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Old 02-09-2019, 09:19 AM   #1
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2006 22' Interstate
League City , Texas
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Comprehensive DVR and security camera system

This thread is dedicated to the definition and development of a comprehensive recording-enabled security camera system for Airstream MHs (especially B-vans).

Here is what I *think* I want / need at this point in time - subject to change based on persuasive arguments that may be presented going forward:

(1) Three exterior and one interior HD cameras - the interior one on the windshield pointing forward, one on each side mounted forward and pointing aft, and one on the tail pointing aft.

(2) Continuous 4-channel DVR recording from all cameras - automatically when the vehicle is underway, and electively when the engine is off.

(3) Ability to set video loop parameters, similar to single-camera "dash cams".

(4) Ability to have the system actuate through motion detection when the vehicle is standing. We've had good luck with our remote wildlife cam in this regard - I am encouraged by where the tech is at this point.

(5) Large enough hard drive to retain how many hours of video? I don't know - it depends partly on software's ability to compress and optimize the storage, I think.

(6) This may not be practicable, but it would be really cool if an offshoot of the side and aft cameras could also function the way our 2015-installed DIY backup and side cameras do right now (turn on the signal and the monitor view switches to that side).

(7) Some kind of interface that will allow video segment extraction when needed.

I don't have this system scoped yet - not even remotely. I mentioned on previous threads that we have multiple camera systems associated with our van - close to a half dozen in fact! But none of them work together and none of them do what I want them to do! Not only that, they are beginning to fail:

(1) Our SJ CAM dash cam started acting up recently and, upon trying to fix it, I discovered that half the command functions are presented in Chinese language only!

(2) And the left monitor channel has crapped out on our backup and side camera system, which BTW talks to exactly nothing, and which records exactly nothing, even though it has 3 convenient exterior cameras in place.

On previous threads, I mentioned the Diesel Boss system which is designed for long-haul truckers. For the longest time, that vendor did not offer high-def cameras on their systems, and without the ability to record in detail sufficient to discern faces, the entire systems are of questionable value. Now they apparently do offer HD systems, but I'm not sure that buying an off-the-shelf system is the way to go here for reasons I'll reserve at this moment (will get into that in later posts).

Anyway, one or two other forum posters recently mentioned that they had similar ideas on their personal drawing boards. Hopefully we can consolidate all that content in this thread going forward.

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Old 02-10-2019, 05:43 AM   #2
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2006 22' Interstate
League City , Texas
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Yesterday I mentioned to my husband that I had started a thread describing the mobile DVR system that I hope to either get or develop eventually. His first response was, "It doesn't exist."

Yeah, I know that -- if it existed, I'd simply go buy it, and there'd be no need for a thread.

Here's a reference collage of our existing backup and side camera system, which incorporates no recording capacity (the left-side camera feed has since died).

One of the unexpected problems we found with this common style of exterior camera is that it is pretty much un-usable during wet weather. There have been times when I've cleaned it while stopped to get fuel, and then 5 minutes after getting back on the highway, the image was completely obscured all over again.

And when do you most urgently need assistance from exterior cameras due to poor visibility conditions? After dark when it is raining. Sigh.

It is mounted 10 feet up, so you'd think it would be immune to most road grime, but it isn't. The issue is particularly pronounced when it switches to night vision. It contains IR illuminators, but they are located behind the protective front glass, rather than outside of it. Therefore, those things don't illuminate the scene behind the van so much as the dirt that's on the glass right in front of them. It's a poor design, but it is in widespread use for such systems.

EDIT: Some may wonder why a system like what I'm describing here would even be necessary. Well, like 99% of the rest of the First World implements we have available to us in the free market, it's not strictly necessary. But we have two independent camera systems in our stick-and-brick house, and we actually use them routinely to retrieve footage of actual crimes or potential crimes. For example, our neighbor across the street had a fugitive from justice who chose to hide on his property, and requested that we retrieve footage from our main multi-camera system to support that police investigation. I've also used our main system to support a theft claim when a courier (not a porch pirate) stole a delivery package from us. Not a week goes by when I don't use our IP camera to check on one issue or another. These systems actually do get used, is what I'm saying.

