A frequent request we receive from our users is for a quick and easy overview of what is required to set up a home video security system. Our SecuritySpy Installation Manual is a great place to start, as it provides information on all the topics involved, however for many users the selection of available IP cameras can be bewildering, and the setup can be daunting. Therefore, we have created this guide to provide clear and easy-to-follow advice that can be used by anyone – technical or not – to create a highly effective video surveillance system for their home.
What you will need:
- A Mac, such as a Mac mini or iMac.
- An ethernet switch or router
- Ethernet cables (if using wired setup)
- SecuritySpy – our Mac software that lies at the heart of your CCTV system, recording video and triggering events upon motion detection.
- 4 IP cameras.
- If you already have a Mac: approximately $700
- If you need to buy a Mac mini: approximately $1300
1. The Mac
Most users already have a Mac in use at their home, and if you just need a few cameras you can simply run SecuritySpy on your existing Mac without significantly affecting its performance. For this purpose a Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro is perfect (you can also use a MacBook, however due to the fact that recording will only take place when the Mac is awake and at home, a laptop is less suitable than a desktop for this purpose).
For more than 4 cameras or so (at 1 MP resolution each), the processing power becomes significant and you will probably want to use a dedicated Mac for your home video security system. For this purpose a Mac mini is perfect: small, inexpensive and powerful, a basic dual-core Mac mini is capable of recording up to 8 cameras (the previous-generation quad-core models are about twice as powerful, so consider obtaining one second hand if you need between 8 and 16 cameras).
2. The Network
Your Mac will be connecting to the cameras over a wired (ethernet) or wireless (WiFi) network. Wired ethernet offers much greater reliability and performance than WiFi, so we recommend using it wherever possible. If this is not possible, then WiFi will provide an adequate solution provided that the devices aren’t too far from the wireless access point.
If connecting the cameras using ethernet, use a high-quality switch (for example a Netgear GS105 or GS108), and connect the Mac, cameras and internet router all to this switch using ethernet cables.
3. The Cameras
Go for trusty manufacturers such as Axis, Canon, Samsung and Vivotek. If you are confident with network setup, also consider Dahua Technology or Hikvision. Beyond our 10 Recommended IP Cameras 2015 blog post, here are a few suggestions for network cameras that are easy to set up and will work well in a home setting:
Samsung SNH-P6410BN: this is a small low-cost camera with high image quality and a great feature set including WiFi, night-vision, audio, and a maximum resolution of 2.1 MP. [UPDATE MARCH 2016: Samsung’s latest firmware update removes web server access to the camera, making it much more difficult to set up and use the camera with third party software such as SecuritySpy, therefore we don’t recommend our users purchase this camera. Good alternatives are the Hikvision DS-2CD2412F-IW, the Zavio F3115 or the Vivotek FD8168.]
Firstly, connect a camera to the switch using an ethernet cable, and connect its camera’s power supply.
Samsung cameras only: there is a short registration procedure via the Samsung SmartCam web portal, via which you choose a password for the camera. Make sure that this password is not more than 8 characters long.
Axis cameras only: use our Network Device Finder app to find the camera on your network, then double-click the entry in the Network Device Finder window to open the camera in a web browser, where you will be asked to set a password.
Wireless cameras only: as in the above step, find the camera via Network Device Finder and open it in a web browser. Locate the WiFi settings, and set these up according to your home WiFi network by specifying the network name (SSID) and password (for Axis cameras, click Setup, then System Options, then Network, then Wireless; for Samsung cameras click Setup, then Network Setting, then Wireless Network).
Finally, in SecuritySpy:
- Open the Video Device Settings window.
- Click the Bonjour menu, which is the small menu next to the Address box, and select the camera from this menu.
- Enter the username and password you specified above (the default username is admin for Samsung cameras and root for Axis cameras)
- Select H.264 RTSP as the Format:
You can download and purchase SecuritySpy via our web site and online store. And, if you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to read the Getting Started section of the SecuritySpy User Manual to get quick overview of how to use SecuritySpy.
To get you up and running, here are some good basic settings, which you set in the Camera Settings window:
- Under the Setup tab, enter a descriptive name for the camera, for example “Front door”.
- Under the Audio tab, choose whether you want to record audio (it’s on by default).
- Under the Motion capture tab, enable the Capture movie when motion is detected option.
Once you are done configuring the cameras, click OK, then go to the Control menu and select Set all cameras to Active mode. In Active mode, SecuritySpy will record whenever motion is detected in any camera. Use the Browser feature to view the captured footage.
You are now up and running!
6. What next?
Once you have the basics in place and your video surveillance system is up and running, there are some additional features which most users will want to explore (though it is beyond the scope of this tutorial to describe them in detail):
- Have SecuritySpy send you emails with attached images whenever motion is detected.
- Use SecuritySpy’s web server feature to view live video and captured footage from another Mac.
- Configure your router for remote viewing of your video surveillance system over the internet.