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Easiest/Cheapest Security System, Help Needed

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May 8, 2008 9:37:12 PM

Goal: (please see background for explanation of the problem)
I want to catch a criminal on tape.

I have a couple of old web cam's and a wireless network. I am willing to spend up to $100 USD on new equipment/software---no more. Is there some low cost software that will record a small image every 5 seconds or so?
I have a unused 250 GB HD that will hold the images. I'd prefer a wireless camera to be able to hook into my wireless network and record to my desktop.

Is this legal? my plan is to shoot only on my property and the city street.

Any help or thoughts about how to set this up will be much appreciated.


BackGround:
I'm having a feud with my neighbor over the street light (owned by the city) on my property. I like it because of not having to leave a light on and the added sense of security. My neighbor has stated in the past that it is too bright and he/she does not like it.

The street lamp was recently shot out. twice. (with in a 4 month period)

Today I tried to file a police report and they said that (1) I could not file a report since it was the city and not my property that was damaged. (2) I did not have proof. This I kinda knew in advance but I thought that since my neighbor's are the only ones who carry around a BB gun, the police would at least give a verbal warning... but I guess not.
May 8, 2008 9:53:26 PM

On a side note, it IS possible to install light-blocking shields on such lights to block the part that shines on the neighbor's lot.
May 8, 2008 10:16:54 PM

My father-in-law got a great deal on a system by X-10 to monitor his vacation home.
It has 3 regular wireless cameras plus 1 wireless pan/tilt camera, receiver, software for $199.99. It was totally simple to set up, it records as frequently as you want it to, real-time or ever 5 minutes and continues to do so until you delete the files or you run out of hard drive space.
You can monitor the camera at your desktop or from the net.
They have a one camera system for $99.99, might be what you need: http://www.x10.com/affiliate_pages/spring2005/internet-camera_vip.htm

Don't know about the legalities. I would think if the camera just "happens" to get part of the area of your neighbors property where you think the shots have been coming from it wouldn't be a huge deal.
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May 8, 2008 10:56:07 PM

Thanks for both of your fast replies.

@ monoman: I doubt my neighbors would admit they did it --- but I will inform them that they might contact the utility company and request that.

@ Lord Gornak: Thanks for the link. I am currently looking at their systems. They seem pretty good. I'll look into it more to make sure it is vista capable/ compatible.

If anyone else has any other good thoughts please let me know.
May 8, 2008 11:18:46 PM

Ooh..., Vista, I'd e-mail them just to be sure. Their hardware is top-notch but their software is a little antiquated.
May 8, 2008 11:19:09 PM

A usb webcam will be a pain in the butt and perform like crap. USB cameras are"dumb" in that they offload the image processing onto the host computer and eat up all the usb bandwidth they can. You need an IP camera. Since you already have a wireless network you could buy one with wireless capability and then just enter the IP address of the camera into your browser. The camera itself does the image processing and has its own http server built in. You can stream video or have the camera e-mail images every so many seconds. Most come with recording software and they can be accessed remotely via browser. I have set up a few security systems this way and they work great for the money. The ones I normally use are sold out, but these are nearly identical.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

May 9, 2008 12:30:01 AM

Yep, none of the x-10 products are vista compatible

The trendnet camera doesn't list Vista either. Does anyone know if it will work? I'll see if I can find out --- these are all good suggestions. I'm still looking through everything. There seems to be a lot of $100 wireless IP cameras but i'm concerned about the software.

Any personal experience setting up something like this would be great.
May 9, 2008 6:14:52 AM

You don't have to use the software that comes with the camera if you don't want to. There are a number of third party camera vieing/recording programs that will work with most any ip camera. WebcamXP and Active Webcam are both Vista compatible. The DVR/camera server boxes I've built have all run n-lit'ed versions of XP. Typically I'll have a XP system running WebcamXP on the same router as multiple ip cameras connected either wired or wirelessly(wired works better) Yoiu configure WebcamXP to monitor and record any of the cameras you like by ip address. It has a nice split screen for multiple cameras. I usually set it up to overwrite the footage after a couple days. You can also connect to WebcamXP remotely thru its http server function. Of course you'll need to open appropriate ports on routers/firewalls. Also for consistent remote viewing you'll probably need to use a dynamic dns service to resolve your ip address. DynDNS is free and most routers can be set up to handle the ip address updating. The framsrates depend on connection but you can get a pretty good idea of whats going on.

http://www.webcamxp.com/home.aspx

http://www.dyndns.com/
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