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Choosing a security camera


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I want to add a security type cctv camera to my observatory. Not particularly for security, but in order to watch what is going on when I am operating remotely.

I know a lot of people do this, but most generally available security cameras use IR LED's for night vision. Is it something to worry about when imaging, or are the LED's so far into the IR that the IR-cut filter eliminates them? Or do people use ultra-low light cameras (eg Reolink Starlight Cameras)?

Very interested to hear what others have used.

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Who is stretched out in the sleeping bsg in the backgound? Or, is that a body bag? The games afoot Watson!

Mis post. "Show Us Your Body Bag" is in "The Lounge". Michael

Thanks. A very useful resource.

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I installed two security camera's in April after doing a lot of reading up on the forums.

Extremely happy with the system I chose* and no issue with IR LEDs when observing. I am not sure if this would be case if I were using filters?

I followed the general advice...

  • Avoid cheap brands and Wi-Fi cameras - Opt for power over ethernet (POE) 
  • Lower resolution (1080P) camera are fine and work better at night (using IR)
  • Do not place them too high

* I have a Network drive (NAS) which I use for backing up files, storing music and now running a security camera system. 

The software (QVRPro) is free and records video and one camera sound 24/7. It captures "events" such as the postman delivering mail or foxes on night runs and emails me "alerts". The cameras (one turret and one bullet) are from Amcrest which are rebranded Duaha's. They cost about £75 each

Recordings are kept for two weeks before they are automatically recorded over. "Events" are kept for about five years.

A recommended FAQ - https://ipcamtalk.com/wiki/ip-cam-talk-cliff-notes/

qvrpro.jpg

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The issue you'll get with IR from the illuminator will be where it scope/camera is positioned relative to the IR source. If it can hit the front of the scope/lens then you may well see flare in the image as you would with back lit scenes in daytime. Should the IR source come into the FoV of the scope/camera then it'll be like shining a torch, you'll get a big bright lamp in the image. An IR filter won't cut either effect at all as its just too bright. I see this with my cameras that do have IRcut filters.

If you are placing a camera in the obsy then it'll be very close to the scope so IR reflection and illumination of the surfaces may well cause some effects. Best to place the camera low, possibly blank off the majority of IR LEDs so there's just enough IR to pick out the detail you need, and mount it below the region where the scope may need to navigate to.

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Use an IR cut filter on your imaging train and you won't have any issues, or at least I haven't noticed any.

However, using a separate illuminator and switching off the IR LEDs within the camera(s) will give you more control and makes it less likely spiders will take up residence on that nice warm lens 🙂

PoE is definitely the way to go but take much care about sealing the incoming Ethernet connector. Splice tape/self-amalgamating tightly applied can work well. Water in there is going to make for instant corrosion at 48V. Avoid WiFi. Avoid battery cameras.

Reolink, Dahua are both reputable brands. I'd avoid Hikvision over their connections to the Chinese government and their products specifically developed to perform racial profiling to "detect" Uighur muslims, but they aren't the only ones involved in that sort of nastiness.

Avoid smart cameras and cloud services. Keep it local. Blue Iris is one of the better NVR platforms for Windows; there are options for Linux et al but nothing great (motion, zoneminder etc).

This is from a Reolink RLC-420 camera (which keeps forgetting its configuration, so avoid that particular one maybe - their 410s I have a bunch of with no issues). While I'm in shot with a headtorch the IR is doing all the heavy lifting here.

You will want more than one camera to see all the angles - one at 90 degrees to the other is a good plan.

1272162067_2020-12-2611_43_45-BlueIris.png.7428006a06fb9add28978edfa089ac63.png1478909077_2020-12-2419_30_04-BlueIris.png.4f98575b380e9adc09aae6f304f1c401.png

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Surprised you don't get some IR flare but then you're using a reflector with a long dew shield which may make a difference. On a frac if the IR hits the objective them you may well get false "stars", I do notice that on my sky cams where the IR hits the dome/lens even with the IRcut filter.

