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Home CCTV - Do It Yourself Tutorial

CCTV - Do It Yourself Tutorial

CCTV - Do It Yourself Tutorial

Please, visit our Blog for even more helpful tips on buying and installing CCTV Products.

So you have decided to build video surveillance system yourself. It's not that difficult task but you have to know a few very important things before you begin.
Let's start with Security Cameras, . You have to decide on how many you need now, and how many you might need in the future. If you think you will be fine with just three for now, but maybe later you will be adding few more, remember to get DVR that will let you expand your system. We offer 4 channel, 8 channel, 16 channel, 24 channel and 32 channel Digital Video Recorder or DVR. 4 may be enough for a small store or office and usually it is enough for Home Surveillance, but for everything else you will most likely need more video channels. Number of channel describes maximum number of CCTV Cameras that can be connected to the unit and view and recorded at once. Let's take a convenient store as an example. You will need one camera facing cash register, one at entrance door, and this leaves you just 2 cameras left for the rest of the store. Probably this won't be enough. With the low prices of surveillance equipment, on average small convenient store uses 8 and more CCTV Cameras. This way every corner is covered. Criminals and Employees like taking advantage of blind spots, so make sure to eliminate it. This will pay off in long run, like every well designed surveillance system.

So always count the cameras before you buy DVR. Good practice is to leave always some empty channels on your DVR. 90% of our customers usually come back to us within one year after initial CCTV System installation, and ask for additional cameras. Keep it in mind designing your system.

When you already know how many cameras you need, now it's time to decide on kind and performance and features of each one.
So we have outdoor/indoor, day & night, infrared, daytime only, hidden, spy, professional, wireless, dome, vandal resistant, bullet camera etc.
Deciding whether you need outdoor or indoor camera is easy. Remember only that with severe indoor conditions it may be better to use weatherproof camera (dust, moisture, low or very high temperature).

If you have night lights around your property, you can use day & night cameras. Infra red Security Cameras are usually used in completely dark spots. Remember also, that LED's on infra red cameras light up at night time. You can easily see camera. It's not as bright as flashlight, but you can see dark red light of led's when you look at the camera. There are also some other Pros and Cons of Inrared CCTV Cameras

If you don't want your cameras to attract too much attention, use small bullet CCTV Cameras or dome cameras. But if you own for example car dealership, you want bad guys to know that you have surveillance. This is when you put professional CCTV cameras in outdoor enclosures. They will think twice before entering property. Plus c-mount cameras are state of the art products. They use the most advanced digital picture processing. Auto iris, back light compensation, auto gain control, white balance are just some of the features you can find on Professional Box c-mount cameras. It's also easy to use different lenses from wide 3.5mm to telephoto 100mm.

Every security professional will tell you, that it's always better to go with hard wired cameras than wireless. And it's not only about the cost. Wireless systems are much less dependable. With all kind of equipment creating electro-magnetic field, it is hard to depend on wireless signal these days. Wireless Cameras also trigger a lot of false alarms. On the top of that anybody can buy RF scanner and simply tap into your surveillance system. And you don't want that to happen.

Since you already know what you are looking for, I should mention few more things. Pay good attention, when buying cameras. For example most of professional cameras do not come with lens. You have to purchase them separately. Each camera needs a power supply unless you are using multi-channel power distributing box. You can make your life easy and use plug & play cables to connect Cameras to the DVR. They are good for short runs (up to 300ft). If you need longer runs, use coaxial RG59 cable and low voltage cable for power or specially designed for CCTV Siamese Cable, which I do recommend. In this case you will need to put Power Ends (pigtails) on power cable and BNC Connectors on Coax Cable. This may require extra CCTV Installer Tools. When buying PTZ Camera remember to get PTZ Controller or RS232 Adapter. These do not usually come with a camera.

Manufacturers use usually few values to describe a surveillance camera. The most important are:

- resolution (380 TV lines is a low, 480-580 is a standard resolution and ultra high starts from 600 TVL and up)

- LUX rating, amount of light needed for camera to work properly. 1 LUX equals light produced by one candle. Today's cameras are rated usually below 1 LUX. 0.01 LUX means basically Day & Night camera, Infrared Cameras need no light at all since they are produce infrared beam, so they rated 0.0 LUX.

- Lens. Usually surveillance cameras use wide lenses 2.5mm and up. Very popular 3.6mm lens would give you about 70 degrees field of view(FOV) horizontally and 57 degrees vertically. 6mm lens would give you about 48 degrees FOV horizontally and 37 degrees FOV vertically (for 1/3” CCD sensor). More mm means smaller FOV. Telephoto lenses are 20mm and up.

- CCD sensor size (usually ¼” or 1/3”). The smaller the size, the smaller FOV. Simply 1/3” CCD sensor see more with same lens than ¼” CCD sensor. Bigger the sensor, better camera works in low light.

There are few other values like backlight compensation, auto iris, auto white balance etc. There is many cameras on the market. Even if technical specs are same, you can see the difference comparing them side by side. We make sure all our cameras are the highest quality. We test weekly tens of cameras and usually only few of them qualify to be offered to our customers.

