Harbor Freight Color CCTV Camera

© Brooke Clarke 2007

Harbor Freight Color CCTV Camera



Background

I'm not sure if this one is still being offered.  The listings as of Aug 2007 are:
It's not clear to me what's different about them. Both come with a power supply and cable and the cameras both have microphone and IR LEDs for night vision.

I have mine mounted on the North facing side of the house looking toward the driveway and street.  The problem is that my ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro video software can not allow me to view the camera video and do anything else at the same time.  I've spent many days uninstalling and installing software and although it seems to work when no other application is running, that's no good for a 24/7 monitor.  It may just be an ATI software bug, so the next step is to try other software video video viewing or webcam type applications.  The other option would be to have a LCD TV screen dedicated to the camera.

The colors seemed washed out and I think that's because rather than go for color fidelity they have removed the near IR cut filter to allow the camera to see better when it's dark.  For this application that's a good thing to do.

26 Sep 2007 - around 8 pm it's too dark so this camera is showing black with a little noise.  But tonight there was a bright white spot much larger than one pixel right in the center of the screen, then it started moving down to the left then down to the right.  WTF is this?  I opened the front door to see what it was, and there was my wife watering plants with a lit cigarette in her hand.  The hot cigarette is showing up as a bright source of near IR.  I have seen reviews of astronomical CCTV cameras where a hot soldering iron was imaged, so this is a similar effect.

Oct 2007 - I notice that when a car leaves and you are seeing the rear lights the left and right running and brake lights appear bright white since they are filament bulbs that emit a lot of near IR but the center brake light appears red because it uses red LEDs that do not emit much if any near IR.  Areas of the image that are illuminated by direct Sun are mostly white.

Dead Camera

22 Oct 2007 - A wasp was starting to place the mud to make a nest just under the eyebrow of the camera.  Although not in good focus you could see him working.   Spraying the camera with the garden hose washed off the mud, but then the camera started to degrade and finally the monitor displayed No Signal.  Maybe it will dry out and come back to life. 
These Cameras Are Not Waterproof.  Only resistant to some downward rain!
23 Oct 2007 - The camera has improved.  Now there's an image, but out of focus, maybe there's water on the inside in the optical system?

WebCam Software

I would like to setup a web page displaying this cam.  I've been watching it using Fwink on my computer and the view is quite interesting even though it's mostly trees.  In the future I'd like to hook up a couple of other cameras to the same web page with the P-38 color camera aimed at the bird bath - deer & squirrel water bucket and the P164C aimed at the stars at night.  But can't find any free webcam software that works.

Webcam32 - I tried out the free demo version a number of years ago and it did most of what I want to do, but is no longer being offered.

Webcam2000 - is supposed to be the same, but the description says only server mode on demand which I don't think will work with my very limited upload capability via satellite.

Wapcam - it finds the WDM video camera but will not do anything with it.  That may be fair since it's advertised as working with USB cameras.  But it will not work with a USB camera either.

Tried Fwink - it will capture a still image and save it to a specified file at a specified time interval when a USB camera is connected, but not when using the composite video input, although it does show what the camera is seeing in it's window.  This does seem to work with USB cameras.

HELP! If you know of a free (with all the problems with the free ones makes you wonder if the commercial versions will work for me) webcam software please let me know.

Related

Super Circuits P-164C ( KPC-350BH) Monochrome Low Light CCTV camera
Super Circuits P-38 (Mintrol 63V5) Color Integrating Low Light CCTV camera
PC33C Color CCTV Camera
7" TFT Color Monitor

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  created 16 Aug 2007