H.View Cameras Blueiris and Doorbird – Playing Nicely Together
I needed a means of keeping a continual, watchful eye on Dad – to check he is ok, visitors are social distancing and shoo away any unneeded visitor at the front door from 180 miles away. There are tons of options and hence buying risks due to the complex compatibility considerations.
I wanted to use – Blueiris to monitor CCTV at a premises 180 miles away
I thought it would be good if I could use the – Blueiris CCTV NVR software I currently use to monitor/record my own CCTV cameras, to monitor/record the CCTV Camera’s I was planning on installing at my Dad’s. I was not at all sure it would work – but that solution ticked many boxes so having a crack at setting it up seemed a no-brainer.
It made sense to start with getting the biggest broadband packages we could reasonably afford at either end. I already had a Virgin Business 300mb Voom broadband package and I thought it would be sensible to get dad setup with a basic Business Broadband package. It may seem strange that I selected the dynamic IP option, but I am aware that my own fixed IP option was initially problematic and if the dynamic IP was as sticky as the residential setup it should not be a problem. Also if the worst came to the worst – I knew I could use my dyndns app which was compatible with Blueiris – to update the IP address if it changed frequently enough to become a pain. So we now have a platform with a decent network speed to build on.
Ethernet Cables Switches and Routing considerations
As I have mentioned many times before, the easiest way to compromise reliability and performance of any WiFi network – is to bog it down with bandwidth hungry devices. High resolution CCTV cameras are no exception and hence the strategy for the whole network was – to connect anything which had an ethernet port using Cat 7 ethernet Cables and remove any WiFi antenna from the devices. I created a logical network distribution structure, positioning the POE switches required to provide power to the cameras via the Cat 7 ethernet cables. The design featured 3 hubs which where just convenient, out of the way locations with domestic power nearby and I selected 2 x 8 port switches, featuring 4 x POE ports and a 5 x port switch also featuring 4 x POE ports.
Spending time getting this right and considering the best way to hide/manage the ethernet cables pays real dividends because all that is needed is a spare port to add further switches if expansion is needed at a later time.
Choose your Cat7 cable carefully. This one is durable, flat and hence can be hidden under door strips and behind carpet grippers. Available in numerous lengths.
H.View Cameras – 4K and low cost
So switches and cables in my basket – I had a trawl through amazon and found the H.View CCTV camera range certainly appeared reasonably priced at less than 90 quid and it was the only CCTV camera on Amazon claiming to be 4k / 8mp. I was also looking for POE cameras, as not having to worry about a separate power supply – I found extremely convenient when installing my own cameras.
|Click to see on Amazon||Click to see on Amazon|
They also appeared to be labelled as suitable for indoor or outdoor use – So I ended up ordering 6 x H.View cameras in addition to my cables and switches. When they arrived I noted the cameras had no option to use with a power supply and no WiFi, which is fine and now stacks up given the low cost camera and as I had already decided Ethernet/POE would be used anyway. This all seemed to be going very well indeed and having selected 2 x cameras (Porch and Hall) for the initial pilot, I thought everything was looking good.
Be mindful of subnets – Fast forward past the boring of holes and running the ethernet cable from the Virgin Hitron Router to the 4 x port switch at the front of the house – I connected everything and powered up, logging into the Hiton Router expecting to see the 2 x H.View cameras in the list of devices connected to the DHCP server. They were not there – but a quick look at the camera packaging, revealed that the default IP subnet on the camera was masked due to the difference in the way the network was setup. The camera was formatted – 192.168.1.xxx (subnet mask: 255.255.255.0) and the network setup was 192.168.0.xxx (subnet mask: 255.255.255.0) the subnet mask causes the only the last part of the IP address (octet) to be recognised, effectively putting the cameras on a different subnet. However, having had a google – I downloaded the IPC app from the H.View website, which immediately found the cameras on the neighbouring subnet and it was pretty easy to enter the default username and password and change the camera IP addresses. At this point I was able to login to the cameras directly in Safari using the IP addresses I had set and get into the camera settings. In hindsight – I think another solution would have been to temporarily change the network subnet mask to 255.255.0.0 to make the camera subnets visible to the router – but that is not what I did so can’t claim the victory for that. First milestone achieved – more on this later.
