How to Create an IP Surveillance Camera With a USB Cam
By Jeff Grundy
When you're away from your home or office, the peace of mind in knowing your space and belongings are safe is priceless. While many CCTV and security systems enable you to monitor your home or office via a computer or smartphone, they can be expensive to install and maintain. However, if you have a USB webcam connected to a laptop or desktop computer you leave on while away, you can use an IP camera to monitor the area near your computer for little or no money at all.
Configure Dynamic DNS
Open your preferred Web browser and navigate to a free dynamic DNS service website such as DynDNS, FreeDNS or No-IP (links in Resources). Dynamic DNS enables you to communicate with computers connected to your broadband router and assign a permanent hostname – even if your connection uses a dynamic IP address that changes each time you connect to the Internet. Create a free account with the dynamic DNS services and record the dynamic DNS hostname, username and password for the account.
Open a new tab or window in your browser, enter the IP address for your router's login page into the address bar and press "Enter." IP addresses for routers vary, but the correct value should be "192.168.1.1," "192.168.0.1" or something similar. Refer to the user guide for your router if you do not know the IP address for the router login page. Log in to the router control panel with the administrator username and password.
Click "Advanced Setup," "Preferences" or "Settings" in the router control pane, and then click "Dynamic DNS," "DNS Settings" or another similarly named menu option. Enter the hostname for the dynamic DNS account you created in the "Dynamic DNS Hostname" or "Hostname" textbox. Enter the dynamic DNS account username and password in the corresponding fields and click "Save" or "Save Configuration." Click "Reboot" or "Restart" when prompted.
Install Webcam Software
Download and install a free application that enables you to monitor the webcam connected to your PC from a remote location. Programs such as YawCam, DeskShare and Dorgem are free and enable you to monitor your webcam from computer with an Internet connection. Restart the computer after installing the program if prompted to do so.
Connect the webcam to your computer using the USB data cable, and then wait for Windows to detect and initialize the camera automatically.
Launch the webcam monitoring application you downloaded and installed. Click the "Preferences," "Options" or "Tools" on the menu bar or tool bar, and then click "Camera Settings" or another similar option setting. Ensure that your webcam appears in the applications device list and is active, and then click "OK" or "Save."
Click "Monitoring," "Streaming" "Webcam Monitoring" or other similarly named menu option. Enable the "Monitor Mode," "Surveillance Mode" or "Remote Monitoring" option, and then click "OK" or "Save."
Enter a monitoring port between 1000 and 65,535 in the "Monitoring Port," "Webcam Streaming Port" or "TCP/IP Port" or other similarly named field. When entering a port number, do not enter one less than 1000, as Windows and your Web browser use many ports with values less than 1000 for important Web related functions and tasks. Enter a username and password for remote viewing if you want to restrict monitoring by other people. Click "OK" or "Save" to save the monitoring options configuration.
Click the "-" in the upper right hand corner of the webcam monitoring application to minimize the program. Ensure that you do not close the monitoring application. Orient the webcam so that it faces the area in your home or business you want to monitor. Do not turn off the computer or the broadband router to which it connects.
View the Webcam Remotely
Go to a computer that has and active Internet connection and open a Web browser application.
Enter the hostname URL and monitoring for your dynamic DNS account into the address bar of the Web browser and press "Enter." For instance, if your dynamic DNS account hostname is "mywebcammonitor.com" and the port number you entered in the webcam application is 9241, type "mywebcammonitor.com:9241" into the address bar of the browser and press "Enter." Wait a few seconds for the player window for the webcam to appear in the browser window. Enter your username and password if prompted, and then press "Enter."
Click the "Play," "Stream," "Watch" or other similar button or link in the player window to view real-time video from the webcam connected to the computer in your home or office.
- If your smartphone supports flash or WMV video streaming in a Web browser, which most do, you can use it to monitor streaming video from the webcam instead of using a computer.
Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.