…more than I can tweet…
I’m not especially handy in terms of plumbing, heating or carpentry, but I like to think I can figure out anything that is inside of or connects to a computer. So even though I could afford to pay someone to set it up for me, I’ve insisted on assembling and installing my own video surveillance system.
My first incarnation of my video surveillance system was built with Foscam IP cameras and ZoneMinder — the free network video recording application for Linux. Not wanting to dedicate a whole physical computer to this, I installed ZoneMinder on a virtual machine on my KVM server. It ran alright, and most everything worked — albeit slow. But then, I wanted to upgrade my cameras to high-def versions, and ZoneMinder struggled.
I spent hours, days, trying to figure out the magic settings that would get video and images from my new cams into ZoneMinder, but even with all the tips from the various forums, nothing worked. So I thought it was time to move to something a little more robust, maybe even a commercial product.
I have a Synology-based NAS, an ioSafe N2, and it comes with a trial version of their SurveillanceStation application. It allows 2 cameras for free and then you have to license additional cameras for a fee. SurveillanceStation, once told which models I have, was able to immediately get video and images from my cameras. I was overall fairly pleased with it, but after a couple weeks it started doing funny things like not rotating the video logs and just stopping when max disk space was reached. Also, the licensing scheme for SurveillanceStation is silly and gets ridiculously expensive really fast. And, I didn’t want to chew up all my precious ioSafe NAS space with video logs.
At this point I decided I needed a stand-alone Network Video Recorder. I searched the forums and Amazon reviews and came across the Super Mini NVR. The reviews were decent and it was cheap, so I bought the 8-channel version. After a couple firmware updates, I finally got it working with my 3 Foscam HD cameras and an external USB hard drive. I couldn’t find a drive that it liked with the e-SATA interface, but this hasn’t been a problem yet because I haven’t been able to make it actually record anything yet.
But back to those firmware updates. After much hunting for ANY help for this device on the Internet, I found a topic on the CCTV Forum where other Super Mini NVR users had congregated to share scraps of knowledge and frustrations. One contributor to the forum can speak Chinese and has been in contact with the makers of this NVR; his comments are very useful because the Super Mini NVR people tell him things that don’t seem to be documented anywhere else. This forum is the only place you’ll find news of new firmware or even instructions on how to install the new firmware. Be warned though, the newest firmware brings a completely different control interface, and the only user manual I’ve been able to find has not been updated to match it.
So with the Super Mini NVR, I have video signal that I can monitor, but for some reason the e-sata port doesn’t seem to work, scheduled recording doesn’t work, the motion detection doesn’t work, and it doesn’t seem smart enough to switch between the main stream and the sub stream when motion is detected. I could be doing something wrong, but it’s hard to tell when there are no instructions and the UI gives you error messages in Chinese.
I’ve ultimately spent way too much time trying to get this thing working the way I want it to work, so do you have any recommendations for what NVR solution I should try next?