Streaming outdoor cam via wifi -- where do I start?

RedShirt

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Hello everyone,

First off, I apologize if my English is so-so, it's my 2nd language.
I'm a bit intimidated by the level of expertise I see here, being a total n00b to this... I'ts obvious that this is THE forum on the Web to get solid advice.

I checked the Wiki and searched the forums but I'm still confused, sorry.

I'd like to offer my brother a Xmas gift: a way to stream a bird feeder 24/7 exactly like Cornell Lab does, from his cabin near a lake.

Here's a few details of the situation
  • This is in Quebec province, so expect hot summer (max 86 F), cold winter (min -22F) with frequent rain and snow
  • The feeder is pole-mounted, approx 3ft from the nearest exterior wall
  • The cabin has a roof overhang so the cam could be mounted to that, or to the wall
  • There is AC power available via an outdoor outlet on the side of the cabin
  • However, it's not possible to run any cable from outdoors to indoors
  • Night vision would be really nice, in case any critters cross the field of view at night
  • 4K would be nice but not a deciding factor
  • The wifi at the cabin is around 120 Mbps
  • I guess I'd need a dedicated laptop to pick up the signal and broadcast it?
  • I'd prefer a solution based on Windows rather than Mac because that's what I'm familiar with
Sorry if I'm missing critical details, as you see, I'm just starting...
Thanks for any advice or resources I should read!
 

The Automation Guy

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Although using wifi cameras is generally frowned upon, it will be fine for this situation IMHO. I say that because, 1) you are only trying to stream one camera (multiple wifi cameras can quickly overwhelm a typical residential wireless network) and 2) the camera is not being used for a critical need - if it stops working for period of time, it isn't really going to matter.

You have a couple of solutions.....
1) Buy a "name brand" consumer wifi camera and stream the video through the "cloud". These cameras generally have pretty poor quality (especially in low/no light) and the fact that you must use a cloud based server (ie a computer in some unknown location that you send your information to, yet have no control over) can open yourself up to security issues/concerns. The footage from the camera is sent over the internet and saved on the cloud server. To view the cameras live or review recorded footage, a user goes to the providers website and logs into their system. Some of these cameras will also have a local SD card slot that you can record footage to directly. This is good in case the connection to the cloud server goes down - internet connection lost, or the server goes down, etc - because the cloud wouldn't be saving any footage during these "outage" periods. Honestly if the camera is really just for bird watching I probably wouldn't even worry about recording locally, but it is simple enough to set up if the camera allows it. A camera like this might cost anywhere from $50-$150 (although to be honest I really haven't paid attention to these camera systems/prices, so that is just an educated guess)

2) Buy a better quality camera (as suggested by the forum) and use either a hardware NVR (you'll want to use the same brand as the camera being used) or a software based NVR (like BlueIris). Both solutions mean the recordings are being stored locally and not sent to a cloud server which means the majority of the security/privacy issues in using a cloud solution simply don't exist in this solution. They also provide a built in webserver which means users simply use any of their computers/mobile devices and open an internet browser to a local ip address to view their camera streams live and to review the recorded footage. Many of these systems have a way to view the cameras remotely (while not on the local network), but the most secure method of doing this is to create a VPN connection on the local network that will allow secure and encrypted access to the local network (and therefore to the regular local ip address used to view the cameras) even while not on the local network. A camera in this range might run $100-$250 and another $55 for BlueIris or a couple hundred for a hardware NVR, so it is a more expensive solution. But it's a solution that will give excellent results and will likely have spare capacity in case your brother decide that he wants more cameras in the future to "watch over" the cabin in addition to watching birds. (These additional cameras wouldn't have to be wifi).

I suggest that you reread over the wiki at the top of the forum to get a general overview of what we look for in cameras. Most people want to "chase pixels" thinking that more pixels will equal a better image. While that might be true on display devices, it isn't always true on recording devices. With these cameras in particular, the more pixels you have the harder it is to get good low/no light images. Of course that might not be important when it comes to bird watching, so there is no hard/fast rule.
 
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RedShirt

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2) Buy a better quality camera (as suggested by the forum) and use either a hardware NVR (you'll want to use the same brand as the camera being used) or a software based NVR (like BlueIris).
Thank you! That seems like the way to go.
I've used OBS Studio a couple of times at my job to broadcast live events, captured by a USB webcam and using a RSTP address. It worked well so I wonder if I could use OBS in my scenario? I don't mind setting up a Vimeo or Youtube account for that.
 

The Automation Guy

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Thank you! That seems like the way to go.
I've used OBS Studio a couple of times at my job to broadcast live events, captured by a USB webcam and using a RSTP address. It worked well so I wonder if I could use OBS in my scenario? I don't mind setting up a Vimeo or Youtube account for that.
You absolutely could. Pretty much any camera that would be routinely suggested on this forum is going to support RSTP. That being said, a lot of the "name brand" consumer cameras don't support RTSP because they want to lock you into their proprietary system and prevent you from viewing your cameras through other means.

