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  1. Henry-f

    Looking for a good home security camera

    When the DVR detects motion, it would be able to send an e-mail to your smart phone alerting you of the motion and it would also send you an image of what triggered the motion. You would then be able to connect to the recorder to watch the system. Keep smiling Henry
  2. Henry-f

    Want to buy new CCTV

    If you want a month's storage make sure you don't compromise the recording quality. I would always advise trading off absolute storage time for image quality, after all what is the point of being able to play back footage if the image quality is so poor you can't make out any detail. There aren't many occasions when you don't know you're going to need footage within a few hours or days of an incident occurring. As has been said already you can schedule the recording to take place only when you need it to save on hard drive space. Also look closely at how many frames you record at. Once again 25 frames a second are of little use if it compromises quality. 3-6 good frames a second will usually provide you with all you need. In terms of brand I would suggest you pay more attention to the support and back up available. We sell our own brand of DVRs and we do this because it means we know them inside out and can solve any problem someone has either over the phone or via a screen sharing session. We hear lots of stories of people being left in the dark because no one could answer their questions or solve the problems we are having. So I would advise you to find a supplier you feel comfortable with and go with their recommendations because it is they who will be fielding your calls when things go wrong or you have a problem. Good luck and if you need any more help don't hesitate to ask. Henry
  3. Henry-f

    540 TVL or 420 TVL ANY DIFFERENCE?

    We actually specify the electronics in all our cameras and have done masses of direct comparison testing so have a bit of knowledge on this one. We use a number of CCD and DSP combinations but have a pair of Sony CCD / DSP combos that work well to give us circa 420/450 & 550 TVL respectively. As has already been eluded to there is a lot more than just the number of TV lines to consider when looking at cameras. Even when you go for a decent brand like Sony there are big differences between the different CCDs and DSPs within their line up. We were shocked at the night time performance of some electronics combinations, particularly higher TVL combinations to the point where we thought we'd got the labels wrong. I would say of far more importance is getting the lens and framing correct on the cameras. Have a look at the first 4 photos on our camera buying guide. They show a 420 and a 540 TVL camera but the 420TVL camera has a better suited lens for the purpose (in this case filming a car as it enters a property). By zooming in more you get more detail even though the camera has fewer TVL. In the top photos you can see the slightly improved detail in the brickwork on the property with the 550TVL camera but neither will allow you to identify the registration number (licence plate). Incidentally when people talk of zooming in on a picture to increase detail they must be using completely different CCTV equipment to the stuff we've ever seen. If you recording a D1 resolution (4 times the size of CIF) you won't get any more detail by zooming in. You're dealing with an image which is about 400,000 pixels. 0.4 megapixels. If you were talking 5 or 10 megapixels then yes, zooming in will reveal more detail but I'm afraid when it comes to D1 or worse still CIF then zooming in is limited to James Bond, the X-files and Oceans eleven !! Hope that helps answer your question. Henry.
  4. Henry-f

    How Long Does a DVR Usually Last?

    I would also agree that the hard drive can often be an issue, even when the symptoms might not lead you to thinking the fault is a hard drive related one. Most people expect a hard drive fault to manifest it's self as the DVR switching on, displaying the cameras but not recording. What often happens is the DVR won't fire up at all because as it goes through it's check list when booting up it sees a problem with the hard drive and freezes or remains in a constant loop. Pull the hard drive out and all is well again. A good DVR should allow you to swap out certain components easily. Fans, hard drives, etc.. Henry
  5. Henry-f

    Hard Drives for DVRs

    Just to confirm the last post was a joke (in case anyone is actually using this for genuine advice !!). Whilst they all look the same from the outside hard drives come in many different guises. The vast majority (and so read cheapest) are designed to go into computers. These are not suitable for use in DVR recorders. The reason is they are only designed to run for 8 hours a day and to process pockets of data. A DVR recorder runs 24 hours a day and has a high churn rate of it's data. It fills up completely then overwrites it's self. People often see hard drives as a weak point in a DVR and to be honest they shouldn't be. If you speak to the hard drive manufacturer's the design that goes into them is incredible and it makes you appreciate why getting exactly the right one is critical. Make sure you buy a good AV grade hard drive specifically designed for the job. We favour Western Digital drives and have found them to be excellent when compared to some others on the market. Hope that helps. Henry
  6. Henry-f

    What are the benefits of CCTV?

