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Learn About CCTV Systems

Comparing the Picture Quality

Take a look at the pictures above and you can clearly see the difference in picture quality of the different cameras according to their resolution or amount of pixels.  You can hear a lot of camera suppliers boasting that their cameras produce superior quality pictures.  Some providers can easily persuade or make their clients believe the things they say without questioning the validity of their claims.  For example, a supplier might argue that a particular camera is 960H.  But, when you take a look at the data sheet of the specification under the resolution tab it says 720 x 494 and not 976 x 582, which is the correct resolution for 960H cameras.  It is important to check the specs of the cameras and DVR when selecting the CCTV system to buy. 

Why You Need to Have a Matched System

When designing a surveillance camera system, you need to keep the most important thing in mind: the picture quality of the output follows the resolution of the lowest devices.  For example, if you install analog 540TVL cameras with an HD 1080P monitor and HD-SDI 1080P digital video recorder, you will only get a standard analog resolution for your picture and not a High Definition one.  All the CCTV parts in your designed system must be HD-SDI to come up with a High Definition picture.

There is no guarantee that a camera with a resolution of 750TVL or 540TVL will be able to provide good picture quality that you expect. The values of the resolution come from the lens type.  Know that most cameras have installed Sony lenses in them, and it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to design and test the electronic circuitry that should be able to support the lens.  This means that the electronic circuitry of the cameras can significantly affect the resulting picture output.  There are also cases where high-resolution cameras yield poor picture quality.  As a general rule, you can rely on the price as a guide in instaling a CCTV system.

The Real Deal About the Real-Time Playback

When it comes to Digital Video Recorders and Network Video Recorders, they should be able to record and playback in real time.  Some manufacturers claim that the recorders are capable of recording everything in real time.  In truth, they are only capable of viewing in real time and not recording in real time.  When you watch the playback of the footage, you will notice that it stops and then starts again.  There are missing parts in the footage.  No one can be certain whatever happened during the stop parts of the playback.  There was an incident when an expert needed to extract the footage of bag snatching so the police can use it as evidence.  The whole bag snatching was caught on the surveillance camera of a nearby RSL club.  Because of the poor recording system, the footage only showed the offender walking towards a lady who was sitting at a poker machine, and then the next thing that was showed was his back as he walked away after committing the crime.  The crucial point where he got his hand on the bag was not recorded, and the entire footage had no value to the police.

What is the Ideal Height to Mount the Cameras?

A lot of people opt to have their cameras installed beneath the eaves of the second floor of their two-storey house.  The cameras won’t be able to capture the faces of possible perpetrators from such angle.  When placed in such height, the things that the cameras would be able to pick are the crowns of the perpetrators’ heads and glimpses of the things they carry with them.  The cameras must be installed according to the stated installation height on their manual to achieve effective site surveillance.

Can I also have a Remote View of the Cameras?

It is possible to have a remote view of your cameras off-site if you want.  But, you need to check with your internet service provider if they can provide or supply a “Static Public IP Address” for you to use – this is different from your usual IP address.  Without the Static Public IP Address, it is impossible for your remote viewing App to work efficiently.  The application needs the Static Public IP Address to provide the connection to your ISP.

If your internet service provider can only give a DHCP Public IP address, then it is still possible to get around this through the use of a DNS service.  However, you need to make sure that both the remote viewing app and DVR are okay with the DNS configuration.  Also, it is likely more difficult to configure and less reliable for the DNS server to check your ISP public IP address and be able to convert it into a domain name that makes remote viewing possible.  The DNS server needs ample time to update its records when your DHCP public IP changes.  During such time, your remote viewing won’t work.  Another issue in using the free DNS services is that they are usually a bit unreliable, especially if the server is located in Asia.  The moment the server goes down, expects your remote viewing to stop working.

Setting Up Your Camera Remote Monitoring Through a Digital Video Recorder

To be blunt, it is rather frustrating to set up a remote camera viewing.  It is advisable to acquire some knowledge about computer networking to learn how to set it up successfully.  You can find the basics below but know in advance that there are various parameters and issues that you need to deal with before you can take hold of a definite procedure.  To begin with, there are several broadband routers that offer different programming options.  There are also rare cases when some routers don’t have the programming option that you need.  You have no other choice but to buy a new one.  However, the most common mistake that customers usually commit is the mistyped entry in the field tabs during set up.  A simple error of using an incorrect letter case in your password or username can lead to a failed setup.  Another tip that you will definitely find useful is to set up the remote viewing locally first.  Simply put, you must connect your Smartphone to your router's Wi-Fi network and input the IP address of the NVR or DVR in the Remote Viewing App.  If everything runs smoothly, then you will have a successful setup.  Most of the time, the router’s configuration, which allows you to come through or not get through the gateway of the router to connect to the DVR or NVR, is the one that got some issues.

You also need to know that the DVR/NVR requires programming with a static IP address on the local network.  If you program a static IP, your router either excludes it from its DHCP server or configures it to let the DVR/NVR have the same address all the time. Also, once connected to the router the address of the NVR or DVR needs to be set to static under the network tab in the machine’s configuration software.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that the router’s port forwarding has to be enabled to forward the DVR’s or NVR's individual ports to the static IP address of the machine. The configuration is in the router, and the configuration varies per router.  It is advisable to look up your router's installation manual.  If you don’t have the manual, then you can search for it on the internet.

