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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a security system recorder (for the caboose and layout) that is missing the cameras. After reading some reviews it seems that missing the cameras may be a good thing as there were several negative comments about the cameras normally included.
I suspect that other MLSers have installed surveillance systems around their homes and layouts so they may have personal experiences and recommendations of which cameras work well and which do not - outside in the day and night.

There are multiple purposes for the system including letting me know (and recording) what is happening outside that I cannot see (active monitoring) and also to watch for wildlife (recording when and where they appear) followed by security for the trains etc. both in the caboose and on the layout outside of the caboose.

The variety of cameras available tends to be overwhelming when it comes to finding a good balance between the lowest reasonable cost without ending up with worthless video.

I would appreciate hearing what experiences others have had (good and bad) with outdoor camera systems that are used with a recorder (DVR). I need something that will record well at least 20 feet away at night.

If there is a forum elsewhere that would be better for finding this information I'd like to know about it as well.

Thanks,

Jerry
 

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you want 420 lines or better

but you may find you dvr will only record at 330 lines or so

if you have a long run use real rg-58 not the cheap twisted wire that is sold for cameras


some cameras use f conectors some use rca and some use bnc so watch what end comes with it or you will have to play with adapters .


I have had good luck with most of the cameras I have put up .... my bigest problem is with the mounts

the b&w ones do better at night also if you are looking for night time watching you will need a lot of IR leds to see well

most day night cameras have different ratings ( lines) day and night so see if you can find a listing ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Posted By Trains West on 03/31/2009 9:10 AM
you want 420 lines or better

but you may find you dvr will only record at 330 lines or so

if you have a long run use real rg-58 not the cheap twisted wire that is sold for cameras


some cameras use f conectors some use rca and some use bnc so watch what end comes with it or you will have to play with adapters .

The DVR has bnc connections and came with RCA adapters. It will handle 4 cameras but only sound from one.

I have had good luck with most of the cameras I have put up .... my bigest problem is with the mounts

the b&w ones do better at night also if you are looking for night time watching you will need a lot of IR leds to see well

most day night cameras have different ratings ( lines) day and night so see if you can find a listing ....





This is the DVR I bought:


Astak's DVR security system is extremely easy to setup and easy to use. Using only the highest quality components, Astak's DVR system includes a 250GB hard disk for video recording and a CDR-W for video backup. It also features multi-speed recording options on either a normal or alarm recording mode, up to 30 frames per second. It allows users to manually record or schedule recordings from up to 4 cameras. PLUS, four (4) Astak CM-818W Night Vision Weatherproof cameras are included! Four 100 foot-long cables are also included for your convenience.

CM-04LCU Features

· Easy Operation with On Screen Display for Easy Modifications.
· Up To 30 Frames Per Second.
· 250GB Hard Drive Included.
· Built-In CDRW for Easy Record to CD Options.
· Multi-Speed Recording Selection on Normal or Alarm Recording Mode.
· Manual, Alarm and Schedule Recording Mode.
· IP Remote Control from anywhere over the Internet
· Quick Search by Time and Event List.
· Build-On IR and RS-232/485 (Serial) Port for add on Remote (Not included).
Do you have questions about this product? Ask a question.

Specifications
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Device Type:
Standalone DVR
Shipping Weight (in pounds):
2.45
Product in Inches (L x W x H):
24.0 x 17.0 x 12.0
Assembled in Country of Origin:
USA and/or Imported
Origin of Components:
USA and/or Imported
Wal-Mart No.:
000666636





According to the manual these are the specifications:


1.2 SPECIFICATION
IMAGE SYSTEM
NTSC PAL
RESOLUTION-LIVE 720×480 720×576
VIDEO INPUT BNC × 4
VIDEO LOOPING BNC × 4
VIDEO OUTPUT BNC × 2
AUDIO INPUT RCA × 1
AUDIO OUTPUT RCA × 1
STORAGE MEDIA MAX 2 IDE HARD DISKS ( ONE REMOVABLE ) 250GB included
IMAGE FORMAT M-JPEG
RECORDING RATE 720 x 240 up to 60 FPS
320 x 240 up to 120 FPS
720 x 288 up to 50 FPS
320 x 288 up to 100 FPS
RECORDING MODE MANUAL / ALARM / SCHEDULE
PLAYBACK SPEED
FAST FORWARD ×2 ×4 ×6 ×8 ×16 x32
FAST BACKWARD ×2 ×4 ×6 ×8 ×16
FIELD BY FIELD PLAYBACK
TITLE 6 CHARACTERS FOR EACH CAMERA
OSD & SETUP TITLE / TIME / DATE / SETUP MENU
ALARM INPUT X 4 N.O. OR N.C. PROGRAMMABLE
RELAY OUTPUT N.O. OR N.C. PROGRAMMABLE CONTACT ×1
RS-485 PORT YES
PTZ CONTROL YES
ETHERNET YES
IR REMOTE CONTROL YES
BACKUP USB, CDRW & NETWORK
VGA OUTPUT OPTION (not included)
PASSWORD CONTROL ONE FOR SYSTEM, ONE FOR HDD FORMAT
KEY LOCK YES
POWER INPUT AC 100-240V INPUT ( 47-63 HZ )


