Security Camera System Design Best Practices – Dealer Guide

Designing a security camera system for your customer’s home or business can sometimes be as easy as throwing up a couple of cameras and setting them to record. However, more often you’ll need something different and more complex than the “typical” or pre-boxed system. In this article, we’ll go over choosing the right NVR, camera, and identifying when it is best to use other accessories, like brackets and back boxes. We’ll also explore different camera types and capabilities and some common tools that are must haves on every job. Let’s jump right in!

Choosing The Right NVR

Choosing the best NVR for the job goes beyond just knowing how many channels/cameras your customer needs. In this section we’ll explore the features of our NVRs and how those will help you meet your customer’s system requirements.  

Channels

The first and most obvious step is to determine how many cameras the NVR will need to record, but one thing to always consider is that the client may want to expand their system and add more cameras in the future.  If you have a homeowner that wants you to install a 7 or 8 camera system, then it may be prudent to upgrade them to a 16 Channel NVR instead of an 8 Channel for ease of expansion (not to mention additional revenue) at a later date.

Bitrate

You’ll also want to take into account the Incoming Bitrate of the NVR and how much of that bandwidth each camera will utilize. The largest factor in determining your bitrate requirement is resolution, but Frame Rate and Compression will also affect recording retention times. For example, A 2 Megapixel Camera will require about 4-5 Megabit of bandwidth, 4MP about 10 Megabit, and 8MP about 16 Megabit. While most systems use all the same resolution, in some cases you may find your customer needs higher resolution in some areas and can save money by going down in others.

Once you determine the number of cameras and at at what bitrate/resolution and settings they will be recorded, you can calculate the required hard drive space to meet your customers recording time needs. Record time is determined by how long footage be archived before the Hard Drive(s) hits capacity and the oldest footage is overwritten with new footage. In other words, the larger the Hard Drive, the longer the record time. But, how do you determine how much record time your customer can expect?

Maths

The exact formula for determining record time can be fairly complex, but you can quickly estimate how much Hard Drive space you’ll need by following this simple equation: 1TB will cover 30 days of recording for 1x 2MP Camera. Double it for 1x 4MP camera and quadruple for an 8MP camera. So 4x 2MP Cameras will require approx 4TB to retain 30 days of recording. There are other specs and settings that can lower your storage requirement like Video Compression, Codec (h.264, h.264+, h.265, h.265+), frame rate, etc., but the formula above is a good starting point.

Hard Drive

Once you determine how much hard drive space is required to meet your customers recording needs, you’ll need to make sure the NVR you select has adequate Hard Drive slots. The largest hard drive we carry is 8TB, and our NVRs range from 1 slot to 24 slots. The charts below outline the different basic options available in each of our NVR series.

Carbon: Carbon 40 Carbon 80 Carbon 160
POE Ports/CH 4/4 8/8 16/16
USB Interface 1 USB 2.0 & 1 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 1 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0
HDD Slots 1 2 2
Alarm In/Out 0/0 4/1 4/1

 

Obsidian: Obsidian 160 Obsidian 256 Obsidian 320
POE Ports/CH 16/16 16/32 24/32
USB Interface 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0
HDD Slots 4 4 4
Alarm In/Out 16/4 16/4 16/4

 

Titanium: Titanium 320 Titanium 400 Titanium 640
POE Ports 0/32 & 0/64 0/128 0/256
USB Interface 2 USB 2.0 & 1 USB 3.0 2 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 2 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0
HDD Slots 8 16 24
Alarm In/Out 16/4 16/8 16/8

 

Choosing The Lens for the Job

Our most commonly used cameras are Fixed Lens 2.8mm and 4mm cameras,  They generally do a great job covering areas indoors and out. The 2.8mm lens, with it’s ~100˚ Field of View, is great for covering small to medium sized rooms, areas in close proximity to a building, or other areas where you want to cover a broad zone.  

However, there are times when a wide Field of View isn’t ideal for the camera location.  Cameras looking down hallways or focused on objects that are more than 50 feet away would benefit from a lens with a more narrow Field of View.  A 6mm lens with 45˚ Field of View or even a 12mm lens with a ~25˚ Field of View would allow you to see an object that is farther away more clearly while cutting down on the peripheral view. If you’re unsure of what lens would work best or just want more flexibility, our varifocal line allows you to adjust the lens (most commonly from 2.8mm ~ 12mm) and dial in your field of view. As and added feature, our 4MP and 8MP Varifocal cameras are all motorized, so you can make these adjustments at the NVR.

