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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Midnight Dan
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6345269 - 01/30/14 02:14 PM

Carol:

Seems like TomIO8 in the thread above has 2 of them in his observatory and is happy with them down to -28F.

I have one that is currently set up indoors. I plan to move it to my obs when I make a 12v-to-5v converter box to power it. But right now it is set up in a window and looks out into my yard.

I also have some less expensive no-name cameras that are designed to look and act like Foscam clones ... but they're not. The difference between the Foscam and the others is clear. The Foscam has much better dynamic range so that on high contrast snow & shadow scenes, I can still easily see what's going on in the shadows. The Foscams are also higher resolution and the image is a lot more clear.

Setting the cameras up is fairly easy, but can be a pain if you have a more complicated home network. For example, at home I have a primary wired ethernet router, a secondary wifi router for in the house, and another secondary amplified wifi router for outdoor use. I want to use the camera behind the outdoor router so I need to set up 2 levels of port forwarding, assign special ports to the cameras, etc. It gets a little funky with that kind of setup. But for normal use, it's pretty straightforward.

-Dan


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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6345744 - 01/30/14 06:29 PM

I ordered mine from B&H this morning and I received the shipping notice about 2 hours later! I use B&H for my camera needs and saw that they sold the camera. So I should have it Tuesday. Can't wait!

David


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6345781 - 01/30/14 06:46 PM

Dan, thanks! I just have the one primary wired ethernet router for the house.

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Raginar
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Re: Foscam Camera? [Re: tim57064]
      #6346033 - 01/30/14 09:07 PM

Is resolution worth 75 bucks? It's a camera for looking at your telescope in a shed.

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PWP
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Loc: Moscow Mills, Missouri
Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6346487 - 01/31/14 03:10 AM

Not sure if you need an IP with pan feature or not but I bought this fixed camera and mounted it to my roll away observatory eave. Works great in complete darkness to keep an eye on my scope while controlling from inside roll away that I use as a warm room so I can watch the scope for cord wrap...waterproof, very affordable too. IR's are very powerful and it looks like black and white daylight up to about 15 foot. Resolution not bad either. Bought it from Amazon with the 50 foot power/video cable. Both links are below.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001IBFSJ8/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&p...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P910OG/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01?ie=UTF...


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tim57064
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Raginar]
      #6346779 - 01/31/14 09:30 AM

Chris,I just wanted to use my Home Depot card to get this so I figured,what the heck,get the higher resolution.
Also I thought about seeing if it could do star trails since it has the higher resolution.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: tim57064]
      #6346842 - 01/31/14 10:03 AM

Chris:

The newer 720P and 960P resolution cameras also have better firmware, H.264 compression for less bandwidth use, and more built-in features. But you are correct, you can get 640 x 480 cameras for a fair bit less. Depending on how far away your camera is, the higher pixel count can be an advantage in identifying someone breaking into your observatory.

Tim:

There's no control over exposure length so I don't think you can do star trails.

-Dan


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Tom and Beth
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Raginar]
      #6347126 - 01/31/14 12:22 PM

Quote:

Is resolution worth 75 bucks? It's a camera for looking at your telescope in a shed.




Resolution becomes a factor if

*) you are worried about wires snagging
*) or you play the scope close to the mount (I'll go inside an inch)
*) you need to prosecute after a break-in.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Tom and Beth]
      #6347873 - 01/31/14 07:02 PM Attachment (14 downloads)

Built my voltage converter tonight and installed the Foscam. Running on 12V, here's the view from my browser.
-Dan

Edited by Midnight Dan (01/31/14 07:02 PM)


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tim57064
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6347883 - 01/31/14 07:10 PM

Dan,Good to see you got yours up and running. That shot looks pretty clear also.

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Midnight Dan
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: tim57064]
      #6347918 - 01/31/14 07:28 PM

It actually looks a bit "soft" to me ... I guess I have high standards. But, it looks a whole lot better than the 640x480 cameras I have.

One thing to keep in mind about these Foscam cameras, while they are not particularly cheap by our standards, they are considered "low-end" in the security camera industry. If you go on web sites that specialize in security camera setups, they don't even consider Foscams to be in the running. A serious, quality security camera is usually in the $400 and up range.

