Newbie Looking for Advice

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Hello all!


I recently changed my service for internet and television and my "cable" boxes now use Ethernet cable and I do not currently have Ethernet run to all the places I have TVs. Technically speaking I only need to run it to one room right now, but I figured why not use this as an excuse to put a couple of drops in each room and adding some IP cameras. As one does, obviously…
  • I am thinking of doing 2-4 IP exterior cameras initially with the intention of adding more in the future, perhaps as many as 8 total. I’m thinking of front door, back door and then one for the front and one for the back yard for right now. I don't want to break the bank at the moment and figure I can easily add a few cameras later on. I'm planning on a couple drops for the bedrooms for TVs and potential future devices in each room so I’d like to go ahead and get the cable in place for the cameras as well while I’m at it. I have a ranch style home so this should be relatively easily accomplished in the attic.
  • All of these drops will be CAT6. I’ll be using 23AWG, solid core cable. Side note, if you have a Menard’s nearby it seems to be hard to beat the price $102+tax after their 11% rebate - Home Depot also carries the same cable and matches Menard’s 11% off in some areas, FYI. It saves me about $30 in shipping for a similar spool from Monoprice anyway.
  • I am currently planning on using Blue Iris on an old PC I have sitting in a closet at the moment.
  • I will be setting up a patch panel in a closet, where I can terminate all the camera and network connections. It will also house the switch and Blue Iris computer.
  • For the cameras I was looking at the Amcrest Ultra HD 5MP on Amazon or the 4MP Starlight from the IP Cam Talk Store. I was considering the 3.6mm lens versions of each depending on how that is for a yard type view anyway.

Now for some questions:
  1. What is the general consensus on these cameras? Should I look at something more like the 8MP Starlight on the IP Cam Talk Store for the front door at least?
  2. How do these cameras do with direct exposure to the weather? I’d like to utilize one each for the sides of the house eventually, but in order to get coverage on the sides of the house I think I would have to mount them where there is no overhang. I know they’re all IP67 so they should be good, but would direct sun/weather reduce their lifespan?
  3. And would the 3.6mm be adequate for a view over the front/back yard or should I go with the 2.8mm since it seems that would have the wider view?
  4. Should I utilize a single switch with PoE for everything? Or have a dedicated switch for computers/everything non-cameras and a dedicated PoE switch for just the cameras? I had found this one that looks like it would allow me to add the additional cameras later, as well as allow for expansion of the network. I’d probably go with an 8 port PoE and a 16 port regular switch if doing them separately for the same reason.
I am probably missing some pieces so feel free to offer suggestions or critiques. I'd rather find out I'm going down the wrong path before I bought something...
 
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:welcome:

If you haven't already done so please look in the WiKi in the blue bar at the top of the page There is a tremendous amount of information and tips regarding system assembly, cameras, NVRs, VMSs, other hardware and securing your network.

To answer your question regarding how weatherproof cameras are, they will easily withstand being totally exposed to the elements with no problems other than getting snow accumulations on the lens if the wind is right.

Both 3.6mm and 2.8mm are generally considered overview lenses. If you want to know who did what, and not just that something happened, 6mm is probably a better choice in many cases. To eliminate guesswork it is best to get a varifocal first, just one camera, and use it on a test rig to check from each location you are planning to mount a camera. Keep in mind that a camera higher than 7-8 feet is also useless to determine who did what. Look around through the forum. There are many reviews of the current crop of popular cameras, complete with screen captures and full motion video, both day and night.

A test rig is simply a five gallon bucket with a 2x4-8 in it filled with sand or stones. The camera, of course, gets mounted to the 2x4. From the GUI of the camera the zoom "number" can be easily determined and that, in turn, can be used to calculate the mm lens equivalent.

Above all, do not chase megapixels. Instead chase sensor size. The current "standard" is 4MP with a 1/1.8" sensor. If that camera had a 8MP resolution only half the amount of light would reach each pixel which, in turn, reduces its ability to produce a good low light picture. Look around through the forum. There are many reviews of the current crop of popular cameras, complete with screen captures and full motion video, both day and night.

Remember that this is video surveillance and not an alarm system. With the subject close to a camera, a 2MP will produce excellent, usable, video and captures. In fact 2MP is very popular for license plate capture. Frame rates are generally no higher than 15FPS. Bit rates vary according to personal preference and the camera requirements but rarely, if ever, are set to the maximum a camera may be capable of. High frame and bit rates increase the amount of storage space required which can be quite problematic.
 
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While I appreciate - and plan to take - the advice about the cameras, I was sort of hoping for a little more help on the networking side of things as well... Perhaps I've missed it in the Wiki but I don't really see anything on the setup from a hardware perspective.

I currently have an unmanaged switch connecting my various devices to my router. I know if I install cameras I will need a PoE switch, so obviously my current switch is certainly not going to cut it by itself. However I don't know if the best course of action is to get a single, larger managed PoE switch for all devices and then set up some virtual LANs or something like that or if I should get a smaller PoE switch for cameras only and continue to use my current unmanaged switch for the other devices. I was hoping to get a little input on that since I would need to purchase a PoE switch along with the camera to test focal lengths, positioning, etc. I don't particularly want to purchase a small switch to test with just to replace it shortly thereafter with a larger one. I'd rather buy the larger one from the beginning.
 
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Another way to do it, and keep the cameras off of your "main" network, is to use a second network card in the Blue Iris, or VMS, PC. That can have an address on a totally different subnet and eliminates the setup of VLANS. Either way, you're on the right track keeping them off your main network. If you do a second network card, you will need to enter bogus gateway and DNS addresses to make sure they can't "phone home". In every case, if your router supports it, block the cameras from internet access there as well at the MAC level.

