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help with picking a cheapo netcam


 
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canadave
Member


Joined: 04 Mar 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:06 am    Post subject: help with picking a cheapo netcam Reply with quote

Hi all,

My tennis club asked me (the lone person with techie experience) to see if I could help them get a webcam set up on the clubhouse. Basically, they want to have a webcam broadcast an image that refreshes, say, every 30 seconds, overlooking the courts. That image would be embedded in a Joomla! website. The purpose is so that people who visit the club's website can see if anyone else is at the courts to play with.

So....the clubhouse does not have a computer (and won't--too difficult to secure one or buy one), so we need a networked webcam of some sort I take it; one that is not dependent on a computer. It doesn't have to be wireless; I can run an Ethernet cable from it outside into the clubhouse and connect it to the internet modem.

The main thing here is that it has to be CHEAP. This isn't a "country club" kind of tennis club--this is a non-profit club in a small town, with very little money. The picture quality of the webcam doesn't matter; it just has to be clear enough to show human beings playing tennis, not pick out the lines on their faces.

Does anyone have any specific suggestions about which camera to buy? I was looking at the D-Link DCS-920, but in reading the manual for it, I'm not sure how I'd get it to broadcast a single image every 30 seconds rather than streaming live video (we're going to have very limited internet service that's only 5x dialup speed, so I imagine streaming video is out of the question).

Thanks very much for any help folks here can provide Smile I'm fairly experienced with networks, so I can configure anything you recommend to a router...I just don't know what cam to buy Smile
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buellwinkle
Wizard


Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 2504

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you looking for indoor or outdoor camera, because that d-link is an indoor camera, which is fine, just have it point out a window and it's good.

What my experience showed me is that cheap chinese cameras (not to be confused with Taiwan cameras) all seem to have the same firmware and there's no provision to upload an image with the same name. The reason I think is that it's a lot harder to do this, why, because then you have to transfer an image with a temporary name, then swap the names and then delete the old image, otherwise you user will get a partial image.

The least expensive camera I found to do this is and have decent image quality, be well made and be cheap is the Axis M10 made in Sweden, also an indoor camera, similar shape to the D-Link. You can have it upload via FTP an image to a website once a minute, hour or day (sorry, no finer granularity than that). Most ISP's provide a free website to it's customers and includes FTP access, for example, I have Verizon DSL at my cabin, and do the very same thing, website is free, FTP is free, camera is affordable.

So how affordable, The least expensive is a ethernet wired cameras called the M1011, runs about $150 online, the M1011-W is the wireless equivalent that I use and that runs about $160 online. If you can't find it online, let me know, I have a place I buy from in LA that works for me, actually cheaper than my wholesale prices as an Axis Partner.
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canadave
Member


Joined: 04 Mar 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, thanks very much for your detailed reply!

It'd actually probably have to be an outdoor camera I suppose. The window we have in the clubhouse that faces the court is pretty old, crazed glass, etc. Is there any particular reason an "indoor" camera couldn't be somehow fastened onto an outside wall? I'm handy with a screwdriver and saw, if some kind of platform needed to be rigged up.

Also, 1 minute updates on the cam would be fine. We just need something to show roughly whether there's people at the courts or not. And, we do already have a website and FTP server Smile So that part is taken care of. I just needed the info on the cam.

Thanks!
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buellwinkle
Wizard


Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 2504

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Outdoor cameras take it to whole new level in price for the same quality and features, for example, the least expensive camera from Axis you can use outdoors is about $500, plus the enclosure which is about $300. The least expensive camera that will do what you want to do is going to be about $500-600.

I tried to fit the Axis M10 in an underwater enclosure for a Flip camcorder and I was so close, maybe a 1/8" too narrow.

