PC cam for home security monitoring

In a previous article, Spare smartphone security camera, I explored using an old phone as a security camera that I could monitor remotely on my current phone & through PC Browser. That was pretty successful. The Alfred Security Cam app is good at managing the old phone by turning the screen off and activating notifiations on motion events.

From browser on my PC
This is on my mobile phone via browser

I then posited that you could do the same with a PC camera. I have a couple of old PC’s so I thought I would explore trying to use their web cams and view them remotely.

Here is a YouTube vid on setting up Yawcam. This is a sharware software that runs the webcam. You can save to file, have it refresh screen at intervals (Http) or stream to a remote computer.

I’ve a feeling that you have to be on the same network to view it, although I will test that out later. You can type in the URL and it can be pulled up on another PC or mobile phone

Also the other PC has to be on all the time, so you could get screen burn unless you had a screen saver of sorts (see below-PC settings)

The advantage that this particular PC has is a higher quality web cam than that on my older phone but the Yawcam software, although more versatile in output formats has less features for controlling the actual PC than the Alfred app for the Android device.

You can schedule times when its on and also with motion capture it can send you an email of that motion event.

Screenshot: Motion detection

For now, I have something working. I need to do a few tests based on accessing from remote locations on other networks, is the feed still available? I tried using the Mobile Data only to access the URL on my mobile but that didn’t work. So I think this software only lets you monitor the cam from within the wifi network. So not so good.

PC settings

I did look at the settings on my PC for putting a blank screen as a screensaver at 1 minute interval, so the PC is still on, but it doesn’t look as if it is and no screen burnout.

It would be interesting if you could get multiple feeds, one from back Webcam and one from front webcam and have both displayed on your screen. YawCam doesn’t seem to do this.

Phone app vs Pc

Generally the PC is pretty simple, it has a Webcam. The Smartphone has a lot more gadgets, eg accelerometer, torch, phone – so you can make and hear sounds as well as the screen, wifi & 3/4G connection.

So the apps using the old phone as a security device can be used to hear the sound at the viewing camera, send sounds back (I didn’t get speech to work, but made a buzzer sound on the viewing camera activated from the remote phone) and was also able to turn the torch on from the remote phone, so that was handy at night time, as you could shed some light for the camera to view. With the 3/4G you can use it outside, so you do not need to be connected to wifi to check the feed. So the phone method seems to be the more versatile, although some of the features are a bit gimicky.

End comment

I was disappointed that the PC monitoring could only be used within the wifi network, as far as I’ve tested it, so itโ€™s not really that useful.

It’s fun to play with this tool, I may need to explore to see if there’s other software out there that may do a job similar to the Alfred App for android/iOS and allow for some remote access.

An article 19 Best Free CCTV Security Surveillance Software that has links to other free software is a starting point.

I found this YouTube video regarding the ContaCam software, also free but you seem to be able to put in multiple views from devices, so this may be worth exploring.

One video I was watching compared different security software, and the reviewer had certain criteria to judge on:

  1. Able to detect intruders in a specified zone
  2. Remotely viewable via a mobile app
  3. Able to push an alert to my phone Easy to use

I would add:

  1. Easy to use
  2. Work with multiple cams-for multiple views
  3. Remote view on multiple devices including mobile app