How To Make An Advanced Wireless Video Baby Monitor

27 04 2010

So, a while back, I wrote about making your own video baby monitor. This has worked very well, with one exception: at night. The webcam I used doesn’t cope very well at night, and since you are going to want to monitor your baby mostly at night, then I guess that is pretty fail. So, I got myself a new IP / Network webcam, this time a real cheapo Chinese joby from eBay.  One of these:

Now, this camera actually isn’t half bad. It’s got 10 IR LEDs for night vision, it claims to be 10MP, but I am not so sure about that, however the picture quality is fine. It also has audio in and out. Now, sadly, the audio in is pretty terrible, very smothered and fuzzy. I think that is partly down to the low bit rate it uses, but also because the microphone is blocked by the bodywork, which I’ll try and fix one day. The cool thing is that it has pan and tilt built in, so you can move it around to get something in picture, so you haven’t got to get up to move the camera if your baby has moved around somewhere.

The only issue I came across, was getting a video feed WITH audio out of this thin on Linux. It offers an ActiveX solution for IE, but only a video feed for FireFox, without audio (the fact it offers any FireFox compatibility at all is pretty cool). Now, the webcam doesn’t advertise what it is, since it turns out it is a rip off a webcam made by Fosscam. It is actually a Netwave IP camera. This was my major hurdle in working out how to use it. After literally hours and hours or googling and posting on metafi I finally found out how to get an video stream with audio out of it. It turns out the solution is quite simple, you just use this address in VLC’s streaming media source input:

http://IPADDRESS:PORT/videostream.asf?user=admin&resolution=32

Of course, if you changed the username, change it here and if you have a password, then add &pwd=PASSWORD or whatever it is. I found this address from an awesome PDF that lists all the Fosscam’s cgi commands and since the Netwave is a ripoff of the Fosscam, it uses the same commands.

You can find the PDF here: http://www.drivehq.com/file/df.aspx/publish/bubbah/PublicFolder/IPCAMCGISDKV1.7.pdf

There are loads of other options, you can basically configure the whole camera through cgi calls, though, beware, you can mess up and lock yourself out of the camera if you don’t know what you are doing. Here are a snippet of some of the commands:

Take a photo: /snapshot.cgi[?user=&pwd=&next_url=] Parameters user:username pwd:password next_url:the name of snapshot

Use server push mode to send videostream (no audio) /videostream.cgi[?user=&pwd=&resolution=] Parameters user:username pwd:password Resolution:8:320*240 32:640*480

Send videostream in asf format, only support vlc player and mplayer (with audio): /videostream.asf[?user=&pwd=&resolution=] Parameters user:username pwd:password Resolution: 8:320*240 32:640*480

Get device status info: /get_status.cgi Parameters now:The count of seconds form 1970-1-1 0:0:0 to now alarm_status: 0:no alarm  1:motion alarm 2:input alarm ddns_status:DDNS status upnp_status:UPNP status

Get camera params: /get_camera_params.cgi[?user=&pwd=] Parameters user:username pwd:password Resolution: 8: 320*240 32: 640*480 Brightness: 0-255 Contrast: 0-6 Mode: 0: 50hz 1: 60hz 2 outdoor format Flip: 0: initial 1: vertical rotate 2: horizontal rotate 3: vertical + horizontal rotate

Set misc parameters of camera:  /set_misc.cgi?[led_mode=&ptz_center_onstart=&ptz_auto_patrol_interval=&ptz_auto_patrol_type=&ptz_patrol_h_rounds=&ptz_patrol_v_rounds=&next_url=]
Parameters Led_mode: 0:mode1 1:model2 2:shut off the led Ptz_center_onstart: =1 Ptz_auto_patrol_interval, =0: no auto rotating Ptz_auto_patrol_type: 0:no rotate 1:horizontal 2: vertical 3: horizontal + vertical

I can also access the camera through it’s http interface or by using an Android app called IP Camera Lite, which allows me to pan and tilt the camera remotely.

Anyway, using this method, I now have a remote controllable camera that has really good night vision and with audio, all viewable via VLC. Sample nigh time pictures to follow 😉

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8 responses

7 11 2010
Nick

Very useful information. Thank you for posting this.
I’ve had one of these cheapo ip cameras for ages.
I had left it ignored stuck in a drawer because of it’s reliance
on horrible ActiveX.
But after reading you post I was gob-smacked when I worked in VLC

7 11 2010
prupert

It’s great to be free of IE isn’t it 😉

If you have an Android phone, you can use an app called IP Cam that allows you to view the video feed, listen to the audio and control it via Pan and Tilt. It is pretty awesome 😉

But yeah, being freed from IE is brill.

Glad to have helped.

13 02 2011
techdad

VLC is an option for using these IP cameras as baby monitors.
I also tried this option. But these cameras may have noisy audio input; therefore VLC is not useful for audio monitoring most of the time. I developed a simple and free Baby Monitor application (Windows) for IP Cameras; you can have a look at it. http://www.smartbabymonitor.com. It’s able to alarm on audio activity and remove the noise. Audio monitoring is available with MayGion IP cameras (from http://www.dealextreme.com) only at the moment.

21 05 2011
Good Idea at the Time » Blog Archive » Ultimate Baby Monitor (for geeks)

[…] The camera has a lot of hidden functions built into it. Most are accessed through hitting URLs in it and kicking off some CGI magic. I found out about these while working on my own Ultimate Baby Monitor project, and found somebody else’s. […]

18 06 2011
Robert

Thank you for this posting. I was trying to research a good IP-based baby monitor alternative and have just ordered the camera based on this information (even finding the same ad art).

However, being an evil American, I was also very interested in the even less expensive Lonestar brand cameras shipping from within the US, which appear to have the identical case but make reference to a Taiwanese Winbond processor. But, I wasn’t sure in this case if that might mean other changes that might make some of these commands you’ve provided fail to work, and given the limited time available for setup due to my delays in ordering before baby’s arrival, I went with the one you got.

But to assuage my jingoistic guilt, I have recommended the Lonestar to my employer (it will suit his needs admirably), and if purchased I will take the opportunity to test it for compatibility with VLC and Linux using the techniques you’ve provided. I’ll report back then if possible.

8 11 2012
Build your own baby monitor revisited « prupert

[…] a while ago I wrote about my attempts to make my own video baby monitor. I had also written about a few other approaches as well, but they were pretty involved and complex […]

30 04 2013
JōnZ (@jtjonz)

Thank you so much for this! All I needed was the right url to get the audio to work with my camera. It only took me a couple hours thanks to you. I was looking at the source code for the camera’s viewing webpage for a while to no avail.

20 03 2015
Baby SideKick

Thank you for posting! Baby Sidekick is the most comprehensive baby tracking application on the Market. It has graphical reports and trending charts, weekly averages and much more. For more visits: http://www.babysidekick.com/

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