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Small Cabin Forum / General Forum / Anyone have luck with wireless outdoor cameras to monitor their cabins?
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justins7
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 10:26
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This is not necessarily a security-related question, otherwise I would have posted in the ongoing thread about break-ins.

I visit my cabin during the winter on average every 2-3 weeks, and need an outdoor camera(s) to check on the place, check security, and for visual peace of mind.

I have trail cameras, but they are only retrievable on-site.

I've been researching wifi security cameras, as well as cellphone-relayed trail cameras but none of them seem that great — most get mediocre reviews. Battery life and connectivity seems to be a big issue. The trail cameras might work (I have decent cell service there), but they are expensive and all have only 3-star ratings at best.

Anyone have recommendations/experiences?

snobdds
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 11:09
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There is nothing on the market yet that can provide a cheap solution. The best solution are what department of transportation uses to moniter web cams. That requires a constant power source and a dedicated satellite wifi connection. Then you need softwatre to receive the feed and project it out.

Here is my neighbor's feed. He is an electrical engineer. To get this simple picture at all times was not cheap or easy.



KelVarnsen
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 11:09
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I'm interested in the topic too. Great questions justins7.

If anyone comments can you include any info that you might have regarding cell plans in Canada for these cameras?

justincasei812
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 13:25
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A few questions for you.

Do you have electricity at your cabin and do you or can you get WIFI from any outside source at your cabin?

If it is yes to both you can go to amazon and buy pretty much any type of either indoor or outdoor security cameras that hook up to WIFI. I have a CHEAP indoor one at my house, loaded an app to my phone and now I can look in when ever I want. We put it in upstairs window over looking our drive and front yard. It constantly runs and will record if there is movement or the outside lights turn on at night. If a vehicle turns into the drive while it is dark out will record for about 5-7 seconds which is a good 20 yards past the flag. I have noticed that it does not always activate though. Again it is a cheap $20 camera. I have not figured out how much data you use by looking at the feed when you are away from the house and not on the same WIFI channel. Here is a pic I took just a few minutes ago while I am at work.
Front yard
Front yard


justins7
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 13:58
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Thanks for the replies.

I do have both electricity and wifi, although both are usually off when I am not there. This is one of the issues, since I can turn off the wifi for a month or so and save that cost. So then it got me to think if it is financially better to keep it off and use a cellular trail cam? Not sure... So many options...

I haven't bought a wired wifi camera yet — I know I have to likely drill through the walls to install therm (although I see you used it through the window).

Also, I have several out buildings that need cameras too — and they are not powered (and over 100' away).

What brand is your camera?

justincasei812
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 14:31
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The camera needs electricity but goes off the wifi so you only need a power source to run it but in order to see what it is happening you need wifi. They do have some that are hardwired which I'm sure would give you better picture quality. The brand is Zmodo and I think it was $23 a couple of months ago on amazon on the deal of the day. I may switch brands as this was a test to see if wanted to put cameras up and that is why I bought an inexpensive one to start out. I like the idea and I am impressed with the range I get from the motion activation. It would be nice to integrate the cameras with Alexa for my house hold but it's not a deal breaker as this company seems to have a good range of cameras to select from. The big thing is get what you like and get the same brand or you will have to download different apps to your phone to view the different cameras. I think with this set up I can add up 6 cameras.


https://www.amazon.com/Zmodo-Wireless-Two-Way-Camera-Vision/dp/B06XCTMSCW/ref=sr_1_16 _sspa?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1520363986&sr=1-16-spons&keywords=zmodo&psc=1

Cowracer
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 15:16 - Edited by: Cowracer
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Not sure what brand of camera I use, but they are true "black-flash" game cameras. The pictures I get during the day are clear enough to be used to get a conviction. At night, they are less than clear, but I can recognize someone I know. Both cameras are well camouflaged and situated to see each other. I have a broken 'sacrificial' camera in a very obvious and visible place. Crooks will see that one first, and try to take it (either to steal it, or do destroy the pictures of them), and I will capture the act on the others.

Each one holds 8 LITHIUM batteries and last a full year. I have them set to get 3 pics every time they are triggered, and to wait 20 seconds between triggers. I have 32GB memory cards in both and I only check them maybe 2-3 times a year (unless there is a reason to). I have yet to even approach half-full on the memory cards. 99.9% of the pictures are of us when we are actually using the lot.