DIMENSIONS MM
55mm (H) × 432mm (W) × 321mm (D)
 

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RECORDING RATE 720 x 240 up to 60 FPS
320 x 240 up to 120 FPS
720 x 288 up to 50 FPS
320 x 288 up to 100 FPS




720 is like 540 lines
320 is like 240 lines
 

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I have a TrendNET brand "TV IP-400W", which is a small WEB camera. It is its own network site and connects to my router either via a Ethernet RJ-45 (Category 5) cable or wirelessly (that is the "W" version, there is also a version without the Wireless feature). Oh, and by the way, you still have to run a power cable to it, so it is only "wireless" in its network connection, not power wise.

It has the ability to be aimed via servos that drive it in left and right pan of 340 degrees and tilt Up 90 to down 45 degrees. It can be mounted upside-down with a feature to invert the image, or view in a mirror with a left/right reversal feature. It can record 24 specific viewing angles that can be recalled via the network connection and can automatically sweep through the 24 positions.

If it is not behind a firewall, or if you can configure your firewall properly and have a permanent IP address, it can be accessed via the internet remotely. It has a feature that will allow it to upload its images to a website that is past the firewall but you have to pay for the site access and it can make your internet access quite busy.

It comes with a program that can monitor the image for motion (in up to 5 user defined regions) and record only when it detects motion and for a few seconds after, or it can record a few seconds of image on a timer basis.

It can send the video in an e-mail to a user specified address.

Maximum Resolution is 640x480 (standard VGA) in full color using JPG compression at any of 5 levels and up to 20 frames per second. The size of its output files depends on the resolution, compression level and frame rate selected when it is setup.

On the surface of things it appears to be pretty neat!

UNFORTUNATELY!

Image quality is very poor (grainy) in low light.

It periodically shuts down the network connection and must be power cycled to regain access. It happens way too often; since I have been using it only once have I gone more that 24 hours without having to reset it. I leave it running overnight and it may shut down an hour after I go to bed or maybe 20 hours later. I cannot detect any cause for it to quit.

When it powers up it moves the camera all the way counter-clockwise (anticlockwise) and points all the way up and then it attempts to drive it beyond those limits. This is to "learn" where the camera is pointed so that the servos can drive it to known positions based on the number of movement commands that it receives (each command moves it some small increment... the program calls these increments "degrees" and allows the user to select from 1 to 10 degrees (in steps of 1) for how far to move with each command... but 10 steps at the 1 degree per step setting in one direction do not equal 1 step at the 10 degree per step setting. I am not sure how many 1 "degree" steps there are from full counter-clockwise to full clockwise, but it is not 340 of them... more like maybe 100). Anyway, if it is accidentally driven clockwise or down farther than its physical limit, then when moved back to some pre-selected position it will not be viewing at the desired angle anymore. The only way to fix that is to power cycle it or deliberately drive it counterclockwise and up beyond the physical limits.

The "Sweep" function (stepping through the list of user defined viewing angles) is a one time only event per command to do it. It will do it, then return to the viewing angle it was at when started and not continue through it again until another command is sent to do so.

The "Motion Detection" feature sometimes misses an obvious (to me, anyway!) movement. It has a control to set the amount of movement that is to cause a recording (this is so you can ignore a bush moving in the wind and still maybe catch a car going by) and although it does affect how much movement represents enough to start recording it still can miss a car going by, but catch a sewer bear (raccoon) waddling across the street in the distance in the dim light of the streetlight on the corner. Anyway, I was watching the screen when a car was going by and it did not record it. ... go fig!

Worse yet, sometimes the Motion Detection fails to shut off and it just keeps recording to disk. It may record for a couple of hours before another motion event occurs and then it may stop recording a few seconds after that event quits. Again, I happened to be watching the screen when this has happened and I think what causes it is if the thing that it detected as motion fades off into the distance... like someone walks into the image from up close and walks into the distance, thus becoming smaller and smaller to the point where their motion is so small it forgets that there was motion and fails to set the timer to shut down the recording that is occurring because the larger motion started it.

To compound matters, there is a bug in Windows (several versions including 98SE, XP and Vista) where by one cannot delete a JPG file if Windows Explorer has opened it for any reason (like creating a thumbnail or reading it to see what program is used to play it). Well, actually the files do get deleted, but the name will get re-written into the directory/folder a few seconds after the file is deleted and then you cannot open it (it is deleted!) or delete/rename the directory it is in (the file names are still there and Winders won't let you delete/rename a directory that has filenames in them that are open to another program and Winders itself has the files open trying to delete them). So to clean up the directory where the camera software is storing these videos, one has to attempt to delete them and then reboot and they will then be magically gone (then you can delete/rename the directory) or one has to reboot and delete them before Explorer starts trying to make thumbnails for them!


I read lots of reviews of different brands and models of this type (web based) of video camera and all the others had many complaints about them that are the exact same ones I now have for this one.

I do NOT recommend this one unless you like dinking around with them like I am doing now. Not reliable!
 
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