The idea of a full-fledged camera system constantly monitoring your home is very exciting, but looking at the cost of such a surveillance set – complete with a DVR – is rather disheartening. But what if you have a spare GoPro kicking around? It’s a camera alright, and with a little bit of tech know-how it can be turned into a fierce security camera.
The benefits of this idea are not hard to figure out: you don’t need to purchase an expensive camera; the installation is not so complicated; and you can enjoy the feeling of self-satisfaction for building your own home security system. But on the downside, the GoPro might not be cut out for such purpose at all…
Setting Up Your GoPro Security System
In order to turn the GoPro into a security camera, you will need to establish a live streaming link with the computer. It may require some fiddling, but the results will justify the effort. First, enable Wi-Fi for the GoPro app, then connect to the GoPro’s network with the computer.
To do so you must find the GoPro network’s IP address. There is a high chance that it’s 10.5.5.9, but it is better to be sure of it. Visit the router list, select GoPro, and then head to the TCP/IP tab in the System Preferences > Network > Advanced menu. You’ll find the IP address under the name “Router”. Now all you need to do is copy the address to the browser on port 8080. The result should look like this: http://10.5.5.9:8080.
You should also have a feature-rich media player installed on the computer – something like VLC – to access the footage. Open the software’s network menu and enter the following line into the URL field: udp://@:8554. This is used for streaming purposes. If all these steps are followed, the live footage will appear on your screen.
You Can Do Better
The ability to hook up your old GoPro with a computer or smartphone sounds good on paper, but there are some rather glaring issues dangling menacingly over the concept. The biggest is undoubtedly the hardware life.
The manufacturer clearly states that GoPros aren’t designed for non-stop use. Using the camera in this way will cause it to overheat, cancelling the stream and potentially damaging the device. To make matters worse, the company will refuse your warranty claim if they discover that you were tinkering with the product and using it for unintended purposes.
But the flaws of using the hardware like this doesn’t stop there. Let’s say you have a camera but it’s not internet-enabled, meaning you can’t use your Wi-Fi to stream the footage. If so, you’ll need to purchase a capture card to record the live video.
You might also need a motion detector add-on for the GoPro so it is triggered upon activity instead of running 24/7 – which would quickly drain the short battery life even if it didn’t overheat. And consider this, by buying a GoPro you’ve already spent more than the cost of a mid-range IP camera anyway.
To be honest, if you wish to have a trusted security system then it is better to purchase a professional camera. Home security companies offer a wide range of products, from outdoor bullet cameras to indoor IP cameras. There are even hidden cameras that can stream the footage to your phone.
If you are really bent on substituting an IP camera with a more cost-effective option, then consider using a cheap, old smartphone instead of a GoPro. Smartphones connect to the Wi-Fi by their nature, and more recent models have very good built-in cameras. The app stores are chock full of free software (like Alfred) that enable the phone with extra features such as night vision or motion detection.
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