Dahua SmartPSS and PC-NVR - Valid alternative to using BI, Zone Minder, Milestone, etc?

Your VMS / NVR of choice?

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thomaswde

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I've not found anywhere on this site where anyone has really dove off into SmartPSS and PC-NVR as a full solution for IP cam management as opposed to using BI, Milestone, etc. Granted, I'm sure this makes more sense if you're 100% Dahua versus a mixed bag.
Since I mention it throughout, I'm using PC-NVR version 3.0, the SmartPSS I'm using is V2.00.1

Hoping this can be a discussion on SmartPSS/PC-NVR as a solution, love to hear feedback on why people quit using it that were or switched to it and love it, etc.

This is the path I'm on so far... I'll start by sharing how/what I'm doing, why, and how it's working out so far.
I am a fledgling here so I'm always ready to gain insight from those who've gone before.

I have 1 cam up and a few enroute via DHL, all are Dahua Starlights. Likely have about 7-8 all said and done, maybe by mid summer.
Here's my networking/ compute/ storage.
I have an 8 port PoE switch centrally located in my home with all cam drops running back to it.
That PoE uplinks to my core switch. Also connected to my core is a small, older PC running Server 2012R2 with only PC-NVR service installed, nothing else at all (not even SmartPSS, I'll get to this in a minute).
Currently I have a USB 2.0, 2TB external getting 24/7 writes. Obviously it's not made for that so I have a plan, I am after all a storage guy and know better. ;)
I'm going to connect an eSata RAID shelf to that PC, a small 5 bay, and I intend to build a RAID5 there out of 4TB WD-purps or SkyHawks (I'm always a little partial to seagate).

I have SmartPSS installed on my laptop and my main office rig (SmartPSS only, remember PC-NVR lives on the little server.).

So far, PC-NVR while writing data from my Starlight uses almost no CPU (0-1%) with one camera. My "resting" CPU usage while recording is about 3-4% and that's with CPUID's HWMonitor running which is probably taking a few cycles. So it's a null. I could probably have all 32 channels in use on this thing without breaking a sweat. When I said older PC I wasn't kidding, it's a AMD Turion II dual core @ 2.2Ghz full tilt w/ 4GB RAM which it is only using about a quarter of. I connect to PC-NVR using SmartPSS from one of my PCs, from there I can playback recordings, manage devices, etc.

What I learned quickly was that PC-NVR is light as a feather, SmartPSS is more like an Alabama noseguard mid-way through the off season. Or at least it can be when you're performing various tasks.

I don't have much experience with many other solutions. I tried BI but didn't immediately find features unavailable in SmartPSS that I cared about but did notice that H.265 flat out didn't work with my 5231R-Z, it was using a lot of CPU (<edited for clarity> I could have used direct write to disk</>). With only a Dahua up, and only more Dahuas enroute I wasn't able to figure out why I'd go that route.

I tried Milestone. No H.265 in the free version and overall same story as BI, it was fine but SmartPSS does all the cool shit too. (or at least as far as my fledgling self could tell in a hour tinkering with it).

I also tried Vivotek VAST2, I work for a Vivotek partner so I can get it for free, it was really sexy and sleek but once again, no H.265 and no native support for IVS. Now my Vivotek rep has mentioned maybe procuring some Vivotek cams for me free of cost or at a huge discount, if that happens I may need to revisit this one.

Anyone wanna weigh in? What is it that I'm going to go through life missing out on if I continue down this path, why should I pay for a VMS like BI if I'm using all Dahua cams? Anything?
 
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fenderman

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I don't have much experience with many other solutions. I tried BI but didn't immediately find features unavailable in SmartPSS that I cared about but did notice that H.265 flat out didn't work with my 5231R-Z, it was using hella more CPU ( i do know about the work arounds there, such as direct write to disk). With only a Dahua up, and only more Dahuas enroute I wasn't able to figure out why I'd go that route.
Direct to disc is not a "workaround" that is how pss and all other vms operate...direct to disk and hardware acceleration do not work in demo mode..so cpu consumption will be much higher than normal..
if you just do basic recording then pss is fine, if you want a fantastic mobile app tons of alert and motion detection options to name a few blue iris is the way to go...
H.265 will eventually work for dahua, its simply a matter of time...
If you actually spend the time to learn the features of blue iris you will find that it is worthwhile..
 

