What Internet camera for puppy cam?
May 8, 2015 9:52 PM   Subscribe

We're having a litter of puppies soon and need a good camera to let interested people look at them playing, eating, sleeping, etc. in their corral. A good camera that is NOT a Dropcam.

I got a Dropcam based on good reviews and either it is completely broken (but in a way that seems like it should be working, even though it isn't), or it is the single worst product I have ever used. Since I have to take this one back anyway, and there's no guarantee that a second Dropcam wouldn't be just as borked, I thought I would inquire as to whether perhaps there is a better option. The basic parameters I need are:
  • 720p or better resolution
  • Does not require a computer but connects to WiFi
  • Ability to embed the video stream in a Web page viewable by the public (even if some HTML hackery is required)
  • Option to remove any security from the stream so it can be viewed by anyone with the URL
  • Ability for multiple people to view the stream simultaneously WITHOUT overloading our Internet (ideally, one stream leaves our house and goes to a server somewhere, and the users connect to that)
  • Night vision mode would be nice, as would support for iPhone and Android apps
I'm looking at the Belkin Netcam HD+ but any other suggestions are welcomed.
posted by kindall to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
720p no problem.

Standalone, no problem.

Webpage or direct feed, no problem.

Includes server? HMMM......

Night vision, no problem.

The only solution I can think of is UStream: https://www.ustream.tv/platform/plans

Where you fall back to their free but ad-supported plan after 30 days.

I am not sure about hooking up one of these to their live stream though. Never done that before.
posted by kschang at 10:27 PM on May 8, 2015

I just did a crap ton of research on this, and there are quite a few products like Dropcam out there... And they're all kinda expensive and similarly not quite right.

One particular was started from a kickstarter and seemed really promising until I got deeper into the reviews - oh, ha ha! Looks like that was Dropcam! We also looked at Canary, smart-something, and a bunch of others...

I settled on repurposing a laptop cam + ICam Pro. So cheap!! The app was cheap, then it's a $4.99 per month unlimited charge for data. Lots of settings.

I don't know if there is a hack to give outsiders access to your account feed. I do know you can capture and save clips of all lengths, so you could post those to a blog or website.

Cheapest, easiest was ICam Pro. I was ready to spend so much more. I bet you could get great vids with a digital camera usb connected to a laptop to improve resolution. Data is choppy w/ my laptop, but all of the systems are choppy video.

Or just take video and upload daily.

I watch a lot of nature cam's online with my son, even the Long Beach Aquarium Shark Lagoon Cam is choppy - I don't think there is great realtime streaming available yet. My search is 4 months old.
posted by jbenben at 12:46 AM on May 9, 2015

Upon review... My search is only 2 months old, this was March I was looking for similar.

I use Ustream for monitoring police scanners in my hood (I live off Sunset in LA, sometimes the helicopters and sirens are really intense disruptive, so it's cool to find out why.) These are audio feeds. I have zero idea if Ustream Live Cam is less choppy than everything else I checked out.

Please Memail if you discover Ustream is solid. I might switch from ICam Pro :))
posted by jbenben at 1:08 AM on May 9, 2015

If you have, or can lay hands on, a used Android phone, check out the IP Webcam app in the Android store. It can stream to ivideon.com, which has levels of service varying from free to not free, which should allow you to meet your goal of just one stream going out. You can set up the phone connected to wifi and a charger cable, and it should be able to stream indefinitely. I haven't used it too much, but what little I have it seems pretty stable.
posted by jferg at 7:49 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I get a lot of email from Foscam, not sure why. They have a variety of cams.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:54 PM on May 9, 2015

Response by poster: OK, so I went to Fry's and bought three cameras. The one I'm keeping is the Oco. It was easy to set up (there's a mobile app into which you enter your WiFi details, and it generates a QR code that you simply hold in front of the camera to configure it). They explicitly support making the camera public and embedding it in a Web page, and it even has a bandwidth-saving feature where it only broadcasts when it detects motion. The only downside is that you can't mute the audio, but I handled that with some tape over the mic hole.

I considered going the Android phone route (I have an old HTC EVO 4G lying around) but its firmware was borked and I couldn't configure it. I could have fixed that but didn't want to spend the time on it.
posted by kindall at 9:38 PM on May 11, 2015

Best answer: Took the Oco camera back. It just isn't light-sensitive enough; it kept switching to infrared mode (which is grayscale) with anything less than blinding light levels. This became a problem when the puppies' eyes started opening; they would crawl to the corner of their pen to get away from it.

Got the Dropcam to work by removing it from my account and re-adding it, a remedy which Dropcam support failed to recommend. The Dropcam isn't perfect either (the Web site embedding is kind of pitiful, actually, though I managed to tweak it) but at least it provides color imagery with reasonable light levels, and you can disable the mic and the night vision mode entirely.
posted by kindall at 10:57 AM on May 20, 2015

« Older Help me plan a 2 family trip to Yellowstone? Or...   |   Help me buy a good mobile phone Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.