Ok so the time has come for me to start down the surveillance/cctv pathway. My previous experience with CCTV has been somewhat patchy. In the family home previously we had an old analogue system, where you could remote into the NVR to view the cameras, but the software on the NVR was frankly horrible, and I am convinced that it represented the weakest link on our network in terms of security. As soon as I started using pfsense and dumped our ISP router, this was the first thing to go on it’s own separate VLAN.
Don’t mix your camera network with your data network!
If you do have them on the same network and you want to scare yourself, just google “IP camera vulnerabilities” and see what you find. Still not convinced, google “default telnet passwords ip cameras”. The alternative scenario, is that someone can just unplug the ethernet from the back of your camera, and plug it straight into a laptop. As homes get more and more smart, and people start tying traditional alarms into them, maybe this is going to be the entry method of choice, rather than trying to “jimmy” the back door or climb through the upper toilet window you left open, because, “no one can fit through there!”
Anyways, I digress. So I’ve been contemplating what brand to go with, and I’ve settled on Reolink. They seem to be receiving positive reviews in the community, and from a budget perspective they fit nicely. From what I’ve seen, their own software and notification system seems decent, and they tick the right boxes when it comes to features and availability.
I’ve decided to try a mix and match approach. I’m choosing three models to test out initially.
Now all of these models have motion detection/triggering, record audio and can record to SD cards. I’ll list the features that have attracted me to each of the units individually. Note I wont be listing every single item, because half of the time the stuff is standard on all modern day IP cameras, or it’s just marketing fluff. So I’ll run through what caught my eye, and my reasoning.
- works without an NVR.
- 4k – future proofing, even if it means higher demands on the back end.
- H.265 which should lighten the load in terms of bandwidth and storage of the footage.
- ONVIF/RTSP/RTMP should help me get this into Home-Assistant/Node-red etc.
- h.265 (see above)
- Slightly wider viewing angle – viewing angle of the RLC-810A is horizontal 97 °, vertical 51 ° (RLC-820A = horizontal 80 °, vertical 42 °).
- Same abilities for integration as above – manual says the following: “HTTPS, SSL, TCP/IP, UDP, HTTP, IPv4, UPnP, RTSP, RTMP, SMTP, NTP, DHCP, DNS, DDNS, FTP, P2P” Surely that must be enough to let me do some cool stuff.
- 2560*1920 (I would have liked 4k, but thinking that 4k would have put additional strain on our WAP).
- Has person/vehicle detection again.
None of the models have PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom), but I didn’t really feel that was necessary. It’s not like I’m going to be sat there at the desk panning around the home and zooming in on things. Obviously in a business setting or a shop etc, that might be different, so from what I can tell, these were pretty much the top of the range bar the PTZ.
The order has gone into Aliexpress, keep an eye out on the blog, over the next few weeks as I get them in and begin the process of setting them up and seeing what cool tricks I can do with them.
The Back End
In terms of the back end, I’m going to need a POE switch. Ideally a managed one so that I can separate out the ports. I’ll want the cameras on their own VLAN as I’ve mentioned already, but I’ll also want to utilise the POE capability for my existing Unifi AP (so I can dump the power brick/injector). If this was solely for CCTV, I’d take a simple unmanaged switch as I have a network port set up solely for CCTV on my Qotom router I built previously.
I’m currently leaning towards this TPlink Managed 8-port switch on Amazon
- Gigiabit – for the WAP to utilise
- Managed – so I can add VLAN tags to the camera ports individually
- More than 5 ports… eventually I’d like to have 4-6 cameras, and maybe a couple of WAPs, when you include
Also a side note about tp-link switches, you can check out their firmware via an emulator, so you’re able to kind of play with the product before hand allowing you to understand what it can and can’t do. Obviously no substitute for a live demo, but this is a great feature for potential purchasers to look at: https://emulator.tp-link.com/Emulator_T1500G-8T(UN)2.0/index.html
If anyone has any other suggestions or thoughts on the switch, let me know in the comments.
As it stands right now, there’s a high chance am going to go with Blue Iris. Despite it only being Windows only, the reviews from people I know and trust and who I follow on Youtube, always glow. Yeah it’s not cheap, and it’s not light on resources, but I think this is probably the way to go.
Initially, I’ll probably tinker with some other options once I get the cameras and then decide from there. More to come!
If your interested in sharing your own solutions, tips and tricks with like minded people perhaps you’d consider joining our facebook group. The aim of this group will hopefully be more show and tell rather than support, but that’s not to say we can’t lend a helping hand!