This may seem bizzare, but it just may work. Go to an arts/craft store and get a bird house kit. Then go to camera store or Target/Walmart and get the cheapest UV filter you can find for an SLR and glue that to the hole the bird goes through and have the camera looking out the hole. Caulk it well as you build it so it's waterprrof and varnish it to make it take the weather. When you run wires for power and such out the back, just use caulk to weatherproof the holes. This camera will not draw any attention and it's cheap. Here's one on ebay for $7 -

http://cgi.ebay.com/Lake-House-Bird-house-Kits-for-Children-and-Adults_W0QQitemZ180368643620QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item29fecf1624
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fatjohnny
Enthusiast


Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You want el cheapo but something that works outside? I got just the thing..... I mounted a Panasonic BL-C131A (indoor camera) into a modified enclosed flood light housing. The enclosed flood light housing can be bought for under 25 beans at Home Depot or Lowes (if you are in the states). What I mean by modifiy is to take the light socket and related guts out of the housing leaving ONLY the enclosure with the glass front plate. Next, take the BL-C131A secure it into the housing and drill a small hole for the power wire. Lastly, mount the flood light housing and plug the camera into a power source. You can do this with the wired version of the C131A.

I've been running this camera outdoors for 1.5 years. The housing is exposed to ALL outdoor elements from rain to snow, to single digit temps to over 100 degrees. IT NEVER failed. 1000000000000000000% rock solid. Total cost was about $250. If you can find a used camera on
ebay or CL you nay be able to do this for about $100.

Again, this is the cheap man's indoor converted to outdoor camera.

Below is a link to my BL-C131A. It just watches the side of my duplex and nothing else so I did not want to invest in a $1000+ camera.

http://192.168.0.182:5553/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=0

If you want to see the actual enclosure with the camera inside, I'll have to snap a picture and somehow post it here, or I can setup a temporary webcam which will look at the BL-C131A and post the link here. Let me know if interested in the "poor man's outdoor camera".

John
New Jersey
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mrsr71
New Member


Joined: 04 Mar 2010
Posts: 7
Location: Santa Clarita

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fatjohnny wrote:

Below is a link to my BL-C131A. It just watches the side of my duplex and nothing else so I did not want to invest in a $1000+ camera.

http://192.168.0.182:5553/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=0

John
New Jersey


Link no worky Crying or Very sad
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JohnnyC
Evangelist


Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 670

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrsr71 wrote:
fatjohnny wrote:

Below is a link to my BL-C131A. It just watches the side of my duplex and nothing else so I did not want to invest in a $1000+ camera.

http://192.168.0.182:5553/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=0

John
New Jersey


Link no worky Crying or Very sad


You be correct! Linky no worky. Try the link below. It will worky this time.

http://68.193.3.154:5553/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=0

John
New Jersey
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mrsr71
New Member


Joined: 04 Mar 2010
Posts: 7
Location: Santa Clarita

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,

Where did you buy your BL-C131A?

Dan
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fatjohnny
Enthusiast


Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought it at Best Buy. They had them on the shelves and best buy is near my house. They sometimes run sales on them. The wired version is just under $200 and the wireless is about $225 to $250. These are prices from 1 to 2 years ago. Recently I've been buying Axis cameras for top-notch video.

The Panasonic BL-C131A and the ones like it are rock solid performers. They take a beating and continue to work. Please keep in mind, don't expect a picture simular to a 3 megapixel high end camera.

John
New Jersey
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mrsr71
New Member


Joined: 04 Mar 2010
Posts: 7
Location: Santa Clarita

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks John.

I'll head-out to Best Buy tomorrow. They’re now $300 +tax in sunny, now rainy, So Kali.

I think this will suit my needs just fine.

Dan
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fatjohnny
Enthusiast


Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Prices went up. I just checked Amazon.com and they are just under $350.00. If you don't need wireless, you can save money with the wired version. Also, READ up on the BL-C131A before buying to make sure this is what you really want. I can't stress this enough. I will spend a month or more when looking for a new camera since I want to make sure it fits my needs. There is no one camera that will work in every situation. Get opinions from others out here too on other models.

John
New Jersey.
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