One could argue that using OBS for this adds a layer of complexity to the system increasing the chances something goes wrong, but it certainly would work. For example, if the Youtube stream went down (OBS stopped working, or there was a YouTube outage, etc) then remote viewing of the cameras will be lost, but again this isn't for a critical use so that wouldn't be the end of the world. In the end, using OSB and YouTube/Vimeo instead of a software NVR program will be fine for bird watching IMHO. If you set up OSB and find that it isn't as stable as you want, you can always switch over to something like BlueIrs and continue to use the same hardware without missing a beat!
 
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RedShirt

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You absolutely could. Pretty much any camera that would be routinely suggested on this forum is going to support RSTP.
Wow, that's great news for me, thank you!
I guess now the main challenge would be to decide which camera to get -- is there some kind of a criteria-based selector tool online? Or a review site where I could narrow it down to wifi only?

I'm worried because I've seen "wireless" cameras advertised on the web but a closer look reveals they still require an ethernet connection (?)
Example: Reolink RLC-511WA
camera-setup.png

So I'd like to avoid making a mistake....
Thanks again!
 

Mike A.

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Some of the Dahua (and other) cams also have RTMP which would let you stream to YouTube directly and would take the need for OBS out of the equation. Might be a useful feature to have in this case.

How well that works practically I don't know. I've tried it for a quick test to see that it works but haven't run anything longer term. All of the cams that have RTMP also will have RTSP and otherwise be used in the usual ways so nothing lost if it doesn't work out.

A lot of WiFi-capable cams will require an Ethernet connection for initial setup of the network. After that it's not needed.
 

jack7

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Hello everyone,

First off, I apologize if my English is so-so, it's my 2nd language.
I'm a bit intimidated by the level of expertise I see here, being a total n00b to this... I'ts obvious that this is THE forum on the Web to get solid advice.

I checked the Wiki and searched the forums but I'm still confused, sorry.

I'd like to offer my brother a Xmas gift: a way to stream a bird feeder 24/7 exactly like Cornell Lab does, from his cabin near a lake.

Here's a few details of the situation
  • This is in Quebec province, so expect hot summer (max 86 F), cold winter (min -22F) with frequent rain and snow
  • The feeder is pole-mounted, approx 3ft from the nearest exterior wall
  • The cabin has a roof overhang so the cam could be mounted to that, or to the wall
  • There is AC power available via an outdoor outlet on the side of the cabin
  • However, it's not possible to run any cable from outdoors to indoors
  • Night vision would be really nice, in case any critters cross the field of view at night
  • 4K would be nice but not a deciding factor
  • The wifi at the cabin is around 120 Mbps
  • I guess I'd need a dedicated laptop to pick up the signal and broadcast it?
  • I'd prefer a solution based on Windows rather than Mac because that's what I'm familiar with
Sorry if I'm missing critical details, as you see, I'm just starting...
Thanks for any advice or resources I should read!
You might find something interesting here:
 

TonyR

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I'm worried because I've seen "wireless" cameras advertised on the web but a closer look reveals they still require an ethernet connection (?)
Example: Reolink RLC-511WA
View attachment 146912

So I'd like to avoid making a mistake....
Many wireless cams use a wired connection as above to set up the cam's wireless to "look for" and log onto your residence's SSID (the broadcast name of the wireless) and once done, you disconnect the Ethernet.

The mistakes would be to :
1) Buy and try to use about anything made by the manufacturer in the image (Reolink) and.....​
2) IMO, relying on the cam's wireless...I would go with a Layer 2 Transparent Bridge. Ubiquiti is MIA right now so you may want to consider a pair of these TP-LINK radios to set up the bridge ==>> TP-Link 5GHz N300 Long Range Outdoor CPE for PtP and PtMP Transmission | Point to Point Wireless Bridge | 13dBi, 15km+ | Passive PoE Powered w/ Free PoE Injector | Pharos Control (CPE510) White
 

RedShirt

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Some of the Dahua (and other) cams also have RTMP which would let you stream to YouTube directly and would take the need for OBS out of the equation. Might be a useful feature to have in this case.
A lot of WiFi-capable cams will require an Ethernet connection for initial setup of the network. After that it's not needed.
Excellent information, thank you!
 

RedShirt

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Many wireless cams use a wired connection as above to set up the cam's wireless to "look for" and log onto your residence's SSID (the broadcast name of the wireless) and once done, you disconnect the Ethernet.
Very good to know, thanks! I'll make sure to verify that befor purchasing anything.

The mistakes would be to :
1) Buy and try to use about anything made by the manufacturer in the image (Reolink) and.....
2) IMO, relying on the cam's wireless...I would go with a Layer 2 Transparent Bridge. Ubiquiti is MIA right now so you may want to consider a pair of these TP-LINK radios to set up the bridge ==>> TP-Link 5GHz N300 Long Range Outdoor CPE for PtP and PtMP Transmission | Point to Point Wireless Bridge | 13dBi, 15km+ | Passive PoE Powered w/ Free PoE Injector | Pharos Control (CPE510) White
Thanks again, for advising against that brand -- I was just using them as an example, but your advice comes in handy.

