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Linksys WVC54GCA

Features and some setup information

This page is a "leaf" on a tree with information about remote sensing. It is a leaf of the branch about putting an IP camera (a bit like a webcam, or CCTV) on your LAN, either for local viewing, or, if you want to "open the doors", viewing from afar across the internet.

If you are just getting started with using IP cams, you may want to visit an overview of using IP cams I have provided.

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But! Back to the point of this page: Information about a specific IP cam. (IP cams are like webcams, but they connect to a LAN via TCP as opposed to connecting to a single PC, e.g. via USB). Here you will find information specific to one camera... see the parent of this page for more general points on using IP cams.



Please bear with me? I am in the process of splitting out some specific information about individual cameras which was once all jammed into a "higher" page, along with other material. There is good information here... but perhaps also some rough edges from the edit process?

Features of Linksys WVC54GCA- why buy one?

I first "met" the Linksys WVC54GCA long ago... it was the first IP cam to give me good results. I've had several running for a number of years. I've also had one power supply fail, and one camera fail... in that order, of course... I'd replaced the power supply before I acquired the "spare" one. Sigh. But... remember... I've had these cameras for years.

One quick point to get out of the way... the WVC54GC... no A in the nameis, at least for my needs, considerably less than the Linksys WVC54GCA. It has no "snapshot" facility, and, as I remember things, you have to use Internet Explorer to view images from the camera. It also only has 320x240 pixel resolution, vs the 640x480 available from the WVC54GCA. But! Due to the foregoing, you may find one at a bargain price. If it does what you want....

The Linksys WVC54GCA has a feature that you won't find on every camera: You can set the motion detector to "look" at just a part of the view... quite useful, if you are using the motion detection.

For many years, the Linksys WVC54GCA was the recommended ip-cam of ComputerShopper.co.uk. (A while back, it was replaced by the Solwise... but maybe for the pan and tilt feature?)

I found the image from the Linksys unit superior to that from the Panasonic BL-C20, which I discuss in a minute, although the BL-C20 was better at capturing images in low light. The BL-C20, with the same "pixels" spec, and similar lens (the field of view is about 54 degrees wide) picked up less detail, and had worse JPEG jaggies.

So! You have a Linksys WVC54GCA, you've caught your rabbit.

Making it perform!...

The examples which follow assume that your camera is not using your LAN's DCHP server, but rather has a fixed local address of 192.168.0.254

It assumes that your router has an external, WAN, IP address which is known to the internet generally by means of MyRouter.dyndns.org, by the magic of DDNS, or "dynamic directory name server" services.

If you have only one http server on your LAN, it can be at the standard port, 80, and you do not need to explicitly specify it. For the sake of the examples, we will assume that you camera has been put on port 81, so explicitly specifying a port can be illustrated. Just drop the ":81" which appears in many of the lines below if you are using the default port 80... or use ":80"... it will do no harm, and remind you to put the port in, if you go beyond one server. Which you would do if you added another camera, for example.

Default admin user: "admin". Default password: "admin".

To fetch a "snapshot" from the Linksys WVC54GCA, the "magic code" is....

http://192.168.0.254:81/img/snapshot.cgi

or

http://MyRouter.DynDns.org:81/img/snapshot.cgi

... the first being the code you use if you are on the same LAN as the camera, the second being the code to access from afar, over the internet. (The second will also work "across" the LAN, but you will be "going around the houses".) (I won't be repeating the two variations after this, you have to remember they are there, use them as needed. The ":81" can be left out if you are using the standard port 80 for your IP cam, as discussed earlier.

However: You may need to issue the following command to the camera once...

http://192.168.0.254:81/adm/file.cgi?h_videotype=mjpeg&todo=save

This should switch the output stream from MPEG-4 to MJPEG

After that you can access it with...

http://192.168.0.254:81/img/mjpeg.cgi

... but I'd try the "... snapshot.cgi" first. The other command may not be necessary.... and with my camera, the camera "froze" up at least once a day, when I tried to access it via mjpeg.cgi. Didn't matter if I used WebCam Looker or a browser. A simple power cycle of the camera would put things right. Happily, even when the camera's mjpeg stream is "frozen" "...snapshot.cgi" still works, at least at one image per sixty seconds. (I imagine it would work at higher rates, but wouldn't want to push it too far.)

When the mjpeg stream is working, you should also be able to access the video stream with...

http://192.168.0.254:81/img/mjpeg.jpg

.. but that seems to "freeze" too.

In my hours of searching, I also found a post that said that if you issue the setup command mentioned earlier...

http://192.168.0.254:81/adm/file.cgi?h_videotype=mjpeg&todo=save

... then you can switch things back to what they were (mpeg4 streaming) with....

http://192.168.0.254:81/adm/file.cgi?h_videotype=mpeg4&todo=save

.... which you can try. I didn't. That post said "This (the first command) will disable the live view in the camera itself.", but I didn't find that to be the case. The post was quite old. The first setup (do once) command is the one I gave earlier, which worked fine in Feb 2010, with the latest firmware on offer at that time.

Email setup

See notes in FTP setup, in the "password" section. I don't think that the WVC54GCA can hold more than 6 characters in the field for your email passord. (And the account I wanted to use won't accept any password of less than 7 characters!)

But. If you enter a longer password when configuring the camera, it just throws away anything after the 6th character... without telling you what it has done.

