Looking to convert cheap laptop cameras to POE

Discussion in 'IP Cameras' started by nach00, Mar 12, 2019.

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  1. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    Hello!
    New member here. I'm struggling to find a solution. I hope someone here can help.

    I'm working on a project that will monitor inventory along a shelf. Below are a list of requirements I'm looking for:

    1) Low frame rate (as low as 1 frame per second would be sufficient)
    2) Low resolution (1 or 2 megapixels should be good)
    3) Super low profile and compact
    4) Each camera is assigned to its own IP
    5) Ethernet connection only, no wifi

    Please see the attached file. The giant box is an example of what my shelf looks like. The blue rectangles represent each individual camera, connected with a red Ethernet cable. In this example, it will contain 25 cameras. As the project continues, I will need more than 100 cameras.

    Basically, I want to use really cheap webcams and control them via IP.

    The original plan is to use a giant USB hub and connect all the cameras to the hub. Then, connect this hub to the computer. One problem that I can foresee is that there might be a problem with bandwidth, in terms of both data and power. Also, I've learned that one computer device can only support up to 128 USB devices. Which isn't a deal breaker, but when combined with the above mentioned issues, I predict it would be easier and cheaper to go with POE.

    I've went to several electronics and hardware stores and no one has been able to help. One big issue that I keep hitting is the cost of each camera.

    Regular IP cameras cost around $20-100, which is way out of my budget. These cameras are also way too powerful for what I need.

    Since these cameras are not going to be monitoring any surveillance activity, it will not require a high frame rate. If the system would take a snapshot of each camera one at a time, this would be good enough for my purpose. The resolution also doesn't have to be 4K or anything either. It would just need to be able to visual some text from about 12 to 16 inches away.

    Please let me know if I'm out of my realm here! I do have electronics experience, but I think that the path that I'm going for right now is above my paygrade, but I would love to learn. Thank you!
     

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  2. fenderman

    fenderman Staff Member

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    Don't try to scratch your right ear with your left hand. USB idea is just not going to work. Also note that using USB cameras will require more processing power and storage space. You can find crappie IP cameras for less than $20
     
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  3. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    Wow, thank you for the very quick response.
    Is $20 the cheapest at the moment? I have a feeling that a $20 camera will still be more powerful than what I need. As I mentioned, I can sacrifice frame rate in this project.
     
  4. pozzello

    pozzello Getting comfortable

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    How about a single (or several) hi-rez IP cams viewing larger areas of shelving. Then use something like BI's zones to divide up each image in different sections that will trigger on any change in that section/zone. Not sure how many Zones BI can support for one cam (maybe only 6?) but you can always clone the cam feed as many times as needed to get the needed number of sections/zones monitored...
     
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  5. pozzello

    pozzello Getting comfortable

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  6. fenderman

    fenderman Staff Member

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    What is your cost for a USB eebcaw?
     
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  7. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    About $1.50 to $5.
    After discussing this project with an electronics friend of mine, he thinks that going webcams would be better, in terms of the physical size of the project. He says that going anywhere above 50 or 100 feet, POE would be necessary, but anything less, USB should be OK. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

    But the cheapest POE camera i'm seeing now is $12. Still a little too expensive... but maybe it'll be worth it?
     
  8. fenderman

    fenderman Staff Member

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    lol, yes, do it, it will be a complete failure. Sometimes you need to learn the hardway.
     
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  9. Dahuacamcctv

    Dahuacamcctv Young grasshopper

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  10. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    So if I use these analog cameras, which box will I need to connect them to? I'd need a box that can control 50 to 100 cameras. If I go the IP camera route, then I can just plug them all into a network switch, connected to a computer to control them. Am I correct?
     
  11. Dahuacamcctv

    Dahuacamcctv Young grasshopper

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    Well you need a VMS. Do you need to save video? If so you need a VMS like Blue Iris. If not just use SmartPss. For analog cameras you need a dvr. You could also get analog capture cards if you want to do it with a pc.
     
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  12. pozzello

    pozzello Getting comfortable

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    how are you going to connect 100 usb cams to a PC? make sure whatever OS you plan to use can support that many USB devices,
    or you'll need some sort of 'switcher' to rotate in a few connections at a time for sampling. but that would add $ and complexity...

    Aside: I wonder what they use at those Amazon Go stores where you grab stuff off the shelves and it just bills you? maybe just RFID tags on every item? or is it video based? We have one around the corner - I may have to go check it out (no pun intended...)
     
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  13. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.
    Is there a DVR or analog capture card that can support up to 50 or 100 cameras? As I mentioned in the original post, reducing my framerate as low as possible is ultimately the best option, as I don't need every camera to be displaying immediately. A simple photo every second or minute would suffice.
     
  14. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    A PC can support up to 128 USB devices. I would use a massive USB hub (the one I found can host 28 ports) and just get 4 of them.
    I'm not sure how the Amazon Go stores work, but I think there are sensors in the shopping cart that add and subtract items once you physically place them in the basket. I wish there were one around here so I could check it out. (no pun intended either :))
     
  15. Dahuacamcctv

    Dahuacamcctv Young grasshopper

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    There are 64 channel dvrs.
    Again, DO NOT DO THIS you will waste your money and it won't work, also how far away are the cameras, USB has a limited length for cable which significantly increases cost.
     
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  16. pozzello

    pozzello Getting comfortable

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    Blue Iris software supports USB cams and can handle up to 64 cams (software limitation). There's been talk about raising or eliminating that limit, as it is software enforced and
    most likely based on hardware limitation at the time the app was developed. You might at least look into it as your recording part of the solution...
     
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  17. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    Thanks, you're right. I'm not planning to go this route.

    As for the 64 channel DVRs, what is the price range for this? My quick google-fu is showing me systems ranging from $1500 to $5000.
    I also see that there are 128 channel DVRs too!

    Edit: but preferably, I'd like a 64-channel capture card. After reading another user's comment below, I'm thinking 64 is the most optimal solution at the time... How much would I be looking to spend for either a 64 channel DVR or capture card?
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  18. nach00

    nach00 n3wb

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    Thanks. Based on what another user has mentioned, USB is not the way to go for my project. Can Blue Iris use analog or POE cameras?

    Edit: Looking at the site you sent, it seems like it does.
     
  19. tangent

    tangent IPCT Contributor

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    Your whole plan sounds so ill conceived I'm at a loss for words. There's literally so much you don't understand about the system your imagining it's baffling.
    It also seems like you don't really want advice and just want justification of your awful plan.

    As far as monitoring inventory, an RFID based system would be my suggestion. Forget the cameras except a few at the doors and in the warehouse isles.

    If someone capable with the requisite engineering background were trying to design a system that was going to involve hundreds of cameras for inventory management, they would start small (eg. 1-4 cameras) and try to figure out what works and what doesn't before trying to scale it up.
     
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  20. tangent

    tangent IPCT Contributor

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