HomeDaemon-MCP Functionality Extended
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
2017-11-16 15:03 by Karl Denninger
in Small Business , 58 references Ignore this thread
HomeDaemon-MCP Functionality Extended
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HomeDaemon-MCP has now had added to it's bag of tricks an interface to Amcrest IP cameras.

It can now "sense" motion or other events (as defined on the camera) and trigger events on HomeDaemon.  Among other things Amcrest is nice enough to expose a simple HTTP-based API that allows you to move the camera to a given preset and take pictures.

This makes trivial interfacing and extending HomeDaemon's existing capabilities in providing an "alarm" service to include taking of pictures, using the camera's motion sense capabilities as a "trip" and, of course, securely copying them to your private file storage on or off your local network.

This functionality should work with all Amcrest camera devices on the market of reasonably-recent vintage and firmware. I have verified that it is fully functional with both the 1080p (one revision back) and 2k (current) models.

There is no longer a need to trust anyone else with said images other than yourself, ever.  It is trivial to, for example, have the system take images on a timed basis and upload them somewhere, whether that "basis" is predicated on an event (e.g. motion detected somewhere, not necessarily in the immediate area of the camera), to take a picture once a day of your pool water level and email it to you (nice if you are worried about evaporation being a problem so you can ask the neighbor to come turn the hose on for a couple of hours, etc) and more.

See here for more information.

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Jaytheblues
Posts: 13
Incept: 2010-01-15

New England
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Very nice Karl, I have a few Amcrest cameras that I've been happy with. I've been looking at a project similar to yours called Moteino by Lowpowerlab.com, have you checked it out before?
Tickerguy
Posts: 150674
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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Nope.... But looks kinda cool for a dedicated little controller.

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Tickerguy
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There are some interesting artifacts that I've discovered while playing with this.....

First, you can't use it as a PIR (e.g. "occupancy sensor") because it's too slow. The camera is very good at detecting movement, but it takes several seconds before it reports it. Tenths of a second matter in that application, so while it's fine for alarms and such, it's totally NOT for detecting someone entering a room and turning lights on.

Second, the switch between IR and not-IR (which the camera does automatically unless you disable it; that is, it switches automatically between "night vision" and not based on ambient light) counts as a "motion detection." Needless to say that means you also can't use it as an alarm trip for obvious reasons.

Also it's EXTREMELY sensitive. My PIRs have a "pet-resistant" setting, but there's no such thing for this. Got a cat, well, guess what - it'll trip this very reliably when it walks across the floor. On the other hand if you don't have any animals I bet a ROACH might set it off....

You probably COULD shut off the motion detection alert but turn ON sound-level alert (which these cameras also have) which would make a pretty-decent glass-break (or kicked-in door) detector. Then again if you have PIRs around the premises you already pretty-much have that covered once someone tries to come inside.

The other (and really quite interesting) possibility is that these cameras have a dry contact exposed on the back -- BOTH an input and output (one of each), and you can set it for NC or NO "alert" on the input side and drive it on the output side. This means you could get a "free" window or door open detector (for the price of a $5 reed switch) and use the camera to relay that to HomeDaemon. It also means you could drive a siren on the output side, if you wanted to. Dry contact sense is very cool since a lot of very cheap sense things (e.g. sump switch to detect a sump pump failure, window or door open, etc) can be done with it that are otherwise quite expensive to handle. If you're already buying a camera then this additional sense capability is "free". It's hard to argue with free!

