simple home monitoring?

Willem van der Walt wvdwalt at
Mon Jul 20 05:41:11 UTC 2015

We have been using zoneminder to do such monitoring, but for Karin's case 
that is over-kill.
Something that I did not realize before using this software, is that 
changes in the light also causes events, IE. you can get false alarms 
because of the light changing as the day progresses.
Kind regards, Willem

On Sat, 18 Jul 2015, Karen Lewellen wrote:

> Good answers, let me spell this out more carefully.
> 1, this is an apartment building, and I am on the top floor.
> 2, I have no need to monitor when I am home, the two locks I have on the door 
> prevent entry.
> 3. I have no pets unless you count my stuffies.
> 4, I only need to monitor /capture activity  on the front door, and obviously 
> prefer something that might not attract too much attention , I know  where to 
> place the camera   to prevent  issues.  something I would activated when I 
> leave, and turn off when home.
> if you must run a wire from the door to the pie, that might defeat the 
> purpose.
> based on that simplicity, if a machine for it really is $40 in Canada i might 
> get something new since it will only be doing this job.  No machines with 
> anything running on them now, but have an older desktop.   p 2 i think that 
> could be set up for it.
> what is the simplest way  to do the job based on these details?
> I am not vetoing anything just want to keep it simple.
> Karen
> On Sat, 18 Jul 2015, Tim Chase wrote:
>> On July 18, 2015, Karen Lewellen wrote:
>>> Would be nice is a simple system that I can dedicate a machine for,
>>> meaning a basic setup, with few resources required.
>>> perhaps software that would email me an alert  or monitoring
>>> results.
>> Depending on the complexity of the solution you want, and what you
>> have on hand, your solution can range from free-ish to several hundred
>> dollars.
>> At the cheapest end of the spectrum, if you already have a
>> computer/laptop with a camera (A generic USB web-cam should run under
>> $20 and I've spotted them for close to $5 on sale or used), as others
>> have mentioned, you can point the camera at the door and use some
>> vision-processing or motion-detection libraries to determine if the
>> camera sees movement. If so, this can trigger all manner of actions
>> (take a picture, send an email or text-message alert, sound alarms).
>> You could get false-alarms here though if you're not careful.  If you
>> monitor the entire frame that the camera captures, friends or dogs
>> walking around in the middle of the night might trigger alerts. You
>> might have to limit the observed area to the upper corner of the door
>> where it's unlikely to see motion you don't care about.  Also, it's
>> easy for a camera to get bumped unless you mount it on a wall.
>> A slight step up, some small hardware investment could put a
>> magnetic reed-switch (Adafruit sells one for $4) on your door-frame
>> and run a wire to something like a Raspberry Pi (another $30 for one
>> with a network jack on Adafruit) so that you capture door open/close
>> events and trigger an action only when the door really opens/closes.
>> You could even combine the ideas so that when the reed-switch detects
>> the door opening, an attached camera would take a picture/video and
>> upload it to an off-site location.  Or it could email you an alert or
>> play audio or whatever.  One of the biggest advantages of this setup
>> is how little power that the Pi draws.  A desktop/laptop may be
>> drawing 60-120 watts of power, whereas the Pi draw much less.  For a
>> security system that will be on all (or most of) the time, the
>> electricity costs can add up.
>> Finally at the mega-bucks end of the spectrum, you can get security
>> systems with multiple cameras, network integration, and alerts.
>> These are usually in the $300-1000 range depending on the number of
>> cameras and the features of the system.  This sounds like overkill
>> for what you want.  But maybe you won the lottery, in which case,
>> bully for you, knock yourself out and get a top-of-the-line system.
>> And fly me out as an installation consultant (grins)
>> -tim
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