In 3 years, I have, exactly one time, caught anyone on my property, and he looked like a guy looking for his lost dog (which went by about a half hour earlier). I have seen my buddies kid on my property a couple of times, but I think they he just looking for a place to get nasty with his tramp du jour (no pics of that).

Under my pavilion, on one of the picnic tables in plain view, I leave about $7 in assorted change. Any meth-head looking to steal from me will take that first and that's my trip-wire to check the cameras. If the change is gone, I know that someone was messing about on my lot. So far, it's never been touched.

Tim

buckybuck
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 16:43
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I suspect this product doesn't really exist yet, but I'm keeping an eye on it:

https://blinkforhome.com/blogs/blink-home-security-blog/blink-to-reveal-expanded-suit e-of-home-security-products-and-services-at-ces

I've been using a Straight Talk Remote Alert system for a couple of years now at my off-grid, no wifi cabin. It's ok, if I get bored in winter, I can just send a text to it and it'll send me a reply text; that way I at least know my cabin's still there. But this might be better if it ever really becomes available.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 17:03
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I bought a camera system from eyetrax.com, pricey, $1000, was solar powered, sent it to your phone, you can go online and command it to send a picture without motion (check snow depth or whatever) and turn it off if you were going to be there. It uses cellular. Coverage was spotty and it didn't work. Monthly cost was $25.

They said if it didn't work, they would refund my money and they did, no questions. I was in the fringe of coverage is all. Otherwise, it would of been in place.

https://eyetrax.net/

justins7
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 17:59
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I did have my eye on a $250 cellular trail camera, since it can attach to a tree and sit far in the woods where there's some cell reception. But I just don't know — they seem a bit dodgy, after reading reviews.

It seems like this technology is really taking off now. I just wish the manufacturers would be more concerned with battery life, for the wireless ones (why can't they just have a big extra battery pack that is easily hidden?).

Jebediah
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 18:05
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I have two Spypoint cellular trial cameras /link 4G. I have them both one 12v batteries. I have no Wi-Fi at my cabin but I have cellular capabilities. I'm 200km away and they work perfect....They already proved themselves as I was alerted by one camera hidden in a shed, when the thieves opened the door and looked in...I notified the RCMP, it took them 10 min to get there and they caught them in the act still poking around on my property...they were both charged with trespassing and public mischief. You can view the payment plans on their website. My cameras are set up to notify me immediately when a picture is taken and if the camera is moved.....and if they take the cameras they will give a gps coordinate when they are turned on again....

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 6 Mar 2018 22:25
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Quoting: Jebediah
I have two Spypoint cellular trial cameras /link 4G


OK, looking into this for some time. Glad to see first hand users feedback. Reviews on Amazon speak of trouble and horrible custoemr service.

I would like this set up, a remove 12V battery and a solar panel to keep the battery charged and have it work year round without having to visit it or reboot it. It needs to work in temps in the winter close to 0 or minus a few degrees.
The fact it sends out a locating signal is great. I see the solar panel isnt available now for some reason. I have the camera and remove battery box in my cart at amazon now.

Jebediah
Member
# Posted: 7 Mar 2018 05:33
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Quoting: toyota_mdt_tech
OK, looking into this for some time. Glad to see first hand users feedback.

The only issues are ; Here in Canada I find the Tech support not very knowledgeable or it could be just the translation/French/English.
Yes I have the solar panels , just haven't hooked them up yet. They definitely eat up batteries, especially in cold temps so I went with the 12v set up, also the 12v is a requirement if you want to have all your setting set on what I call security mode...
If it takes pics I get alerted almost immediately or with in a minute or two. You can also check your cameras status and change your setting from your phone....
I know a few people that have had issues with them with the connectivity, one person couldn't get a very good signal inside his cottage, but outside it worked fine. I have both of mine inside buildings, just so the critters wouldn't be waking me up at night...so far so good.

I now have the Spypoint Logo posted in several windows, not sure if its a good move or not....Maybe they will see the logos and walk away....I also find if the snow is heavy in the tress the connection is low but still works. The camera will let you know the signal strength during your set so you can pick a suitable location.....

