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surveillance systemsLiving in a rather dodgy part of the UK, one thing I’ve been meaning to do is set up my always-on home server as a CCTV Surveillance System that sends alerts to my iPhone whenever it detects motion.

Though the results are fantastic, you do need a lot of free software to get the thing up and running properly. It’s a lot to download, but there isn’t anything inherently difficult about it – just be prepared to spend a little time on this.  An easier possibility is one that Mark talked about back in 2007, which is to use Skype How To Use Skype as a Covert Snooper How To Use Skype as a Covert Snooper Read More , although there is no motion detection involved with that method.

What You Need

1: Install Yawcam & Check Your Webcam

If you’re trying to use the PS3Eye like I have, you’ll need to install the CLEye drivers from here before you can use the camera in Windows. You’ll also need to download the JRE from Java.com before attempting to install Yawcam.

Upon launching YawCam for the first time, select your camera device from Settings -> Device -> Change To menu option. The preview Window should now show you the output from your webcam.

surveillance systems

2. Set Up Streaming

Click the enable button on the main screen to activate streaming capabilities.

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surveillance camera system

Then head to Settings -> Edit Settings to bring up the preferences screen. From the left sidebar select Connection -> What’s my URL? to open a webpage with both internal and external links to your new webcam stream. By default, the app will configure your router for you, but if not you’ll need to read the help guide on forwarding the correct ports.

surveillance camera system

3. Set Up Motion Detection

Click the button on the main Window again to Enable Motion. Then open the motion detection screen from the Window menu. The preview area shows blue when motion is detected, but if you’re pointing it on your garden you may find trees showing up when moving in the wind. To solve this, I set up motion detection for a single area – the table and chairs, instead of the whole image.

video surveillance systems

To set up tolerance and sensitivity, the auto-detect works well, but you might also want to make use of spouses or children to set it up manually. It also helps if you enable the “show image” feature too. In case you’re wondering, the blue bar beneath the image shows the threshold – the bar above is green and increases when it detects movement. Once the green bar goes beyond the blue bar, it fires a motion event.

video surveillance systems

Once you’re confident it’s sparking detection events correctly in the event view, just set it up to save images for now or play a sound for testing. Here’s a strange guy it captured in my garden!

video surveillance systems

4. Install Growl For Windows

In order to setup notification between various devices we’re using, we’re going to need Growl For Windows first, then Growl apps on anything you want to send notifications too. Today I’ll be showing you how to set it up on your iPhone using Boxcar, but you can easily set this up on other devices too.

To setup YawCam to work with Growl For Windows, first, open up My Computer and locate the growlnotify.exe in your Growl for Windows install directory, and move it to your root C: drive – I had problems getting it to work right when left in the default directory.

Head back to the motion detection screen. On the action list, enable the Run .exe option and edit the settings. The command we want to run is:

c:/growlnotifier.exe "Motion detected" /cu:"http://178.34.54.09:8081"

Change the IP address on the end to be the URL you used earlier to view the stream.

At this point, you should be getting a default Growl notifier in the lower right of your screen whenever motion is detected, and if you got the URL correct, clicking on it will open your browser to the stream page where you can view the intruder live.

Next we will try to connect this to the iPhone for alerts on the go.

5. Install The Boxcar Growl Plugin & Get A Free BoxCar Account

Head over to boxcar.io and make yourself a free account. Boxcar is basically a free catch-all notifications service we’ve shown you before Boxcar - The Ultimate Push Notification App for iOS Devices Boxcar - The Ultimate Push Notification App for iOS Devices Read More , but I’ll only be using it for the Growl functionality.

You’ll need to enable the Growl notifications from the boxcar.io website, and be sure to download the iPhone app and login before continuing.

Next, install the Growl Plugin to connect the two.

If you’d rather be sending notifications to other devices, check out this great tutorial we showed you before Set Up Growl Notifications Between Different Computers And Devices Set Up Growl Notifications Between Different Computers And Devices Read More , or you can get Boxcar for Mac OsX Get Push Notifications On Your Mac Desktop with Boxcar Get Push Notifications On Your Mac Desktop with Boxcar Boxcar is already well known for being one of the first solutions to bring push notifications to your iOS devices for Twitter, Facebook and more. They recently added a Mac desktop application to their arsenal... Read More too.

Then to activate the notifier, open up the Growl for Windows application, and go to Network. Check the Forward Notifications to Other Devices, and click the green + button. You should see BoxCar listed on the bottom (don’t choose iPhone, as it’s designed for a paid app called Prowl).

Set up the notifier with your account login details, and you should be all set.

surveillance camera system

6. Set Up A Quick Launch Icon For Your Video Stream

Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to forward the URL to your notifications when motion is detected (though the boxcar.io forum assures me they are working on this). Until then, the easiest way would be to browse to your video stream from your iPhone, and create a quick launch icon for your homescreen that you can easily access when motion is detected. Click on the + button at the bottom of Safari to do this.

Now when you get a notification, just hit your new stream icon to see what’s going on!

surveillance systems

Conclusion

I must admit it took quite a bit of fiddling to get this all working correctly, so don’t despair. Post in the comments if you have any problems and I’ll see what I can do to help. You don’t have to use Growl notifications – there’s many more options to just save a file if you want, or to email you – and there’s also a lot more you can do with Growl if you like it! I also suggest downloading some dog growling noises, and setting them to play when movement is detected…

Now it’s time to troll the neighbours!

  1. Thesoupmeat
    May 12, 2011 at 3:43 am

    hahahaha this is how my DormSecurity program works!!! heres the video of it in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... although it uses pushmail not boxcarr

  2. Thesoupmeat
    May 12, 2011 at 1:43 am

    hahahaha this is how my DormSecurity program works!!! heres the video of it in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcRD_UZasew although it uses pushmail not boxcarr

    • James Bruce
      May 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

      Ahh, to be a student again...

    • Tina
      May 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Watched half of the video and loved it!

      Unfortunately, the video stops for some reason and doesn't resume, although it looks like it has fully pre-loaded. Hopefully just an isolated problem on my computer...

  3. Mil Mar
    May 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    An easier way (the setup I have):

    1) Setup Yawcam for motion detection

    2) setup yawcam to send an email to you when motion is detected.

    3) configure it to send x number of snapshots during the last y number of seconds.

    4) open email whenever you get the message, and see what's going on.

    Make sure that you also have the program not send more than 1 email per minute. Otherwise, it will flood your inbox with snapshots.

    • James Bruce
      May 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

      thank Mil, yes - thats certainly easier, my my objective was to use growl notification system. Email is definitely a good option though.

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