Tuesday 24 December 2019

Video Surveillance on unRaid

Inspired by everyones favourite unRaid you tuber SpaceInvaderOne's then partially completed series on setting up CCTV in unRaid, I figured it was time to get started on a little bit of home security.

I'd previously worked on building an interface to my legacy Comfort alarm / home control system, and that's fine for basic alarm, but video was always the next step.

SpeaceInvaderOne conducted a basic analysis of cameras and software available, before publishing a walkthrough of how to set up his chosen Shinobi docker. This, along with some other research, started me on my journey. I went ahead and purchased two of the SV3C 1080p PoE cameras he mentioned. These would connected to the spare PoE ports on my Unifi Switch 8 (see my Unify blog post for more details).

I tried installing Shinobi, (before the walkthrough dropped), and failed miserably. In any case, I'd previously researched the area and at the time decided that Blue Iris looked like the best option for scalability and integration.

SpaceInvaderOne had discounted this as an option as it required a full VM, and seemed to be fairly resource hungry. However, since I already had a 'HomeControl' Windows VM set up for other purposes, this wasn't a huge concern for me.

When the cameras arrived, I went ahead and installed the 15 day Blue Iris demo and figured out the basics. Assured that everything worked together, it was time to install.

Ultimately, I envisage maybe half a dozen cameras covering the entire property perimeter,  but as I'm just dipping my toe in, I decided to install both cameras at the front of the house, one covering the driveway, the other the front door. The main reason for this is that this location has (relatively) easy access to the attic space where all my cabling terminates and my PoE switch lives.

The installation turned out to be a great project with my 15 year old son. He's on break from school and we ended up spending the day crawling in attic spaces, pulling cables, drilling, mounting and testing etc. It was a great learning experience for him, and an easier than planned day for me as all I had to do was issue instructions  ;-)

With everything set up, it was time to get configuring the software side. Blue Iris is very flexible software with lots of options, and i'm still figuring it out. The two best resources I found were this youtube overview of the software as well as this guide to optimisation.

In the end, with proper setup, I don't find the software that resource hungry at all. It's behaving fine in my modest Win10 VM configured with Quad CPUs and 8GB RAM;

I see a lot of people complain about the Blue Iris pricing model (up front cost plus annual support fee for ongoing updates). I don't mind this so much, but I did balk when I went to purchase at BlueIrisSoftware and the listed price of $69.95 jumped to > 80 as they add VAT for those in Europe. It turns out you can purchase from IPCAMTALK store without the tax, and they currently have the software on sale for $57.99!

Anyhow, in setting things up, I learned a few things....

For the SV3C cameras, there's a good deal of config that's done in the camera itself in order to get set up. This is accessed on the camera IP address with the username admin/123456. First task is to change that!

Here's what I ended up doing
  • Changed the access credentials (!)
  • Set fixed IPs for the cameras
  • Set IRCut mode to timing and set nighttime. This forces the camera to switch to night mode itself.
  • Increased the quality of the video
  • Disabled Audio
  • Set default gateway to to prevent camera accessing Internet
  • Disabled P2P
  • Disabled Storage
  • Set Date & Time correctly
  • Set Cam Name & Date/Time as OSD overlay (better than BluerIris overlay for performance)

There may be more settings I need to configure, but that's what I have so far. Before setting up Blue Iris in earnest, I passed through a couple of unassigned disks to the HomeControl VM for video file storage. I initially have ˜500G for new/daily clips, and a schedule to move these to my array where they are stored for 21 days before being deleted.

After going through all the Blue Iris set up and optimisations, I set up the app on my phone and configured triggers.

So far, it's working great. I have the system set up to record only video on motion detection. Motion also triggers a notification to the app on my phone where I can then view the clips.

One challenge I have is that it records and notifies on everything, even when I'm home. Next, I need to configure an event from my alarm to set Blue Iris profiles for home and away. I'd like to only receive the alert notifications when the system is armed.

After a few days, it's generally working out well. I'm not hugely impressed with the camera quality. It's adequate, and for the cost, they are a great way to get started, but I'm sure there's better out there. When it's time to add more, I'll have a better look around and maybe go for higher resolution. Here's a few examples of the driveway cam day and night;

Further tasks are;

  • Set up VLans for the cameras for increased access security
  • Set up external access to BlueIris (currently working on my LAN only)
  • Link alarm arming to Bluer Iris profiles for more tailored alerts
  • Continue to tweak cameras for best settings
  • Run cables for more cameras!

No comments: