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Old 07-04-2019, 08:51 AM   #21
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I've only begun my testing, but I will say that the OwlCam is the best-designed dash-cam-like device I've ever operated.

Given how BAD almost all dash cams are, that isn't necessarily a ringing endorsement.

BUT -- I did get it installed, oriented, functioning, and downloading with zero trouble or aggravation (and I tend to get aggravated easily). The operation and logic are intuitive. I have not yet encountered any programming bugs.

The only part of the operation that is not 100% clear to me yet is the division between wireless operation and cellular operation. The rest of it is fairly idiot-proof, but I've got to get clear on when I'm consuming the OwlCam's limited cellular minutes vs. it is just wirelessly talking to my phone.

Here's a test clip below. It is hands-free in that, if you see something happening that you need to record, you shout "OK PRESTO!" at the device. It will then chime in acknowledgment that it received your instruction, and it will clip and extract the previous 20 seconds into a video which you can then transfer to your phone and, in this case, upload efficiently to YouTube.

This is the "Independence", a high-fidelity space shuttle replica on display at Space Center Houston. Despite living 3 miles from here, and despite the fact that my husband goes to work every day at Johnson Space Center, I'd never before done Interstate photo op of this type. But it certainly is a propos - Happy "Independence" Day!



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Old 07-04-2019, 01:28 PM   #22
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Hahahahaha... I jumped there at the end!! hahaha was not expecting that... lol

Good image quality.
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Old 07-04-2019, 02:15 PM   #23
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Hahahahaha... I jumped there at the end!! hahaha was not expecting that... lol

Good image quality.
I guess I could have cut that shout out of the video, but I wanted to show how the device responds. It is convenient that you don't have to guess when to BEGIN your video clip - you just wait until the desired sequence is over, and THEN shout.

At highway speeds, I am guessing that I'd have to shout loudly. Such is true of our Garmin, which is constantly mis-hearing commands. The definition of ridiculous is me flying down the highway in an obscene screaming match with the Garmin. "I SAID CRACKER BARREL, %$#*&!!" This is a routine occurrence.



We've got both phones pinned to it now, and we are working on a couple of projects today, with the OwlCam powered. It is pinging me more than I would like to see. If it smells my or LB_3's phone by wireless, it should stop monitoring by virtue of proximity (the Canary does). I'm not sure it's doing that. This could create an issue for overnight sleeps, if it wakes me up every time an incoherent drug user strolls by the van.

One potential issue: it's intended for daily driving, which assumes daily chassis battery recharge. I don't believe it has a sleep mode (or if it does, I have not found it yet). If I leave the Interstate in storage for a week, I'm probably going to have to remember to physically pull the plug - OR - run the power from the house battery, which would be preferable. But that's a P.I.T.A. wiring job that we won't necessarily get to right away.
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Old 07-04-2019, 02:27 PM   #24
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I'm looking once again, harder this time, at the OwlCam as a stop-gap measure.

For an out-of-the-box-better-than-nothing, I'm not sure there's a superior option. Its footprint is limited obviously, but it's not bad from what I can tell.

Why would you need anything more. It's easy to self-install, keeps a running record for two weeks off site, and has a remote alert system. I think this is even better than a Drone Alarm and much cheaper and easier to install. Whoever found this, thanks!
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Old 07-04-2019, 03:17 PM   #25
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Here is a great review of the OWL system and setting it up.

https://youtu.be/QieoDymuhR0
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Old 07-04-2019, 04:48 PM   #26
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Why would you need anything more. It's easy to self-install, keeps a running record for two weeks off site, and has a remote alert system. I think this is even better than a Drone Alarm and much cheaper and easier to install. Whoever found this, thanks!
Indeed, 99% of vehicle owners might not need anything more.

I'm in the 1% who, because of some issues I'm involved with and some places I choose to expose myself in, then I would be willing to pay for more because I might need it.

But again, it's a question of LAYERS being the most effective when it comes to security. If this thing works in a way I can manage and integrate easily, then it's one more layer of value, and it will serve me until I get that "more".
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Old 07-05-2019, 07:30 AM   #27
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Incidentally, I cut a hole in my HeatShield windshield reflector to accommodate the fact that the OwlCam is always watching. It needs to maintain a view to the outside world, even as I need to maintain privacy inside the van.

You can see that I did not get that hole position optimized here - it was a bit difficult to judge the position given the angle of the windshield. So I cut it a bit too high.

Additionally, my OwlCam is slightly off-center of the dash. My luck - I have a windshield chip directly front and center at the level of the camera, so I had to scoot it over a couple of inches toward the driver's side.

I will acquire some black basting tape, and trim this peep hole to match the outer edges of the HeatShield.

