Sanity checking installation plan

blahness

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Testing - having issues with recaptcha not loading on my new thread..
 

blahness

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Hi folks!

I've been lurking around here for a couple weeks to come up with a plan on camera-ing up my house. I'd like to run it past you folks for comments/suggestions/etc, as more eyes are usually better on this sort of thing. Before any of you mention it, yes I have ready through the wiki, quickstarts, and a whole lot of other super helpful posts - thanks for them!

History, context, and main aims:
By day, I manage an information security engineering team for some company. By night, I conduct physical penetration tests and teach folks all about flaws in physical security (picking locks, etc) to advance general public knowledge and other security specialists. I bought my house a number of years ago and have been waiting for wireless/cloud camera systems to catch-up technology-wise with traditional surveillance systems before going all out on some solution. I have been getting more and more impatient and bought a 5-camera Arlo Ultra 4K system a number of months ago to see if we have hit that point or not. As you all already know, we are not there yet. :) The lackluster motion detection trigger system with large delays until a recording starts was pretty horrible. Well, I returned that stuff back to Costco and decided to give up and do things "the hard way".

My main goal here is to cover entry points and have decent footage to look back on in case of an incident. It'd be nice to get good alerting and visibility over the house when I travel too. I am not really going for complete 360° coverage of the house or a true set up like I recommend corporations do with always having at least 1 camera in view of another camera. This system isn't going to be cheap, but I do have some reasonable budget.

I am not in a big rush to get this project done, but I probably want to take advantage of Black Friday/Singles day deals to make a lot of these purchases and save some money.

Installation:
All cameras will range approximately 9'-11' high. I know that folks recommend <8' for proper identification, but I plan on doing all the wiring myself and I am going to have a hard enough time going from the outside into my attic. I'll mostly be drilling horizontally straight into the edges of my attic from the outside and then doing my best to get that cable to a place I can reach inside the attic, through a bunch of small areas that I will likely be swearing at later, and around what seem to be an excessive amount of trusses. Tops of heads, here I come, but it is better than nothing.

Most cameras will likely be under the rafter tails/eaves of my house. They look like this:
IMG_20191103_150629.jpg
This seems a bit difficult, as I don't have a flat soffit to mount on top of. I am hoping that wall mount brackets on the inside white 2x6 will work well enough and also provide that straight-drill into the attic. From what I can tell from my adventures in the attic yesterday, this seems to be the case, but I won't know for sure until I start drilling. For the cameras in my back porch and entrances, things will be much easier with me just going through the ceiling.

Camera explanation:
So far, all cameras are likely going to be the Dahua IPC-T5442TM-AS models. Firmware and current batch quality-issues aside, they seem to fit what I am looking for as far as low-light performance goes with higher daylight quality than the 2MP Starlights that have been recommended for years. Unfortunately, they aren't varifocal, so hopefully this all works like I expect it to... I am certainly open to alternative suggestions though. Additionally, there are the models with LEDs, but I am not really clear on the usecases where those would win out over IR or motion-activated lights.
IMG_20171021_104752.jpgCapture - V2.PNG

(colors are just to help identify individual cameras instead of seeing a sea of blue)
1: 2.8mm meant to capture driveway and walk to side gate.
2: 2.8mm for front entryway capturing entrance and packages left in entryway. May be mounted 90° for better view of what is important.
3: 2.8mm for guest entrance and entrance into side-turn garage
4: 2.8mm for walk to entrances and front courtyard
5: 2.8mm for backyard or people hopping the fence
6: 2.8mm for back entrance (sliding glass)
7: 2.8mm for another angle at back entrance and back porch
8: 6mm for entry from side gate and entrance into side garage door entrance. May be mounted 90° for better view of what is important (narrow, but long).
9: 6mm for view of approaching vehicle and foot traffic
10: 6mm for view of approaching vehicle and foot traffic (other direction)
11: 6mm for view of side yard. May be mounted 90° for better view of what is important (narrow, but long).
12: Not pictured. I might look at getting a doorbell camera too, but am on the fence, as getting the cable down there would be rough if i try to go through the wall. Maybe a IPC-HDBW4231F-AS too.

Network:
Covered here for completeness, but this is likely the area I need the least amount of help with. All cameras will go back to my network closet
->
plugged into a managed gigabit >15-port PoE+ switch. Model to be determined - I need to see what I have, what friends have, and what is on ebay.
->
which will go off of an ethernet port attached to some small form-factor PC. I am looking at a few options from some mini-ATX/small form factor systems I can get for free, to small Zotac Mini PCs, to an HPE ProLiant MicroServer. I'll be throwing Windows on the system and probably testing out a few software suites, though Blue Iris definitely seems to be the thing this forum prefers. I'd prefer something smaller and low-power even though it'll be running next to a number of other 1U and 2U power-chuggers. Yes, I've read Choosing Hardware for Blue Iris . :)
->
...connected via another NIC to the rest of my network. This would even be a write-up much longer than this post will end up being, but needless to say, there will be some complicated firewall rules and integrated into existing VPN architecture access.
 

tangent

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Here are a few quick thoughts:
  • Test camera locations and focal lengths before you commit. A varifocal camera, 2x4 and bucket of rocks is a good place to start.
  • Take it slow, buy a couple cameras of different focal lengths and a couple different models and test thoroughly. They don't all need to be the same. Often 2MP cams outperform higher res cameras at night.
  • If you mount your cameras higher, zoom in and aim it farther away (no bald spot cams) so you are still able to get a useful level of detail. This does mean creating a blind spot close to the structure and that you won't see everything. Add a wide angle overview camera if desired.
  • Test your soffit / rafter tail mounting location at night (I'd mount it to the rafter tails or a block of wood attached to them temporarily). There's potential for some major IR reflection issues
  • Consider mounting cameras to junction boxes and running a short 1-3' piece of conduit painted to match the house up the wall to the roof line.
  • Especially at key approaches / choke points like the driveway and front porch, try to put the cameras a bit lower. It's easier to patch to drywall in the garage to an acceptable standard.
  • Put a camera inside the garage.
 

