How to Make a Cheap Surveillance Camera

Surveillance equipment can be quite expensive. Add in the cost of installation and maintenance and you will have invested several hundred, if not thousand, dollars. However, you can create your own surveillance equipment, mostly with items that you probably have lying around the house, for less than $100.

Things You'll Need

  • Webcam
  • Electrical tape
  • Stuffed animal, garden pot or other things to hide the camera in
  • Digital recorder
  • Ruler
  • Wire strippers
  • Soldering gun
  • 24-gauge wire
  • Portable media player with recording capacity


    • 1

      Measure 3 inches along the cable that extends from the webcam. This cable houses four wires (video, audio, power and ground). Leave those first 3 inches of cable intact, but split the rest of the cable housing and separate the four wires from one another. Save the rest of the cable that you have just cut off because you will be reattaching that later.

    • 2

      Measure out a fourth inch from the webcam and cut the wires, leaving 1 inch of exposed wires.

    • 3

      Remove the housing from the webcam itself. This will allow you to place the actual webcam in a variety of places, such as teddy bears and garden pots, without its being noticed. You could possibly even get motion sensor lighting and place the webcam within the housing for the lighting. That way, your surveillance could take place in daytime or nighttime.

    • 4

      Solder the wires coming from the camera to the 24-gauge wire. Measure out how much wire you will need between your camera and your recording device. Lastly, solder the 24-gauge wire back to the original output cable that was severed. Basically, you will have maintained the original cable and added the 24-gauge wire. You now have a much longer output cable going from the webcam to your recording device. The jacks from the original cable of the webcam should be at the end of your now extended cable.

    • 5

      Hook up the output jacks to the portable media player. You may need a converter jack in order to plug it in, but since the jacks are from a webcam, chances are they will be 1/8 inch and will fit fine. Another option would be to run the webcam back to a desktop computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Surveillance can be an ethical issue. Make sure that you utilize your equipment for just and honest means; otherwise, lawsuits result from spying on others.
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