When to Use a Bracket

Wall Mount Brackets for dome and turret style cameras not only make the installation look cleaner and more professional, they can also serve a functional purpose to help you get a better view with the camera by pushing the camera away from the wall. Most wall brackets come equipped with cable management boxes with conduit ports so all your connections can stay protected from the elements.

Back boxes are also very helpful when using conduit, or just as extra insurance that your camera is sealed off from the elements.  Most cameras have a corresponding back box available which provides a threaded hole for a 1” conduit, and in some cases an optional cable gland for ¾” flex pipe.

Pan Tilt Zoom Brackets come in a wide variety of configurations to select from when purchasing a PTZ.  PTZ Cameras can be mounted on a wall, a ceiling, a parapet, a pole, or the corner of a building.  When planning your job, select a location for your PTZ camera that will maximize it’s view through all degrees of rotation.  

Specialty Lens Cameras

You may often run into situations that require something different from a standard view camera, like a fisheye or panoramic camera.  

Fisheye Cameras

Fisheye cameras have one extremely wide angle lens and are great when you need a top-down perspective of something, like monitoring an entire warehouse, retail store, or monitoring operations of machinery.  Features like Heat Mapping, which is available on our Bullseye 4K camera, can actually help retail store owners tell where the most foot traffic occurs on their floor and stock high profit items accordingly.

One thing to consider about them is that the objects close to the edge of the picture may appear slightly distorted, it can also be hard to identify people from a top-down perspective in security situations.  These cameras perform best when paired with 1 or 2 fixed lens cameras monitoring the same area.

Panoramic Cameras

Slightly different from a Fisheye lens, a Panoramic camera has a similar wide angle view of 180˚ or 360˚, but with multiple lenses stitched together.  In the case of our Rampart 4K camera, it is comprised of 4 different lenses that generate a 1080p image each. These images are then stitched together in the camera and recorded as 1 in the recorder.

Panoramic cameras are great if you want to capture a broad view of an area like a parking lot or large room.  

PTZ Cameras

Pan Tilt Zoom cameras can be very beneficial in just about any installation scenario, and they’re a whole lot of fun for the customer operating them.  PTZ cameras can spin 360˚, be maneuvered up and down, and can usually zoom in and out via controls on the NVR or the Guarding Vision Mobile App.

If installing outdoors, a pole would be the most ideal mounting location as it would only obstruct a small portion of the rotation area.  If you don’t have a pole, the corner of a building is the next best thing, which will give you 270˚ of rotation. While most PTZ cameras are utilized outdoors, when mounting one indoors, it would be ideal to mount the camera in the center of the room to ensure you are able to utilize the full 360˚ rotation.

License Plate Recognition Cameras

LPR cameras are typically varifocal bullets with the added feature of being able to perform Character Recognition of any license plate the enters the view of that camera. Mounting position and angles are critical to getting proper reads on plates, so make sure you consult our documentation and guides before selecting a mounting location for this camera. Once setup, an LPR camera can be invaluable for gathering information on each and every car that enters your customer’s facility or campus.

Other Tips and Tricks

Having the right tools on the job make a huge difference. We suggest always having the following with you on every job:

A Laptop with and ethernet port. While most, if not all, configuration can be done on the NVR screen, we highly suggest performing these tasks with a computer of some kind. On this machine, we suggest having both the SADP networking scanner tool and the latest version of Guarding Expert Desktop Edition.

HDMI screen. While 99% of system configuration can be done via web browser or remote configuration in Guarding Expert Desktop Edition, there are a few small options that are only available on the Recorder itself for security reasons.

POE switch or POE injector. It sometimes may be necessary to access a camera directly independent of the recorder. While there are ways of configuring your laptop NIC to access cameras plugged into the back of the NVR, it’s far easier to just put the camera on the network and access it via a switch.

