The Captain
Posts: 27
Registered: ‎03-06-2017

TP-Link NC250 Home Surveillance

With my recent posting of "Warning Ring Video Doorbell Fees" and the onslaught of opinions afterwards, I'm not sure that I should share with you my Home Surveillance system for fear that your opinions would dominate mine, but please note what I am writing about, is not an opinionate piece but rather it is "what I did last summer" for my home. If there are questions of why did I do what I did, my answer would be "it was for the best at that time." 


A year ago, my apartment manager had scheduled themselves to enter my apartment to remove my insect Screens in prep for the annual washing of the windows. Since I wasn't going to be home, I needed a cheap and effective way to monitor what they were doing in my home. 


I had considered purchasing Arlo at that time, but two things held me back from that purchase. 

1. no local recording

2. no idea if that turning off motion detection recording means that surveilance is completely off. 


So instead I bought five TP-Link NC250 from BestBuy and installed them around my apartment. They connect via Wi-fi so all you need is an outlet  You can set them up to motion detect and send you an e-mail with a snapshot of who or what activated the motion, and/or you can record and stream the video to a local PC. The cameras are also viewable from an iPhone App remotely to see what is going on within your home.


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To turn them on and off easily, I also purchased the iHome iSp5 Wi-fi SmartPlug from BestBuy. The smartoutlets can be integrated with Apples' Homekit thus allowing Siri Commands like "Turn on Cameras" or "Turn off Cameras".

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For the first month or so, I was using my Mac to record all activites but it soon became apparently that this was more of a chore than automatic since I had to start up the program just before I leave the house and everytime I did this my thoughts turned toward an Arlo purchase. 


To fully automate this I decided to pick up the Zotac Pi332 PC from Bestbuy. The Stock of this pc comes and goes at BestBuy and at this moment there is no link to it. However the PI332 is the size of a deck of cards and fits behind the books on my bookshelf comfortably. It even can connect via WiFi AC but to capture 5 streaming video cameras I am using a gigabit cable. For storage since the PC only has 32GB and 12GB is used for the system so I added a micro 64GB sd card.


It took awhile to configure the free iSpy program but once I got it up and running, it stays in the notification area running in the background. In addition you can configure the TP-Link cameras to motion caption only; no motion, no video stream.


Now when I head out of the house, all I do is say "Hey Siri, turn on Cameras" and the outlets to the cameras would turn on, thus turning on the cameras. The Zotac PC is always on, recording to the SD card when the cameras streams. When I get home I say "Hey Siri, turn off cameras" and the outlets would go off. 



The only problem with this whole setup is the Zotac Atom PC barely keeps up with 5 recording streams and this is at 480p rather than 720p. Now the problem may be the WiFi, so perhaps with gigabit cabling to each camera  we may get the full 720p recording.  Also automatic upgrade has been deactivated in Windows 10 plus a whole lot of software bloat had to be removed before the mini PC could be used as a micro server.


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I am using Microsoft Remote Desktop to check up the status of the system from time to time. The SD card is mapped out like a NAS device so all I need to do is mapped the SD card drive to my Mac to view any recorded events.


Local recording storage + Cameras off completely (no power) means a lot to me as I usually walk around the house in my very old wrinkly sagging birthday suit. 


p.s. for those that have read my Ring Video post and was astute enough to note that I live in an apartment with this post; yes I have a ring video on my apartment door, mainly for the mailman who actually delivers mail door to door. This mailman would deliver all my BestBuy goodies and during the summer I would sit out on my balcony and I would worry that I miss my deliveries. With Ring, I can sip on my Ice Tea, listen to music on my headphones and still be notified that the mailman is at the door. Orders from **competitor** would also be delivered by the mailman. For deliveries from UPS or Fed-ex from **competitor**, I can buzz them through the lobby doors and with the Ring, I can tell them just to leave the parcel at my door. Ring keeps an eye on my delivery. 



Once again Thanks for reading and the only reason that I'm posting this here is that I did buy all this stuff from BestBuy. 


BTW All my lights switches and light outlets are lutron caseta (also bought from BestBuy and it is a blast in my home as I use Siri on my Apple watch to turn on and off my lights.  Unfortunately I am using the cheapest Security alarm I could find; the SkylinkNet Security and it does not integrate with Siri.