CCTV Resources – Why?
Since there are plenty of CCTV resources out there, including entire sites dedicated to the field, I’ve decided to pool some of the better ones right here for your perusal.
Resource #1: Ping – The Ultimate CCTV Resource
I don’t think I go through a day without using the ping command. It’s perhaps the simplest of tools on this list but by far the most used.
Take it a step further by checking out the article I have on pinging to a log file with a timestamp.
To get a full list of options to use with ping, simply run ping /?
Resource #2: Putty
I use Putty mainly to access switch consoles through a serial connection. You may also use it to access any SSH host, such as a camera or Raspberry Pi, for example.
Putty allows you to create logs for the session which you can then use for further troubleshooting.
Best of all? It’s free and open-source software.
Do you need help in using Putty? Check out this helpful guide from the folks at ssh.com.
Resource #3: Advanced IP Scanner
This multi-faceted tool will list all network devices within a given IP range.
It’s a great generic tool for discovering cameras on your network. Best of all, it’s free and portable. You can carry it on USB wherever you go.
Apart from detecting devices, it allows you to administrate computers remotely via Radmin, or booting PCs with Wake-On-Lan.
If you’re not familiar with it, check out Advanced IP Scanner.
Resource #4: No-IP Dynamic DNS Service
Nowadays, most surveillance systems allow the user to view cameras remotely through some or other cloud solution. Where that’s not possible, you’ll have to forward ports and, unless you have a static IP from your service provider, will require some dynamic DNS service.
The free subscription allows up to three hostnames and requires that you reactivate the service monthly. A paid service is also available.
So, you can create a hostname such as mycamerasystem.ddns.net. This hostname resolves to the IP address provided by your router, no matter how frequently the address changes.
Resource #5: You Get Signal – Port Forwarding Tester
Speaking of port forwarding, you may need to verify whether a port is correctly forwarded.
Many, many websites help you check exactly that. The service from You Get Signal is just the go-to utility I use for this.
Resource #6: Super Circuits Video Security Tools
Check out this collection of useful CCTV resources from the guys at Super Circuits.
Here are some of my favourites:
- CCTV Lens Field of View Calculator
- Voltage Drop Calculator Tool
- NVR Storage Calculator for Network IP Cameras
Resource #7: ONVIF Device Manager
The Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF), is a standardised interface for interconnecting cameras.
The ONVIF Device Manager will connect to any ONVIF compliant camera. This way you can test whether there’s an ONVIF version mismatch between NVR and device.
It immediately detects ONVIF devices on your network.
Resource #8: VLC
If you’re not using VLC already, you and I can’t be friends.
I’m just kidding, of course.
And, if you’re only using it as a hassle-free media player that plays just about everything, then you’re missing out!
Here’s a brief list of things you can do with VLC you probably didn’t even know of:
- Convert video files
- Capture your desktop
- Capture your webcam
- Record video clips
- Stream and download YouTube videos
- Use it to stream your content to others
But, let me not digress any further. If you’re interested in using VLC for the above-mentioned, Lifehacker has a great article that covers many hidden uses for VLC.
We’re looking at its uses pertaining CCTV.
Despite ONVIF, there is, unfortunately, occasions when connecting to a camera requires a direct stream.
You can do this with the Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP).
VLC can stream directly from your IP camera using this protocol. It is a great tool to test the RTSP stream URL and camera credentials.
From there you can check the codec information, frame rate and bit rate.
Resource #9: Open Broadcast Software – An Unlikely CCTV Resource
While you can capture your desktop using VLC, OBS Studio offers that and more.
You see, I don’t like repeating myself. So, instead, I create short clips to answer the most common questions. Then, save it in a folder and fire it off in a mail the next someone needs it.
Perhaps it sounds crude, but it’s about efficiency. While you wouldn’t think of it as a CCTV resource, I’ve successfully made it one.
But, that’s not all you can do with OBS Studio. Not even close.
Stream live to YouTube, Facebook or Twitch or create detailed tutorials. Heck, you could even stream your VLC playlist directly.
Using our little RTSP trick above, we can, if we wanted, broadcast a camera stream live to any of the services above in real-time.
Resource #10: Google Earth
Are you working on a design for a customer’s premises? One of the better-known CCTV resources is Google Earth.
Grab a satellite image of the location, draw a line to get an accurate measure of perimeter length and export to your favourite CCTV design tool.
Start plotting those cameras.
Resource #11: Lucidchart – My New Favourite CCTV Resource
Sign up for a free account or sign up for as little as $7.95/mo.
I could explain, but why would I when I can show you?
Resource #12: Remote Access Solutions
Look, I subscribe to the ideological viewpoint of teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish.
You know, feeding him for a lifetime rather than a day.
That’s the entire reason this blog exists.
Unfortunately, and if you’re in any geeky position yourself you will know sometimes that’s just not enough. At some point, you will need to assist remotely.
Install the software and provide your unique ID and password to the person you want to grant access. The premise is simple.
As you can see, there’s not much difference.
What else is out there for me to use to make my job easier? Tell me in the comments section below.