Webcams for Security

15 Jun 12 01:33PM EST
Post by Matthew Steen  Matthew Steen Google Plus
Some time ago I purchased a webcam for Skype reasons. It doesn't get a lot of use, so I entertained the thought of using it as a security camera.

CHOICE hasn't tested this, as there are plenty of options out there for dedicated security camera setups. But I went ahead and gave it a go – and found it to be completely unsuitable.

Granted, I had a couple of limitations when considering this option.

I could only set it up in the same room the PC was in, as I didn’t have a 10 metre USB cable. Luckily the room had a window that I could point the webcam out of to see the entryway.

I also don’t have a PC that’s always on, as I am concerned about the amount of energy I consume, however my modem/router is usually on for Wi-Fi.

This means I could potentially record to the cloud rather than my PC - however the webcam I have is USB and my modem/router does not have a USB connection, so no luck there.

I didn’t want to spend money, but I was willing to budge a little on this.

There is a plethora of third party webcam software out there, not all of it salubrious, so be careful. This isn't a test article, but after some eight tries of different software, I ended up going with Yawcam.

I chose it because it was free and it was easy for me to use, but bear in mind I have a technical support background so what is easy for me may not be easy for you. The best way to find out is to request a test or test them out yourself. Be cautious on install and watch the options they suggest, otherwise you might end up with an extra toolbar that you'll just want to uninstall later on. I liked Yawcam because you can save motion-activated pictures to file or have it email you or stream it to a website (your set up). I didn’t feel like setting up a web server and port forwarding my router so I just set it up to email me, which worked a charm. You can even train its sensitivity so it doesn't keep on taking pictures of waving tree branches.

I decided my ideal situation would have been a motion activated camera that would record to cloud, but that would have meant I would have had to either get a new modem/router that had a USB port, get a proprietary system installed or get a new camera to connect via Wi-Fi. None of those sounded entirely appealing, so ultimately I decided a webcam was not the best option for me. With a little work it would be functional, but it would cost more in energy in the long run.

What I tried:
Hardware: Webcam (Microsoft LifeCam), USB cable.
Software: Yawcam.
Modem/router: Billion 5200N.
PC setup: Windows 7, 5yr old Desktop.

What I Didn't try: 
Wi-Fi setup via webcam (need a new camera, more money), proprietary system (I've seen these from $300 upwards), update modem/router (more money).

Have you tried using old unused technology in new ways? Did you find you had to spend more money than you planned on? Do you have a recommendation for others to make this security webcam setup work without spending money?


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