In the course of our burglary saga of the past few days, a number of people have asked about the cameras that I have installed. Here’s a brief rundown.
We don’t have a full security system, although that probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, under the circumstances.
Instead, I have installed two cameras, both made by Axis Communications. I believe the two models I use have both been discontinued. You can click here to download a comparison of the current Axis models generally available.
The cameras are small, probably just over 3″ high and a couple of inches wide.
Both the cameras I have installed feature wireless connections to an available wireless network. Unless your house is already wired for a computer network, wireless is a must. No computer is needed, since the cameras can connect directly to the internet. The cameras do need access to a power source.
Both feature motion detection, ability to record video or still images and to adjust camera settings to your own situation.
The first camera is an Axis 207MW, which has a wider field of view than some other models, as well as 1-megapixel resolution. It yields outstanding images.
The second camera is an Axis M1031, lower resolution and a tighter field of view.
The current most comparable model seems to be the Axis M1034-W Network Camera. The M1033-W is similar, but with the slightly narrower field of view.
Axis cameras are available from good online merchants, including my favorites, Amazon and BH Photo. I don’t know who carries them locally.
Both cameras are set to start taking pictures when they detect motion in a room. You can adjust the area that they monitor for motion in order to avoid fans or other things that would trigger the motion detectors. My cameras immediately start taking photos every few seconds, and these are uploaded to a hidden folder on the server that hosts my website. I’m sure they could also be saved to a Dropbox folder or via another cloud-based service.
The cameras are triggered when motion is detected, and then take photos every few seconds for an adjustable period of time. I have the cameras set to take and upload several hundred photographs. When the quota is reached, they start back at the beginning, with the newest photos overwriting older ones. This keeps the total amount of online storage needed under some control.
And the cameras can be set to operate only during certain hours, like when you’re away at work, so that you don’t end up with endless photos of yourself walking around the house, watching television, or whatever.
When I first installed the cameras, it was really a trial-and-error procedure for me. It took me hours of fiddling around to get them both up and running properly. But Axis has improved its software and controls, and I understand setup is now much easier.
If you can figure out how to connect your television to your home music system, you can probably get a camera like this up and running.
On Friday, when we discovered we had been burglarized, I didn’t have much hope for any photos. I had been having connection issues with the server (since resolved), and I realized that I hadn’t checked the camera settings in months to be sure they were still set properly.
But despite having been up and running for months without any review or maintenance, they came through with photos that made it possible to identify the burglar and led to the recovery of the stolen items.
These cameras have capabilities I haven’t tried to tap. They have connections to trigger an alarm, and have built-in audio capacity as well. I’ve left those functions for future experiments, but would love to hear from anyone who already makes use of them.
To be clear, cameras like this won’t prevent a burglary, but they may provide crucial information if, or when, someone enters your home illegally.
I forgot to mention that I can monitor what’s going on at home via my iPhone using one of several available apps. It allows me to check in on the cats, or the weather, from anywhere as long as my phone can reach the internet.
If there are specific questions you have about this setup, I’ll try to answer them.