blahness

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A number of these things are planned, thanks. :)

Here are a few quick thoughts:
  • Test camera locations and focal lengths before you commit. A varifocal camera, 2x4 and bucket of rocks is a good place to start.
  • Take it slow, buy a couple cameras of different focal lengths and a couple different models and test thoroughly. They don't all need to be the same. Often 2MP cams outperform higher res cameras at night.
I do wish there was a varifocal version of this camera, but there isn't yet. I am a bit reluctant to spend a decent amount on a camera that I'd rather replace with a better quality cam though. I certainly plan on doing some testing with different focal length cams though.

  • If you mount your cameras higher, zoom in and aim it farther away (no bald spot cams) so you are still able to get a useful level of detail. This does mean creating a blind spot close to the structure and that you won't see everything. Add a wide angle overview camera if desired.
  • Test your soffit / rafter tail mounting location at night (I'd mount it to the rafter tails or a block of wood attached to them temporarily). There's potential for some major IR reflection issues
Yeah - I definitely will need to make sure the camera is low enough to avoid that. I ran into that issue with the Arlo cams and re-positioned to avoid issues. Do you know if there is a good IR-absorbing paint that folks have used in situations like this?

  • Consider mounting cameras to junction boxes and running a short 1-3' piece of conduit painted to match the house up the wall to the roof line.
  • Especially at key approaches / choke points like the driveway and front porch, try to put the cameras a bit lower. It's easier to patch to drywall in the garage to an acceptable standard.
I am considering what I can do to get the cameras lower, but may just experiment after trying initial placements. I will be running more ethernet than I need, so I will have flexibility, but especially if I do conduit on the outside of the house, that'd be easy to do after things don't work out.

  • Put a camera inside the garage.
Internal cameras are a whole different thing and will be done later on, but this project is focused on the external for now.

Thanks!
 

zero-degrees

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All those 2.8mm cameras on the front of the house are a massive amount of redundancy. You are going to have so much overlap and duplicated coverage areas you really are wasting your money. Either go to a larger lens size to narrow the field of view also increasing your ID distance, or remove some of those cameras.
 

Fastb

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Welcome to the forum!

zero-degrees makes a good point.
7 cameras w/ 2.8mm lens! Those wide-angle lenses may disappoint for getting good detail at a medium distance. 2.8 works well for approach to front door, front door standing area (after they ring the doorbell, or steal your package), and choke points, like when the walkway rounds a corner or passes through a gate.

My suggestion: Buy one, and use it to test locations using a test rig. Check coverage and level of detail. Camera locations are VERY OFTEN adjusted after this excercise. Planning on paper, as you've done, is good. Sanity check in the real world is great. I guarantee you'll make some adjustments to this 12 cam paper plan. You will learn a lot about placement, IR reflection, overlap, usefulness of overview cams (vs tight-view purpose-placed cams).

With you being new to this, buying 12 cams at once has risk. Andy has good prices and great support, so you can ease into this by buying cams in batches....

Good luck!
Fastb
 

blahness

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Makes sense. Let me rethink this a bit...

Looking at it more, I agree, I definitely am being very heavy on overview cams. Let's look at this map again and see what changes I'd make (granted, on paper for the intial plan) to see if they are aligning with general thought:
Capture - V3.PNG

1: 2.8mm overview cam meant to capture driveway and walk to side gate.
2: 2.8mm for front entryway capturing entrance and packages left in entryway. May be mounted 90° for better view of what is important. - This is likely going to capture the tops of heads and though I am not sure what it'd look like for installation on the wall, I am convinced to add camera #12 down there for identification.
3: 2.8mm for guest entryway and entrance into side-turn garage. I might add another camera for identification purposes here later.
4: Changed to a 6mm for walk to entrances and front courtyard. While folks could hop the courtyard wall, I should probably focus more on what is more likely. This will definitely need to be lowered to minimise blindspot.
5: 2.8mm overview cam for backyard or people hopping the fence
6: removed - just a lesser angle of the same area as 7. I'll try to capture identification from internal cameras which will come later.
7: 2.8mm for overview of back entrance and back porch
8: 6mm for entry from side gate and entrance into side garage door entrance. May be mounted 90° for better view of what is important (narrow, but long).
9: 6mm for view of approaching vehicle and foot traffic
10: 6mm for view of approaching vehicle and foot traffic (other direction)
11: removed for cost and low-risk threats
12: A IPC-HDBW4231F-AS 2.8 to be mounted at front door for identification.

I am not sure what else I'd do to change out overview cams vs tighter cameras though.

Truthfully, I am looking at this with making the pain of wiring as small as possible. Ideally, I'd spend a weekend up in the attic running cable and then I could take my time swapping out cameras, playing with different VMS, getting other gear in, etc. The best cameras aren't worth crap in bad positions though. Ideally, I'd also take advantage of potential sales to save some cash, but it does seem like I am better off turning this into a multiple-month project rather than a couple of weeks. While I can see experimentation very necessary to determine precise positioning and adjustments in a foot radius or so, I am not sure that I see positions changing so dramatically to require entirely new cameras and spots. Many of these spots were borne out with my Arlo experiments. Very different cameras, but still.
 
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