As for the bridge thing, sorry, you lost me. I assume the parts you recommend are to insure a better signal between the cam and the computer? If so, is that something I can add later, after I've tried the cam's wireless for a bit ? Thanks again.
 

Mike A.

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Instead of looking for a WiFi cam, with the separate bridge you can use any IP cam and you'll have a more reliable connection. May or may not be worth the added expense but generally a better way to go and opens up a lot more options as far as cams.
 

TonyR

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Instead of looking for a WiFi cam, with the separate bridge you can use any IP cam and you'll have a more reliable connection. May or may not be worth the added expense but generally a better way to go and opens up a lot more options as far as cams.
+1^^.
That's where I was headed with my post #8 but I failed to complete the post properly to make that clear. But you're right, the cam's wireless won't have the transmit power, the receiver sensitivity and bandwidth capacity of a good quality, properly configured wireless bridge plugged into the cam's Ethernet port.
 
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RedShirt

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+1^^.
That's where I was headed with my post #8 but I failed to complete the post properly to make that clear. But you're right, the cam's wireless won't have the transmit power, the receiver sensitivity and bandwidth capacity of a good quality, properly configured wireless bridge plugged into the cam's Ethernet port.
Oh OK, I think I get it now (correct me if I'm wrong): the camera and the bridge would be installed outdoors, and linked by an Ethernet cable. the bridge's job would be to take the camera Ethernet signal, transform it into wifi so it reaches the computer?
If I use that setup, would the bridge also require a power outlet? (So I'd need 2 outdoors power outlets in total, one for the cam, one for the bridge)
Thanks to all of you for continuing to educate me, this is very informative!
 

Mike A.

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Depends. Can be done in various ways. As an example, the way that I have mine setup to connect a shed/workshop is with a small POE switch located there. That switch powers the AP via POE and also another POE cam. The other end at the house is powered via a POE run from my main switch.
 

TonyR

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Oh OK, I think I get it now (correct me if I'm wrong): the camera and the bridge would be installed outdoors, and linked by an Ethernet cable. the bridge's job would be to take the camera Ethernet signal, transform it into wifi so it reaches the computer?
If I use that setup, would the bridge also require a power outlet? (So I'd need 2 outdoors power outlets in total, one for the cam, one for the bridge)
Thanks to all of you for continuing to educate me, this is very informative!
@Mike A. has your answers...but just to clarify: there's TWO components to the wireless bridge: AP at the house and a Station at the cam (Ubiquiti nomenclature, but similar with TP-LINK's PtP setup).

Also be advised that some TP-LINK radios, as are some Ubiquiti radios, use passive 24VDC POE injectors and are not POE-spec 802.3af/at as are most POE cameras.
 

RedShirt

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@Mike A. has your answers...but just to clarify: there's TWO components to the wireless bridge: AP at the house and a Station at the cam (Ubiquiti nomenclature, but similar with TP-LINK's PtP setup).
Sorry again, that's a lot of technical terms for this n00b!
I understand AP means Access Point -- would that be the computer itself? Or is it a separate piece of hardware I'd connect to the computer?
And the Station -- that would be some kind of box installed near the cam and linked to it with the Ethernet cable?
Thanks for your patience :)
 

DanDenver

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Or just go with a complete all in one solution. It notifies you when a bird arrives, takes its picture, identifies and organizes what bird it is.

No streaming live to the world, but fills all your other requirements.
Remember, he will have to review all that footage he captures and perform a significant amount of post work in order to have anything that he can share or review for family/friends.
I do this and it takes hours to get final footage that is shareable.

This product does all that out of the box:
Bird Buddy
 

TonyR

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Sorry again, that's a lot of technical terms for this n00b!
I understand AP means Access Point -- would that be the computer itself? Or is it a separate piece of hardware I'd connect to the computer?
And the Station -- that would be some kind of box installed near the cam and linked to it with the Ethernet cable?
Thanks for your patience :)
AP would be the radio near the house and PC that is configured as an access point that will "talk" wirelessly to another radio, which is at the barn or shed and its camera(s) and is configured as a station to "talk" only to the aforementioned AP.

When properly configured the connection from AP to Station is like an Ethernet cable but of course, no POE (Power Over Ethernet).
 

Mike A.

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Will look something like this...

uc_camera_connection_1621970451867w.jpg

Don't pay too much attention to the specific devices shown there. That's not really a point-to-point and you could have a switch at the remote end, etc. Just the general idea. With TP-Link's point-to-point APs you'd have another of the one shown to the right at the house. What they show with the EPA225 is a more generalized AP that the CPE unit to the right is just connecting to as a client. Which also will work but less robust.
 
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