    From a personal point of view as an end user I also find monitored alarms a nuisance in terms of false triggers when you trigger the thing off yourself as you are rushing out somewhere. There follows the usual "I can't remember my password" (how many passwords do you need these days for banks, alarms, even forums like this!!), before you get issued the cancel code to make everything happy again. I think it's stressful knowing that a couple of false triggers and you will be removed from the police response programme. There is also the worry of an alarm sounding after a false trigger when you are away for the weekend or your holidays, and if a spider's going to get in somewhere trust me, they always wait until you're actually on the cruise ship, as does the boiler when it decides to break down !! For me the wonderful thing about CCTV is that it doesn't just alert you to the fact something is wrong - which it can do and even send you a photo of what triggered the event, but it captures the whole event so you can do something about it. It's silent so neighbours aren't going to hate you at 2.00am and you are in total control. You aren't reliant on a third party to do anything. There will always be a delay in responding to an alarm trigger. There has to be because the monitoring station has to make at least one confirmation phone call. They then need to contact the police who in turn contact the local officers who in turn need to drop what they are doing and get over to the event. If all you need is 2 minutes (and have a go yourself to see what you could grab in 120 seconds with no care for how much damage you do to the house) then you'd be unlucky to get caught. Henry
  7. Henry-f

    What are the benefits of CCTV?

    I think the deterrent factor is huge with well sourced and positioned Home CCTV system. If it stops you getting burgled then it's done it's job! Monitored alarms are useful but in the main a thief is in and out of a property quite quickly before anyone arrives to apprehend them. I think the average time is around 2 minutes or so. Certainly not the 10 or 15 minutes it might take for the cavalry to arrive. Consider fitting some overt cameras and some more covert cameras where you might catch the thief unaware. We sell a cctv camera that looks just like a PIR detector and it has achieved some spectacular results in the past. On the best ones was a gang of "rogue traders" who were scamming people out of money for uncompleted, shoddy or un-necessary work. The unit has audio as well and watching the footage back you almost felt sorry for the blokes as they dug themselves further in a hole (it's a shame they didn't show the same commitment when digging the holes they were supposed to be paid for !!). A thief needs to keep a low profile. As such they take the path of least resistance and go for the softest targets where they are least likely to get caught or identified. They aren't always stupid though and know the difference between good and bad security products. If you fit professional equipment you are doing as much as you can to protect yourself. Certainly your budget allows you to fit a good quality CCTV system. Good luck. Henry
  8. Henry-f

    CCTV Rant

    I think with a specialist product such as cctv, Hi-Fi, musical instruments, wine and so on you need to find a supplier with whom you can build up a relationship with and who offers back up beyond just box shifting to the point where they have an interest in you getting things right otherwise you'll be knocking on their door having a moan. Our other business is a specialist car dealership and it's the same there. I see some people who try to learn everything in order that they can go out and bypass the dealer when by doing so they put themselves at huge risk (these are quite expensive specialist cars) and ironically don't always save money. On my first ever CCTV purchase I spent around £600-700 (around $1,000) on CCTV equipment which even after what seemed like good research at the time proved little more than useless. There was no back up and I was on my own. By all means do your homework so you go in there armed and dangerous but be prepared to put your trust in a professional. It needn't cost you any more money. Henry
  9. Henry-f

    Security camera for the house

    Don't think for a minute that the camera will have a "range" of 60 metres. Even if the infra red illumination was good for 60 metres (which it won't be) a 9mm lens is going to be of little use much over 7-10 metres assuming you want to be able to capture enough detail to identify someone. As has quite rightly been pointed out CCTV is an industry where you generally get what you pay for. In common with others on this forum we are constantly comparing different products with a view to carrying them in stock and there seems very little relationship between all the headline numbers and what you actually get out in the test field. The most important thing you need to decide is exactly what you want to be able to record in terms of detail level and area covered. This will dictate the lens you need on your camera and this is, in my mind, the most important thing to get right. Be aware that as detail increases the angle of view (ie the area covered) will decrease. There is no such thing as a wide angle camera that will film high detail at longer distances. One aspect of some cameras you might be use though is the fact that with a good lens subjects remain in focus for a large part of the camera's view. In other words things are in focus from 5 metres to infinity so although you may not have a wide angle of view you can still cover a decent area in a straight line along the line of sight of the camera. The difference between 450TVL and 550TVL is negligible compared to the increased detail captured by using the right lens. In reality you won't know exactly the right focal length until you get a camera installed so where possible go for a camera with a zoom lens. The are referred to as vari-focal cameras because unlike your SLR stills camera you need to adjust both zoom and focus. with regards the recording your footage we are no massive fans of using a computer. Once your bought a decent video capture card and software you will be a good way towards buying a budget stand alone CCTV DVR recorder. Make sure you get one that records in D1 resolution rather than 1/2 D1 (field) or 1/4 D1 (CIF) and make sure you're looking at the recording resolution rather than the display resolution. The other thing to keep in mind is that the hard drive in your computer isn't designed to run 24 hours a day. Neither is it designed to constantly fill up and record over it's entire memory. It is designed to run for 8 hours or so in a day and to churn small sections of it's memory at a time. You will normally find the computer's performance suffers with the extra load as well. I hope that helps you along a bit. Any questions post back and myself or other on here will be able to help further. Henry
  10. DVR - use a stand alone CCTV DVR unit. By the time you've bought a good video capture card and programme for your PC you'll almost be there and the hard drive in your PC isn't designed to run 24 / 7. budget £250 for a good DVR and 1TB hard drive installed, formatted and ready to run. Cameras - reading a vehicle number plate at 30-40 metres is way beyond the capabilities of most off the shelf cameras from the high street. we do a 6-60mm camera that can read a number plate at 60 metres but it's £200. A 9-22mm camera will read a number plate at 15 metres and we do one for around £110. Reading the plates at night is a little tricky. We do a specific ANPR camera and whilst compared to what's out there it's a bargain it's still £250 and it will only read up to 15 metres. Our 6-60mm camera can be set to read plates at night but it needs a little bit of work on site. we can supply it there or there abouts, you'll need to fine tune. For the rest of the cameras budget £60 for small fixed lens cameras, £100-150 for larger more powerful cameras with zoom lenses which you can adjust during installation to frame your chosen subject (that's essential if your system is going to work well for you). The cat5 / balun cabling is an excellent choice, make sure you don't send the 12 volt power down too long a length or you will get a voltage drop at the camera. I think 3 good cameras and a DVR is going ot set you back £700-750 plus Vat form what you are describing. You can save a little if you reduce the distances involved. If you need any help or advice (I think you are UK based) feel free to contact us and I will try to advise. We've actually supplied a few farms both for security and livestock monitoring (no, they aren't stealing stuff - checking up on their well being when giving birth etc !!). Not trying to transcend any forum rules by giving prices for our cameras, merely want to give an indication of likely cost. Hope that helps. Henry
  11. Henry-f

