Security Camera System for Small Room? Need suggestions

To start off, I have no idea where would be appropriate for this topic, so I put it in "Other Hardware".

This September, I plan to move far from home into college residence, with between 1-5 other people (can't guarantee # of people just yet, but it shouldn't matter), and will be bringing a desktop, monitor, speakers, two laptops, and a whole bunch of other stuff with me, totalling over $3k CAD, and I of course want to keep it all safe, so I've decided that I want to set up surveillance in my room. What I need help/suggestions with is the equipment, software used to do this, and maybe even the plan of it all.

My plan so far is to have 1-2 cameras (if I do 1, it'll face only the door, if I do 2, it'll face opposite directions, giving a view of the whole room) constantly recording, however, only saving the recording when it detects movement, to a dedicated netbook computer (Intel N450/2GB RAM). While movement is occuring, I also want it to be streaming that data to EITHER:

-my server at home (not in the dorm), to be saved automatically. That way, even if the potential thief steals my recording equipment, I will still have a safe copy at my house.
-a small device (like a raspberry PI) hidden somewhere in my room, via Bluetooth (or some other form of wireless connection)

And... that's about it... So, I guess to start this off, is what I'm wanting to do reasonable/possible with a budget of $100 CAD? I already own the netbook with a couple HDD's/SSD's to use. What I don't have so far is the RBPi (~20-30), and the cameras (there seems to be quite a few cheap ones on EBay, but no idea if I should trust them).

Thanks :)

I have an older version of this and it's pretty good. They have software that you load up and it'll act like your DVR software.

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Would webcams work?

Would you be able to comment on image quality, especially in low light, since there doesn't appear to be many IR LED's.

How do you currently have it setup? Do you use the FTP feature of it?

I don't want my surveillance camera to connect directly to the internet, because it is quite common for hackers to gain access, hence why in my original plan, I wanted to save the data initially to the netbook, and then stream out the data.

Aside from those two aspects, that camera seems to do basically everything I want, in one package.

I was originally intending to connect webcams to the netbook, so yup, give me webcam suggestions/ideas! :D

Edit: If I went the webcam route, I was originally intending to use the software called Yawcam (, since it can do the FTP upload, however, it only appears it takes jpeg images, and doesn't actually do a continuous recording, as I would like.

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You're not going to be able to stream to your home server without it being vulnerable in some way. If you want it like that the only option is same location recording.

It's a bit pricey but a good one none the less.

and you get one refurbed for a little savings.

or you know, something a bit more sketch like

and of course

if you need it

Oh yeah, I completely agree with you there, and know that I will be somewhat vulnerable, however, I want it to be somewhat secure.

Unless someone tells me otherwise, I imagine an encrypted connection between my server and the netbook (running a constantly updated version of Win7) to be much more secure than a security camera's software.

Really like that first webcam, because it appears to be really small, and easy to hide in a small corner of the room. However, would you happen to also know of a piece of Windows software that will allow for the motion-activated recording, and not just motion-activated pictures, like in Yawcam?

If there isn't a free or cheap piece of software which can mimic basically what @Yockanookany linked, I really don't feel like I could use it. I really need the FTP and motion-activated recording.

Random question for all; are there surveillance cameras which do stream the data over a FTP (to, for example, the RBPi), if motion is detected, to prevent an intruder from tampering with the main camera and possibly leading to me not catching them? I feel like this would be an incredibly useful feature.

For the curious, this is why I don't want my webcam/camera to connect directly to the internet, but instead connect to a netbook first, and then send the data elsewhere:

that's were things get murky

i've heard some good things about iSpy but i'm sure a better solution will probably be some python script with bad documentation and loads of dependencies.

I'm working on a system using a low power motherboard (ASRock N3150M) and a couple of cheap webcams (Logitech C270). They say they only do 1280x720, but actually they do 1280x960 which I think would work well enough to see someone hauling all of your crap out of your room. I got 2 on sale $18 each online through Best Buy

I can't remember any good software for Windows, although I do remember playing around with some decent and free motion activated stuff in the past. I am using Linux and going with Motion software for now. It seems like it should work out for me. I haven't dug far enough into it, but I was hoping to use something like the free version of Resilio (formerly Bit Torrent Sync), or rsync in Linux to sync up a remote drive on a R Pi knockoff over wifi.