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Old 02-10-2019, 08:29 AM   #3
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My rear view camera is mounted inside and looks through the rear window. I have toyed with the idea of mounting (temporarily) the equivalent of a lens hood for it to look through hoping it would keep dirt and rain off of the part of the rear glass the camera looks through.


"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:18 AM   #4
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Not of much use for use now because of how little the AI is getting used... but on my list of things to look into when we start to use it more and it gets parked in a different place. We only have the dash cam for now...

Thank you InterBlog for doing the research.
Safe travels!
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Old 02-16-2019, 09:38 AM   #5
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I'm in the process of doing some boots-on-the-ground networking on this security issue.


I stopped in at our local automotive audio and electronic security upfitter to ask about this. The proprietor told me that he has a steady stream of customers walking in and requesting 4- to 8-channel mobile DVR systems, and he doesn't have any products to sell them. They are just not on the market yet. Neither of us have a clue why, because the demand is certainly there.


I'm gearing up to do a bunch of deep urban work, so I'm also looking at bolstering our Interstate's physical locks.

I got spousal veto on the idea of adding the standard clunky contractor donut padlocks. Of course they are uglier than sin, but on the plus side, they are easy to obtain.

Following that, I pitched this video below to my husband, whose response was, "Any of those options would be acceptable." So now I have to figure out who does installations of this kind in greater Houston. I hoofed over to our local long-timer residential locksmith shop to ask that proprietor, but he was out sick today.

If you are interested in these kinds of security measures, this video might be worth a few minutes of your time:

EDIT: I changed the original URL to one that was Sprinter-specific. For those of you with NCV3 Interstates, this would be a really nice installation. Not sure what I'll be able to find for T1Ns.

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Old 02-16-2019, 12:18 PM   #6
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2010 22' Interstate
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I think the problem with a full-on DVR would be the heat damaging the hard drives when you're away from the van for long lengths of time. I also have a HD dvr at the house. Some of the dash cams have external inputs, I haven't really looked that deep.

What I use is a 1080 dash cam at the rear view mirror looking forward for driving (I need to get a front and back camera one). Inside I have a two-camera dash cam where the cameras swivel in any direction. (like the one in the pic, not that exact one). This one is tucked above the mirror, barely noticeable (it's dark and almost behind the mirror), with the cameras looking at the doors enough that it can see the aisle also. These are plugged into a 12v outlet I ran to the back and being powered by its own small 12v UPS size battery. With the 64gb tf cards and the battery, I can get about 5 days of straight recording at a decent frame rate. They can be set for motion detection also.

If I leave the van for multi-day camping or hikes and it's remote, I have a couple of trail cams that I place looking at the van. If someone wants to break in, it's going to happen regardless, but at least I'll get a glimpse of them and most likely their car. Unless the whole van disappears, but it would have to be towed because I have a second, hidden battery cutoff from the factory one (which is probably public knowledge).

I'm surprised no one has adapted the dash cam technology into a dvr system. Most of them max out at using a 64gb tf card, so it would have its limits.

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Old 02-16-2019, 01:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
The proprietor told me that he has a steady stream of customers walking in and requesting 4- to 8-channel mobile DVR systems, and he doesn't have any products to sell them. They are just not on the market yet. Neither of us have a clue why, because the demand is certainly there.
INTERBLOG - Anyone who says the technology is not on market yet, he either does not know how to -or- (most likely) can not afford to support the technology. The technology is available. All one needs to do is look at the preponderance of these systems in Las Vegas (casino shuttles, limos, school buses, public transport buses & railways, utility trucks, etc). Been there for a long time now and is constantly improving with HD & POE cams and bigger storage with complex programming options to satisfy even the most demanding schedule matrix. These DVR/Cam systems are also integrated into the driving (side & rear cameras) with specific triggers for those priority cams. They have dozens of triggers like G-sensors, ultrasonic, PIR, high/low voltage triggers, etc. etc. the list is endless and sky is the limit. One of the largest manufacturers of those systems is in your city.