thomaswde

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Direct to disc is not a "workaround" that is how pss and all other vms operate...direct to disk and hardware acceleration do not work in demo mode..so cpu consumption will be much higher than normal..
if you just do basic recording then pss is fine, if you want a fantastic mobile app tons of alert and motion detection options to name a few blue iris is the way to go...
H.265 will eventually work for dahua, its simply a matter of time...
If you actually spend the time to learn the features of blue iris you will find that it is worthwhile..
Thanks for the advice, once I've got a few more cams I'll give it a deeper dive. Workaround was probably the wrong description as I amm aware it's a feature and also how any application not using many CPU cycles that's storing data is operating.
I've never checked out the mobile app, that's definitely something that would be nice as the one provided by Dahua is a bit behind the times on Android, lacks some compatibility with the newest OS releases.
I've been really impressed with how PSS handles motion events and the small number of false alarms I've had but if BI is even more refined or functional that might be worth a look.
Thanks again!
 

hmjgriffon

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I'm hoping IVS works with BI soon, I shot off an email to ken to let him know only motion detection seems to work so perhaps he will figure out how to make that work, if possible. I'm using zones in BI right now and they work pretty well, I really only get an occasional alarm from a giant moth flying in front of the cam at night or something, but really windy days can be murder too, today was such a day my new driveway cam had a period of time where it was going bonkers lol. It's possible I could tweak the settings more and more and more but It seems like the biggest thing is that if you tweak for it to work well with stuff far away from the camera and small it won't work as well for stuff close to the camera and big and you can't set different regions of the screen with different object sizes and well, that much work is honestly kind of a pain in the ass lol. I've not put a PIR sensor outside yet to see how that does but since I have one that I've tested with a zwave transmitter I might try and play with that this weekend. I don't think any software based MD is really ever going to be as good as something that looks at infrared and microwaves instead of pixels.
 

aristobrat

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Anyone wanna weigh in?
Playing around with this for the first time... Were you able to get PC-NVR to recognize IVS events? I was curious if it recorded them with the same missing frame issue the NVR has..

IVS is setup on my Dahua cameras and working great. I've got the cameras streaming to my Dahua NVR, Blue Iris, and this new PC-NVR test I'm playing with.

Here's a picture of the Dahua NVR timeline and the PC-NVR timeline for roughly the same time period.

The Dahua NVR sees it when the cameras have IVS events:

nvr.png

... but the PC-NVR doesn't:

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 5.50.30 PM.png


I've got the recording schedule on the PC-NVR setup to record and IVS 24/7 all week long.

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 5.50.56 PM.png

... anyhow, was just curious what your experience PC-NVR and IVS events was. Thanks! :)
 

thomaswde

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Playing around with this for the first time... Were you able to get PC-NVR to recognize IVS events? I was curious if it recorded them with the same missing frame issue the NVR has..

IVS is setup on my Dahua cameras and working great. I've got the cameras streaming to my Dahua NVR, Blue Iris, and this new PC-NVR test I'm playing with.

Here's a picture of the Dahua NVR timeline and the PC-NVR timeline for roughly the same time period.

The Dahua NVR sees it when the cameras have IVS events:

View attachment 18300

... but the PC-NVR doesn't:

View attachment 18301


I've got the recording schedule on the PC-NVR setup to record and IVS 24/7 all week long.

View attachment 18302

... anyhow, was just curious what your experience PC-NVR and IVS events was. Thanks! :)
Same story, I'd kind of forgotten about this issue actually.
Might be a great question to ask someone from Dahua at some point. The IVS events absolutely can be configured from within PC-NVR and they do function as far as triggering and performing any "in camera" actions like SMTP or record to internal storage/ FTP, etc. PC-NVR however doesn't actually record an IVS event. The work around I have been using is that I use my SMTP events as "timestamps" that include photos, if I have an SMTP event that's interesting I'll go view the general recording from that time point and if need be cut and save a clip. I've gotten used enough to the work around I've kind of forgotten that PC-NVR should be saving a clip automagically. Since I don't go view all my IVS nightly or anything, I just check the photo when I get an email sent from the SMTP feature. I might need to bump this back up into the forefront of my mind to try and see if it's a solvable issue. I have PC-NVR running on a dedicated little Server 2012 box with about 3TB of disk and it's great overall.
 

aristobrat

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At least Motion Detection records, and it doesn't appear to lose frames like the Dahua NVR does. If they could get get PC-NVR to record IVS!

If Blue Iris could record when the camera detects IVS events, it'd be the perfect solution for me. Right now I'm trying to fine tune BI's Motion Detection to be as accurate as IVS. There are a few things (mostly sudden light changes) that I'm having a hell of a time with, whereas IVS on the camera has no problem with them.

The workaround that you're using is what I used then I had one camera (a Hik) and a Synology NAS. The Hik's version of IVS (Smart Events) would send me an email, and then I could go find it on the NVR if I wanted to see it. Worked OK, but having switched to the Dahua NVR (and Blue Iris), it's so nice to have those events show up directly in the timeline! :)
 
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So I am still in "test it out mode" with various cameras (just sent back a Dahua dome camera, ick on IR) and so far I really like the Dahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z (got an open box for $50 and looking at around $70 per camera on eBay, VERY limited budget for cameras). I just moved it to another test location involving 200 feet of cat6 cable, some duct tape and a ladder. Now I finally see why shooting a fence gate with a longer lens (estimating I am zoomed to about 9-10mm) is the right way to go. Anywho...

