My upcoming new office and home-lab space has inspired me to review some of my past technology choices. The first review comes in the form of video monitoring.
The setup I’m using at my current home involves a NightOwl 16-camera DVR with cheap BNC cameras. I was very pleased with it until I went to extend or even check for software updates… then I hit a serious brick wall! I learned it is basically a cheap DVR that hasn’t been updated in, at least, a decade. Well behind the curve for this tech geek. Time to upgrade!
I began my research where I began… a DVR, but this time I’d have it professionally installed. Well… the cost started to pile up very quickly. At the end of the quote, each of the 7 cameras were going to cost $450 each! That is insane!! Back to the drawing board.
Having a fondness for networking, I started researching IP cameras again. I’ve played with IP Camera software before (Blue Iris) and figured if I ever started over, I’d go that route. My research quickly brought me back to them as a possible option. I also discovered that my Synology NAS had a plugin Surveillance Station. Ultimately I realized that IP Cameras were the direction I wanted to go and this was perfect timing for our new home construction. I switched from the DVR/cameras to purely Cat6 network drops. Tons of IP Cameras had PoE capabilities so I wasn’t concerned with powering them. On the plus side, IP Cameras may range in price… but even the best options are below $450 per camera.
After research, I ordered a camera I thought had all the interesting features… A Ubiquiti Unifi G3 Dome camera. Picked for the fact that it was an IP Camera, Wide angle lense and PoE. Initial review… I am blown away by this camera, quality and features.
It all starts with their software. It requires either one of their NVR devices to connect, record and manage the camera or a Windows, Ubuntu or Debian computer running their NVR software which is free. I installed it onto my workstation since I’m currently evaluating… and connected to the camera almost instantly.
I installed their iOS app and it was effortless to point it at my workstation where the NVR software was running and start viewing the camera. This software blows NightOwl out of the water and well it should as NightOwl’s app is old as dirt.
I have only scratched the surface of what this camera and software can do… but I will be modifying my network diagram to include a custom built Ubuntu 1U server with DVR hard drives to run the NVR software locally. Plus side, is the Ubuntu server I’m designing can be managed from my Tanium infrastructure and all the benefits that goes with that are included with this setup.
As a treat, here are a few of the images I captured from the iOS software after connecting to the Workstation NVR.