Now let's focus on DVR unit. Today nobody uses VCR's anymore. All modern CCTV systems are based on DVR. Digital Video Recorder is a time lapse video recording device, multi-channel multiplexer and web server. All in one. All our DVR units have following features:

- multi channel capability (can support many cameras)

- pentaplex function (live view, record, playback, backup and remote access, all can be done at the same time)

- recycle function (it overwrites oldest data with the newest keeping always last few weeks of video)

- motion activated recording (it records only when motion is detected and only from camera(s) that are detecting motion at that time)

- recording on schedule (weekly schedule of recording for each camera can be set)

- remote playback, viewer and control (DVR can be control and live picture can bee seen over the internet)

- video backup (if you need to save some of the video)

Most important values used by manufacturers:

- number of channels ( maximum number of cameras that can be plugged in to the DVR)

- Maximum FPS (frames per second) DVR can record. It is total number for all channels. It can be different for recording and for display. Let's say 4 CH DVR 120 FPS recording/display. This means 4 camera DVR can display and record with rate of 120 FPS. If you divide 120FPS by 4 cameras you will get 30FPS. So each camera can display 30FPS and can record 30FPS (30FPS is also known as “Real Time”). But lets take 4CH 30FPS DVR. If you use only one camera you can get maximum real time recording and display. If you use all 4 camera it will give you 7.5 FPS for each camera. But remember, you can change it, you can set one camera for example to record with 15FPS and the rest of the cameras to record with 5FPS. The total number of frames multiplied by number of cameras can not exceed maximum FPS for particular DVR. 98% of surveillance DVR do not record with more than 3-5FPS. There is no reason to record video with higher FPS rate. It also saves you a lot of space. Remember, real time recording consumes a lot of memory. It's not practical. So if you let's say getting 16CH DVR and you will actually use all 16CH, 120FPS will be enough in most cases. This will give you 7.5 FPS for each camera which is more than enough even for watching your cash register. Real time recording is used only in extreme situations (very fast moving objects, casinos (card tables)).

- Storage space in GB or TB (standalone and PC based DVR's usually come with hard drive built in, but you can always add extra one. DVR boards use hard drive of your computer, good practice is to have separate hard drive just for DVR). Our DVR boards work fine with 95% of today's computers. Sometimes graphic card upgrade is required. They also do not need dedicated PC. You can simply let the system run in the background. You will not even notice the difference in performance of your PC. Of course having dedicated PC is recommended especially for large systems. We prefer PC based DVR's. Simply because they are more user friendly, software updates are available, have more features and can be easily customized. But if you don't want to have another PC you can always use simple standalone DVR's. They are usually very dependable and have all basic features to run your surveillance system.

Remeber, basic CCTV system includes:

- Cameras

- DVR unit

- Cables (one for each camera when using Plug&Play cables, or coaxial RG59 and low voltage 22/2 (or Siamese) when you have really long runs 300ft and more)

- Power supply (one for each camera when using single power adaptors, or multi-channel power distribution box)

- Monitor (regular TV when using standalone DVR, PC monitor when using PC based systems)


- Internet router and internet access (when you want to be able to access your system via internet)

This is some basic knowledge required to start shopping for surveillance system. If you need more information, call or email us. Thank you and good luck.

Where and How to Buy CCTV Products

Today CCTV Cameras are everywhere. CCTV systems are not luxury items anymore. It is fairly easy to find local installer or even store selling CCTV Products. There is a lot of new installers doing CCTV part time and if you are on the budget, their cost of labor is usually pretty low and they offer low cost surveillance systems. This may be great solution for your home or small business. Just remember that usually you will not get any service or warranty for this type of job. It is your risk. Also I would be careful hiring part time installers for any job bigger than 4 camera. In fact they usually will not take it anyway. With the bigger systems you need someone who can offer variety of products to match your needs. Rarely you can use 8 same cameras for one job. You want to have a choice and you need expert advice. There are companies there like CamTech offering professional products, warranty and service. They may be more expensive than small installers, but when you spending few thousand dollars on surveillance system, you don't want to cut corners to save couple hundred dollars. We also use trusted products so we can guarantee our work. I've seen it many times when installer turns on the DVR and than starts flipping trough manual trying to figure things out, because he has never used this model before.

The other type of companies still existing on the market are old fashioned CCTV installers. They've been doing installations for 10 or 20 years. The problem is that they can't adopt to new reality. These are companies that will try to charge you few thousands dollars for DVR and than few hundreds dollars for each camera. Price difference could reach 300-1000% (!!!) comparing to estimates from “good” companies. Why do they do that? It is simple. Just few years ago it was not easy to buy CCTV products. Only small group of installers have access to that technology. There was no competition on the market. You could sell CCTV equipment with huge margins (100-1000%). Why? There was not too many online sellers. Customers couldn't compare products. CCTV Companies were making huge profits. Unfortunately some of those companies are still there. Their new tactic is to change product names and symbols, so you as a customer, would not be able to find it online. They will tell you that these are best products and only they carry it. They will call other cameras and DVRs toys. Simply if someone offers you CCTV products and you can't find them anywhere else, most likely he or she is ripping you off. That is why we list all our products with manufacturer model numbers, so you can check prices online. In fact you should always look up any CCTV product you buy. Often online retailers are selling same cameras as we sell, but under different model number. This way they can get away with charging you much more for same thing. These companies spend a lot of money on advertising and usually are on the top of search engine results. The bottom line is, if you don't do your homework, you are the one paying for this advertising. I know at least few companies that sell exactly same products as we do, but their prices are twice or even three times higher. Of course they sell it under their own model number and name. You will find them on the first page of search results when looking for anything CCTV related. Simply compare pictures, specification and prices. Take your time and you may save thousands on your new CCTV System.

Please, visit our Blog for even more helpful tips on buying and installing CCTV Products.

or for more information on video surveillance please visit Venture Security