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Old 07-06-2019, 08:14 AM   #28
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A couple more product review comments:

(1) I was pleased to detect no chassis battery drain about 24 hours after leaving the OwlCam plugged in as an intentionally-parasitic source. I have 3 ways of checking voltage and the first two showed negligible impact, so I did not employ the third.

Pleasantly surprised - the screen stays lit a lot of the time, motion triggers are frequent, and the thing includes a small cooling fan that runs almost constantly in Houston in July. But my battery voltage looked fine the next day.

I've been worried about it overheating in our extreme conditions - someone on Instagram re-enacted a common Houston stunt last week and baked cookies on their car dash. The OwlCam gets BLISTERINGLY hot from the combination of exterior temps and heat generated during operation, but we have experienced no infant mortality (knock wood).

(2) I anticipate becoming very familiar with the "swipe downward" screen feature that electively turns off the interior camera. We are catching all manner of humorous poses because of that thing -- except if we are not careful, we will eventually be catching someone in their birthday suit.



Here's a contorted pose in which I have my head inserted into the refrigerator as I am trying to muscle-force (to use a sanitized military term) some closed-cell insulation into the gap between the bottom of the fridge and the top of the cabinetry, to seal off air flow. I'm wearing my "senior Olympics wannabe" gear which is not necessarily appropriate for most public viewing, which made me realize that we better be careful, or else this type of candid exposure might accidentally become "full monty" at some point.

The good news: The inward-facing camera is very clear. If someone came through that driver's side door, which anecdotally is the most common vehicle break-in point, the face would be well-captured. Even at a distance and with strong backlighting, the image quality is pretty good.

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Old 07-06-2019, 09:46 AM   #29
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Indeed, 99% of vehicle owners might not need anything more.

I'm in the 1% who, because of some issues I'm involved with and some places I choose to expose myself in, then I would be willing to pay for more because I might need it.

But again, it's a question of LAYERS being the most effective when it comes to security. If this thing works in a way I can manage and integrate easily, then it's one more layer of value, and it will serve me until I get that "more".

It seems like this or something else from the same company would do the trick if you needed something more.
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Old 07-06-2019, 09:55 AM   #30
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A couple more product review comments:

...
I've been worried about it overheating in our extreme conditions - someone on Instagram re-enacted a common Houston stunt last week and baked cookies on their car dash. The OwlCam gets BLISTERINGLY hot from the combination of exterior temps and heat generated during operation, but we have experienced no infant mortality (knock wood).
...

Is the fan annoying to hear all the time? How loud is it? I found a review by a guy who returned the Owl for several reasons. One was the fan which he found too loud and annoying. The second is that if someone breaks in, and grabs the camera, all the video goes with it. I think the third was the inability to download over WIFI anything other than 720. Do you find any of these criticism valid?

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Old 07-06-2019, 10:00 AM   #31
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It seems like this or something else from the same company would do the trick if you needed something more.
Yes. That is one of the models we are looking at.

The remaining challenges are:

(1) Camera efficacy. The higher-res cameras are relatively new on the market. I've put off buying anything lower-res because it just isn't worth it if you cannot make a facial identification.

(2) Logic and programming. These systems as currently produced are typically designed to monitor the driver for bad behavior, and they are designed to run while the vehicle is in motion.

We haven't found a system that is intended to monitor the vehicle while it is stopped with the engine off.

And - most importantly - we have not yet engineered any way to integrate motion detectors into the system, which for our purposes is essential. Commercial systems do not offer motion detection right now - I checked.

All that ^^ can be engineered and created as a DIY project, especially given recent camera improvements, but it takes TIME that we have not budgeted yet.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:45 AM   #32
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The OwlCam is ready for prime time -- but only barely. The limited two-phone access was a disappointment, as I had been led to believe they'd fixed this.

Transcript of my help chat this morning:

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Old 07-13-2019, 05:22 AM   #33
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I'm trying to determine the maximum safe time that the OwlCam can be left running without drawing down the chassis battery too much. Its power consumption is not published - the device has an auto shut-off after 72 hours, so that is apparently what the manufacturer is offering in lieu of actual data on what it is consuming.

Anyway, coming in shy of 72 hours, I still can't really see any impact on the Sprinter battery. But as I learned last year during my alternator failure, measuring battery voltage accurately is trickier than it may first appear.

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Old 07-21-2019, 09:12 AM   #34
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Ima make a long story short here with respect to an incident I experienced yesterday. I'll do this with the help of a visual aid (below) which shows grabs from one of our home security cameras, plus other evidence.

Bottom line - I am 98% sure that an unknown person made physical contact with my Interstate between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. in a public parking lot yesterday.

