A Wireless Webcam Without A Cumbersome Cloud Service

After a friend bought a nannycam that required the use of a cloud service to make the device useful,  [Martin Caarels] thought to himself — as he puts it — ”I can probably do this with a Raspberry Pi!

Altogether, [Caarels] gathered together a 4000mAh battery, a Raspberry Pi 3 with a micro SD card for storage, a Logitech c270 webcam, and the critical component to bind this project together: an elastic band. Once he had downloaded and set up Raspbian Stretch Lite on the SD card, he popped it into the Pi and connected it to the network via a cable. From there, he had to ssh into the Pi to get its IP so he could have it hop onto the WiFi.

Now that he effectively had a wireless webcam, it was time to turn it into a proper security camera.

Not to be anti-climactic, but all [Caarels] had to do from there was install Motion — a motion detecting software — configure a few settings, and set it to run as a daemon on boot. From there, it was a simple case of accessing it on port 8080 while on his home network. If that seems simple, then that should mean you already possess the skills to make this project yourself — go for it!

If you also feel like foregoing cumbersome services for any baby monitor software, we have you covered.

42 thoughts on “A Wireless Webcam Without A Cumbersome Cloud Service

      1. I agree though, if it’s just a security cam with motion detecting then it seems a waste of a raspi and logitech webcam (that are a bit overpriced this day and age).
        He’d have to add more unique features to make it warranted.

        1. I have played with a few of these and I can say they are surprisingly nice little cameras. Lacking on security yes a bit but if you have your network properly secured, no open ports and prohibit outward bound connections to the device and have a vpn like you should they work amazingly well.

          1. If they work in BlueIris they will likely work in ZoneMinder, it’s simply a matter of the right settings. RTSP and ONVIF ports both responded on mine and the automated search function in BlueIris was able to find the video feed and monitor it. Right now I’m using one of the ones I linked and an older one that required a power supply. The older one has been in use a good little while with no issues and I’m loving it, the new one hasn’t been used much at all but is constructed much the same except for POE capability. Note that it’s not wireless but honestly nothing is if it needs power so if you have to run a wire you might as well make it ethernet. Lastly, I’ve had amazing success running network over powerline, I was VERY skeptical but it’s turned out to be jaw dropping reliable for me – I know it’s not the same for everyone however but it’s something to consider. I’m actually using it between two buildings and am SO happy not to have had to dig a damn trench or run an overhead wire :)

    1. Hmm, and spend hours fighting with a web interface that pops up dialogue boxes saying “Webcam plug-in must install first or picture break” or similar, and find that said plug-in only works on Internet Explorer 6.0 for Windows 2000 SP1.

      Did something similar with a AU$8000 HicVision security camera… not that the English UI translation was bad, but reading the documentation, clearly the translator didn’t understand what was going on… and the UI didn’t work properly without using their proprietary plug-in.

      The camera eventually got compromised by some third party.

      At least with the Pi, You Know What You Put There. It’s not something that a non-technical person could set up, but it’s well within the capabilities of 90% of Hackaday’s readership and can re-purpose just about any half-capable computer and web cam, so it can be put together using essentially junk that’s lying around on the shelf.

      1. Why would you expose that to the ‘net? Pit it behind a firewall and use a VPN to directly access it. Better yet don’t access it access another piece of software that does the recording and aggregating, skip the on-board web interface…

        1. The customer who wanted the camera sprung the demand on us with two days notice, and wanted a password protected URL to be able to pass around to people to be able to see what was happening.

          That last requirement pretty much put the kibosh on any sort of VPN. We did use a VPN though, because they didn’t have an Internet link where the camera was going, it got shipped with a 3G modem. Telstra worship Carrier Grade NAT, and so in order to make the camera accessible at all, we rented a cheap virtual private server and ran the VPN between the 3G modem and that VPS.

          We did try at least putting it behind a NGINX reverse proxy on the VPS to provide TLS… but the web front-end didn’t work properly that way. I’d prefer to have something like ZoneMinder interface to the camera and provide a secure stream that people could watch, but we literally had hours to set this up.

          I do agree with you that these things should not be directly accessible from the ‘net. Now that we’ve got the compromised one back in the office, we’ll probably see about re-flashing the firmware and do some tests to see how one might expose the video feed and PTZ without having to open the thing to world + dog.