Lastly, you must know your Public IP Address that you need to put into the app so you can remotely view your cameras via the 3G/4G mobile networks.  To know your public IP, you need to open your Google browser and on the search bar type this query: WHAT IS MY PUBLIC IP.  Google will give you the answer you need.  You need the returned address for your app.

It is also recommended to verify that you have a static public IP address by rebooting your router.  Open your Google browser and check if your public IP address has changed.  If you don't have a static Internet Protocol Address, then you need to contact your Internet Service Provider.

The Infrared Night Vision

There are different cameras bearing similar IR specifications that perform differently at night.  The price can serve as a guide when deciding which camera gives the Infrared night vision that you prefer.  However, you should take note that IR cameras require a certain form of lighting to unleash their full potential during the night.  The illumination that the moon or streetlight provides is usually enough for the Infrared to work perfectly.  However, if it becomes too dark or no illumination is provided, most cameras fail to produce a useful and clear picture.

What Kind of Camera Lenses should I Choose?

In choosing the camera lenses, you need to consider the areas of the property that you want your surveillance cameras to cover.  You must match the cameras with the types of lens that suit your plan.  For example, you want your surveillance camera to cover a room that only requires a camera with a fixed 3mm lens.  If the room is extremely long and you want to zoom in on a door at the very end, it would be best to use a camera with an approx 3mm to 12mm variable lens that allows you to adjust and zoom in on the door.  Perhaps you want to cover the entry gate of your property that is about 50 metres from your house.  You need a camera with a variable lens of up to 22mm for this one.  If the gate is further away from your house, a camera with a variable lens of up to 50mm would be able to give you the coverage you want.  Keep in mind that the greater the distance away from your house, the higher the lens that you need.  The higher the lens, the more costly your cameras and lenses get.  There are several Lens Calculators available online.  You can use it to calculate the exact lens that you need for your specific distance requirements.  Click on the link below to view the lens simulator, which shows the difference between lens lengths:

The Power Supply to Use

It is important to make sure to purchase and use the correct power supply that your cameras require.  It is imperative that the selected power supply can efficiently supply the needed amount of current of all cameras connected to it. As a general rule, it is advisable to choose a power supply that can provide enough current for the selected cameras and extra 25% of the available current as a buffer.  

Look at the example below:

Take a system with 2 x 12v DC 450ma ball cameras and for the current that you can draw.  

2 x 450ma = 900ma or 0.9 amp current draw

For the example above, you could use a 12v DC 1amp power supply.  Taking the rule to leave 25% buffer into consideration, using a 1A (amp) power supply only gives a 10% buffer.  This means that this installation requires you to purchase the next power supply in line, and that range being a 12v DC 1.5A to satisfy and keep in line with the best practice.

What Kind of Cabling Do I Need?

There are limitations concerning the types and lengths of cable to use in installing your camera, and you need to make sure to use the correct cable. In general, if the distance of cable from a camera to the DVR or NVR recorder is more than 100 meters, for both Network and Coax camera installations, expect to find some trouble in making it work.  There are a lot of disappointed people who had no other option but to dig up their previously installed underground cabling because they failed to do their homework about the different cable types as well as their limitations.  Other issues that must be addressed properly are the camera power supply voltage, power cable type and length, and camera current draw.  Simply put, the greater the distance between the camera and its power supply, the more likely it gets affected by the voltage drop in the cable that carries the needed voltage to the camera. The camera will end up getting only 6 volts of power out of the initial 12 volts at the power supply.  As a result, the camera won’t work.  The thickness of the copper strands, which are encased in the cable that connects the camera and power supply, is hugely responsible for the failure of the camera to work.

How Much Storage Capacity or Space do I Need?

There are a lot of factors that affect how much footage storage you need for a particular site. Consider the type of cameras and recording system that you are going to use. If you go for high definition, then the cameras need to show more pixels of information that require more storage space.  Take note that the higher the resolution, the larger storage you will need.  Also, the larger amount of motion or change in image that the camera sees also requires larger storage space.  For example, if one camera is facing the garage door with no movement and another camera is facing the driveway with leaves swaying in the wind, the camera facing the driveway will use more storage space due to the amount of motion it detects.  Other factors include frame rate record settings of the cameras, picture quality record settings, and video compression type configuration. 

Integrated Home Security

Integrated Home Security involves an electronic interface between the different structures of your security system.  It makes the bi-directional information flow possible between the Alarm System, Intercom System, and CCTV System.  One of the main benefits of integrated security is to be able to control the security systems off-site.  

For example, if you’re not at home, and a delivery man arrives and pushes the intercom button at your front gate, the action triggers the alarm panel to send a text message to you.  You simply need to open an App on your iPhone and directly talk to the delivery man as you watch via the Intercom camera. You can remotely open the front gate as well as the garage door using your phone so he can leave the parcel for you while you monitor everything through your Surveillance Camera System.

Picture Showing how integration between an intercom and camera system can time stamp when the front gate intercom is pushed it triggers an alarm input on the camera system which can be easily searched for later on. This particular system sends a snapshot of the car when the intercom is pushed