A Rundown of the New Gen3 Product Line

With a new year comes new technology! 2018 is bringing about some fundamental changes in the IP camera models you know and trust to make them even more reliable and functional. These changes include a shift to EXIR night vision on all models, more analytic options, and a longer POE range when paired with our NVRs. These changes can be found in our entire line of 4K cameras, and our Bola HD+, Dart HD+, and Slingshot HD+ options are being overhauled as well.

 

Generation IR Video Compression Analytics PoE Distance
Gen2 30 IR LEDs ~ 100ft Dual Stream H.264+/H.254/MJPEG Line Crossing Intrusion Detection Region of Interest 100m
Gen 3 EXIR ~ 100ft Three Streams H.265+/H.265/H.264+/H.264/MJPEG Line Crossing Intrusion Detection Region of Interest Face Detection  300m

EXIR Night Vision

You may be familiar with EXIR Night Vision if you’ve ever used our Slingshot or Javelin model of camera. This technology replaces the array of 30-40 LEDs that make up the standard IR that come on most models. EXIR does a much better job of illuminating the entire scene, where the old-school LED Arrays can leave the corners dark, creating a “halo effect.”

Advanced Analytic Options

Most of our camera models come with Motion Detection, Line Crossing, and recording on a Schedule as options for triggering recording and sending alerts. The Gen3 models also include more ways to tell a specific camera to record, like Region Entry/Exit, and Face Detection. These features will help you pinpoint more specific moments and hopefully will reduce false alarms while providing reliable recording when you need it.

Extended POE Range

One of the more annoying aspects of running IP cameras is the maximum distance of 100m (329ft) that you can run POE cameras over Cat5 or Cat6 cable. Our new Gen3 cameras are able to operate at a distance of 300m (900ft) without the use of an extender when paired with our NVRs and Cat6 cable, and 150m (500ft) using our NVR with Cat5.

Third Stream

The new Gen3 cameras will feature the ability to utilize 3 streams rather than the typical dual stream on standard models. This provides much more flexibility to users by allowing different data streams to be sent simultaneously. The first stream with high resolution and full frame rate can be used for main monitoring, the second stream with lower resolution can be used for mobile monitoring, the third stream with high, low, or dynamic resolution offers more flexible choices.

Ingress Protection Rating (IP66 and IP67)

Most of the cameras that we carry in our catalog are weatherproof, and we identify the camera’s level of tolerance to the extreme conditions with it’s Ingress Protection Rating. This “IP Code” (not to be confused with the IP address) was made to define how well devices like our IP cameras hold up against the elements, namely dust and water. In this article, we’ll go over what all of the different levels of Ingress Protection are, when to use the different IP ratings, and what varying degrees of Ingress Protection our products offer.

What do the numbers in the Ingress Protection rating mean?

The IP code always consists of two numbers after the letters “IP.” The first digit can range from 0-6, and represent the enclosure’s effectiveness at keeping out solid particulate, like dust. “0” would define something that has “No protection against contact and ingress of objects,” while the number “6” means that the enclosure allows “no ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight).” Refer to the chart below to see the full breakdown of all 7 categories defined in the first digit of an IP code.

First Digit

Level sized Effective against Description
0 No protection against contact and ingress of objects
1 >50 mm Any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part
2 >12.5 mm Fingers or similar objects
3 >2.5 mm Tools, thick wires, etc.
4 >1 mm Most wires, slender screws, large ants etc.
5 Dust protected Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment.
6 Dust tight No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight). A vacuum must be applied. Test duration of up to 8 hours based on air flow.

 

The second digit in the IP code refers to it’s resistance to water. This digit can range from 0-9, where “0” means that the device is not water resistant at all, and “9” is “protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.” The chart below has the specifics of all 10 levels of protection against harmful egress of water.

