over the years I’ve tried a lot of CCTV cameras. things have come a long way as we moved from coax, CRTs and BNCs to CAT6, IP and PoE.
This time I wanted to organise a new pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cam that I could use to enjoy our building site remotely once the action starts.
Building site Cam
Our last house was full of random cameras as makers regularly sent me their kit to try out. This taught me one over-riding lesson though. get a single, appropriately integrated cam system with an NVR (Network video Recorder). like a lot of things in life, spending a bit a lot more indicates doing the job ideal (and once).
Now, while I wanted something decent, it still needed to be inexpensive too. You really can spend a scary amount of money on a good quality PTZ IP camera, easily getting into 4 figures. but that’s not in our budget, so I set about trying to find a a lot more reasonably priced solution.
I’ve previously had great success with an 8-camera Hikvision NVR setup in work. I’ve found it to be exceptional quality at an inexpensive price. This experience indicates i am familiar with their setup, including the browser, desktop and mobile apps so it made sense to stick with the same brand. I not only wanted a standalone cam for now, but also one I could re-use once the new house is built too, incorporating it into a multi-camera NVR setup.
In the end I went for this Hikvision DS-2DE4225IW-DE (catchy title). It’s a 2MP cam (1080p HD) with a 25x optical zoom that’s rated for indoor and outdoor use (IP66) and has an RRP of £400.50+VAT.
Mounting & Setup
The package included a power supply already wired to plug into the dome. but this would indicate having to run both power and data to the camera.
However, it supports the 30w PoE+ standard (802.3at) and so I gotten a PoE+ Injector to use instead. Power over Ethernet is fantastic as it indicates you don’t need to find an electrical supply at the camera. instead you send it along the same CAT5 (or better) cord that connects the cam to your network.
We’re currently living with family next door to our building site and this indicates we are in the lucky position to have access to super-fast FTTP Broadband. fast upstream bandwidth is a requirement for streaming high quality CCTV images. The property has a pole carrying TV aerials on the gable end of the house which is also in an ideal elevated location to monitor our building site next door. So I went with this DS-1602ZJ-POLE mount. There are a variety of other mounts available for this camera, including ones that fit on flat walls and in corners.
This pole does shake on stormy days though, which is particularly obvious when zoomed in, so that’s something you need to consider when working out how and where to mount it.
While it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the longevity of this camera, the metal construction seems strong and durable. Cameras supplied by authorised Hikvision resellers in the UK have a 3 year warranty.
There’s the option to hook up external microphones or speakers to this cam too, must you have a need for that. The list of whizzy sounding features also includes – large dynamic range (WDR), highlight/back light compensation (HLC/BLC), 3D digital noise reduction technology (3D DNR) and electronic image stabilisation (EIS). Huh huh.
Get a proper SD Card
The cam supports H.264 as well as the new H.265 video compression standard which uses a considerable saving on bandwidth and storage space. It can use a micro SD card for recording (if you’re not using an NVR) and can take up to a maximum size of 128GB.
I’ve seen pretty much every ‘normal’ SD card I’ve ever put into my other IP cameras fail. That’s particularly awkward if your cam is up a pole like this one.
So I’ve splurged on a Samsung 128 GB pro Endurance SD card which is created specifically for surveillance, security, dash and body cams. They are rated for up to 5 years of continuous recording so hopefully will supply trouble-free use until we get the NVR.
Samsung pro Endurance 128 GB microSDXC UHS-I U1 100 MB/s video monitoring Memory Card with Adapter…
Samsung pro Endurance MB-MJ64GA (64GB) SDXC UHS-I Memory Card with SD Adaptor
SanDisk HIGH ENDURANCE video monitoring for Dashcams & home monitoring 128 GB microSDXC Memory Card…
The rear panel of the dome comes off with 4 Philips screws to reveal the micro SD card slot – you can just make it out in this photo, below the bottom ideal corner of the PCB at the small orange ribbon cable.
Pan, Tilt, Zoom, Patrols, Presets, events & Alarms
Fixed cameras are the norm, and normally a better bet. but when you want to cover a large area with a single cam like this then a PTZ is ideal.
