How to Turn Your PC into a Home Surveillance System

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Using your home PC as a central hub for a surveillance system is a cost-effective method of improving home security. Cameras that operate on a wireless network that your home is most likely already running eliminate the need to drill holes to run wiring to and from your computer, although that remains a (oftentimes cheaper) option. Before purchasing any PC surveillance equipment, make sure to research the latest brands and prices online.

Things You'll Need

  • PC DVR capture card (wired cameras)
  • Wired surveillance cameras with BNR connections or (at least) 802.11g wireless surveillance cameras
  • Wireless receiver (optional)
  • DVR capture software
  • Screwdrivers (optional)
  • Drill (optional)
  • Asses your home's security needs and determine where you need to place cameras. If placing them outside, make sure your cameras are weatherproofed and placed in inconspicuous locations.

  • Mount your cameras. Depending on the camera, you may need to drill pilot holes and mount them using screws. Mounting hardware should be included. If the cameras are adhesive backed, peel the protective paper away and press them firmly against the mounting surface. If using wired cameras, check to make sure your wiring is long enough to run back to the PC.

  • If using wired cameras remove the side of your PC's case and install the DVR capture card into one of the PCI slots on your motherboard. Attach the appropriate power connector if necessary. Be sure to secure the card to the case with the included screw(s). Replace the case siding.

  • Install the included DVR capture software and configure its options to suit your specific needs. Toggle motion sensing, time lapse and recording times.

  • If using wireless cameras, connect the wireless receiver to the appropriate ports on your PC. Typically, these receivers use Firewire or USB but consult your owner's manual for details specific to your model.

  • Install the software included with the wireless receiver. Make sure that all cameras are operating on the same frequency or channel and that the wireless receiver is a receiving clear picture from each camera.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure that your computer has enough hard drive space to record video.
  • Switching your cameras to "motion sensing" mode can save hard drive space.
  • Oftentimes, wired cameras have higher resolution at lower prices than wireless cameras but installation is more difficult.

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