Second Digit

Level Protection against Effective against
0 None
1 Dripping water Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect on the specimen when mounted in an upright position onto a turntable and rotated at 1 RPM.
2 Dripping water when tilted at 15° Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15° from its normal position. A total of four positions are tested within two axes.
3 Spraying water Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either: a) an oscillating fixture, or b) A spray nozzle with a counterbalanced shield. Test a) is conducted for 5 minutes, then repeated with the specimen rotated horizontally by 90° for the second 5-minute test. Test b) is conducted (with shield in place) for 5 minutes minimum.
4 Splashing of water Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either: a) an oscillating fixture, or b) A spray nozzle with no shield. Test a) is conducted for 10 minutes. Test b) is conducted (without shield) for 5 minutes minimum.
5 Water jets Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6 Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6K Powerful water jets with increased pressure Water projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure, shall have no harmful effects. Found in DIN 40050, and not IEC 60529.
7 Immersion, up to 1 m depth Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).
8 Immersion, 1 m or more depth The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects. The test depth and duration is expected to be greater than the requirements for IPx7, and other environmental effects may be added, such as temperature cycling before immersion.
9 Powerful high temperature water jets Protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs. Smaller specimens rotate slowly on a turntable, from 4 specific angles. Larger specimens are mounted upright, no turntable required, and are tested freehand for at least 3 minutes at distance of 0.15–0.2 m.

 

Common Ratings And When To Use Them

All of our cameras are either IP66, IP67, or IP68 cameras. If proper weatherproofing practices are followed when the camera is installed, then the camera will stand up fine against rain, snow, and dust.

If the camera is going to be continuously drenched with water for 30 minutes or less from time to time, then you will need to go with at least an IP67 camera. An IP67 camera will perform well in situations where the camera might be splashed by waves or hit with water on a regular basis, like a carwash security system or other extremely wet environment.

While we don’t suggest it, if you have a camera that is going to be continuously submerged in water, then you would need to go with an IP68 camera. Our Exterior Vehicle IP Cameras are rated for this, in case they are installed on a boat or other marine vehicle.

 

Motion Detection In Security Cameras | When To Use It And Why Does It Suck (sometimes)?

One of the most popular features of security cameras is the ability to record only when something is happening in front of the camera. This has been the go to method for preserving that precious Hard Drive space, especially with resolutions always on the rise and with it recording storage demands. With event recording, you don’t have hours and hours of footage taking up space where nothing has happened. Up until now the most popular way of detecting an event is through motion.

How Does Motion Detection Work?

Motion detection is achieved by continuously monitoring each frame of video and averaging the background state of the scene, then if a significant portion of that scene (or percentage of pixels) changes from one frame of the video to the next, a motion event is triggered. For example, the camera is monitoring an empty hallway. Once a person enters the frame of the camera, the pixels that were of the floor and wall are now changed to the person. The camera logs a motion event and the recorder is told to begin recording. This technology was first introduced in analog security camera systems in the early-mid 2000s, but was fairly bad at giving accurate results. Unfortunately in the last decade, not much has changed.

Why Does Motion Detection Suck?

Motion detection events are still plagued with the same problems they had when they were first introduced. False positives from trees blowing in the wind, poor sensitivity, too much sensitivity, extreme shifts of lighting (i.e. a cloud moving in front of the sun), etc. have always caused this form of event detection to be less than useful. Some manufacturers have implemented the ability to exclude areas of the scene from triggering motion detection. For example, you can block out those trees that are always blowing in the wind, or the road traffic that is just visible at the edge of the parking lot. These features have helped, but never seem to work perfectly.
Another issue that needed to be solved was pre and post recording. In the early days, a motion event would occur and start recording, but you would inevitable miss the first couple seconds as the event was processed and the recorders Hard Drive spun up. Security Equipment Manufacturers solved this by building in a continuous buffer that always keeps the last few seconds or even minutes of video in memory. If a motion event occurs, the recorder knows to keep the buffered video and save it to the Hard Drive along with the footage from the point of the even on. But, even with these improvements, motion based recording still fails to be accurate enough to be useful in demanding surveillance and security applications.

So What Should I Use To Trigger Recording?

The advent of smart cameras and machine learning has opened up the market to a wide range of intelligent smart events that can be used to log and trigger many different aspects of your system. On the simple side of the spectrum, line crossing and region intrusion detection can be used in place of the relatively “dumb” motion detection. With line crossing, individual directions can be set to trigger and intrusion detection can require a certain amount of the region to be filled or that the object be present for a specified time threshold before an event is triggered. Some of the most advanced analytics include face detection, License Plate Reading and Logging, and People Counting. These advanced analytics can be used to more accurately monitor and interpret the actual events that are occurring in the surveyed area. Recording can now be triggered based on extremely specific criteria, such as if a specific license plate is detected, if there is a face seen, or if an object of significant enough size enters a specific region.

