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How to Setup Cheap Security Cameras – A DIY Tutorial

How to Setup Security Cameras

At the children’s home where I work we use security cameras to keep the children safe at night.  The cameras beep our smart phones (iPod Touches actually) if any motion is detected during certain hours.  Since orphanage safety is something very important to me, I wanted to pass on how to set up a cheap security system.  While I use it in a children’s home, it should work for any who wants to setup a surveillance system.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of this tutorial.  I went into extra detail to make sure that novices would be able to follow the instructions.  The setup is usually quick and easy.

By the end of the tutorial you will be able to monitor your security cameras on your smart phone (see screenshot below) and you will receive push motion alerts, during scheduled hours.  Do not worry if you do not have a smart phone, I also show how to setup email alerts.

iCam App Screen Shot

This is what you will have by the end of this tutorial.

What you will need

  • Loftek Nexus 543 - The 543 is a great camera for the price ($79.99 – 11/2013)Internet Connection (for motion alerts)
    • Features: Night Vision, Wireless (802.11n) and Wired network, Motion Alerts, Internal and External use
  • Email alerts VS iCam alerts

    Email VS iCam alerts - Click to enlarge

    Wireless Router (if you do not already have one)

  • A short networking cable.  This is only used to set up the 543, you will not need it permanently.
  • A device that receives the motion alert:
    • iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad or Android Smart Phone (I use an iPod Touch, you can find some here for under $100)
      • iCam app This app receives motion alerts and live camera feeds ($4.99 – 11/2012)
      • iCamSource – This program runs on a computer and monitors the cameras for motion (free)
    • Computer – Be sure that the computer is in a room where a you will hear the motion alert.
      • POP Peeper – The Nexus 543 sends email motion alerts.  POP Peeper is a free program that plays a sounds when an email is received.

Getting Started

First you need to do a site survey to see how many cameras you will need and confirm that there is a network connection and power source in the area you wish to install the camera.

How many cameras do you need?
Loftek Nexus 543 Security Camera Mounted Sideways

To increase the coverage in the hallways, I mounted the camera sideways.

If you are planning on monitoring multiple areas, it is a good idea to survey the area to make sure that cameras will provide good visual coverage.  The Nexus 543 has a 67 degree viewing angle, which is somewhat narrow for security cameras.  Because of this, the 543 works well for monitoring hallways, but is not able to provide %100 coverage of a room even when using two cameras in opposite corners, where at least a 90 degree viewing angle would be necessary.

In my case, I have the cameras pointed down the long hallway into which the children’s doors open.  This allows me to use one camera to monitor anyone who leaves their room during sleeping hours.  To increase the coverage in the hallways, I mounted the camera sideways. In the play area, I mounted two cameras in opposite corners.   They do not have %100 coverage, however they are able to see the all of the popular play stations.  We also always have a caregiver supervising the children while they are playing.

Checking for a Wifi Signal & Power

Once you have figured out where you would like to install cameras, you will need to check and see if there is a network connection.  The Nexus 543 security camera is able to connect both over a wired and a wireless connection.  I have found that the camera’s wireless range is pretty good.

As a preliminary test, hold a laptop near the area where the camera will be mounted.  If you are able to get a wireless network connection and surf the net, then the camera will likely work fine. If not, you will want to test moving the wireless router or consider buying a wireless repeater (range extender).  You could consider adding a new wireless router, however, connecting the camera to iCam will become more difficult as you will have to set up NAT, something not covered in this tutorial.  The email alerts, however will still work, even if the cameras and the computer receiving the email alerts are connected to different routers.

The security camera also needs to have an electrical connection.  So there will need to an outlet close by.  I have not had outlets near any of the sites where I have mounted cameras.  I had to run electrical lines through channels mounted on the wall.  You may need to talk to an electrician.

Connecting the Nexus 543 to a Network

Once you have your locations and the security cameras have arrived, you will need to configure them before you install them.  This consists of connecting to the cameras and assigning them an IP address and configuring the wireless network settings.  To complete this step you will need a computer and networking cable, the camera, camera power supply and networking cable, and lastly the CD that comes with the Loftek Nexus 543.   Alternatively you can download the camera setup software here, just click the link labeled “BSearch_en.”