But, among consumer level cameras, Foscam is one of the better brands, has a large variety of models, and reasonable support for their software and hardware. You can definitely find cheaper cameras, but they are, well ... cheaper!

-Dan


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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6348159 - 01/31/14 10:04 PM

That's pretty much what I'm looking for. Thanks for posting the pictures!

David


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dawziecat
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Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #6348743 - 02/01/14 09:41 AM

I've been watching this thread but I see an emphasis on cameras without much mention of a recording record for security purposes.

I'd like to both monitor the gear while imaging and have a record for security purposes should it ever come to that.

Requirements:

1/ Wireless.
2/ Two year-round, outdoor cameras minimum
3/ Sufficiently high res. to record license plates at about 40 feet.
4/ Record capability independent of a computer. (Computer record is useless if its stolen too!)

Not much luck so far.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6348895 - 02/01/14 11:12 AM

Hi Terry:

You can pretty easily do what you want ... if you have enough money to spend.

1. Wireless - no problem. The Foscams or any other IP camera will do the job.

2. Two year-round outdoor cams - again, no problem. I have 4 cams set up around my house including the one in the observatory. Most are outdoor/waterproof, have IR for night time, run 24/7, and are spec'd to work in temperatures down to -20C, or -4F, although they work at lower temps.

3. Record license plate at 40 feet - I think you're expecting too much here. The problem is, any old camera can record a license plate at 40 feet, if you get a narrow field camera. But if you want broad coverage, you want a wide angle camera, and a license plate at 40 feet will be too small to read. The newer, higher res cameras will of course do better than the 640x480 cameras. But for security purposes, the cameras will record a variety of helpful information such as make/model/color of vehicle, perpetrator's height, build, general age, clothing, number of people - all useful for making an ID. Depending on the distance and angle of the vehicle, you may get some information regarding the license plate, but I wouldn't count on that. Also if you have a camera inside the observatory, you'll get a nice closeup of the person when they enter.

Note in the image below, you can't read the license plate on my van which is about 20' from the camera. Now that is with the old 640x480 cameras which have much worse resolution and clarity than the newer one in use at the observatory, lower right. But I still wouldn't count on reading license plates unless you want to spend big bucks on high end cameras.

4. Record independently of a computer. Not sure why you would want to do that. I have a computer in my house recording images from my cameras. If they break into my observatory, they will be recorded and not be able to take the computer. They would have to break into the house as well. With IP cameras, you can be monitoring and recording the images from anywhere in the world. You *want* to use a computer because the monitoring and recording software you can get will give you lots of useful options. You can combine multiple cameras into a single view like I've done in the image below. You can set up motion detection areas on the view so that it only records when something changes and you don't fill up your hard drive with images of the same static picture. Some software offers options like emailing or texting you if motion is detected. There are schedules you can set up so that recording or messaging only happens during certain times of the day or days of the week.

-Dan


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dawziecat
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6348986 - 02/01/14 11:56 AM

Many thanks for the detailed reply, Dan.

Sorry to hear it unlikely an economical camera will capture a legible plate number. That is useful, if disappointing knowledge.

There is a choke point for entry to my property with a vehicle. I could mount a camera pretty close to the point a vehicle must pass. I guess I will have to try it to see.

I am reluctant to depend on a computer booted and running at all times to record. That is why I find the idea of an SD-based DVR attractive. It could be concealed too, making it difficult to pilfer in a burglary.

How much money to spend? Well I am saving a bundle by having no insurance premiums to pay!

And many of these systems seem too cheap to be quality products. I mean, really, can this thing deliver at that price point?

Edited by dawziecat (02/01/14 01:01 PM)


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Tom and Beth
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6349121 - 02/01/14 12:48 PM

Hi Terry,

If you have a choke point, then a camera can be installed there to get a license plate. The downside is that while a camera is focused on a narrow area, somebody could walk around and not be recorded.

And recording to an offsite "cloud" storage facility, triggered by motion is possible. But it isn't free.

I use "Ispy" software (freeware, donations suggested) with over a dozen cameras of different FoV, resolution and cost. Many of them are set up as meteor/weather cams.