The more-useful capability is probably the fact that Amcrest exposed a lot of the camera's capabilities (a crazy amount, really) via HTTP which is real nice, and in addition since HomeDaemon is running on top of a "real" operating system it has basic system utilities available to it that can be perverted to do all sorts of good things (like take pictures, etc.) Since the full complement of OS services are available you can turn on https on the cam and use it as well, which reduces the risk of someone playing with your network and stealing a password to the camera. The use for this is obvious; instead of the (not-so-nice and somewhat-decrepit) motion sense the camera has you can use the much-better PIR, door sensors and similar that talk Zwave to trigger the camera to do things -- like take a burglar's picture and stash it somewhere (not in the place being burgled would be good.) smiley

I'll note that one of the "commercial" packages out there actually had this sort of thing sort-of available but 1) doesn't know how to do https and 2) worse, relied on BASIC (unencrypted, AT ALL!) authentication! In other words THEY WERE SENDING CAMERA LOGIN AND PASSWORD DATA IN THE CLEAR ON THE NETWORK. I don't think I have to tell you how stupid THAT is. To Amcrest's credit it looks like they intentionally broke that earlier this year (removed BASIC authentication from their code entirely.) While MD5 isn't all THAT secure for digest auth it sure beats BASIC, and since HomeDaemon can use https, well, there's just no problem at all. ******n people claim to be doing "security" of any sort and are (or were, anyway) sending around PLAIN TEXT credentials?!

It's the integration that makes it all worth it, in short.... kinda cool capability, although I'm a bit underwhelmed at how useful the detection is from the cameras themselves. It's the ability to give commands and get responses (which HomeDaemon has always been able to do since it has always been able to call a shell script or external program for any event) that really wind up being the most-useful.

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Tickerguy
Posts: 150674
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OK, so now HomeDaemon has a bunch of different things it can detect on these cameras and distinguish between them, such as:

1. Motion
2. Sound (both absolute, "is there any", and "does it exceed threshold")
3. Dry contact (contacts on the back of the camera)
4. SD card missing (someone pulled it?!)
5. Hacking attempts (some jackass is trying to access it -- and is failing)

And a few more things..... smiley

Further the response time has been materially improved (it now can respond in a couple tenths of a second, which is plenty fast for virtually any purpose), although using it for a "primary" motion detector for alarm trips remains problematic since the automatic IR switch-over when it goes into low-light mode (unless you disable that) will still set it off even if you "de-sensitize" it.

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Little_eddie
Posts: 1097
Incept: 2009-04-30

Delaware
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I think the Amcrest ProHD Outdoor camera will meet my needs for the new house as I'm moving next month.

I've been looking for something that does all this.
1. Stand alone, the camera can boot up on power and take photos based on motion without being connected to a local network.

2. Can connect to a local network where I can watch the live feed and see the SD Card for past events.

3. Under $100 per camera as I need 4.

4. It never has to be connected to someone else 'Cloud'. I want to run it on it's own air-gapped network.

5. Web interface so I can run it on any of my hardware and open source software.

Thank you


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Tickerguy
Posts: 150674
Incept: 2007-06-26
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1. Yes. You need a local SD card in the camera for that, however.
2. Yes. "TinyCAM Pro" for Android phones can talk to them, and with appropriate firewalling/port forwarding you can do many of them and quite safety/securely.
3. Yes, generally.
4. Yes. The Amcrest cameras do support ONVIF (open standard interface for DVRs and similar for security camera use) but do not require it. They WILL try to talk to their "Mommy" by default but if you block that (and you should) they still run fine. Most of their attempts to connect outbound are a function of their default settings which you can change (and stop the barrage) unlike Foscam's cameras which ALWAYS try to talk to Mommy (and which ought to be delivered on the nose of a nuke aimed at China, IMHO.) Properly configured tcpdump/wireshark doesn't disclose anything that particularly bothers me on these cameras.
5. Yes, mostly. Do expect to do some work in that area but Amcrest publishes an API that works using http/https and can do pretty-much anything you'd like.

There's a reason I decided to add internal support for them to HomeDaemon-MCP -- they're pretty-much the only IP camera I've found that has decent functionality in this regard AND doesn't try to play games, properly configured, with your privacy and data. I don't mind a device being CAPABLE of such "central" services, but I VERY MUCH mind it insisting on trying to transfer data to unknown and undisclosed places without my consent.

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Winding it down.

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