Getting Everything Wired

Out of the box the Nexus 543 does not have a IP address (network address).  Before it can connect to a network, this needs to be configured.  To do this initial configuration you will use a program called BSearch_en.exe.  BSearch is not a very reliable program so I will guide you through a “fail safe” setup.

Wiring diagram for configuring the Security Camera, Loftek Nexus 543 with BSearch_en

Wiring diagram for configuring the 543 with BSearch.  Click to enlarge.

  1. Plug the camera into its power supply and use a networking cable to connect it directly to your wireless router. This needs to be the same router that it will connect to later wirelessly.
  2. Plug a computer into the same wireless router using a networking cable. I have had problems with BSearch not working over a computer’s wireless connection. Also BSearch seems to run better on XP than Windows 7, so if you have a Computer with XP, use it.
  3. Next you will need to turn the Windows Firewall off on the computer that will run BSearch.
    • Windows 7 – Click the Windows Logo (Start) -> Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Firewall -> On the left, click Turn Windows Firewall on or off. Under both Home and Public, select Turn off Windows Firewall and click OK.  BE SURE to reverse this process when you are done using BSearch!
    • Windows XP – Follow these directions
Find the Camera with BSearch
Right click and select Run as administrator

Right click and select Run as administrator

Now that you have everything prepared, right-click on BSearch_en.exe (from the CD or file you downloaded) and select Run as administrator.  A window will open asking if you want to allow this program to make changes, select yes.  When the BSearch window opens, click the Search button in the bottom left corner or hit F3 on your keyboard.  BSearch should find your camera and list it in the Device List.

What to do if BSearch does not find your camera
  • Make sure that your Windows Firewall is off
  • Check the cables, is everything connected?
  • Restart your router by unplugging it for thirty seconds, restart the security camera in the same way, and restart your computer.
  • If that does not resolve your problem, try using a different computer.
  • If you get this error message – “SEUdpCreateEnv()…” when you run BSearch, it means that you will have to run BSearch from a different computer. If you are familiar with VMWare, try running BSearch from a virtual machine running XP.
Setup an IP address with BSearch
Configuring the Loftek Nexus 543 with BSearch, screenshot

Configuring the 543 with BSearch, click to enlarge.

Once BSearch finds your camera, you can select it from the Device List.  Once you have selected it you can now assign it an IP address. IP addresses are a set of four numbers separated by periods that are used to identify devices on a network.  Thankfully, you don’t have to understand what I just said to be able to do this step. First, you need to find your computer’s IP address.  Take a look at the screen shot on the right, look at the IP address on the top left side.  In my case, my computer’s IP address is 192.168.1.186.  Most likely your IP address will be similar to one of these examples:

  • 192.168.1.100
  • 192.168.0.100
  • 10.0.0.100
  • 10.1.1.100
Once you find it, jot it down as your “computer’s IP address.”

When you choose an address for you security camera, you will only need to change the last set of numbers (100 in the examples above.)  You are free to pick a number between 2 and 254, though it is best to avoid 100-150.  I suggest using 201.  If you have multiple cameras you can then use 202, 203, etc, for cameras 2 and 3 respectively. Here are a few examples:

  • 192.168.1.201
  • 192.168.0.201
  • 10.0.0.201
  • 10.1.1.201

To enter the camera’s address, click on the IP address on right side of the screen and type in the first three sets of numbers from your computer’s IP address (e.g. 192.168.1).  For the fourth set of numbers type in 201, unless you chose a different address. You should now have something like 192.168.1.201 entered in as the IP address. Be sure to jot down the security camera’s IP address, as you will need this! Next, copy over the Subnet mask and Gateway from box on the left to the box on the right. The camera’s subnet mask and gateway should match the computer’s. Next, the DNS1 should be the same as the Gateway. The HTTP port should remain 80. Lastly, fill out the text boxes in the Authentication box, using the default password:

  • Account for watching: admin
  • Password for watching: 123456

Click Update to save these settings to the camera.  The camera will now restart. After about one minute, click Search in the BSearch window.  Your camera will appear, select it and click Browse.  A browser window will now open and you will be prompted for a username (admin) and password (123456).  You can now proceed to the next step.

