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I didn't find a dedicated home security forum, but if there is one, feel free to move this post.


After some acts vandalism, I want to wire my house with cameras to help with identifying any perpetrators that may break in or vandalize my house, and I want to be able to tell what they took. So maybe a half-dozen cameras indoors and out, recording video in a loop, would get the job done.


I'm not so much interested in real-time viewing as I am after-the-fact investigation, although a split screen monitor in my bedroom might be pretty cool.


My first instinct would be to have the video streamed to a webserver or "the cloud". That way someone that breaks in while you are gone can't just steal or smash your video server hard drive. But if people can tap into your video, they can just as easily use it to case your place, or you might end up naked on Youtube. So storing it or even transmitting the video data off-site gives me the willys. I know you can encypt data, but I'm afraid I would screw it up.


Another option is syncing the video data, possibly encrypted, to a hardened, headless server hidden somewhere on-site, which can be administered by ssh. This seems like a decent idea if you have a good hiding place, but it brings me to the second problem...


I don't know anything about security camera hardware, and I understand that the technology available is improving all the time. Do security cameras send out actual composite video data with an RCA plug? In that case, you would need a many-headed video capture card, and cable lengths would be a problem. Ethernet? Running CAT5 can get expensive. Some proprietary wireless protocol with a dongle? Seems fairly insecure. Wifi? Same. No matter what, I want to avoid lock-in and proprietary software. I would also like to use Linux.
 

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There are several options available.


Analog .. max resolution is about 640x480 per camera, but usually lower


Analog coaxial requires separate power, so you either gotta run a pair of power wires with the coax or you get special CCTV "siamese cable" that includes power wires with the coax.


You can use CAT5/6 for analog video. You use a "video balun" on each end of a wire pair to make it compatible with standard composite video (NTSC/PAL). This has the advantage that you can use another pair for running 12v DC or 24v AC, or multiple pairs for more amperage. Note the max current limit is about 0.5 amps for one wire pair, or 6 watts @ 12v DC.


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Digital cameras are more expensive but the sky is the limit for resolution, on par with what still cameras can do.


Digital wired network cameras can sometimes use "power over ethernet" (PoE) which basically sends voltage up the network cable to the camera, no separate power wiring needed. You need a PoE-capable network switch to make this work.


Digital wireless network cameras just need power, so you don't have to run network cables or coax at all. Just a little DC wire pair to the camera. Though you need a good wireless base signal that all the cameras can find, for this to work well. Also digital wireless cameras can be quite expensive compared to the old style wired analog cameras.


If you're planning to put cameras outdoors, digital wireless is the least messy since you just need to get power up a pole for the camera, but it's hard to do this for large open spaces due to distance limits of a single wireless base station.


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You can get cameras with and without infrared night vision illuminators.


Also for large outdoor spaces you can buy just the infrared illuminators alone to light up outdoor spaces better, without making it obvious you are illuminating the area for cameras.


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If this is a rural area or you are not subject to HOA exterior appearance restrictions, then cameras on a pole outside your building pointed at the house are probably best the way to go, because for one it is OBVIOUS what they are so they are a "daytime deterrent" to criminals, just by being visible.
 
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