          1. Ugh, I think I’d have been tempted to say NO! People don’t seem to understand that their bandwidth gets hijacked to attack others and that these devices can be turned into stepping stones into their own network. VLAN them off, block the MAC at the firewall, pretty much just keep them in their own garden if possible. I don’t think any of them are secure and I was actually forced to hack one of my own once rather than climb a 20ft ladder to reset it – it was shockingly easy. Obviously it wasn’t one of the little guys I posted above but I don’t think I’d trust any of them. Even setting up a Pi with a camera you end up being an “admin” for yet another device that requires care and feeding – and should also probably be locked behind a wall of security just in case lol. GL figuring out how to secure one or lock down the firmware. I have a handful of Dahua cameras that I really like but flashing new firmware or spelunking in the code doesn’t sound like fun – although some of the guys on IPCAMTALK are doing just that. It’s usually just linux done poorly in the firmware but bricking is no fun when the patient is 20ft in the air lol

          2. Yeah, no stepping stone into the network in this case, the camera has a 3G modem all of its own… but yes, ordinarily this is a problem, and yes, my first instinct would be to say “no” too… but I wasn’t the one in charge of that project.

            Someone else had said yes, then when they gave up finding making the camera visible from the 3G link too hard, I got brought in.

    2. Even better if you can find one that you can root and or put your own firmware on. Most of them run Linux anyway, but good luck getting them to reply to a GPL licence type request because most of the Chinese factories don’t give flerk about that and are total parasites, who also leave backdoors in their products under the instructions of their communist overlords.

      1. May be a regional thing – in the US I’ve mostly heard ‘nannycams’ as being covert cameras for keeping tabs on nannies or other hired help (often disguised inside a teddy bear or desk lamp), as opposed to non-covert baby monitors for watching infants (the latter don’t usually need access outside the house).

    1. Yeah, because this webcam will be used to prevent intrusion in Ft. Knox.

      If any modern day low-level crook somehow figured out and snooped my WiFi then jammed it so my WiFi security cameras would not transfer to my personal server only to steal my yesteryear TV, then he can totally keep it.

      Hopefully he closes the door on his way out, I’d prefer if the cat didn’t escape.

  1. I want to make a security camera from a Canon or Nikon digital camera. Because I need to zoom from my house to the end of my driveway.
    Technically it is possible to do with a PC, but may try with RPi. Good idea!

    1. Wouldn’t the extreme depth of field of a small sensor camera in daylight let you just set the thing to hyperfocal distance and not worry about plane of focus in the first place?

    2. Dahua makes a handful of cameras better suited to include zoom and PTZ. Frankly PTA and zoom cameras aren’t what you want in a security system anyway. The zoom will end up being used all of one time to find the focal length best suited and the PTZ will almost certainly sit in one spot most of the time unless you put it in a patrol mode and it wears itself out scanning.

      What IS important IMO is light gather ability. Dahua has some “starlight” cameras that work VERY well. I have a PTZ with a 25x zoom that uses this and I have turned off the infrared illuminators it works so well – color pictures at night! Head over to IPCAMTALK and chat with some of the guys who do this for a living or who have cameras all over their house like I do. They’ve helped people with all sorts of crazy setups and some of the Ali vendors are also there helping with camera purchases. I’d do that over trying to hack together a camera setup that might end up being more valuable than anything you’d purchase. If it’s truly for security you want it as bulletproof as possible, try to keep it simple…

  2. I have D-Link cameras. (DCS-936L, 5220) It says Cloud, but can work as a standalone with all IP Cam options to save to ftp, smb, local sd and to a USB HDD via a little D-Link server and to the cloud (optional).
    Oh sorry, I am the wrong web site :)

  3. I’ve been using a similar RPi set up for years inside the house. My problem is there isn’t really good exterior, with IR, USB camera for outdoor. Any suggestions? My thought was why not have my existing RPi sprinkler controller double as a security camera.

    1. Pretty sure the C270 is what I’ve got on my Pi3 running Octopi, it’s been rock solid for me. That said, it has pretty crappy light gather capability and I’m not sure an IRDA illuminator would work.

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