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Home Made Outdoor Surveillance PiCams, Pi Cam’s IR Sensitivity, with TalkTalk Powerline

The Pi Noir camera is known to be sensitive to IR by having the IR filter removed that are included in the generic Pi cameras, but how different are the stock cams from the noir in the IR region? Is the stock camera sensitive to IR to any degree? I found it is, but how that translates to specific utility depends on what you are trying to achieve.

I also found my Sony Arc phone camera is also quite sensitive (as most video sensors are, which has been known for decades since vid cams were noticed filming TV IR remote control LEDs).

This enabled me to use an Android "Thermal Vision" app to check if the sensor worked when I was soldering it, not having to fire up the Pi Noir. Even though this app states it only converts usual colours to an "IR view" I found it did tell me the difference between the array on and off with a colour change, so was useful.

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The IR LED array I used for these pics came from the DOA chinese surveillance camera whose housing I am now using to build a PiCam based surveillance unit instead.

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The 1m long ribbon cost £5 from Ebay, but I cut one track on the sharp metal edges before finding a rubber grommet - beware - the cable is very fragile. I had to buy another ribbon due to this carelessness.

I will use 20mm flexi cable conduit to run the ribbon through my garage wall hole I have drilled once all is checked as working.

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I cut a Pi cam case housing front face to super glue to the glass cover plastic mount. The Cam board clips into this via the 4 corner pins in the case front.

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IR array switched off:

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Sony Arc pic of the IR LED array. This looks dimly red to the human eye.

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The IR array has a photo resistor in the circuit of 36 LEDs in 3 sections (I assume in parallel) separated by 6 resistors - so I had to experiment putting my finger over it, using a multimeter on the 20k range to read values and work out what wires to connect to the original 12V PSU. PSU positive (red) to the 12V connector position, and the other 3 (black, yellow, red) are soldered together to the PSU negative. Just don't touch the negative to an LED pin by accident, as the spark will destroy a 6 LED section - as you see I did above...dick...use tape before you switch on!

You can buy these arrays for £1.25 from Ebay:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Infrared-IR-36-Led-Illuminator-Board-for-CCTV-CCD-Security-Camera-MJ-/321863104383?hash=item4af089377f:g:EksAAOSwEetV9EWI

So how do the different Pi cameras view the LEDs in the dark? Both are the same distance from the array.

The only light comes from the laptop screen facing me, as you see in my glasses reflection from the “normal” camera.

As you would expect, the Noir is much more sensitive, making the LEDs look light a spotlight, but the normal cam still sees a little in infra-red:

And here's the image from the now mounted camera - a little more "foggy" than usual with the housing glass:

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The field of view and detail is excellent at 960 x 720 here.

The camera case is tiny, and I used some 20mm flexi tube from an aquarium store to seal and waterproof the 15mm ribbon cable with then used window silicon sealer type goo for the camera rear and wall hole:

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Just got to replace the broken motion sensitive garage night light and I'm good for winter nights - I hope it can stand the UK wind and rain, and not leak...

I used a pair of these very good TALKTALK (DLink) Powerline units to connect the garage based Pi to my router over the house electrics:

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You can use as many Powerline Adapters as you like in your home, and if you wish to buy additional adapters please visit the TalkTalk shop. Please note, we recommend adding the same type of Powerline Adapters to your network as you already have, because adding non-TalkTalk Powerlines to existing TalkTalk Powerlines may affect performance.

To connect your additional Powerlines, you will need to use the Pair button (black Powerlines) or Security Button (white Powerlines). Follow the simple steps below:

Unpair existing Powerline Adapters

Before you can connect your additional Powerline Adapters, you will need to unpair your existing adapters, and then pair them again to create a new network.

  1. Press and hold the pair/security button on Powerline A for 10 seconds and release when the power LED flashes.
  2. Press and hold the pair/security button on Powerline B for 10 seconds and release when the power LED flashes.

Powerlines A and B are now unpaired and ready to be connected.

Connecting your Powerline Adapters

  1. Press and hold the pair/security button on Powerline A for 2 seconds then release. The power LED will flash.
  2. Within 2 minutes, press and hold the pair/security button on Powerline B for 2 seconds then release. Powerlines A and B are now connected.
  3. Press and hold the pair/security button on Powerline C for 10 seconds and release when the power LED flashes. The Powerline is now ready to be connected to the existing network.
  4. Press and hold the pair/security button on Powerline A for 2 seconds and release. The Power LED will flash.
  5. Within 2 minutes, press and hold the pair/security button on Powerline C for 2 seconds then release. Powerlines A, B and C are now connected.

To add more Powerlines to your network, simply repeat steps 3-5 above.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you're experiencing an issue getting your additional Powerline Adapters to work try these steps:

  1. Press the pair/security button on one adapter for 2-3 seconds (the Power LED will start blinking after you release the button). Within 2 minutes press the pair/security button on the second adapter for between 2-3 seconds.
  2. Press the Reset button (using a pin) on each adapter for 1 second. Then repeat step 1.

Nload shows a 60kb/s avg between my laptop, via the router over the mains to the Pi, which is sufficient to view at this resolution over the Internet to the router external IP.

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The normal outside light view is not so good - I would have liked to use the NoIR cam with an IR light for this, but I want to use that for future possible telescope/microscope projects, so until I get the 150W sensor garage light connected:

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To give you an idea of the time lapse quality at this resolution, I had the camera running when installing it which was amusing afterwards! Cue the Benny Hill theme tune..:

To prevent the Picam Share clogging up with unwanted jpgs when copying/viewing the created movies across the samba share, I use the rm command to delete them after they have been used to create the movie, by adding the section option to the /etc/motion/motion.conf file:

# Command to be executed when an event ends after a period of no motion
# (default: none). The period of no motion is defined by option gap.
on_event_end rm -vr --i=no /Share/motion/*jpg 

This leaves only .avi files in my /Share/motion folder.

That setup is explained in the prior Picam Posts.

With 400W sensor light:

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8/11/15

I have since set up the Pinoir in the garage window looking at the birdbath in the garden, using the IR LED rings, which again proves there is no point buying the cheap Chinese cams for IR surveillance as the LEDs are way too powerless for outdoor night vision in my view - depends what you are happy with I guess, if they work in the first place...

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The birdbath is only about 7ft away from the window, and though you can see the IR reflection in the shed window, the lit area is too dim to see even a cat in the garden in any worthwhile clarity. A decent IR floodlight is required to get the best from the PiNoir, here at 960 x 720 res also. It makes for blocky pixelation.

For Picam and TalkTalk Powerline unit performance though, I am happy - the garage unit has 2 x RJ45s so is streaming both cameras simultaneously over the mains with no problems at all. The file transfers are very quick - the units are claimed 200Mb/s spec. I'm so impressed I bought another pair at £14 on Ebay.

To turn off the Picam red LED for running Motion, as it reflects in the glass, add the line below to the Raspbian /boot/config.txt file then reboot:

vi /boot/config.txt

disable_camera_led=1

I used the bracket from the Chinese cam to mount the Pi case:

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960 x 720 resolution in Motion conf file, then cropped and reduced 50% in Paint to upload.

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