Doorbird – Door-Phone/Camera
Despite the popularity of the Riing door-phone system – our goal was to monitor the door intercom camera via Blueiris and connect it to the network via ethernet, so the Riing was not to the first choice for the job. I also had my own experience with the entry level Doorbird door-phone to reference and it worked fine, although the 720p camera was undoubtedly an opportunity for improvement. So we decided to invest in the premium priced, higher spec Doorbird door-phone unit which featured a 1080p camera.
The front hub was not that far from the front door so it was a relatively straight forward job to install the flush mounted unit on the door frame and run the Cat 7 cable through some narrow gauge plastic trunking. Having plugged it into the switch – I was pleased to hear “Successfully Connected to Internet” meaning the nice shiny white power supply unit would not be needed as it detected the POE power and burst into life. Having installed the Doorbird app on Dad’s IPhone it was only a couple of minutes work, to run through the setup wizard and we were receiving the door bell notification on the phone and chatting with the person at the front door. Second milestone achieved, more on this later.
Doorbird – IP Chime
When designing smart home systems for the elderly it is absolutely crucial that notifications can be heard with hearing aids on or off. So despite the success with the IPhone setup I decided to invest in the IP Chime to ensure the door bell could be heard downstairs no matter where the IPhone was. It was actually a no brainer as again the IP chime is POE ready and the plan to mount it on the side of the cupboard containing one of the POE switches had it up and running very quickly as it is just another wizard to run through in the iPhone Doorbird app.
Setting up Remote Access
Having successfully commissioned the 2 x camera pilot also the Doorbird door-phone/camera and IP-Chime, it was time to think about the potential challenges of monitoring remotely via Blueiris after traveling 180 miles home. Everything was now working perfectly locally and my aim was to be able to access every device individually, remotely as that should satisfy the requirements of Blueiris. I logged into the cameras and set fixed unique IP addresses, also unique port numbers for the different ports. It should be noted that the Doorbird door-phone/camera does not have the facility to change port number so these were left as default but I changed everything else. I then logged into the Hitron Router and set the IP reservations for these, provisioning all others via the DHCP server. I also whitelisted all of the devices in the Firewall section of the router, then setup port forwarding effectively making each device accessible via the single WAN IP address simply by using a different port number. It all worked perfectly with my mac tethered to my IPhone hotspot – simulating remote access, so I was set.
Setting up Blueiris
Having arrived home I sat in front of the Windows 10 machine running Blueiris and setup a new camera. I got that sinking feeling when I realised that there was no selectable H.View Camera preset profile in the dropdown. However, I noticed there was a Generic ONVIF – Option so selected that – plugging in my Dad’s WAN IP and the port numbers of the first camera.
Having restarted the camera it burst into life. The 4k picture was absolutely fantastic, so I setup everything else in the same way. There was actually a Doorbird option for setting up the Doorbird Camera which did not work first time, but having fiddled with a few of the Blueiris options that burst into life too.
Mission accomplished and the Video streams were running at about 20fps and stunningly sharp, it all seemed too good to be true. I gave dad a call and watching him on the phone from 180 miles away I realised that the only consideration is approximately a 4 second delay between the phone and the Video stream, however this was not an issue at all and the 1080p video stream from the Doorbird device was also stunning. Clear enough to make out the registration number for cars coming to the bottom the the close. The Doorbird video stream visible in the IPhone app automatically shuts off after 3 mins so being able to view/record the camera feed in this way 24/7 was very useful. The Doorbird audio also worked when setup in Blueiris, but in this mode the local speaker was constantly hissing and the audio in the Doorbird app stopped working. All H.View cameras have microphones and the transmitted audio is really good quality and is recorded in Blueiris. Having clicked on a camera in Blueiris the audio stream can be heard and it matches the video stream timing despite the overall 4 second transmission delay.
However, leaving Audio disabled in Blueiris enabled me to see people approaching in Blueiris firing up the Doorbird app to say hello and join in any conversations at the front door. So both Dad and I have a Doorbird app on our iPhones and when anyone comes to the door it rings on both phones. I concluded that striking up conversation in this way – unexpectedly would never get old. However, in reality – I knew I could now send unwanted callers packing without Dad even having to come to the door.
I am very impressed, with with the cheap H.View 4k POE only cameras and the Doorbird app is fantastic I did not expect real time high quality video steams with succinct audio and to this day the 4 second transmission delay does not actually have any impact at all.