. It's not about storing a stream of video from various cameras. Rather than recording video from the camera it captures still frames and stores them as individual jpegs. That makes doing motion detection easy but uses a lot of CPU when playing video back and uses a lot of storage if you want to record long periods of hi def footage. It also means frame rates are usually low.

So if your after something for watching stairwells and doors etc for occasional intruders then Zoneminder is great as it won't be recording all the time. If you want to record constant activity (like a street camera) and then be able to wind the video back to some time last week then it's probably not what you want.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:43 pm

PenGun wrote:OK, the command line does not scare me. I do like the control it affords. You want it all done for you, cool, pony up suckka. You are paying them to make it easy for you, not for the software.

It's still software. It just happens to be UI code instead of back-end stuff.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:02 pm

just brew it! wrote:
PenGun wrote:OK, the command line does not scare me. I do like the control it affords. You want it all done for you, cool, pony up suckka. You are paying them to make it easy for you, not for the software.

It's still software. It just happens to be UI code instead of back-end stuff.

Indeed, well done. The UI code does very little but make it easy for the luser, that is what you are paying for. The code that does the work is freely available.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:04 am

PenGun wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
PenGun wrote:OK, the command line does not scare me. I do like the control it affords. You want it all done for you, cool, pony up suckka. You are paying them to make it easy for you, not for the software.

It's still software. It just happens to be UI code instead of back-end stuff.

Indeed, well done. The UI code does very little but make it easy for the luser, that is what you are paying for. The code that does the work is freely available.

Much of what the common CLI shells provide is just UI code too, in its own way. Command history, tab completion, command line editing (hey, you don't *really* need the Backspace key, you should get it right the first time!), etc. -- these don't "do work" either. They just make things easier for the user!

To take your "anything that helps the user is bad" mindset to its (il)logical conclusion, maybe we should have a "simplified" CLI where all we can do is type system calls in C? Heck, high-level languages are for sissies too; let's do it in assembly language while we're at it.

Please note that this is coming from someone who actually spends a large percentage of his day at a CLI prompt or in a code editor. There are many tasks where nothing beats the CLI. But a well-designed GUI that simplifies common use cases can also be a good thing.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:41 am

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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:17 am

JBI wrote:To take your "anything that helps the user is bad" mindset to its (il)logical conclusion, maybe we should have a "simplified" CLI where all we can do is type system calls in C? Heck, high-level languages are for sissies too; let's do it in assembly language while we're at it.


Pffttt.

Flip switches and registers.

How else am I suppose to feel superior to other people? :roll:
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:38 am

I've used Milestone's Xprotect software for years at work. We're up to around 70 cameras now. Most of them are 5 MP which means > 1080P. Milestone offers a free version. It only supports up to 8 cameras and will only retain video for 5 days, but it's solid software. You can grab a copy here.
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:11 pm

notfred wrote:http://xkcd.com/378/

Recent versions of emacs have an Easter egg based on the xkcd comic. Entering the command "Meta-x butterfly" results in a screen which says "Amazing physics going on... Successfully flipped one bit!"
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Re: Help building a web server / DVR security system.

Postposted on Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:24 pm

just brew it! wrote:Much of what the common CLI shells provide is just UI code too, in its own way. Command history, tab completion, command line editing (hey, you don't *really* need the Backspace key, you should get it right the first time!), etc. -- these don't "do work" either. They just make things easier for the user!

To take your "anything that helps the user is bad" mindset to its (il)logical conclusion, maybe we should have a "simplified" CLI where all we can do is type system calls in C? Heck, high-level languages are for sissies too; let's do it in assembly language while we're at it.

Please note that this is coming from someone who actually spends a large percentage of his day at a CLI prompt or in a code editor. There are many tasks where nothing beats the CLI. But a well-designed GUI that simplifies common use cases can also be a good thing.


The point, that seems to elude you, is that you can have free stuff if you are prepared to work a bit or you can pay to have someone make it easy for you.
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