Connecting the Nexus 543 to WiFi
The Loftek Nexus 543 (Security Camera) Homepage

The security camera’s browser selection page

Now that you have configured most of the 543′s network settings you can now set it up to connect to a wireless network.

For the sake of this tutorial, I will assume that you are using a browser other than Internet Explorer, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

First, make sure that the security camera is plugged into the router with a networking cable.  If you do not have the camera opened in a browser window, you can do so by opening a  browser and then by typing in the camera’s IP address in the address bar.

Before the page loads you will be prompted for a username (admin) and password (123456), enter those and hit OK.   You should now see a webpage that looks like the one in the image above.

Click the Mode 2 link.

Configuring Wireless Network with the Loftek Nexus 543 security camera

Setting up a wireless network

You should now see the camera feed as well as a few tabs across the top of the page.

  1. Click the Network tab.
  2. Click the Wireless Settings link.
  3. Click the Scan button.
  4. Select your wireless network from the Wireless Network List box.
  5. Check the Using Wireless Lan check box.
  6. Select the type of encryption your wireless router uses from the drop down box and then type your password into the Share Key box.  If you are not sure what kind of encryption your router uses, just check out this article.

When everything is filled out, click submit.  The security camera will now restart itself.  Once it has finished restarting, you can unplug the networking cable that connects the Nexus 543 to the router as it should now connect via the wireless connection.  Make sure that you have installed the antennae that comes with the camera.

To make sure that the Nexus is configured correctly, refresh the security camera’s browser window.  If it loads that means that your camera is connected to the wireless network.  If it does not load, first try unplugging the power cable and plugging it back in.  Give it a minute to start up and then try to reload the page again.  If it still does not connect, you will need to plug it back in to your router and go back and re-check the network settings with BSearch and then verify the the wireless configuration.

Mounting the Camera

Mounted Security Camera

Mounting Bracket
Image from Amazon

Now that you have the wireless network setup you can install the camera in place.  The Nexus 543 comes with a mounting bracket that allows it to swivel and be mounted sideways if desired.  The mounting bracket has three screw holes, however I have mounted all of the cameras I have installed by super gluing them to the wall.

I have not had outlets near any of the sites where I have mounted cameras.  I had to run electrical lines through channels mounted on the wall.  You may need to talk to an electrician.

To aim the cameras, I suggest using a smart phone.  Just connect to the same wireless router and type in the camera’s IP address into the smart phone’s browser.  Type in the username (admin) and password (123456) and select the Mobile view link.  You will now see a live feed of the camera as you adjust it.

Setting up Motion Alerts

Email alerts VS iCam alerts

Email alerts VS iCam alerts

Once the camera is in place you can setup motion alerts.  There are two ways to setup motion alerts.  Either you can receive an email when motion is sensed or you can receive an alert on your smart phone.  Check out the info graphic on the right to see a comparison of these two types of alerts.

To summarize, iCam ($4.99 – 11/2012) is a great app.  iCam does require a smart phone.  If you do not have one (I don’t) you could get an iPod Touch.  iPod Touches are basically iPhones without cellular capability. That means they are much cheaper and do not require a contract.  To run iCam you will need a third generation iPod Touch or newer.  You can check them out here, where you will find some used iPods for under $100.

Once you have made your decision, select a tab below to see how to set up motion alerts.

  1. Download the iCamSource software.
  2. Install iCamSource by accepting all defaults (by clicking Next until done).  If you are asked, by sure to allow an exception in the Windows Firewall.
  3. Run iCamSource.  Just click on the Start/Windows button, you will find the iCamSource shortcut in the iCam folder.
  4. iCam setup

    iCam Setup Click to Enlarge

    Enter the following information into the window (refer to the image on the right)

    • Enter the URL of the video feed.  To get the URL, log in to the camera from your browser and right click on the video feed and select Copy image URL. Paste that URL into the URL box in iCamSource
    • The Camera Login is admin and the password is 123456.
    • The iCam Login and Password can be what ever you want them to be.  The only important part is that you use the same login and password in the iCam app
    • Check the Auto-Start box so that iCamSource starts up with Windows
    • When everything is ready, click Start.
    • You should now see the camera footage.  If not, verify the URL, camera login and password.  You will have to click Stop first to be able to change those settings.
  5. iCamSource, Configuring Motion Detection

    Configuring Motion Detection Click to Enlarge

    Next click on the Motion Detection tab.