I do have Hik gear in the main, well the NVR at least, the cameras are Hik compatibles (Annke and anon brands) but yeah in the current arena choose another but who isn't doing some sort of tracking etc with cameras in the new big-brother surveillance world we now live in.

For the connections, I use a dielectric grease in the network and power ports, helps prevent moisture issues and other than leaving you with greasy fingers when handling the connectors during maintenance is quick, easy and effective. Amalgamating tape can work but you don't want to be pressing the locking tab in and the slightest gap that lets moisture in will lead to issues when it can't easily escape.

Totally agree on the separate IR illuminator with regard spiders, also the swarms of tiny insects that rush toward it that can look like a rain storm heading into the lens. Downside is you lose the Smart-IR that some cameras so you have a trade off: better exposure under IR or insect action and regular web clearing

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2 minutes ago, Nigella Bryant said:

Well, I run a cheap £15 WiFi one off Amazon. It's been great and not had any issues despite what others have said. Just my penny's worth, lol. I've even got one overlooking the dome which is also great for picking up bats, lol.

Useful to hear that experience. Nice to be able to spot bats as well. I sometimes take my Bat Detector out with me at night. Especially when I am setting up at dusk.

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3 hours ago, DaveL59 said:

Surprised you don't get some IR flare but then you're using a reflector with a long dew shield which may make a difference. On a frac if the IR hits the objective them you may well get false "stars", I do notice that on my sky cams where the IR hits the dome/lens even with the IRcut filter.

I do have Hik gear in the main, well the NVR at least, the cameras are Hik compatibles (Annke and anon brands) but yeah in the current arena choose another but who isn't doing some sort of tracking etc with cameras in the new big-brother surveillance world we now live in.

For the connections, I use a dielectric grease in the network and power ports, helps prevent moisture issues and other than leaving you with greasy fingers when handling the connectors during maintenance is quick, easy and effective. Amalgamating tape can work but you don't want to be pressing the locking tab in and the slightest gap that lets moisture in will lead to issues when it can't easily escape.

Totally agree on the separate IR illuminator with regard spiders, also the swarms of tiny insects that rush toward it that can look like a rain storm heading into the lens. Downside is you lose the Smart-IR that some cameras so you have a trade off: better exposure under IR or insect action and regular web clearing

Thanks for all the help everyone. I am getting the message, mount low and use a separate IR illuminator. Are low power IR illuminators available? Most of the ones I pick up with an internet search are powerful floodlights that are intended to extend the range of security cameras. Some of them out to 100m. I only have to illuminate an 8x8 foot space, and hurling large amounts of IR around seems unnecessary.

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13 minutes ago, old_eyes said:

Thanks for all the help everyone. I am getting the message, mount low and use a separate IR illuminator. Are low power IR illuminators available? Most of the ones I pick up with an internet search are powerful floodlights that are intended to extend the range of security cameras. Some of them out to 100m. I only have to illuminate an 8x8 foot space, and hurling large amounts of IR around seems unnecessary.

yeah I think that's the issue really, most are pretty powerful, tho you could always blank out part of the front to reduce the amount of light thrown or perhaps open it up and remove some of the LEDs...

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True that reflector with dew shield will likely reject more stray light - I have a lot of internal flocking and baffling and a rear shield to keep it all relatively light-tight, but the focuser isn't immune to visibile light. However, with an appropriate IR-cut filter I would be surprised if there was any effect. I would wager that the IR LEDs in most cameras are quite "broadband", though, so it may not be completely cut by the filter.

Neutral density filters generally will work just as well for IR/NIR as they do for visible, and you can get it cheap as chips in sheets from Amazon et al 🙂 so that'll knock down illuminator brightness quite easily.

Alternatively, all you need is IR LEDs - you can just buy some and make your own illuminator/array. You probably wouldn't need many to make enough light, and could get a lot more control over the direction and intensity of illumination. That does have the benefit you can pick some nice narrow-band LEDs at a given wavelength, and make sure your filter will reject accordingly (if using one).