That contact resulted in, at a minimum, the intentional opening of a small utility door which serves no operational function (it allows black tank vent access), which is never opened by us, which cannot work its own way open, and which the person did not successfully re-latch.

Because it was not re-latched, it popped open due to air pressure differential when I entered the van later that day to work on my summer trip departure list. Security video shows this clearly, and tightly constrains the a.m. incursion time.

Now, that incursion could have been innocent - perhaps a child was walking by and saw this irresistible little door on this strange van, and decided to open that door out of curiosity. But there were no children at the tool supply store that I visited before 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. Other nearby stores were not yet open, so there was almost no foot traffic in the area. The only people I witnessed there were myself, the tool store staff, and a small collection of the immigrant Hispanic independent contractors for which greater Houston is renowned (because they never stop working - their work ethic is without parallel).

The contact with my Interstate did not happen prior to, or following, that tool supply store trip. I have reviewed all the video.

Who was touching my Interstate, and for what purpose?

Perhaps there's some other strange cosmic irregularity that could explain this development, an oddity that I have not accounted for here.

But if I look at the totality of the circumstantial evidence on this incident in conjunction with other previous incidents, it tells me one thing conclusively: I need a really good 4-camera onboard DVR system if I'm to figure out exactly what transpires with this rig. The OwlCam was working at the time of this event, but it cannot monitor the exterior sides or rear of the van. I'm still blind in those areas.

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Old 07-21-2019, 09:37 AM   #35
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Might have been someone looking to steal fuel.

There was an incident a few years back when some fool stuck a siphon hose into a black tank vent opening in a motor home, and tried to suck on the hose to start the flow. The dude sucked just a little too hard....

When the cops stopped laughing, they let the knucklehead go, figuring he’d been punished appropriately.
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Old 07-22-2019, 05:55 AM   #36
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Might have been someone looking to steal fuel.
....
A very plausible hypothesis that had not occurred to me.

It would be unusual for the circumstances, however. The only people in the parking lot at that early hour of the morning were trades. By published reports, 50% of Texas construction workers are illegal aliens (four hundred thousand of them), and a huge percentage of the others are related to someone who is illegal. They keep the lowest possible profile, and avoid potential run-ins with law enforcement like the plague, for obvious reasons. For one of that cohort to mess with a vehicle in a parking lot where cameras are running? That is unthinkable.

Of course, this little door was on the side of the Interstate that was facing away from the store's cameras, so.... (*shrug*)
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:11 AM   #37
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In my own fleet I install eyesite station. It have range of trailers, lightweight tripod systems and pole mounts, secure web-based control via any online device, 24/7 uptime with unlimited data through EyeNet, fixed optics, PTZ, IR and FLIR cameras, WiFi spot for field personnel.
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Old 07-26-2019, 04:23 AM   #38
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In my own fleet I install eyesite station. It have range of trailers, lightweight tripod systems and pole mounts, secure web-based control via any online device, 24/7 uptime with unlimited data through EyeNet, fixed optics, PTZ, IR and FLIR cameras, WiFi spot for field personnel.
Interesting!! Thank you for this - nobody else has mentioned this option. I will be looking into what they offer.

Dear readers, Eyesite offers a mobile video system designed primarily for high-dollar field sites, largely construction sites, where theft is rampant.

But not just construction. I've seen those types of systems installed in the parking lots of retail centers in areas of Houston where crime is rampant. Clusters of cameras pointed everywhere.

Ah, construction. We had our house built back in 2010, and we participated actively in the process. We watched THREE hot water heaters stolen out of it before they were able to get it buttoned up, construction-wise. I forget what else was stolen but the hot water heaters are a stand-out in my memory because every day when we would show up to inspect, the next one would also be gone.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:42 AM   #39
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In my own fleet I install eyesite station https://www.eyerideonline.com/. It have range of trailers, lightweight tripod systems and pole mounts, secure web-based control via any online device, 24/7 uptime with unlimited data through EyeNet, fixed optics, PTZ, IR and FLIR cameras, WiFi spot for field personnel.
It's my pleasure
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Old 07-27-2019, 12:40 AM   #40
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In my own fleet I install eyesite station. It have range of trailers, lightweight tripod systems and pole mounts, secure web-based control via any online device, 24/7 uptime with unlimited data through EyeNet, fixed optics, PTZ, IR and FLIR cameras, WiFi spot for field personnel.
GARRYGB - How does this solution help within the context of securing an individual van? These Eyesite stations that I see all over Las Vegas are made to surveil commercial buildings, residential buildings, land, offices, stadiums, temporary events/concerts, conventions, and such. Are you saying they have miniature/portable systems made to install inside a van to serve as the van's primary security and monitoring device?
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