source: https://commons.wikimedia.org

This is Part Three of my ongoing series about my project to install a home security camera system at my place of residence. Like any good home security system, you need equipment to make it work and this project is no different but that is Captain Obvious talking. I will really only be talking about the equipment I needed to purchase to make this work and will be excluding stuff I already own like a wifi router, laptop/cell phone to monitor, etc.

POE Switch:


Where else to start but the good ole POE switch/power injector? This is basically what allows the cameras to get power as well as communicate with my network so my NVR software can record/monitor the activities in front of the cameras. Acquiring one of these POE switches ended up with a little bit of trial and error and issues about stuff that can go wrong, will go wrong.

What I ended up with was not what I started with. I began looking through Amazon trying to find th perfect switch that gave me functionality as well as frugality and that is probably where my problems began. I found what looked like an awesome deal on what normally is a $160 piece of equipment. I found it on Amazon Warehouse deals for only $42.51. Definitely would have been great if it worked out as the Intellinet  port switch I was trying to buy was also a smart controlled switch which would have gave me the ability to adjust the settings and make it work the way I want it to. Anyways, first issue showed itself when I set it up for the first time. I boot it up and try to adjust its settings. Oops, error there’s no firmware on it which is problematic because with no firmware it just won’t work. I go online and search the manufacturer’s website and find the model then low and behold, there is no firmware to download for this particular model. Just my luck, but I did contact their customer support and they were quick to send me a copy of the firmware to try. Eureka! It starts up fine and I try to use it. Oh No… here we go again, problem number 2 arises. The cameras I have plugged into it are not receiving any power, which means this simply will not work and off to go find another option.

After searching and searching Amazon again after starting a refund on the previous mentioned switch, I came across the above USG(Urban Security Group) IP CCTV 8 port switch. Of course, it also came with one advantage over the previous switch, it has a uplink port to connect to my router, which will allow me to use the other 8 poe ports for cameras, not that I will have 8 cameras, but I can if I want to. This one worked great and powered the cameras and allowed the software to find them. Only downside on this one as opposed to the previous one is that it’s a passive router which I cannot control it at all, but the more important part is that it works.
POE Switch Overview:
    1. Intellinet 8 port Smart POE Switch : $42.51
    2. USG IP CCTV 8x POE Port plus 1 uplink switch: $59.99
Total Cost: $59.99
 
Computer/Server:
Dell Optiplex 580
The next important piece of the puzzle to purchase was the server that would run the NVR software that I chose(Xeoma). Of course, I could have continued to use my old pc and not spent more money on this but that box though probably more powerful also a) probably uses more electricity and b) is way noisier which would be ok if you wanted some ambient white noise in the background of the undisclosed location of the server. A quiet machine is a lot easier to hide than a noisy one. I scoured through eBay and looked for some decent small computers that I could use as a server. I came across a Dell Optiplex 580 that was ending relatively soon and was only at $39. I placed my bid and eventually won the auction at $46.00. Score. Of course, there’s probably better machines here and there but this was actually the best one that I saw that suited my needs at the time. Cheap and decently powered.
Relevant Tech Specs:
 
Processor: AMD Athlon II x2 DUAL-CORE B26 Processor (3.2GHz)
Ram: 4 GB
Hard drive: 250 GB -> Replaced with a 3 TB hard drive and a 60 GB Solid State drive
It did come with a DVD+RW drive, but I didn’t need that and used the connectors to connect the solid state drive. Also, it came with Windows 10 Pro, but didn’t need that as well as I install Debian GNU/Linux on it instead.
I attempted upgrade the ram upto 8 GB using the above ram that purchased for $19.78 for 2 sticks. However, they did not work in the Dell machine. Maybe a compatibility issue or just bad ram.
I did still upgrade it upto 8GB total using two 4 GB sticks from my old machine along with the two 2GB the machine came with. For some reason, the machine is only seeing the 4gb sticks as 2 gb sticks. But upgraded nonetheless.
Server Overview:
  1. Dell Optiplex 580 for server: $46.00
  2. 2 x 4 GB sticks of ram : $19.78
Total Cost: $46.00

POE IP Cameras:

What is a camera system without any cameras? This is a tough one to shop for and possibly the most expensive part of the system, even though I went pretty frugal here as well. Most people would recommend spending money here and I may do that later on an replace cameras as time goes by, but for now I’m trying to keep my initial install as cheap as possible while maintaining a decent system that is useful.

I ended up buying 6 cameras in different sets. My first set of two cameras(which I have already installed and running) was a Lionvis Bullet IP Camera I found on Amazon. It’s a 1080p camera with a 3.6mm focal point. If you really want to get further tech specs on it, you can check out the Amazon link. The total cost of these two cameras on Amazon was $78.00 which already there is the most expensive part of this project.
source: aliexpress.com
My next set of cameras I found on Aliexpress.com which was another set of Lionvis cameras. I’m going to place one of these inside my house and one facing the front door. But these cameras were definitely cheaper than the first set, however they will take much longer to get to me to install. For these two cameras, it cost me $27.60 which was after a $4 off coupon from the website. These cameras are 720p cameras which is lower than my first two, but should be sufficient in their usage. You can find more specs online here.
source:aliexpress.com
For the final set to make it 6 cameras in total, I found another pair on Aliexpress.com. It was another set of Lionvis Cameras which cost me $33.92 which was also after a $4 off coupon. This purchase will round out my cameras for my system and provide pretty much all the coverage I need. These cameras are 960p cameras with a 6mm focal size which would give the camera a little more narrow view than the 3.6mm which is perfect for where these cameras will be placed. You can find more specs on these cameras online here.
Camera Overview:
  1. Lionvis Set A: $78.00
  2. Lionvis Set B: $27.60
  3. Lionvis Set C: $33.92
Total Cost: $139.52
 
Cables:
 
In order to connect these cameras for power and make them able to be viewed, I needed to buy some length of ethernet cable. You can always buy in bulk and make your own, but I decided to buy them premade. I found them mostly on Amazon.
I ordered multiple amounts of cable so I will separate them by order and then give an overview.
Order #1:  One – 100′ cat6 cable and One – 75′ cat6 cable for $30.32
Order #2:  One – 100′ cat6 cable and One – 50′ cat6 cable for $28.80
Order #3:  One – 35′ cat6 cable for $8.32
Order #4:  One – 25′ cat6 cable for $7.95
Overview:
Two 100′ cables
One 75′ cable
One 50′ cable
One 35′ cable
One 25′ cable
Total Cost: $75.39  for 385′ of cat6 cable
Software:
The software I chose was Xeoma which does have a cost associated with it to purchase licenses per camera.
Cost for 6 cameras: $74.97
 
Total Project Cost:
  1. POE Switch: $59.99
  2. Server: $46.00
  3. Cameras: $139.52
  4. Cables: $67.44
  5. Software: $74.97
Total: $395.87
 
This total is higher than I expected but still it could be way more expensive, especially if I went with more expensives cameras. I  could have also made it cheaper if I made my own ethernet cables. You can buy it in bulk from places like Monoprice.com for about $55.00+ but then you’d also need ends and a tool to put the ends on but would still end up cheaper than the $75.39 I spent on cable alone.