    • Make sure that the check box by Enable Motion Detection is checked.
    • Check the boxes by Send Notifications and Record Motion.
    • Leave the More/Less Sensitivity slider the way it is.  As you use the camera you can adjust this as needed.
    • If you would like to setup areas to be ignored by the motion detection, check the box next to Detection Zones. And then you can block out certain areas by clicking on them.  For example, in the image I have iCam set to ignore the door, just in case it blows in the wind.
  6. iCam Schedule Tab

    iCam Schedule Tab Click to Enlarge

    Now click the Schedule tab.

    • You can put motion recording and motion alerts on separate schedules.
    • Hit the plus button to add a time.
    • Check the boxes according to state at which you wish iCam to be and set the time.  Hit the plus button to add another time, or the minus button to delete an entry.
    • Also note the Every Day drop down box which allows you to schedule changes based on the day of the week.
    • Check the image on the right for an example schedule
    • Your computer is now setup!
  7. iCam App

    Setting up the iCam App

    Lastly, You need to configure your smart phone.

    • Open the iCam app and tap on the “i” icon on the bottom right of the screen.
    • Type in the iCam Login and Password that you entered into iCam source (not the camera’s password.)
    • Tap Done and you should see the camera footage.
    • Tap the camera feed and it will zoom in.  Tap again in the center of the screen and it will reveal a menu.  You can then tap on View Motion Events (top right) to see recorded footage.

That’s it!  You have finished setting up your security camera.

Loftek Nexus 543 Creating Scheduled Motion Alerts

Creating Scheduled Motion Alerts

  1. First you will need to open your camera in a browser window.  Just type the camera’s IP address into the address bar and hit enter.
  2. Click the Mode 2 link and then click the Alarm tab.
  3. Under Alarm Settings, check the Motion Detection Armed and the Send Mail on Alarm check boxes.
  4. Leave the Motion Detection Sensibility at 5 for now, you can return and adjust it later as needed.
  5. Next, select the Schedule radio button.  Each small block represents 15 minutes.  By clicking a box it turns blue meaning that motion detection is on.  If you double click an block you will toggle the entire hour.
  6. Once you are done click Submit.
  7. Click Email Settings from the side bar.
  8. Fill the form out as shown in the image on the right. As it is not possible to provide instructions for all email addresses, I will explain how to setup motion alerts to sent via a Gmail account.  The can be sent to any email address.

    Configuring Email Alerts with the Loftek Nexus 543

    Configuring Email Alerts

    • Sender – This is who the email will appear to be from.  It does not need to be the actual address the email is sent from.
    • Receiver 1-5 – This are the addresses that will receive the alert.  You only need to fill in one.
    • SMTP server – smtp.gmail.com
    • SMTP port – 587
    • Transport Layer… – STARTTLS
    • Check the Need Authentication box.
    • For SMTP User and Password put in your Gmail email address and password.
    • Click Submit
    • Click Test.  If it passes the test you should get a notification in your browser as well as an email in your inbox.  If the email went to your spam box, be sure to put the address on your contact list.  This should ensure that the emails won’t be labeled as spam.

That it!  You have setup motion alerts.

One tip, you can use a program called POP Peeper to play sounds when email is received.  You may want to setup a new email address specially for motion alerts so that you do not get woken up in the night by people wanting to sell you Viagra.

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below!

 

 (Featured image from Amazon.com)

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About

Jake has worked for eight years in an orphanage in Brazil. Currently he is also advocating for foster care in the region he lives in, with the goal of moving children out of institutions and into families.

2 Comments to How to Setup Cheap Security Cameras – A DIY Tutorial
    • cnymike
    • Great tutorial for connecting the Nexus 543 to a LAN. But how do you connect it to the WAN so that you can view if from any computer?

      • Benjamin
      • @Cnymike The app should allow you to view both the live feed and motion events from WAN. However, I do not think that you can view them outside the app. Here are a couple options for viewing from the Internet:

        • You could forward the camera’s ports through your router and make them accessible on the internet. Though this will depend your ISP.
        • The 543 can upload motion events to a remote server via FTP, but it wont be able to upload the live feed.

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