How to remotely monitor my house.
September 11, 2013 7:34 PM   Subscribe

I want to be able to visually check on my house using a computer or my iPhone while I'm away. I'm looking for suggestions of reasonably priced equipment and software, as well as any tips as to simple configuration of the above. Details of my needs are below the fold.

For the past 6 years these guys, and their two siamese friends, have been staying home alone while I'm at work. This pup went to work with me. But, things have changed, I have a new vocation that doesn't allow me to bring bad dog to work. Up 'til now I've never left her home alone, she's either been with me or has gone to the kennel on those odd days when I had a meeting that wouldn't allow me to bring her along.

Since the job change I've been taking her to the kennel about three days a week... the extra drive and logistic time, as well as the mileage and extension on my day is making this pretty difficult.... so, me and Ms. HuronBob have decided to leave the 5 year old Husky home for 3 or 5 hour periods.

Nope, we're not doing a crate. Although she was crate trained as a pup, I just can't do that do her at this point. Over the past two or three weeks I've been leaving her home for a few hours at a time, and she's done fine. Her routine during the day when I'm here is pretty much, get up at dawn, beg for her two mile walk, come home and sleep until about 4 pm or so... I sincerely believe she'll do fine without me here.

But.... I want to be able to check in on the pack when I'm not here... I've done some research on video monitoring, but would appreciate some advice from you folks...

Here's the configuration... I want to be able to set up about 3 or 4 web cams in the house, monitoring the areas that the four-footers usually hang out to make sure they are OK (the wife is only a few minutes away if there's an emergency). We're a Mac household, wireless with an Airport Extreme. Both the wife and I use iPhones. I would like to set up the cams so that we can access them with an application on the iphones (or our computers at work, both macs) via the web.

I would prefer that the cams were wireless, it's not feasible to run Cat-5 all over the house, and, battery powered would be good, but I can deal with having them near outlets. Being able to log into the application and flip between the various cameras would be fantastic.

So.... I'm asking for camera recommendations (limited budget), application recommendations for the iPhones, and what is the configuration at home (computer, router, etc, etc? I really have no clue)....

TIA for any thoughts.
posted by HuronBob to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The cheap ($50) Chinese WiFi cams are great if you have basic networking skills (I assume you do since you said "Cat-5"). We have this one and while it's no great shakes in terms of image quality, it's certainly clear enough to see what's going on with our dogs. Pretty much any of the Webcam apps for the iPhone or Android will work with them too since they are all basically the same, just with different branding on the firmware. I believe the app my wife uses on her iPhone is called Surveillance but there are many.

Keep in mind there's no encryption on these cams (you can set a password, but it's sent in clear text) so be careful using them on unsecured public WiFi networks, as anyone with a WiFi sniffer on such a network can get the password for them trivially and peek in on you. Use separate passwords for admin and for viewing (the cams allow this) and only admin on your LAN. If you are really into networking you could set up a VPN and put your phones on that to provide security.
posted by kindall at 8:19 PM on September 11, 2013

There are lots of good webcams out there. I have (and like) a Foscam FI8910W. Those will run you ~$75 each right now. They often go on sale and you might get them for $10 or $15 less.

Next, I'd get the Foscam Surveillance Pro app from the App Store. It's definitely worth the few bucks they charge.

Finally, you'll need to enable port forwarding on your router. Apparently, DDNS is no longer possible on AirPort Extreme routers, so just look up your external IP address, put that in the software, and hope your ISP doesn't change your address.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:21 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since the girl and I are jumping between three homes again, we monitor the digs with a mix of old, fancy Axis brand network cameras and modern, cheap Foscam ones, including the exact model Betelgeuse links to above.

We have a mix of Wifi and wired (Ethernet) ones. They work the same, other than the extra setup steps for wireless. The Axis ones are more industrial (and some have been running 24/7 for almost a decade), but probably not worth the significant expense anymore: disposable Foscams will serve us well in the future, I think.

All of them work really well from web browsers or cheap/free iPhone apps, including matrixing and recording-on-motion. And we're all Mac households too, so no surprises forthcoming.
posted by rokusan at 8:32 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: D-Link makes wireless security cameras in the $60 range, viewable from a browser, Android, and iOS app. Can also mail you still images when there's motion or sound (configurable).
posted by zippy at 12:41 AM on September 12, 2013

I've been using Logitech Alert cameras for house monitoring, and they have been outstanding. However, they are not cheap. I wait for sales, but they're not cheap even then.
posted by StrawberryPie at 10:12 AM on September 13, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, folks.. I ended up with two d-link cameras...

The trick was to download the setup "wizard" specific to each camera. Once I did that the configuration took about 10 minutes and required NO fiddling with the Airport settings....

Works like a charm!
posted by HuronBob at 5:41 PM on September 13, 2013

« Older Calgary highlights   |   Please help us find an interesting, older US city... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.