I have been mainly using Smart PSS on my SFF PC I am using for testing and eventual full installation (quad core, 8 GB RAM, 2 TB 7200 RPM Seagate Drive). So, I too am wondering if need to even bother with Blue Iris when Smart PSS seems to have almost everything I need. Other than enhanced motion detection with $60 BI and a $10 mobile app what are the advantages of BI?

I am also curious whether BI works with the Dahua PC-NVR and whether that is better than using the internal BI recording? Is that the better way to go?

Also, Does Smart PSS/PC-NVR have a Web server similar to BI for remote access (still learning this tool). I see that Dahua has a few mobile apps so I am curious whether these also work well remotely and can send great real-time alerts similar to Ring? Right now my wife loves Ring (horrible video quality and the motion alerts make me nutz) so if I can give her a mobile app with triggers to monitor our Dahua cameras at home and remotely that would be ideal. Do I need BI for this or can I use a mobile app that interfaces with Smart PSS to accomplish the same thing?

Thanks in advance for your input.
 

aristobrat

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In the limited time I played with PC-NVR, I didn't see where it had a web client. All management (and live video/recording watching) I did was through SmartPSS (installed on other computers throughout the house) or through the Dahua apps on my iPhone/iPad. I didn't try connecting to it when out of the house, though. As long as you have a VPN setup (or port-forward <not recommended due to safety concerns>), it should work remotely.

This isn't much help for your question about PC-NVR, but I did have real-time alerts setup with my Dahua NVR + their paid versions of the smartphone apps ($4.99). I tried googling around to see if PC-NVR could do that but couldn't come up with a definite answer. :(

My recommendation would be to run with just PC-NVR until you have it setup the best it possible can run, then download Blue Iris. They give you a 15-day trial. My cameras have no problems giving out two streams, so I had both my Dahua NVR and Blue Iris recording from the cameras at the same time without any problems.

For me, I found the BI iOS app to be wayyyyy more responsive over LTE when watching video (live or recorded), and it makes looking through all of the motion detection clips from the various cameras so much easier than the Dahua mobile client. I also like how BI's web client can be set to not need authentication from folks inside your house, so you can have a bookmark on your browser that brings up the live view of the cameras quickly. It used to frustrate me with Dahua when I'd hear something outside and how long it took on a computer to get a live view going.

The biggest reason I switched to BI was because I couldn't figure out a way to have my Dahua NVR (or PC-NVR) do continuous recordings and IVS recordings where video frames didn't get dropped from the beginning of the IVS recordings. BI doesn't currently work with Dahua's IVS, but I've been able to get BI's Motion Detection set to be almost as reliable.
 
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Thanks for the input Aristobrat. I was definitely planning to download BI to my designated NVR PC and play with it. The reason I asked about BI and the Dahua PC-NVR is that I currently allocated all the space on my D: drive on that machine to the NVR so I wasn't sure how BI would handle that.
 

aristobrat

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If you can reallocate PC-NVR to leave some free space, I think you'll be fine. Otherwise PC-NVR should literally fill up your D: drive, which wouldn't leave any space for BI.

I really really like how BI handles recordings. You don't have to use them all, but BI has two predefined folders .. "New" and "Stored", along with AUX1-AUX7. You set the actual paths, retention policy, and what happens to recordings for each of those folders.

Here's how I have mine setup:

New folder = C:\BlueIris\New. Set to archive at 100GB or when a recording is 1 day old. When it archives, it's set to move recordings to the Stored folder.

Stored folder = C:\BlueIris\Stored. Set to archive at 3500GB, no age limit. When it archives, it's set to move the recordings to the Aux1 folder.

Aux1 folder = D:\BlueIris\Aux1. Set to archive at 3500GB, 14 days. When it archives, it's set to delete the recordings.

For just testing out BI, I'd only use the New folder. Create a folder on D:\ somewhere and use that. Set it to however much space you can give it, and tell it to delete the recordings when it archives. Then it will never use more than the amount of space you set it for.

Eventually, I'd like to setup my cameras that don't usually record interesting stuff to record straight to the Aux2 folder, and have that folder only retain for 3 days. Then I'll be able to keep the recordings from the other cameras for a longer period of time.

The other thing that BI does that I couldnt' figure out on PC-NVR is to be able to flag an interesting recording (makes it so much easier to find later) and optionally protect it, so that it's never deleted.
 
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