Welcome to Part Four-A on my ongoing saga of installing a home security camera system. I’m still waiting for the other cameras to arrive from China, so I have some time to kill to “perfect” my system. I decided that I should be able to turn off the camera inside the house whenever I want, if I don’t want it to record stuff that I don’t want recorded. Not that I do anything I wouldn’t want to share where that camera is placed but still it’ll be a nice addition and have I already mentioned that I have time to kill? Now, I could easily go into the Xeoma software and turn off the camera, but that simply is a little too much hassle and work to do, so I researched and researched and looked for an easier solution.

UPDATE(12/03/2017): 

This hack is no longer working on my system. I may have borked the server or Amazon may have done something to disable this hack. I haven’t been able to really go through and see what’s wrong on my end as it still may work for you or some. I have currently switched to using a Google Home Mini to toggle my recording switch and will explain how to do so with an upcoming blog post.

 The solution came in the way of a hack that many people way before my working on this have figured out. But I think I shall start with a little backstory to where this begins. Many moons ago in a land far away, designers and engineers toiled away in the Amazon factories. After many tinkerings and drawings, they finally developed a gadget that would revolutionize the world and maybe make themselves richer. Ok, maybe it didn’t revolutionize the world too much, but bear with me. So it would be that they cane out with a device that would order what their hearts desired in a form of an easy button to press. Forget Staples’ “Easy Button” for this button was way more useful and as people soon found out, even more useful than they ever knew. On April Fool’s Eve, the kind and gentle folk at Amazon announced to the world their Amazon Dash Button. Of course, many people thought it was a joke and perhaps it was and maybe Amazon just decided to run with it. Anyways, people of the internet decided to try these little gadgets and some figured out that they could use it for other things rather than order stuff that they probably didn’t need in the first place instead. And that is where we are now and why there’s a picture of them on the top.
Basically, what I am doing is using these buttons to toggle the recording on/off switch on my indoor camera instead of ordering what the button is supposed to do. It’s actually a neat little hack and an easier solution to what I need to happen and Xeoma also enables me to do this through their “HTML switcher module.” Another tool, I use in this is IFTTT(If This then That) and WebHooks. I’ll explain that in Part Four-B
To start off, I needed to buy a couple Amazon Dash Buttons, one to turn it on and the other to turn it off. So I looked for a couple of different buttons I could use. The first ones I came across were one for Poof! and Optimum Nutrition. Those would have worked as perfect as I could find for the system, mainly because Poof! was close enough to “off” and well the Optimum Nutrition says “ON.” But what made me change my mind was that Amazon offered you a $5 credit off your first button push and I could not pass that up and I wanted to find something that at least was under $5 which would have basically gave me more than a simple button for $5.
I scoured through Amazon’s list of buttons to try to find something that I can use the button on to buy for $5 or less or at least close to $5. First, I tried to likely subjects which was groceries. It’s surprising how many of those only allow you to purchase stuff that’s $10-$15+. I don’t blame them of course but it’s not what I was looking for and if I couldn’t find something, I’d have stuck with my original On and Poof plan. But luckily, I still came across a good pair to work for my purpose. I settled on Barnana which offered a few options under $4, which I’d use for my “on” toggle button. For my off toggle button, I found a Wonderful Pistachio Button which allows you to order a 7oz bag of their salt and pepper pistachios for $4.19. So first thing I did when I received these buttons was fully set them up and ordered a Barnana product and a Pistachio product for basically free. Now if Off! had a button i would have passed up on ordering stuff and had a perfect “on” “off” button solution.
Instructions on how I put this plan into action will arrive in Project B – Part Four- B. I didn’t want this blog entry to get too long and it’s a natural stopping point to have the instructions on a separate entry.