Best of luck....I was very leary of the product as I had read a few bad reviews....so far so good, its been about a year now....

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 7 Mar 2018 10:34
Reply 


OK, I have great cell service because of my elevation, 3/4G. I have tried to send pictures on my phone when there, no luck, but phone and text work fine, so not sure. I have 4 to 5 bars. I have cameras and also signage showing it, but want something that will notify me ASAP and last through the winter which can be very cold. I have had no issues to date, few people walking through, but never disturbed anything and if they can respect my property, I am OK with them walking through leaving no trace.

UsandThem
Member
# Posted: 7 Mar 2018 14:19 - Edited by: UsandThem
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I have a security system setup around my house. The problem with wireless cameras is that, regardless, you are going to need to run a wire to them. You are either going to need a power cable or a LAN cable that provides power of Ethernet (PoE).

Personally, I would recommend wired. Wireless can get flaky, especially if you chose to encrypt it (not sure that would be necessary in the sticks) or your distances get too far.

I use a product called Milestone xProtect, which is a free program you can put on a cheap PC. It has the ability to only record on motion by clicking which boxes to include/omit from the camera view. It will only write to your hard drive on record and you can access it very easily with a free phone app. Assuming thieves don't jack your system you are recording on (hide it well or something) you know have evidence, if necessary. My cameras were about $80 a piece.

If you are only accessing the system occasionally, you shouldn't have a ton of chatter on your cellular device to jack up the data. Obviously if you remote in a lot, that can change. I believe the tool also has the option to notify you (text or email) on activity, although I haven't set that up yet.

As far as your outbuildings, you can run CAT5e cable 100M, which would be plenty to get to those buildings based on what you have said. All of this can be powered off a PoE switch, which typically run less than $100 if you don't need a ton of ports.

I've had a ton of luck with mine and the cost for everything is probably around $500 for the line, switch and four cameras (had a left over PC)

LakeSuperior5
Member
# Posted: 7 Mar 2018 14:26
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We use the Blink XT Cameras and I think the pictures and videos are pretty good. They are a WIFi system so we can have them mounted in various locations around our cabin. No monthly subscription is also what we liked. I can download to my phone or computer as needed. One hub supports up to 10 cameras. We started with three and have added two more.

They do not offer two-way communication yet which is the only con we have.

We are in Minnesota. I believe the outdoor rating on the XT is -14F. We did get colder and one of the cameras gave us a low battery warning but continued to work.

justins7
Member
# Posted: 7 Mar 2018 16:34
Reply 


All this info is great. Thank you.

I really didn't want my cabin experience to turn into a complicated IT/tech situation when I bought it (it was meant to be an escape), but the winter storms we have been having on the east coast has shown how important and useful cameras can be.

Reolink has announced a camera that seems ideal — cellular, battery-powered, and solar. But it's not out yet. https://reolink.com/lp/reolink-go/

The Spypoint sounds like a good option, especially since Jebediah has given us some real info based on his experience. And the price seems to have dropped a bit. Do you use a booster antenna? Can you use any brand of booster antenna, do you know?

Moomps
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2018 08:53
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I've had a Spypoint down at my cabin since last summer and it's worked perfectly, especially during the snowy and cold winter we've had here in Minnesota. I have mine set to transmit to me every 4 hours but it can, as mentioned, transmit as soon as a picture is taken. They also have an option to force a picture at the next transmission so you can just see what's going on - I use this one quite often since I only get down there once a month or so. I do have pictures of wildlife and even my neighbor at the next cabin wondering around shooting squirrels.

I'm very pleased with the service, the product and the customer service too. They respond very quickly to questions.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2018 20:19
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moomps, what is the exact model of Spypoint you have.

Moomps
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2018 08:30
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I have the LINK-EVO-V. The last V means it works on the Verizon network which is the strongest in the area of my cabin. I've had a set of Lithium AA batteries in the camera since early last fall and they still read at 100% on the status screen on the app that runs the camera.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2018 22:21
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Quoting: Moomps
I've had a set of Lithium AA batteries in the camera since early last fall and they still read at 100% on the status screen on the app that runs the camera.


