When choosing a video surveillance system, there are several factors to consider:
Camera type: There are various types of cameras available, such as dome, bullet, and PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras. Consider the location and purpose of the cameras to determine the best type for your needs.
Resolution: The resolution of the cameras will impact the quality of the images and videos captured. Consider the level of detail you need for your surveillance system and choose cameras with a sufficient resolution.
Storage: Decide how long you want to keep the recorded footage and choose a storage solution accordingly. Options include local storage on a DVR or NVR, or cloud storage.
Network connectivity: Consider whether the cameras will be connected to a wired or wireless network, and if they need to be remotely accessible.
Scalability: Consider whether the system can be easily expanded in the future if your needs change.
Cost: Determine a budget for the system and choose cameras and equipment that fit within that budget.
Installation and maintenance: Consider the ease of installation and maintenance of the system. Some systems may require professional installation while others can be installed by the user.
Security: Consider the level of security and encryption provided by the system to protect the footage from unauthorized access.
By considering these factors, you can choose a video surveillance system that meets your specific needs and budget.
When it comes to Video Cameras for Surveillance you have many options. In this series of postings we will discuss Camera Systems in more detail. These days we try and classify cameras into 3 different types of systems:
- Traditional CCTV Video Surveillance System
- Cloud Video Surveillance System
- Hybrid Video Surveillance System
Towards the end of this article we will share one kind of Custom Video Surveillance System you can build (DIY) for less than $90.
Some of the most important features you will be looking for in your Video Surveillance System are:
- First choose whether you want a Camera that records to the Cloud or not (or to your own Private Cloud)
- Camera Resolution
- Support for interoperability with other systems and apps (Mac, PC, Mobile, iOS, Android, ONVIF, HTML5)
- What kind of Alerts will I get from my Video Surveillance Security System? (Motion Detection, E-Mail, Text)
Completely Wireless / Solar Powered Cameras
Did you know you can mount certain cameras (like the Ring Spotlight Camera) on a tree now (completely wireless?)
- The Ring Spotlight Camera (Battery) uses a Small Solar Panel to keep the battery charged
Tips for a Better Video Surveillance System
- Make sure you start with the proper wiring and do a clean install including the right power supply (avoid plug-in power supplies unless you are using only one camera
- Buy the right cameras — DO NOT BUY Lorex, Q-See, Swann, Samsung, be picky with your selection if you want something that will work on all devices. (Buy LTS Security from an Authorized Dealer, that’s us), or Axis (on the high end,) Amcrest, (some) D-Link, Everfocus, some HK Vision, and these days if you buy a more recent camera your camera may have support for a standard called ONVIF
- Buy cameras with ONVIF support built in
For 2020 we recommend you check out Ubiquiti Networks line of UniFi cameras. We have a review here: https://offthegridit.com/2020/09/30/unifi-protect-is-a-cost-effective-video-surveillance-system-that-impresses-with-their-apps/
Nest Cams are a BIG RIPOFF
About DIY surveillance Systems
We have tried the following systems, including our own custom made camera systems:
- Microsoft Windows based DVRs
- Apple Mac based DVRs
- Linux based DVRs
- Pizza Box style DVRs (thats what most people buy from retail)
There are high end systems in each of these categories, but there are low cost unstable systems as well. The system you choose might depend first on budget…???
- First ask yourself, What is my budget for this?
You may have to start out small and build your system in stages. It is better to get the right equipment the first time even if you can only afford a few pieces at a time don’t sacrifice hardware quality for trying to get it done faster.
Why Custom Video Surveillance
But first, maybe you want to ask yourself “Why would I want a Custom Surveillance solution?”
- Embed your Live Video Stream in a Web Page for your business
- Create a Hybrid system to allow different camera types
- Use off the grid technology
- Build your surveillance system for less money or at least choose only what you want
Build a DIY Surveillance System
To use one of these cameras in your Linux Motion or MotionEye Projects get a Raspberry Pi (at least one per camera, and one more per Server/head-end if you will use one.)
When building a DIY Surveillance System there are some THINGS TO CONSIDER:
- Security – Secure ALL your devices with a good password
- Night Vision – you may have to add infrared emitters to support a night vision camera like the Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera V2
- Will you need a Custom Raspberry Pi Housing or build your own?
- If you create your own Software Image you will need Backups of this Image to ensure quick recovery in case of a system malfunction or loss
1. Make sure you have a good Network Router
– Get a good Router/Firewall
The quality of your networking equipment can really make a difference. Consider using the DHCP server on your Firewall to manage and find all the IP network devices on your network.