You could also use a PoE injector to power a single camera for test purposes.
 

SouthernYankee

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:welcome:

Use at least two switches, One POE switch for the cameras. One standard Switch the the remainder of the house (tvs, PCs) . It is recommend that you isolate the cameras on a separate network to prevent them for call home (china), or getting hacked. I use two NIC cards in the BI PC.

GO SLOW.. follow what @sebastiantombs said. Read study plan before spending money.

Test your camera locations. For example I have about 40% of my cameras inside, in the public areas of the house, living room, kitchen, art studio, inside garage. I also have 3 cameras covering the front door, one point out, one pointing in directly at the door, one at the package drop area. If you park in the drive way, two cameras mounted no higher than the top of the garage door, on each side of the garage pointing down the driveway, looking for door checkers. If you have a home mailbox , a camera covering the mailbox.

A general rule of thumb, run two Ethernet cables to each camera location.

 

samplenhold

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As @sebastiantombs stated, it is important to isolate the cams from the internet, and the rest of your LAN. The two ways most folks here use is either setting up VLANs or to physically isolate using separate hardware. The switch you linked to is not a managed switch, so it will not allow you to set up VLANs in it.

I personally have mine set up by physical isolation. I find that a more simple way to do it.
Network Topology 0.JPG

Now as far as the hardware is concerned, there are two camps here. One says get the biggest POE switch that you will require and run all of your cam through it. Another camp says get a couple of POE switches and divide up your cams such that if one switch goes down, you still have some cams running. I have four POE switches running, but it just happened out that way as time went on. I had one in my IT closet to begin with. I added three cams by the front door and could not run three cables to the IT closet from there but I could set up a POE switch nearby and run the cams to that. Then the same thing happened in my garage. As my system expanded, I needed another 8 POE ports in the IT closet, so I got another POE switch. I have the cams divided up over the two POE switches in the IT closet in such a way that if one switch goes down, I still have views showing each of the areas outside.

I also have a separate non-POE switch that is not physically connected to the cam sub-net but runs the rest of my home LAN and has the access to the internet.

DSC_4930.JPG
 

AP514

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A Dual NIC is easier to get going from what I have heard. But, I went the Vlan route w/router on a stick. I figured I was going to have to buy a POE+ Switch. So, why not go the VLAN path ? And like you said you are setting up for future expansions.( I was also )
So, check out/READ the Wiki, Cliff Notes and the great tools here for setting up your cams.
This link will help you kind of figure out where to run you wires by showing the areas your cams will cover. IPVM Camera Calculator V3 I used the Generic cams and started looking at all the spots I wanted
to cover
. It was a real eye opener. (I was thinking a 16 Port poe+ switch until I used the Calc). I purchased a (GS728tppv2) A Good POE+ Switches can be had for around the $100. (If your patient)


AND :welcome:
IPCAM-Layout- VLAN-A.jpg
 
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You could also use a PoE injector to power a single camera for test purposes.
I might just go ahead and do the injector to do some testing with the varifocal camera mentioned earlier. At least then I'll have a better idea of what number of cameras I'll want to start out with and I can base the switch off of that and determine if I want to do multiple POE switches as samplenhold mentioned or a single larger one.

A general rule of thumb, run two Ethernet cables to each camera location.
Is this just for redundancy purposes? Or do you often find it's beneficial to have two cameras at each location or something?

As @sebastiantombs stated, it is important to isolate the cams from the internet, and the rest of your LAN. The two ways most folks here use is either setting up VLANs or to physically isolate using separate hardware. The switch you linked to is not a managed switch, so it will not allow you to set up VLANs in it.

I personally have mine set up by physical isolation. I find that a more simple way to do it.
View attachment 70336

Now as far as the hardware is concerned, there are two camps here. One says get the biggest POE switch that you will require and run all of your cam through it. Another camp says get a couple of POE switches and divide up your cams such that if one switch goes down, you still have some cams running. I have four POE switches running, but it just happened out that way as time went on. I had one in my IT closet to begin with. I added three cams by the front door and could not run three cables to the IT closet from there but I could set up a POE switch nearby and run the cams to that. Then the same thing happened in my garage. As my system expanded, I needed another 8 POE ports in the IT closet, so I got another POE switch. I have the cams divided up over the two POE switches in the IT closet in such a way that if one switch goes down, I still have views showing each of the areas outside.

I also have a separate non-POE switch that is not physically connected to the cam sub-net but runs the rest of my home LAN and has the access to the internet.

View attachment 70337
If I were going to physically isolate like you have, is it still a good idea to have a managed switch for the cameras? Or does physically isolating make that unnecessary?
 

SouthernYankee

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I do double drops, as some areas will need two cameras, an over view cameras and a detailed camera or a POE light. Also if there is a wiring problem it is easier to test with a cable all ready installed. It is a lot easier to do two cables at once, then two separate cables.

I do not use manage switches. I use stupid switches. with physical isolation, Less to learn, less to upgrade, less to configure, less bugs...

P.S. i am old experienced and lazy.
 
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samplenhold

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If I were going to physically isolate like you have, is it still a good idea to have a managed switch for the cameras? Or does physically isolating make that unnecessary?
The #1 POE switch in my IT rack is a managed switch. I have had it for over two years and have NEVER used any of the managed options. When I was first starting out, I thought it would be good to have. Not worth it to me now that I have experience, I see no need for it.
 

AP514

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The #1 POE switch in my IT rack is a managed switch. I have had it for over two years and have NEVER used any of the managed options. When I was first starting out, I thought it would be good to have. Not worth it to me now that I have experience, I see no need for it.
I guess you are correct.... If you Go the Dual NIC then a MANAGED SWITCH is not going to be worth it.
We All Live and Learn.....
 
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