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On 26/12/2020 at 11:48, discardedastro said:

Use an IR cut filter on your imaging train and you won't have any issues, or at least I haven't noticed any.

However, using a separate illuminator and switching off the IR LEDs within the camera(s) will give you more control and makes it less likely spiders will take up residence on that nice warm lens 🙂

PoE is definitely the way to go but take much care about sealing the incoming Ethernet connector. Splice tape/self-amalgamating tightly applied can work well. Water in there is going to make for instant corrosion at 48V. Avoid WiFi. Avoid battery cameras.

Reolink, Dahua are both reputable brands. I'd avoid Hikvision over their connections to the Chinese government and their products specifically developed to perform racial profiling to "detect" Uighur muslims, but they aren't the only ones involved in that sort of nastiness.

Avoid smart cameras and cloud services. Keep it local. Blue Iris is one of the better NVR platforms for Windows; there are options for Linux et al but nothing great (motion, zoneminder etc).

This is from a Reolink RLC-420 camera (which keeps forgetting its configuration, so avoid that particular one maybe - their 410s I have a bunch of with no issues). While I'm in shot with a headtorch the IR is doing all the heavy lifting here.

You will want more than one camera to see all the angles - one at 90 degrees to the other is a good plan.

1272162067_2020-12-2611_43_45-BlueIris.png.7428006a06fb9add28978edfa089ac63.png1478909077_2020-12-2419_30_04-BlueIris.png.4f98575b380e9adc09aae6f304f1c401.png

Who is stretched out in the sleeping bsg in the backgound?

Or, is that a body bag?

The games afoot Watson!

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IR night vision cameras caused me a lot of headaches with NB imaging, mainly when the camera was pointing straight at the scope. This is the camera I settled on after trying several very cheap one. It’s super sensitive without the IR; starlight alone is enough to view things very clearly. Sorry about the highlight...I cut and pasted it from my email.

 

 

Dahua DH-IPC-HDW5442TM-AS Pro AI Outdoor HD PoE Turret IP Camera w/ 2.8mm Lens, 50m Night Vision & Audio (4 MP)

Edited by MakeItSo
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  • 3 months later...

An update on this question.

Bouyed by some fo the responses above I went with a conventional security camera with IR LEDs. I put a couple of layers of masking tape over the LEDs to reduce the IR intensity, and mounted the camera low down and to the north of the pier to minimise the chance of the IR illumination bouncing into the scope.

All went well for some time. I imaged different targets in different parts of the sky and saw no problems.

However, over the last couple of nights I found the weak spot and it was not where I expected it to be.

I was imaging the Leo triplet as it was crossing the meridian at about 40 degrees altitude, and found that a lot of subs had a glow in the corner, or a bar across one side of the whole image. A really bad example here:

1697475246_SecurityLight.thumb.png.66717ad37690eea8b5a310fdecafe160.png

Obviously the camera was picking up some stray light from somewhere. The source was fixed, as it swept from one side of the frame to the other as the telescope moved in azimuth. The next cloudy but dry night I went hunting for the source. Sinc it was only happening immediately after the meridian flip with the scope still pointing a few degrees west of south, I suspected spillage from streetlights (the leaves on screening trees are not yet out), although those were much lower down, or some instrument light.

Nothing. Then I looked again at the geometry and realised that it only happened when the back-end of my Atik 460 ex was pointing more or less directly at the security camera. I have two scopes mounted on a side by side bar, and the problem only occured after meridian flip. So shift the Altitude up or down a smidgeon and the leakage fades away. No wonder I did not see the effect until i was pointing at exactly the right part of the sky to crete the perfect geometry.

So my choices are:

  • Live without a security camera - although it is extremely useful for rmonitoring what is going on.
  • Move the camera to a position where there is no end-on alighnment possible (I can't find htat position yet).
  • Get a different camera that  can switch the IR off and as the Sony StarVis chip or similar.

Interestingly I have not yet seen a problem with the QHY168C, I may never have hit the right alignment, or it may not be susceptible in the same way.

