IP Cameras: Hardware

For the experiments on these pages, I used an unwanted old PC which had multiple ethernet ports. I was able to use one of the spare ports to connect to a small TP Link (or NetGear) PoE switch, and then on to the cameras.

Running the cameras from PoE means just a single wire to each camera, and no worries about WiFi being blocked or intercepted. Ideally the switch would let one turn the cameras on and off remotely by allowing one to turn the PoE to each port on and off remotely. The cheap switch used (a SG108PE) did not permit this, but does support up to four PoE devices, with eight ports in total .

Running the cameras on a separate physical network means that they cannot be contacted at all except from the host PC. So it is not even necessary to set passwords. (The Annke camera refuses to run passwordles though.) The host computer offered DHCP on the interface to which they were connected.

It also means that the stream from the camera to the host computer running the webserver is unlikely to suffer problems with network contention. No matter how busy the connection from the computer to the wider internet is, the connection to the private network which contains, in this case, just two cameras, will be quiet.

The host computer had a 2.67GHz Nehalem processor, dating from around 2010. The HLS without transcoding tricks used meant that ffmpeg used under 5% of a CPU core per camera. I am fairly sure that the cores remained at their idle speed of 1.2GHz, so this is very little CPU power indeed.

The Annke camera was a CZ400, the Reolink a RLC-511. Neither is particularly recommended or disrecommended, save that it should be noted that the Annke's web interface is very restricted unless one installs a browser plugin which is available as a Windows binary only. "Very restricted" means no live view, and no ability to move or zoom the camera. This makes the camera useless unless you have some other means of aiming it. Both have features which are unwanted in a seminar room camera, sich as infra-red lights and alarms. Both have microphones, although that on the Annke is noticeably better.

Cost? PoE switch and Reolink camera around £100 each, Annke camera around £300 (one may need to purchase a wall-mounting bracket too).