- Buy one or more if you will be using Mesh Networking then buy at least two
Asus C1900 (RT-AC68U) Dual-Band AiMesh Router Asus C1900 (RT-AC68U) Dual-Band AiMesh Router (2 Pack)
2. Get a Raspberry Pi 3 or greater
Raspberry Pi 4
Raspberry Pi 3B +
Raspberry Pi 3 B
128GB MicroSD Card
64GB MicroSD Card
32GB SanDisk MicroSD Card
16GB SanDisk MicroSD Card
3. Get a Raspberry Pi Camera for each Surveillance Camera
(the new one is 8-Megapixel, the old one is 5-Megapixel)
Raspberry Pi Camera 8-Megapixel
Raspberry Pi Camera 5-Megapixel
Raspberry Pi Camera 5-Megapixel (Here is a really cheap one!!)
Here is theRaspberry Pi Camera 8-Megapixel Night Vision Version
SainSmart Raspberry Pi Camera 5-Megapixel w/Wide Angle Lens
SainSmart Raspberry Pi Camera 5-Megapixel w/Wide Angle Lens & IR
This is a Camera Multiplexor for Arducam Cameras (Raspberry Pi Camera)
Raspberry Pi Dual Fan with Heat Sinks
Here is a nice dual fan setup with included Heat Sinks for the Raspberry Pi, note this may not work with some Raspberry Pi Hats
3. Decide if you need PoE to power your Raspberry Pi Cameras
5V 1.8A Isolated Output PoE Module Works with Raspberry Pi 3 B+
The Adafruit5V 1.8A Isolated Output PoE Module Works with Raspberry Pi 3 B+. We have tested as a reliable PoE solution. Be sure to have adequate cooling in your Raspberry Pi with a decent sized case so that you do not clutter the inside with the wiring to this regulator.
- Connect pins 1 and 2 to Ethernet wires 4 and 5
- Connect pins 3 and 4 to Ethernet wires 7 and 8
- Pin labeled (-) is ground output
- Pin labeled (+) is 5V out
- Input Voltage range: 42 to 55 VDC (48V nominal)
- Output Voltage range: 4.75 to 5.25V (5V nominal)
- Output current: 1.8A nominal
- Efficiency: 80%
- Module (PoE) Datasheet
IEEE 802.af Micro USB Activre PoE Splitter Power Over Ethernet
8v to 5v 2.4A
(GC110TPv2) Netgear 8-port Gigabit Smart Pro Switch , 53W, PoE (802.11af)
(GC110P) Netgear 8-port Gigabit Smart Pro Switch , 53W, w/8 PoE (802.11af) This is similar to the Switch above but has Extended Smart Features (L2+ / L3), and view performance remotely!
Netgear 8-port Gigabit Switch with 4 PoE Ports, 45W, (802.3af)
4. Setup your Raspberry Pi with MotionEyeOS
MotionEyeOS turns each one of your Raspberry Pi + Cameras into a Mini DVR capable of high resolution encoding and embedding into web pages or direct viewing from just about any browser.
- Prepare your SD Card with MotionEyeOS
- Login and check your settings for your intended purpose
Once the MotionEyeOS is installed you can either view the camera image or login to administer the camera.
- Custom Raspberry Pi + Camera view on a cloudy day (outdoor)
- Using free Open Source Software: MotionEyeOS
Raspberry Pi Night Vision Camera with External LED Emitter:
1. (MMAL Camera) will allow Recording up to 1920×1080 resolution
2. Fast Network Camera allows GPU use on Raspberry Pi (Simple JPEG Camera) and up to 3280×2464 Resolution but NO Recording
In case you just want to keep it professional, then here are some Surveillance System Recording Options by LTS Security a leading provider of Security & Video Surveillance equipment. Our online store has some of the products but you can also view their full line at
We offer the full line of LTS Security solutions for professionals:
NVR/DVR 8 Channel Recorder capable of 4K Resolution
NVR/DVR 8 Channel Recorder capable of 4K Resolution
NVR/DVR 4 Channel Recorder capable of 4K Resolution
SUPPORT FOR OLDER CAMERAS:
16 Channel Recorder records from older Analog, TV, and IP cameras https://offthegridit.com/product/lts-platinum-professional-16-channel-dvr-analog-tvi-bnc-up-to-4k/