Published: June 11, 2022
Videotestimony for Condominiums - Tutorial #2
Installation of the network camera
Now that you have an overview of the system, let's tackle the visible part - the network camera. It is also called "IP camera" (for "Internet Protocol"), or, since we want to connect it via a cable, "Ethernet camera".
Choice of the network camera
The camera must be compatible with RTSP (Real-Time Streaming Protocol), because it is this format of video stream that will be drawn by the recorder.
For the rest:
- It doesn't need to support Wifi (better if it doesn't have it)
- Sound capture is not yet supported by our software (in June 2022).
This camera should be able to be set to the correct time without the Internet, either by giving it the IP address of the box recorder as a server NTP (Network Time Protocol) custom or by adding to the box a script that will periodically update the time of the camera. You can also leave the camera connected to the Internet so that it sets the time easily, but this will greatly affect its security.
We tested our box recorder with the following camera models:
- Trendnet TV-IP325P (uses NTP)
- Reolink RLC-410-5MP (uses NTP)
- Bluestork BS-CAM/DO/HD (uses a time setting script)
But again, any camera that offers a standard RTSP stream (compatible with FFMPEG), and supports this time synchronization without Internet, will do.
For the power supply, you can either connect the camera directly to a power outlet, with its dedicated adapter, or transmit power directly into its Ethernet data cable, thanks to a P.O.E (Power Over Ethernet) injector box. In this case, make sure that the standard (e.g. "802.3at"), the voltage, and the power supported by the injector, cover the needs of the camera - low cost injectors often deliver insufficient power.
We have successfully tested the following injectors:
- Trendnet Gigabit PoE Midspan TPE-113GI (for Trendnet camera)
- Cudy Gigabit PoE/PoE+ 48V-54V Midspan (for Reolink camera)
Configuration of the network camera
Finding the administration interface
Each network camera is different; most of them can be configured either via a web interface (by connecting directly to the camera on a web browser), or via administration software to be installed separately (Reolink Client, Blueview, etc.). The latter software has the advantage of being able to detect cameras connected to the network by itself, but is often only compatible with classic PC environments (Windows, MacOS, etc.).
The easiest way to do this is to connect your network camera to your ADSL/FIBER Internet box via Ethernet cable and then access it from another computer while you configure it. If you want to use the web interface, then to find the dynamic network address of the camera, which it has obtained from the Box (address type 192.168.0.XX or 192.168.1.XX most often), the easiest is to connect to your Internet Box (192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 from a web browser) and look at its tab "Network".
Many cameras also have Android/iOS mobile applications, but this forces them to communicate via Internet gateways (often abroad), which creates security risks that must be closed after the camera is configured.
Note that often, advanced configurations are not accessible through all administration interfaces (web and administration software), so you have to explore them one by one, and refer to the manufacturer's manuals/FAQs, or more generally to Internet forum discussions.
Finding the address of the RTSP video stream
You will have to find the address of the video stream delivered by your camera. This address is sometimes marked in the administration interface, otherwise you will have to search there again in the manuals or on the Internet, for your exact model of camera, how this address is constructed.
It should look like rtps://<address>:<port>/<path>, and probably incorporate the access credentials at some point.
Note that a camera can have different RTSP addresses, each with a different image quality.
Examples of RTSP addresses:
Sometimes the RTSP interface (also called "ONVIF") is disabled by default, and must then be activated manually in the camera settings.
Adjusting the advanced settings
Here are the various points to be adjusted in priority on the network camera
Security: change the default password, create an "operator" access account (dedicated only to viewing) if possible, and disable all unnecessary features (Wifi, Cloud server, internal camera storage, sound capture...)
Video: set the image quality according to your needs, and especially activate the "variable bitrate", if available, so that the compression of the stream is very good as long as nothing happens to the image - which is the case most of the time in the common areas of a condominium.
The clock: configure the fixed Ethernet IP address of the Raspberry Pi as the NTP target server (in the system image we provide, it is 192.168.10.23)
The network address of the camera itself: to be done last, choose "fixed IP" (instead of DHCP, "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol"), and put an address of your choice on the same Ethernet subnet as the Raspberry Pi, for example 192.168.10.44
In the current operating scheme, the camera will be directly connected to the Raspberry Pi, and neither of them has the ability to assign network addresses, so for simplicity, we force the use of these fixed IP addresses.
Once all this configuration done, restart the camera. It is now ready to communicate directly, by cable, with the box recorder Raspberry Pi.
Warning: The camera will probably be unreachable from now on if you leave it connected to your Internet Box, because its IP address is forced on a subnet different from the standard 192.168.0/1.XX, and Boxes often refuse devices that have not registered with them in DHCP. If you need to access the camera again from a PC on your wired network linked to the Internet Box, you will either have to switch it back to DHCP mode (e.g. by accessing the camera's web interface from the Raspberry Pi), or reset it entirely if it has a button for that (some cameras require, for security reasons, that you contact the manufacturer in order to be able to reset them).