    CCTV Rant

    I ended up setting up my CCTV business because I was unhappy with the general level of information available to buyers here in the UK. Even some of the huge brand names are selling absolute tat. There is one company in particular who posts up a load of product videos and not once have I seen actual screen footage on those videos. What does that say about the quality of the gear !! The other problem is that many of the numbers quoted for equipment are either wrong or extremely misleading. We ended up running loads of back to back tests before we settled on the specifications for our products, particularly the cameras. Based on the numbers you'd think it was going to be fine but at 1.00am in a comparison test the screen was as black and you could hardly see a thing. The only danger with your idea is that one person's idea of excellent may vary tremendously with another person's and so you're actually no better off. Look for lots of information and ask the companies lots of questions before handing over your hard earned money. A good company won't just be prepared to answer your queries they will be proud and delighted to. All the best. Henry
  12. Henry-f


    RS 485 isn't that complicated and so it will be something really simple. Make sure the + ve and - ve terminals are connected the right way on both the camera and the controller. We had a customer on the phone for 10 minutes yesterday moaning his new cameras wouldn't work over cat5 Despite 3 separate times asking him to make sure the DC plugs and sockets were connected correctly they weren't. I got him to swap one set over and hey presto all was well !! Incidentally are you running the RS 485 to the DVR as well as the controller? If so just connect it to the controller. Use a nice and easy language like Pelco D and a slow baud rate of 2400. Check, check and check again the dip switches on both the Camera and the controller to ensure the language is set correctly and also that the camera ID is correct on the camera. Usually that's where the problem lies. Make sure you've selected the correct camera ID on the controller. Finally make sure you are using equal balanced wire for the controller to camera connection. Try setting up on the bench with a simple short wire between the 2. If you're still struggling post up a picture of the DIP switch settings on both the camera and controller. Good luck. Henry
  13. Henry-f

    Max distance...

    How long do you need the run to be? Using Cat5 and passive baluns you can move a video signal up to 300 metres. Using active baluns that rises to over 1,000 metres. The voltage drop on the supply to the camera is going to be your limitation, obviously to get round the problem power the camera locally. Make sure you use pure copper Cat5 rather than CCA (copper clad aluminium. Keep smiling. Henry
  14. Henry-f

    Old CCTV

    Bizarrely we actually have people who are disappointed when we discuss cameras. They equate size with the camera being good. Only last week I had a chap looking for a CCTV system for his builders yard. We were showing him cameras with an effective 50-60 metre range and and he expected the camera to be the size of a dog kennel. A sub thread to this could we what's the smallest camera you've ever pulled out of the largest enclosure There is a private house quite near us which has cameras large enough to have been pulled off the roof of the American Embassy in the 1970's. He's got them stuck on the side of his semi-detached 2 story house and I chuckle to myself every tie I drive by. They probably stopped working 20 years ago. Henry
  15. I'm not sure why you'd need to use a balun in relation to the RS485 control wire. It's the video signal that has an issue and needs a pair of baluns. A neat way to deal with PTZ cameras is using Cat 5: 1 pair for video using baluns. 1 pair for RS485 control wire. 2 pairs combined for 12 volt power feed using screw in DC plugs / sockets. Obviously the caveat is that you will be limited in cable run length by voltage drop along the power wires and actual length will be determined by the camera's current draw . A alternative is to power the camera locally and then you will be able to use cat 5 for video / RS 485 up to 300 metres using passive baluns and longer using active baluns should you need to. A nice neat 1 wire solution. Henry