Are you using a solar panel, or is it working that long on the Lithium batterys and how many cells does it hold?

Jebediah
Member
# Posted: 10 Mar 2018 09:08
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Quoting: toyota_mdt_tech
how many cells does it hold

The only info I can find on my lithium batteries (LIT-09 7.4V / 2.0 Ah, I haven't tried them yet. All I know it eats the regular AA batteries, I think I was getting about 10 days run time with the regular AA's at around -5 /-10 Celsius. with very few photo transmissions during the trial period.

They say the solar panels will maintain the battery but not recharge it, so the battery needs to be installed with a full charge...not sure about the lithium.

snowho
Member
# Posted: 11 Mar 2018 11:45
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I use 2 HCO Spartan cameras through Verizon and they work great. Each camera adds 5$ to my phone plan and lithium batteries last at least 8 months.

Moomps
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2018 09:06
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No solar panel - just Lithium batteries. It holds 8 I think, but it doesn't take a bunch of pictures. Since I installed the batteries, I don't think I've taken more then 50-75 pictures and the temps have been pretty low during that period of time. Jebediah's right though - regular AA's don't last very long at all. I've gotten a couple weeks out of a set of those.

The Lithium ones may drop off fast once they start going, but for now, the have lasted a long time.

Pawag
Member
# Posted: 20 Mar 2018 14:36
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Frontpoint security has worked great. It has worked flawlessly since I installed it 2 years ago.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 20 Mar 2018 21:09
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Quoting: Pawag
Frontpoint security has worked great. It has worked flawlessly since I installed it 2 years ago.

Your reply


Does it run on batteries, how many cells, what type and how long does a battery load last and is there a solar panel option with it? Mine needs to get through the winter. Lots of sunshine, but gets cold and need it to work all winter with no replacement batteries.

Stea
Member
# Posted: 20 Mar 2018 22:13 - Edited by: Stea
Reply 


I use a trail camera also, it's set to send a pic every 4 hours. I just use a AT&T data plan so it's only $25 for 3 months. Lithium batteries still show 80-100 percent after 4 months.
SYCR0610.JPG
SYCR0610.JPG


LoonWhisperer
Member
# Posted: 21 Mar 2018 11:52
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Great thread so I'm tagging in. Off grid in Ontario with cell service and all I have now are a couple trail cams that require the 2.5 hour drive to get the photos. Spypoint is looking like it might be my best option.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 22 Mar 2018 22:56 - Edited by: toyota_mdt_tech
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OK, stumbled upon something that might work. I'm bouncing this off you guys. I found a cloud camera, doesn't show a power source, but found another site that offers the same set up with a solar power source. Looking at the camera name, I went to the camera mfg site and found the camera. Now if we can figure out the voltage and a solar panel and a storage battery pack, this would give us access via the internet from a smart phone or computer for $49 a year.

Ok, found this: http://www.rocctv.com/shop/Remote%20Onsite%20CCTV/rocctc123630 but pricey.

Spendy, but see camera brand, so went there: https://www.netcampro.com/ now a battery pack, solar panel. Anyway, I am looking into this, if others find anything, let me know.

justins7
Member
# Posted: 26 Mar 2018 16:33
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(Original poster here)

I just bought the Spypoint Link EVO, based on some of the comments on this thread (thank you!).

It seems to work well enough. I opted for the cell-based camera since I don't want to leave the wifi and power on all the time. It's nice that these are entirely self-sifficient, and there are other power options (like rechargeable or 12v batteries). I generally get 1-2 bars with T-mobile on my phone, but get 3-4 on this Verizon Spypoint.

My main gripe: I wish the images it sends to your phone (and available on the website) were higher resolution. It'll do, but it would be helpful if there was an option to see higher-res images without having to retrieve the card. What if you need to see a license plate number or other important detail while you're away, for instance?

Also, it's too bad there isn't a "take photo and send now" feature on the app.; instead you can shoot a photo at the next transmission, but it's not exactly the same thing... It seems like the trailcam companies are out of touch with how people actually use these devices (other than for hunting maybe).

Anyway, it's great to be able to watch the snow melt on the property through my phone, and wish I was back there in the flesh!
PICT0111_32620181205.jpg
PICT0111_32620181205.jpg


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