The 25x zoom is very impressive, not least at night when the camera’s built-in IR illumination can reach 100 metres. It’s part of the ‘DarkFighter’ range that uses ultra-low light technology to supply colour pictures down to just 0.05 lux, and black and white pictures down to 0.01 lux. It can go down to 0 lux at up to 100m with its built-in IR (as a guide, a full moon on a clear night is around 0.25 lux).
Here’s an example of me enjoying some rabbits at night which shows the incredible zoom as well as the low light capabilities built into the camera (click the image for larger version).
As well as the manual pan tilt and zoom functions the cam can be programmed with up to 8 different ‘patrols’ with each having up to 32 ‘presets’. The pan is continuous 360 degrees so there’s never a time where you have to go back the other way. remember to check out your local laws on domestic CCTV, privacy and data protection. Here’s some beneficial looking information for the UK.
Other smart features I’ve not even got into yet include the detection of motion, intrusion, line crossing and object removal.
Spiders webs across the lens were always a problem on the cameras at our last house, but so far the movement of the PTZ seems to keep them at bay on this one, which is another big advantage.
One thing worth mentioning is that there’s no dome covering the cam here, so you can see this one move. This indicates if you were using it for safety surveillance your subject would a lot of likely be able to work out when it was pointed at them.
Here’s another example shot, ideal at the end of the 25 times zoom checking out a bird table at the side of the house where we’re staying. I think this shot shows off the quality of the cam really well (click the image for full-size version).
Like all good construction projects we are intending to capture some time-lapse shots of the build.
I’ve been experimenting with the ‘Event Scheduling’ settings for the camera. An interval of 5 mins (300,000ms) seems about ideal for this.
I am importing the photos into Lightroom and exporting the motion picture from the slideshow module which works great.
If you don’t have Lightroom there are plenty of stand alone apps available to turn a bunch of stills into a time lapse.
[UPDATE] check out our Instagram for some time lapse examples
Hikvision cameras can be checked out in a browser or by means of dedicated apps for the PC, Mac, Android or iOS.
Recent updates to Safari have broken the ability to view the cam in a browser on the Mac, so I’m running the iVMS-4200 application instead. It works really well and supplies access to all the features of the cam remotely, whether checkingout or configuring.
On iOS I’m using the iVMS-4500 app. This allows you to view the cam as well as control the PTZ manually and recall presets too.
What If I have No Power or Broadband?
If your building site lacks either power, broadband, or both, then there are still options open to you.
If you have power but no broadband (perhaps living on site in a caravan or mobile home) then you can still use the setup above recording to a micro SD card, but without the ability to enjoy remotely over the internet.
If you have respectable 3G or 4G LTE coverage then you could use the same system connected to a cellular router. Specialists like Nucleus Networks make quality routers for this purpose.
If you have no power and don’t need Ethernet, just WiFi, then you could hack together a MiFi unit with a large USB battery which could give days of Internet access between charges.
Lastly there are all-in-one options available that integrate a camera, battery, solar panel and a cellular modem like this reolink.
We’ve had this Hikvision PTZ cam installed for around 2 months now and it has genuinely been a happiness to use.
I’ve embedded some sample footage below from a YouTube user that gives you a good idea of its flexibility. While we’ve set it up here to monitor our building site, it would of course be beneficial in dozens of other applications too.
Hikvision has become such a huge success by using great features at an inexpensive price. I’ve used a lot of IP CCTV cameras over the years, but this thing blows me away. Recommended.
hikvision.com/uk : Hikvision Authorised Distributors
Remember to check out our Instagram to follow the project, read the rest of the Automated home 2.0 blog articles and find the links to all the products we’ve used in our self-build.
1/2.8″ progressive scan CMOS
Up to 1920 × 1080@30fps resolution
Color: 0.005 Lux @(F1.6, AGC ON)
B/W: 0.001 Lux @(F1.6, AGC ON)
0 Lux with IR
25× optical zoom, 16× digital zoom
WDR, HLC, BLC, 3D DNR, Defog, EIS, regional Exposure, regional Focus
Up to 100 m IR distance
12 VDC & PoE+ (802.3 at, class4)
Support H.265+/H.265 video compression
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