How to Do an Outdoor Webcam (4 Steps)
By Michael Elkins
Whether you want to watch birds nesting in spring, keep an eye out on your aging animal companion or jazz up your local neighborhood watch program, outdoor webcams are the answer for cheap, real-time footage of an outdoor space. But before you take the three dollar USB camera you bought on eBay and try to super glue it to your mailbox, you should know a few things about outdoor webcams.
Choose a webcam. Wi-Fi webcams can be added to your current Wi-Fi network, or you can use a wired setup that connects your webcam to your computer with an Ethernet cord. Both options are viable, since you can purchase Ethernet cables 100 feet long or longer. Consider purchasing an enclosure to protect your camera.
Follow the directions included with your camera to install any necessary software that is included. Some webcams might be plug and play and may not require additional installation, while others may come with a disk. Your manual will provide you with the step-by-step directions for your specific camera. If you are installing a Wi-Fi camera, you will need to configure it first. This will likely require that you use an Ethernet cord and plug the Wi-Fi camera directly into the router. Complete the configuration as directed in the manual.
Mount the camera in your desired location outside. You will have to be near a power source, so keep this in mind. If you purchased an enclosure to protect the camera from the weather, place the camera in the enclosure prior to mounting it. If you are using a wired camera, run the wire from the camera to the computer. You can run it through the attic so it is out of sight, or you can enclose it in a PVC pipe if you are mounting the camera away from any buildings.
Access your camera by typing its static IP address into your web browser. The static IP address of the camera should be listed in the camera's manual. Consider bookmarking the address for future use.
- Some cameras are built for outside use. They are designed to keep the lens free of fog by use of an internal defroster.
- You can piece together a system inexpensively, but you can also spend a large amount of money on your outdoor cam. Set your budget prior to beginning the project, and shop around to get the best deal on your components.
Michael Elkins is the administrator for an adult group home in Stockton, Calif. He was been writing stories, journals, essays and articles since 1998. He is the recipient of the Sylvia Lopez-Medina award for short fiction and has also published his work in the literary magazine "Penumbra."