My plan is to use an offline network to connect the devices. I believe you can set up the Pi3 as a wifi access point, or perhaps get a USB wifi adapter with the same ability, and connect via wifi from your laptop to the Pi. From there you could use whatever software to sync up the folder of the netbook to the Pi.

Hiding the Pi will be key. Making it look like something that is complete garbage would be a good idea. Perhaps you could find an old clock radio and rip out the radio part to fit the Pi inside (maybe a Pi Zero W) You could try to go a step further and use a Pi Zero W with a NoIR Pi Cam and jam it into a wall clock to record with Motion software and then set up the netbook to record a backup. This would require the netbook wifi adapter having access point mode or using a separate router if you want it to stay offline.


I didn't bother with FTP or anything,it just saves to a local HDD when motion is detected. My version has IR and it's pretty decent. Adequate enough for me to not be concerned with it for inside use. I firewalled off the camera from the internet so that's not a concern for me really... if I need to access it I VPN into my network and look at it.

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Be careful about recording in a dorm room, I don't think that's considered public space. Did you convey this to your room mates? Kinda shitty move if you had not.

Seems to have basically the same features as Yawcam, sadly :/

"It can then start recording on a schedule or on motion detection and then automatically FTP, email or SMS you images of the people who have stolen your computer."

However, when I do have the time, I will download the software, and check to see whether it can also do a recording.

Thanks for the suggestion :)

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I am totally fine with using Linux, if there is good documentary as to how to install the software, along with tinker with it, since I have very little experience in the terminal.

Do you know the name of the software that you used in Linux, for motion activated recording?

I did not know this existed. This may be helpful to me! Thanks! :D

Holy crap, that is an amazing idea. I didn't even think about that! If I went the RBPi route, I was originally intending to just hide it underneath my bed or something, but that is a much, much better idea!

No idea who my roommates are yet (will find out around July). I don't have intentions to tell them either. They shouldn't be in my room anyway when I'm not in there, so fuck that, I don't think this is a shitty thing to do.

@Goblin I saw your message in The Lounge March Edition

You made very valid points on whether I should/shouldn't tell my roommates that I have a camera in my room.

I don't know who the people that I will be living with yet, and even when I do know them, I wouldn't have known them for years and have gained their trust that they won't fuck with my stuff, hence why I want to install the camera. As you said, I'm installing the camera(s) basically to have peace-of-mind.

I have no intentions to tell my "roommates" that I will install camera's into my room.

I think people may be thinking that I will be sharing the sleeping place with someone, and I will not. I will have my own separate bedroom, and so will they, and the only places that will be shared is the general living room/kitchen, and the bathroom. There will be a door (which I don't think has locks) separating the bedroom from the living room area.

This is basically how it will look like:

I was under the assumption it was a shared sleeping area.

I had some foscam pan tilt cameras that had motion detection. They would email me a bunch of stills from a set time frame (time before/after motion was detected) They make some with SD cards too so you wouldn't need an nvr setup. I also had an app on my android phone called foscam monitor for watching the stream, theres another called tinycam that worked well. Both those apps could record the stream on phone as well.

i wasn't sure whether asking in this thread would derail it into the "ethics" of surveilling, but you obviously don't mind so fair enough.

i mean, again, i have no real issue with what you do with your own time and that, i'm just questioning whether it'll actually work/be more trouble than it's worth. i assume where ever you're going has expressly allowed this, cause with how anal colleges can be now, i would at least go ASK before you blow money on a camera system and then spend the rest of your time petrified of people finding it. you have to ask yourself as well, apart from the laptops and the smaller things, how's the thief going to get it out of your thing in the first place? unless EVERYONE is out at once, there's going to be at least one person there if the thief doesn't live with you [ie. a break in], and if they do live with you, at least one person is going to have to be in on it with them. otherwise they'll have to lug your stuff PAST you/other people in the common area.

i don't know, you can mostly ignore the logistical spitballing if you want, but i would at least go ask the college authorities if you're ALLOWED to do this. otherwise even if you do get broken into and you catch the person on camera, you won't be allowed to use it as evidence since you weren't supposed to have the camera system anyway.