Spare smartphone security camera
I started thinking about using a Rasperry Pi camera for remote security, over a longer distance, sort of IoT for remote monitoring of a far field on my daughters property, to keep an eye on stock.
I went to JayCar and looked at their security systems, most were wired, some used a sim card to send data up to the cloud. Then I thought, this is just mobile phone stuff. They have a camera, they have a sim card, so is there any software that will make the phone camera into a surveilance device?
Home security on Wifi
I started looking at using a mobile phone for a security camera. Initially the thought was using the Sim card to allow for the phone to be located in a remote field, so that there was no connection with Wifi or power. So a powerpack for recharging would be needed to keep the phone battery charged.
On visiting Mr YouTube there were videos on using the phone as a house surveillance camera, so I thought I’d explore its use, both for in house and remote viewing.
The video belowdemonstrates a pretty easy setup. You can view on another mobile phone or on your computer, you just need to link in with the same gmail account on all the devices. You download the app and set up one as a camera device and the other as a viewer.
There are a lot of adds on the Alfred Home Security Camera App, but that is to be expected for a free App nowerdays. I set it up in a very short time and it works with all the devices (camera phone, viewer phone and computer) in the same room. I’ll have to test it when I’m out and about.
I set up the camera phone in a cup, still on charge with the camera poking out the top.
On the pc you can browse to http://alfred.computer and that will take you to a gmail login. The screenshot below shows the camera from the phone. There is also sound, but the mic gets a lot of gain so very screechy, you can turn that off.
On the other phone you can also get the video, and you can record it on that phone directly. As you can see the adds at the top of the screen. You have the option of recording over the video that you can save to the viewer phone
There are also a few other feature that you can play with:
On the camera phone you can have it activated on motion. I’ve done some basic tests and it has shown up as notififications on the viewer phone (at the beginning) but it didn’t on later tests.
So worth pursuing further. Later tests:
- See if it will record far distance (view from window) so you can watch the weather. Needs to be done in daytime. Sort of OK. The Camera Resolution not that great, but adequate.
- Can switch from Back to Front cameras for far/near view. Yes
- Which camera works best where? High res back camera for vistas and front for close up? I saw one video that uses a lens attachment on phone (a clip on lens) that may enhance the average quality of the phone cameras.
- Motion activated recordings- test. I had camera facing view, there was wind, so tree motion continually activated the motion activation & notification, I ended up having to turn off the notification on the other phone
- Try accessing when out and over sim card. Yes, works fine, I was out walking and could access the othe phone camera over Cellular network.
- Try from computer remote (on another wifi system). Not tried yet
The 2nd video shows the Alfred App as well as the Pleasance app, so I my try that app in future to compare, for the moment its good to see that the experiment works.
Remote viewing via cellular
researching using the phones sim card to use remotely I could not find any articles on the topic. It seems the alternative is a specific product such as the 4g Cellular trail cameras are the thing to use. So as long as you have Cellular coverage, you can use them.
I thought this video was quite infromative on the topic:
So, my original intentions of exploring a remote camera requires one to buy a specific product to do the job. The Trail Cameras are cheaper than the product they were trying to sell in JayCar , but are still not cheap. Apparently the batteries drain about 4 times as fast as a mobile phone as they are polling all the time, so you need to do some reconfiguring to slow down the polling. Also you have a monthl charge for top up of mobile plan
The use of old phones for home security is a useful thing to know, also you do not need a sim card, as long as you can connect to the wifi then it’ll run.
What is scary about this is that any phone lying around could actually be active and spying on you. A scary thought. Don’t pick your nose around them, the motion detection will record the event.
What next? PC webcam
On thinking about the different software apps to turn smartphones into surveillance cameras the next question is, well what about my PC webcam? Can I turn that into a security cam too? This question arises as I have a couple of old PC’s that are not doing anything, so they could be put to use. Another article.