Delving deeper into the security aspects is likely OT, let's not get this locked.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6349173 - 02/01/14 01:14 PM

Hi Terry:

If you have a choke point, where the vehicle will be in a known position, then you could get a narrow field camera, essentially more of a telephoto lens, and not have to mount it particularly close to the location. You might have to go to another brand, potentially more expensive, to get that. On the other hand, you might want it to be close anyway if you need night vision because the IR illuminators have limited range.

Quote:

I am reluctant to depend on a computer booted and running at all times to record. That is why I find the idea of an SD-based DVR attractive. It could be concealed too, making it difficult to pilfer in a burglary.




If you're using wifi-IP cameras, like most are these days, you'll need a computer to connect to the camera anyway. And again, the computer need not be in the observatory, or even on the property. I think with a DVR you'd need a video input from the camera, which means you'd need RF cameras. I've found those to be much more prone to interference, the range is more limited, the images are noisy, and they tend to drop in and out. I've found the IP cameras to be MUCH better, but you need to connect to them with a computer.

Also, once you've got a computer monitoring the cameras, some of the software packages allow you to save the images elsewhere like on an FTP site. So even if the computer was in the observatory, and the computer was stolen along with your gear, the images would still be accessible.

Quote:

How much money to spend? Well I am saving a bundle by having to insurance premiums to pay!




My thoughts on insurance vs. security:

The job of the police is to arrest bad guys, not recover your property. Chances are that the gear will be gone, or at least damaged by the removal. You might get it back but it's more likely that you won't. Yes, there are legal avenues to pursue against the crooks, but there's that "blood out of a stone" problem. Bottom line - security will help catch the crooks and possibly deter them, but I wouldn't count on it protecting your investment.

Insurance has it's own problems. While it's job is supposed to be protecting your investment, there are deductibles, the extra cost of riders, and the hassles with fighting with the insurance company that would really rather not pay. And even if you do get paid, your insurance rates go up because of it. To me, insurance is there as a safety net for the really big stuff, like your house burns down.

So my approach for my observatory is that I post a "24-hour video Surveillance" sign outside of it, have the camera inside and cameras around the property, and no insurance other than my normal home-owner's. The sign acts as a deterrent, and hopefully if they break in and see the camera, it will act as an additional deterrent. If someone does break in and steal stuff, I probably wouldn't file a claim unless the loss was a really large amount, or if it was in conjunction with other losses from a further break-in at the house.

Just my 2 cents and worth every penny!
-Dan


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dawziecat
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6349210 - 02/01/14 01:36 PM

Thanks, Dan and Tom.

I guess I plan on having a "bark far worse than my bite!"

I could place a cheap system out in the shed by the choke point with a wired SD-card based recorder.

And another camera inside the observatory . . . so I can watch in horror, in real time, as a cable snag occurs!

And several, prominent "fake" cameras scattered about.

Thieves hereabout tend to not be of the rocket science variety. One robbed the same bank on two Fridays consecutively. They got him on week 2.


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jazle
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Reged: 05/20/10

Loc: California, USA
Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6355538 - 02/04/14 01:19 PM

Heads up,
Amazon is doing a lightning deal on the FI9821W tomorrow (Feb 5th) at 7:30AM PST.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AJWK5WW

It's priced at about $123 now. Won't know the lightning deal price until the sale starts, but it'll be less than $123.


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mclewis1
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Re: Foscam Camera? new [Re: jazle]
      #6355823 - 02/04/14 03:38 PM

Something else to consider when setting up these IR cameras is if you are imaging and especially if you are video observing you'll need to be careful where the camera is pointed and when using wide field lenses and such that there can be a lot of IR light flooding an area like the inside of a dome.

I noticed the IR light from a security camera in my Mallincam. There were a few occasions where I was pointed close to the edge of my dome and with the security camera turned on the dome edge showed up big time on a video monitor. I have a feeling (but can't confirm this yet) that brighter IR LEDs when used inside my observatory will also cause some increase in background light or skyglow, not unlike some levels of light pollution.

Some CCD sensors are more sensitive than others to IR light, and some filters cut it out entirely. So how much of an issue this is will depend on a variety of factors in your individual configurations ... and obviously it's not an issue at all for visual observing.


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