While motion detection has it’s place, it by no means is a complete or in many cases even a viable solution.

Contact an Arcdyn Sales rep today and ask about our line of smart cameras.

OEM / ODM Security Cameras | What Does It Mean and Why It Matters To Dealers.

If you’ve been in the surveillance industry for any amount of time, you have probably noticed that many of the cameras on the market look the same just with different logos on them from a myriad of different companies. The fact is that there are only a handful of companies that actually manufacture security cameras, and most security equipment wholesalers & retailers simply re-brand OEM / ODM (“Original Equipment Manufacturer” / “Original Design Manufacturer”) cameras and recorders. A good example of this from another industry would be television manufacturers. Almost every LED TV panel on the market is manufactured by either Samsung or LG. Every other brand of TV (Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Toshiba, Vizio, W/W, etc.) buys their panel from either of these two manufacturers.

In the surveillance market, there are over 50 wholesalers and retailers in the US that carry OEM Hikvision cameras and recorders, ourselves included. Our equipment is the same as the Hikvision USA branded equipment, it just doesn’t have their logo on it anywhere. Few companies are transparent about who manufactures their equipment, while most companies put their logo on the cameras and claim to be the manufacturer. Many of these same companies also choose to implement their own custom firmware to lock you into their products and prevent you from using apps or equipment from other sources. We would rather be honest and forward about where our equipment comes from and use generic firmware for ease of compatibility and to provide you the ability to use a wide variety of apps, viewing software, and equipment.

So what is the benefit of going with an OEM product, rather than a branded solution? First and foremost, you’ll get more personalized Tech Support based right here in the US. In addition to limited tech support for a lot of other brands of OEM Hikvision products if you are trying to integrate existing equipment with ours. Secondly, you can be sure that you’re avoiding “grey-market” or “China-market” equipment, which is typically what you get from sellers on open online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Newegg. This equipment is generally used / outdated equipment, or is loaded with firmware that is meant for use in another country, usually China. This can cause bricking issues or incompatibility with firmware updates and usually lack any support whatsoever from the seller.

So with an OEM product from Arcdyn, you get the benefits of a reliable product with more personalized and readily available tech support. With our generic firmware you can be sure that we are as compatible as you can get with your project. Plus, we are able to brand the product for you with out any minimums or extra cost. Contact Arcdyn today to open a dealer account.

The Cloud and Security Cameras. How To Store Your Surveillance Footage.

Cloud Security Cameras

As with everything in life, there are trade-offs when deciding where to store and how to secure your surveillance camera footage. Most options available fall into two main categories: Local Storage and Cloud Storage. In this article, I will walk you through the pros and cons of each and hopefully help in avoiding some pitfalls and misconceptions along the way. Continue reading “The Cloud and Security Cameras. How To Store Your Surveillance Footage.”

Alarm.com IP Security Camera Vulnerability – Never Fixed After 3 Years

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Originally posted to the /r/homedefense subreddit on Sept 30, 2013 by reddit user ahmadnassri, an exploit that could potentially expose your entire network to hackers has been released to the world. On Jan 10, 2017 ahmadnassri released a full walkthrough on how to hack into an alarm.com system and gain access to an extensive list of private data and devices.

The exploit was achieved by decompiling the JAVA player responsible for streaming live video feeds from the camera system. This gives a would be hacker easy access to alarm.com’s Master Key and in turn your camera system. While this exploit only applies to older models sold by dealers such as Vivint and Frontpoint Security, there are plenty of these models in the wild to cause concern.

The release of yet another security flaw found in security cameras and devices adds to the long list of vulnerabilities found in recent memory. Until the security industry and manufacturers that are creating devices for the Internet of things begins to take network security seriously we will continue to see dangerous exploits found and utilized.

In most cases, changing the default password on your equipment will protect you from an attack, but that unfortunately is not a sure bet when using cheap or poor quality systems. The old adage “you get what you pay for” always turns out to be true and in this case could mean the difference between your security or being a target.

Check out Arcdyn for professional and secure IP security camera systems