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Integrating a Camera System

camera-wire-harnessSystems Integration made easy… guaranteed simple installation… do it yourself (DIY)… We’ve all heard the marketing hype about how easy it is (should be) to put a complete system together. Nobody has solved the challenge of integrating a system together without a professional installer and some of their creative ideas. That being said, I have a few thoughts on how cameras can be used in a residential environment with “easy” solutions that only an installer (aka “propeller head”) could figure out.

Turn on the lights! Every relevant light should be turned on when a critical protection zone is broken in a security system. Not only do lights expose a potential intruder, but it typically scares them away from committing the crime. Unfortunately the camera will only see the crime, not prevent it from occurring. Select either an IP or analog camera that provides the option to use the built-in motion detection on the camera chip. Motion can be used to trigger a contact switch (normally an open circuit), and close the circuit when the area detects movement. Contact closures can be measured to confirm their operation with a VOM (volt-ohmmilliamp), meter on the ohms/continuity setting.

A word of caution: video motion detection is not a perfect technology and can give false alerts if it is not set up properly. I prefer using the activation closure from a dual-detection fence-type laser beam or dual-detection PIR motion detector. These products will close the circuit on the camera and activate the next step in the automation. It is highly recommended to use a camera that provides a time schedule that controls what event will occur at different scheduled times.

Taking the camera automation application a step further, everything can be automated to accomplish a task from the simple “ding dong” doorbell, turning on the music, recording a video clip of the visitor, and emailing it, texting the homeowner with a visitor alert, and activate triggers for the alarm system too. One unique application is to welcome the visitor with a voice announcement when the zone is triggered and before the visitor presses the doorbell button. With the use of several prominent automation systems on the market, turn on the television to the specific video input or TV channel and have it pop up on the iPad, etc.

Activating the e-mail video clip is often the most underutilized feature in the security camera, but with a few steps it can be one of the most popular aspects of camera automation integration. The feature is often stalled with the router and port assignments, so here are three steps for simplifying the process:

  1. Request the customer information from your client’s specific email service. Gmail, for example, uses mail port 465 with SSL activated, Hotmail uses port 995. Chances are good that they won’t know this information, so Google “hotmail email port setting protocol,” for example, to get your answer.
  2. Enter your customer’s credentials and password.
  3. Open the port in the router.

Now the DVR or IP camera will send video clip events to the customer’s email. Note: Businesses are often a challenge if they have their own internal email server. These accounts should be using Port 25, which is open but not secure. If at all possible, use SSL, which transmits in an encrypted security setting Also, text message alerts of events can be sent by entering the specific phone number and the carrier information. If you want to send a text message from the e-mail setting in the camera or DVR software to a Verizon wireless phone number, for example, type in: phone number@vtext. com and an alert will be sent to notify them on their cell phone. For a complete list, Google “list of SMS gateways.”

Written By Darrel Hauk, CEO
This article was re-posted with permission from Residential Systems magazine. To read more, visit

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