Here is a brief overview of how to set up your own wireless webcam to watch your house, your pet, or the action at your backyard bird feeder. If you have broadband internet and do this right, it is possible to configure it so you check out what the camera is broadcasting from almost anywhere. It is best to have broadband internet for this application because video is fairly resource intensive and can run very slowly if there is insufficient bandwidth available.
You do not have to go wireless. A camera can also be set up using ethernet, but it adds to the amount of cabling involved. Wireless cameras are specifically designed to be used this way and it just generally works better to use the type of equipment intended for the task in question.
1) Choose a Spot to Place the Camera
You will want to choose a place with good reception and convenient access to a power source. If the spot you choose has poor wifi reception, it won’t be able to stream video, which takes a fair amount of bandwidth. You can use another wireless network device which has already been configured, like a laptop, to check the reception of any spots you are considering. If it is not near a power source, you will need to run an extension cord. There can be problems with running an extension cord. It can be a tripping hazard and can potentially become unplugged.
2) Check for Competing Wireless Networks
You can use a stumbler app to see if your neighbors have competing networks on the same channel. If they do, this could cause problems, making it difficult for devices on your network to connect with one another. If you find competing networks using the same channel as the one you designated for your home network, you can switch the channel your network is using.
3) Configure the Wireless Camera
The details will vary some from camera to camera. Generally speaking, you will need to plug the camera in near your computer and run a set up wizard. This should be on a CD included with the camera. If the first attempt does not work, check the settings. You may need to do an update and run the wizard again. In some cases, you may need to turn off an antivirus program or firewall to get the camera set up. For many cameras, the easiest way to configure it is to initially connect it via ethernet and run the set up wizard while it has a physical connection, then turn off the ethernet connection to make sure it will pick up the wireless signal.
4) Put it in Place and Tweak the Focus
Once it is configured, you can remove it from the ethernet cable and take it to whatever spot you picked out. This is a good time to check the image and the focus. Is it clear and crisp for the spot you want to be looking at? One way to check this is to place a book or other item with print at the spot in question and see if it is readable. If not, go into the settings and adjust the resolution, brightness and so on.
5) Enable Motion Detection and Email Alerts
You probably do not actually want to just sit and watch everything on the camera. If you enable motion detection, you can get an email any time something trips the camera. That is more useful for most people than simply setting it to “always on”. You can go into Setup to enable motion detection and also email alerts. Once you have configured the email address you want it sent to, it can send images every time it detects movement.
This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Broadband Expert where you can find broadband internet providers in your area and compare prices on different deals for your mobile broadband needs.
(Image by jonrawlinson, CC by 2.0, via Flickr)