FTP setup

A bit "gotcha", if I have finally figured this out. (I have got two WVC54GCAs sending .jpgs to an FTP server. Whether I've really "figured it out" and whether what follows is actually correct... who knows?!

By the way: When you are trying to get one of these cameras (or another) to work, USE the camera's system log (on the "Status" page, near the bottom, as I recall. And I think you need to use the "refresh" button there from time to time)

In my case, I wasted a lot of time because I didn't think I was triggering the "save to FTP" process. (There is a "test email" button, but no "test FTP" button. Sigh.

I have a Filezilla FTP server. I also have DYNDNS. One of my IP cams writes to the server over the internet, the other does it over the LAN... (or does it? At one point I was wondering it that were my problem, and sent the images from Cam "A", on LAN "A", out over the internet to the server... ALSO on LAN "A", but accessible from "out there", too.)

ANYWAY.... here are the things I learned about setting up a WVC54GCA to save via FTP, to a FileZilla server. Remember: Your firewall may need things done to it, too, especially you are going outside a LAN along the way.)

Yes- you can send things JUST to FTP. (You don't need to send to email if you want to send to FTP. (In fact, at least one of my cameras gets unreliable... I think... if you DO try to send one image two both "destinations".)

Remember to tick the "enabled" box.

I have only tested writing JPEGs to the FTP server.

I was using: Frame rate: 2fps, Pre-capture: 2 secs, Post: 2 secs, Interval: 2 minutes. (I believe this last setting says, "If you have detected motion and sent a jpeg, then just turn yourself off for the next two minutes.")

Server: It SHOULD be possible to use an address like 192.168.0.150... but at one stage, I was wondering if the camera needed something like "MyFTPServer.dyndns.org"

Port: 21 (assuming, of course, that your server is on the usual port.)

Logon (user name): Given the problem of entry length associated with password, which I will explain in a minute. Here I will mention that the user name (FTP server user) I was using had 14 characters, all letters and digits. No spaces.

Password: I don't think that the WVC54GCA will let you use FTP if the FTP password is too short. Crazy, I know, and maybe I've mis-understood... but when I made the password on an account longer, I started being able to save, when I hadn't been able to before. (Maybe I changed something else at the same time. Don't think so.)

For me, a password of seven digits and letters didn't work, but making it 12 characters long "fixed" things. See also my notes above about the email password. (That, I think, has to be less than seven characters long. Sigh.)

For "Passive", I had "DISABLE" showing. I believe that means that the FTP transfer will be done in the Active mode, i.e. that sending passively IS disablED.

Schedule: I had a schedule specified. You MIGHT find that having none specified means that FTP can happen 24/7... or it might be that it will NEVER happen if you haven't set a schedule. You can explicitly set "Every day, from 00:00 to 23:59", if you are nervous, like me.


Linksys WVC54GC- no "A"

N.B.: This section is specific to the Linksys WVC54GC. The wvc54gcA is quite different. (A section about the WVC54GCA appears before this section.) The WVC54GCA is a Very Nice (budget) IP cam. The WVC54GC is an "ok" IP cam... but not for FarWatch or WebCam Looker purposes.

The WVC54GC lacks an audio channel, and it is inferior to the later model, the WVC54GCA in other ways. The WVC54GC has a maximum resolution of 320x240, vs the 640x480 available on the WVC54GCA.

To view the image from the WVC54GC, you have to use a browser which allows ActiveX controls, e.g. Internet Explorer. Firefox "doesn't do" ActiveX... the technology is considered insecure. I finally bullied my IE 8 on a Windows XP system to load the necessary ActiveX control in March 2011. (It took turning off various things in the IE security settings... but I got there in the end. And once the control was installed, I was able to put my security back to where it had been, and continue using the now- installed control.) I've seen people online complaining that they haven't found a way to force Windows 7 to let them install the control, due to the age of it's certificate.

There doesn't seem to be a way (programmatically) to ask the WVC54GC for a jpeg "snapshot" of what it is seeing, which is, to me, a useful feature of the newer camera. I.e. there's no "secret code", e.g. 192.168.0.100/img/snapshot.jpg which will return a JPEG. (You can ask it, by clicking a button by hand, to take a snapshot of the live image if you are viewing the video stream in the webpage the device serves up.)

After that, you can enter the good administration software within the device. It reflects the age of the device, but, while limited, it is well done. I haven't tested all of the following, but it is supposed to have these features.

It can support DDNS... but only via the TZO service. (This isn't a big deal, if you are prepared to leave a PC running. The nice people at Dyn.com offer updaters which can run in the PC. I've done a separate guide to why you need, how to set up dyndns service.)

It has simple motion detection capabilities. It won't make your PC "beep" (or do anything else), but it will send an email, including (if you wish) a video clip. It won't send images or video to an FTP server, but you could argue that you can accomplish almost the same thing via the "send email" facility.

You can enable UPnP. You can tell it to use whatever port you like.

If anyone know a way around the "via ActiveX only" limitation, or a way to programmatically fetch JPEGs, please contact me. I'd be delighted to make better use of my WVC54GC (no "A"), and many eBay sellers would be delighted. Do remember that the WVC54GCA is an excellent IP cam, without any of the restrictions of the older WVC54GC. And it has the best image quality I've seen in a low cost IP cam... and I wilt when I think of the hours I've spent trying different models!





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