Open source CCTV & Hardware

Just a little back story, I support a local charity with some IT (free), who are having issues with some local thieves and unpleasant types.


They have no budget to work with and the current equipment is not up to par (extremely poor resolution and poor night fidelity), I have a load of PC's lying around so I thought about introducing an opensource solution CCTV system.


I have come across zoneminder which looks good but thought I would pick peoples brains to see if there is a distro out there "ready to go".


And Finally what cameras do people recommend and dvr card too, I am prepared to dip into my own pocket to help them out but I would like to save as much money as possible (being the Orthodox tight arse that I am haha)






ubiquiti has a system that although not opensource, looks good on paper. i havent personally deployed it but plan to later this year for my dad. few cameras, a POE injector, a switch, and a computer can have it going. or they make a DVR you can also buy but they do provide the software if you would rather build your own DVR. i would opt for that solution

if you bought them the cameras, i think they come with a POE injector, and a 5 port switch. donated a PC you could have them a decent system. 3 cameras at 720p/30fps storing footage for 3 days needs about a 600GB HDD. according to WD page.

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interestingly, hikvision cameras need only an ordinary nas. they run linux and are smart enough to do their own archiving and cleanup. they support PoE and generally have a lot of nice features.

it's possible to get them running with zoneminder, but you could also run them with a nas such as the thecus NAS we reviewed.



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I've been working on a project for a month or so and I've come to the conclusion that for my situation Zoneminder is the best choice, problem being that it basically requires a LAMP server to operate, I chose to install Ubuntu server 14.x with the needed support (LAMP) and added a FTP server and Mail Server to the mix running on a older AMD quad core platform with 8g of RAM which handles it rather well. I chose to go with POE IP based cameras ran off of a managed Netgear POE switch. So far with 4 cameras installed (will be 8-10 when finished) system load (cpu) is below 2% with all cameras in motion detect mode.

Other than buying a cheap standalone system with analog cameras and a DVR this was the best option I could come up with, the IP cameras are going to set you back around $100 each, if you only needed a couple cameras (zones) covered it would be easy to build a Zoneminder system that is IP based using POE injectors and a couple cheap Hinkvision cameras like Wendell has suggested, if you have a computer that will run the server software you could get by for probably less that $400.

The only problem with Zoneminder is camera compatibility, there are lots of cameras supported but its just a drop in the bucket compared to what is available in the marketplace for sale, lots of cameras are made in china and thats not saying they are bad or junk but the same name brand camera is probably sold cheaper under another in point: I have several TrendNet bullet cameras in my system that cost between $139-$169 at Newegg, I have found a Hinkvision bullet camera that is the exact camera that sells for around $95, the cameras are identical in every way with the exception of the name on the camera, even the setup in Zoneminder is exactly the same.

The other option would be that some cameras come with management software for free (trendnet is one of them) so if you wanted to run in a Windows environment you only need a network camera (s) , a windows box, and a network to connect to, I believe the Trendnet software supports 32 cameras and is a free download. (more info can be found here

Anyway hope this helps you in some way :)

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If you wanted to, you could use raspberry pis and webcams with mjpg-streamer (I've used it and its low latency and light) but that probably won't work very well at night, and still requires you to have a central place to put all of the streams.

A little follow up for anyone who might be interested or come across this thread later, I needed to order a patch panel a few days ago and noticed the vendor had a couple IP based cameras that stated they were Onvif compliant which is a open standard that is suppose to make different manufacturers camera's work together (basically like PnP).

Anyway one of the cameras they listed looked good spec-wise so I ordered one to see if I could get it setup in Zoneminder, keep in mind this is a camera that they are selling for $48 USD when the closest low cost bullet IP camera that uses POE that I've found is the HIKVISION DS-2CD2032-I which sells around $90-$100 USD at Newegg, granted the $48 camera is just a 720p 1mp camera but I thought I'd give it a try.

So it came in yesterday and seems very well built or at least on par with the Hikvision low end cameras, took a little more than 10 min to get it up and running in Zoneminder which could have been under 5 min had the IP been set to what the paperwork said it was suppose to be. (said when it was no biggie, image quality seems ok and the night vision worked bench testing the unit.

Here's a link to the camera...

I do believe this is the same camera.... if you read the item description it states "Please note: the item lens have 3.6mm, 6mm, 8mm optional, if doesn't note or leave message about the lens, will send default lens. Default lens is 3.6mm."

So at $48 it could be a cheap alternative if your trying to set up a IP based CCTV on a tight budget.