Home Security

Following on from my “boredom” post, here’s something that has been keeping me busy for a while. I have a home server called Frankenputer, and it runs a package called Zoneminder along with the web server.

Connected to it I have two black & white outdoor cameras (el cheapo $30 things from Harbor Freight) and one indoor colour wired ethernet camera. The outdoor cameras are connected via very long cables to individual video capture cards in the server. The problem I am having right now is that the picture quality at daytime is fairly noisy:

At night though, it’s plainly crap:

Zoneminder is also fairly terrible at motion detection, requiring a very clean image to work with, and very precise fiddling with “blob counts” and other non-intuitive variables. If I connect either of the cameras to a proper TV, there is absolutely no interference, leading me to believe that the interference is being generated inside the server. However, if I connect a closer source of video to the server (such as a VCR), the picture is also perfect! I think what is happening is that the long run of camera cable (100 feet) is causing the composite video voltage levels to drop, and interference in the server is becoming more noticeable. Any hints would be appreciated though.

I am wondering whether to retire Frankenputer and get a new motherboard, CPU and memory, or to get ethernet cameras all around. Here’s a snap from the ethernet camera:

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