IpCams- Use, Command Codes, Etc

Features and quirks of specific IP cameras

How to pull snapshots from them, to use in webpages, to use with things like FarWatch, WebCam Looker, Xeoma

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This page was edited heavily in February of 2019. It has been whittled down to one topic: A table of contents to pages about the quirks and command codes for specific IP cameras.

If you are viewing this on a computer, may I suggest, before you give yourself eyestrain, if you haven't already done so, that you make your browser window take up less than the full width of the screen? Everything will flow properly .. and you will have more readable text.

The page has evolved from one created in 2010, which mostly promoted someone else's software for viewing CCTV across the internet. That product, "WebCam Looker", is still around today (!), but now this page is more about how to use IpCams than about WebCam Looker.

This page has been pared down to details about specific cameras. Features. How to set them up. The "codes" (IP commands) to get them to "do things"... like return a snapshot to, say, a program which archives one an hour on your disk, or when some event is detected by, say, an Arduino.

Most of the rest of what used to be here (before 18 Feb 19) is now on the following pages. (The links will open in new tabs... just close them to get back here.)

A table of contents to take you to camera-specific pages is a little further down the page. It follows just a bit of introductory material.

Uses for IpCams...

Once you have a camera up and running, just looking at the pictures is but a start. FarWatch is a family of solutions for remotely monitoring premises. It integrates with IpCams, but can also do other things. There's a "small" version which reports temperatures (no images) that runs in an Arduino clone on the watched premises for about $30. (And fancier ones, with images, etc. They can monitor the weather... and much more.)

Eat your vegetables

Boring, I know. You just want to play with your camera. But...

As scary as doing firmware updates is... and you should be (moderately) scared... I would recommend that you seriously consider doing a firmware upgrade of any camera, especially if you bought an elderly eBay bargain. Do the firmware update (almost) before you do anything else with it. If you don't know where it's been, do an "upgrade", even if you camera already has the latest, greatest version of the camera's firmware.

For those who are not seasoned updaters of firmware, I have written a beginner's guide to firmware upgrades.

Mistakes can be very tedious, even though the process is not rocket science.

If you refresh the firmware early on, not only will you be spared fighting with things that weren't right in older versions of the camera's firmware, but you will protect yourself from the remote but serious possibility that something nasty has been put into the camera by an evil doer. Your camera will be able to see things that are important to you. It probably has a microphone. You will probably turn off your firewall at least once during the fight to get it working. You may have tell your browser that you "don't care" that the ActiveX control the camera wants to use is uncertified. Hmm. Sigh.

Some "naming of parts"...

IP-CAM: An "IpCam" is a device which can be connected to a local area network (LAN), and supply images (at least still, maybe still and moving) to a web browser, e.g. Firefox. These devices often are capable of much more, but for our purposes, that's all we need. And we don't need the camera's supplier's proprietary software cluttering up our PCs, either. Typically, you connect the IpCam with a cable at least once, and then use a browser to go to a URL like to access the camera's control panel. There, you set various things like the resolution you want, and, if the camera has the feature, the settings for the wireless networking connection. You then disconnect the cable, and if all is well find the camera connected to your LAN by its wireless circuits.

With just an IP Cam FTP'ing to a server, and the free IrfanView, and the free VDub (both on Win7), I made an amusing 3 minute YouTube of the dreadful snow of "Spring" 2015 in coastal Connecticut. Well. It amused me, anyway.

DIGITAL I/O: Let's start with what this does not refer to: When I speak of a given camera having digital I/O (input and output), I am not talking about how the image is rendered. I am saying that the camera in question has places where you can connect external electronics or electrics. Such cameras can, for instance, set off an alarm bell when they "see" movement. They can be "told" to take a picture and email it, or store it, when, say, a PIR detects someone present. I have a page for you with more on IpCam digital I/O. (It will open in a new tab or window. Just close that to get back here easily.)

Links to notes about specific cameras

Each of the pages listed says a bit about the camera's features, to help prospective buyers. It also gives The details of each camera's "secret command codes", as far as I have uncovered them. (The "secret command codes" let you do things like fetching a snapshot from a camera, to use in some other software. (Like FarWatch!))

Compro IP60: Detail at Compro IP60 guide.

Linksys WVC54GCA and WVC54GC (no): Details at Linksys WVC54GCA guide.

Panasonic BL-20C: Detail at Panasonic BL-20C guide.

Panasonic BL-C101E: Detail at Panasonic BL-C101E guide.

Tenvis Mini319W: Detail at Tenvis Mini319W guide. This IP cam seems fairly "modern" and to have sold well at Amazon, up to February 2014. It didn't pretend to be "fancy"... but I found it a pain to work with, and seriously flawed. Details in the guide. When I started work with this camera, my LAN was based on 192.168.0.xxx... but the camera was supplied with a static IP address in place. In the 192.168.1.xxx range. I discuss implications and cures for the resultant need to change the IP address from 192.168.1.xx.

TP-Link TL-SC4171G/ TL-SC3171: Detail at TP-Link TL-SC4171G guide. The 4171 has pan and tilt. The TL-SC3171 doesn't, but is similar in most other ways.

TP-Link NC220: Detail at TP-Link NC-220 guide. A nice, new... well compared to many of my IP cams, often bought second-hand, inexpensive camera from a source I'd had good experiences with. Sigh. Not as nice as I'd hoped. A good basic "watch someplace on your LAN" camera, maybe. Details, and some setup help.

Wansview NCB541W: This is very similar to cameras with different model numbers from: Wanscam, Foscam, Storage Options, Shinntto, Tenvis, and no doubt others! Bah!! Details at Wansview NCB541W guide. Despite my frustration with the "cross posting" of the device, I have to admit it works pretty well, has good features.

If what you are looking for isn't in the above, you could try the extensive notes at the site produced for the application called "Motion".

IpCams are cool! In 2015, with just an IpCam FTP'ing to a server, and the free IrfanView, and the free VDub (both on Win7), I made an amusing 3 minute YouTube of the dreadful snow of "Spring" 2015 in coastal Connecticut. Well. It amused me, anyway. A friend was struck down, languished in a coma for that season. Afterwards, everyone was moaning about the weather while he was out of it. Only when he saw the time-lapse did he stop discounting the moaning!

A little bit of humor to end with. The following appeared in one discussion I read while researching the above...

"This is an excellent camera. I used it to watch my children at home from my office. I have four of them and recommend to everybody."

Is that children or cameras of which he has four? Four of each, maybe?

(return to table of contents)