We live and learn - if we are lucky.

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Seeing your image there I'm now realising that I'm probably actually seeing the same thing in my imaging. I'd noticed in some geometries - generally lower altitudes - I was picking up a bar across the image. Nowhere near as severe as that, though - it was only when I stacked things I picked it up, and I was able to generally correct it with some careful background correction, but the same basic artifact. I've only had it rarely and it wasn't the end of the world so I hadn't dug into it properly.

I am using an IR cut filter (mostly just to have a parfocal filter with my RGB) as my L, so all of the filters I'm using are in some way filtering IR, which may explain the reduced intensity.

I've been toying with the idea of something like the ASI120MM mounted side-on in a box with a Raspberry Pi, though I think these days the Pi high quality camera can also take long exposures and take a variety of fast C-mount lenses. Dropping IR entirely would seem the best approach.

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I think I am getting the leakage from behind the Atik, when the camera is pointing directly at the security cam. I don't think an IR Cut filter would help.

But as you say. The way forwards seems to be no IR,

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1 minute ago, old_eyes said:

I think I am getting the leakage from behind the Atik, when the camera is pointing directly at the security cam. I don't think an IR Cut filter would help.

But as you say. The way forwards seems to be no IR,

Ah, around the focuser?

I did consider that I had some light leakage from a nearby light and packed the gap between tube and focuser base (as mine had some gaps) with Sugru, and the opposing side of the tube is flocked, so maybe that's helping minimise ingress.

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On 24/12/2020 at 19:02, old_eyes said:

I want to add a security type cctv camera to my observatory. Not particularly for security, but in order to watch what is going on when I am operating remotely.

I know a lot of people do this, but most generally available security cameras use IR LED's for night vision. Is it something to worry about when imaging, or are the LED's so far into the IR that the IR-cut filter eliminates them? Or do people use ultra-low light cameras (eg Reolink Starlight Cameras)?

Very interested to hear what others have used.

I have the Logitech Circle cameras - powered of USB and wireless.

Not particularly cheap - but what is?

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5 minutes ago, iapa said:

I have the Logitech Circle cameras - powered of USB and wireless.

Not particularly cheap - but what is?

Do they work well in darkness without IR?

I've got a fair few Reolinks and they're practically useless with their IR switched off, even if the manual exposure is maxed out.

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It find it enough to see what the mount is doing with IR off

But, where the pier is, IR is not causing me issues.

The cami covers the temp rig, the pier in the corner is main position.

North is from view point to the fence post to the right on the pier.

624EA12D-D428-4250-9356-4D7995FDF458.png

Edited by iapa
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I had some light ingress problems which I think might be due to the IR LEDs of my obsy CCTV, after the meridian flip

Before flip

1607608150_M106-Luminance-0005Beforefliplinear.thumb.jpg.8220732e0b9a61d174f87a3f530a8056.jpg

After flip

1187356019_M106-Luminance-0017afterfliplinear.thumb.jpg.ae1e461e10dfa0dce395e129b2e4a5f5.jpg

No calibration, just a brutal linear stretch, but the streak is visible in the stacked subs given a more gentle stretch.

I have a Hoya IR76 on order from EO which I hope will cut off the iR LED emission before the Luminance pass-band.

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7 minutes ago, DaveS said:

I had some light ingress problems which I think might be due to the IR LEDs of my obsy CCTV, after the meridian flip

Before flip

1607608150_M106-Luminance-0005Beforefliplinear.thumb.jpg.8220732e0b9a61d174f87a3f530a8056.jpg

After flip

1187356019_M106-Luminance-0017afterfliplinear.thumb.jpg.ae1e461e10dfa0dce395e129b2e4a5f5.jpg

No calibration, just a brutal linear stretch, but the streak is visible in the stacked subs given a more gentle stretch.

I have a Hoya IR76 on order from EO which I hope will cut off the iR LED emission before the Luminance pass-band.

Is that with an OAG Dave?  I sometimes get light leaking down gap around the stalk...  insulation tape fixes it..

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