Safety Vision Mobile & Video Surveillance
6100 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. N.
Houston, TX 77041-5113
Direct: 713.896.6600
Toll Free: 800.880.8855

Check out all their videos in Vimeo that show different industry applications for their systems.

The proprietor you talked to says 4 or 8 ch systems are not available? HUH? If you want to monitor your entire van perimeter & interior, Safety Vision has a system that can support up to 36 IP Cameras, 4 TB Max Storage, 2K Max Resolution, POE ports, and every bell/whistle you listed in post#1 (and more that you haven't even thought of). Call Safety Vision and I am sure they can build a system for your van.
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Old 02-16-2019, 03:45 PM   #8
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I should know better than to make poorly-qualified statements. My bad.

Of course the technology exists. But does it exist in a practical way - in the form of a product (or a selection of assemble-able components) that is (are):

(1) Reliably rugged (interesting observation about potential heat effects on the DVR)

(2) Built using the types of components that are suitable for exterior applications (not junky cameras that have IR illuminators behind the splash glass such that the view gets obscured by 5 minutes of rain - which is what we have right now).

(3) Reasonably affordable to the average specialty vehicle owner (let's say $thousand-ish range, which is what the Diesel Boss product is)

(4) Comprehensible and practical to use (which can NOT be said for my existing dash cam with its profound lack of logic and Chinese script)

(5) Attainable to the average buyer (as opposed to being available only from freakin' Alibaba, the scourge of the earth which can be relied upon to thwart highly-specialized product searches).

Does it exist under THOSE stipulations?

I also asked this question on Class B forum. Nobody offered any specifics. One guy had installed some kind of device that provided him with multiple inscrutable fish eye views. That's not what I'm looking for.

Edit: I will call that place in Houston on Monday, just to see how many of (1) - (5) they might be able to meet.
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Old 02-16-2019, 06:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
I will call that place in Houston on Monday, just to see how many of they might be able to meet.
INTERBLOG - From what I read of the specs of their system, there are no technical hurdles in meeting your original wants/needs (1)-(7) and latest wants/needs (1)-(5) which I try to elaborate on below:

(1) Again, these systems are deployed in all sorts of commercial environments all over the country. The DVR will survive the heat, it is rated at 158 degrees. Think of it this way, my dashcam sits on the windshield always getting beatup by LV sun/heat. It is not a very sophisticated DVR (single channel), but so far it has not been affected by heat.

(2) There are camera washer systems to address your rain/dirt issues.

(3) Obviously price is dependent on many factors, the least of which are which types of cams you plan on deploying and how many alarm/trigger/sensors the system will include and labor if you do not do it yourself. I used your original post#1 with your wants/needs list of (1)-(7). That was my starting point. Price was not a factor in your original post. Which is why I posted snapshot of their top 8 offerings. So from their 36-ch cam system, it could be scaled down to a 5-ch system. I do not have their price sheet, but it is safe to say the 5-ch system would be cheaper than the TOTL 36-ch option.

(4) Check, your call to Safety Vision should confirm this.

(5) Check, your call to Safety Vision should confirm this too.

Their 5-ch system seems to be their smallest offering. That gives you all the cam inputs you specified with 1 spare. FYI, these systems are built ala carte, so you will need to choose your AHD cams or IP cams, video management s/w, monitor display, accessories like UPS and sensors you need.

Since I am so sold on their systems, do I have one? NO! Why? Because I have a slightly different need that would waste a lot of it's capabilities. I instead assembled a system that is a stripped-down system with only what I need. I almost bought the Safety Vision Observer 4000 HVR to be the hub of my build. I just could not stomach paying for such capability & not using it. Keep it mind, using all it's capabilities means buying more sensors, accessories, etc. So, I instead settled for 'close enough' rather than have other 'good to haves'. My system is definitely not a 'best of the best' system.
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