Use a USB WEB Cameras, with wired and wireless sensors to create a simple to use, simple to install

Gary Drake | BroadBandSentry

Use a USB WEB Cameras, with wired and wireless sensors to create a simple to use, simple to install home monitoring network for images, doors, windows, heat, water sensors!
By Gary Drake -

Have a home, apartment, doors, windows, water heaters, weather that freezes, or spaces to watch. Then read on, combining your Broadband connection with can give you peace of mind.

The Client/Server model is premise on the user really not needing or wanting all the hardware and software required. All a user wants is for the task to be handled and as simply as possible. In addition the Client/Server model allows for the Client side to be as small as possible, the client is expected to support only a single user, all management task are handled by software on the server.

The Client/Server model is used to implement the service you are reading about in this article on Just as the web browser is a client to the web server. We have created a small, simple to use web client program that acts as the interface between your local network devices and where the user interface and background processing takes place. You are a Client to our server, no different from your web browser or email client. No network guru needed! By combining the Client/Server model with low cost hardware for your local network, a complete monitoring solution is possible.

Your Network:

The very basic network diagram above supplies a picture for explaining the idea's behind Starting at the top left with the cloud that represents the Internet, next is the Modem or physical connection to the world. The modem and the router shown can be in the same box or be a separate box. The router can as well also have firewall functions for increasing network security. How your network reaches the place that you can plug in more then one Ethernet device is not important. What is important is the concept that in the above diagram each computer can be a local web server supplying images, or switches (Using a Low Cost PC to create a Web Enabled Monitoring System). Each printer can be a Ethernet print server being used to monitor switches, or relays serves (Internet based monitoring using low cost solutions.). Any Wired or wireless connecting Ethernet device that has a web page displaying it's status (wireless print servers), or can run the web page we presented in our previous article Using a Low Cost PC to create a Web Enabled Monitoring System.

All user setup for using is web based, including the setup for the Client program to link your home network. No changes are required in the network connection to your ISP, standard protocols and port are used. Your network is not accessible from the outside, no hole cut in your firewall, no servers running. The Client program sends updated status/images to Settings required by the Client program are also sent to the Client program in response to request to, no local command line switches or setup files are used.

The Client program runs on any computer within your network that has access to the resources you request monitored. These resource can be JPG images from a USB web camera, and any combination of serial port (No cost / Low cost Web based monitoring system using your computer, and a free web based service from , print serves (Internet based Monitoring using low cost solutions.), and local web servers (Using a Low Cost PC to create a Web Enabled Monitoring System). All my previous article ideas can be combined on your local network with the Client program connecting them to

A separate program is required for first capturing images from the usb cam, ConquerCam by works nicely. Set ConquereCam to store the image to disk on the same computer running the Client or in a directory that is accessible from the Client. Web camera's that can server a JPG image can be used directly by the client.

The Client program accesses your account at, the server responds with a list of what devices you have configured to monitor for you. You configure the local device action and the response using the web interface at .

Client Functions:

The Client can access:

  • JPG images files
  • Http of web pages, Print servers, software http server, http of Image servers (web camera's that can directly supply a jpg image)
  • Files

JPG images files

With low cost USB web cameras and software such as's an array of camera's can be configured. Point a camera at a door, down a hall, when motion is detected the image will be sent to Then forwarded to your Cell Phone, email account, and optionally stored for your review. USB camera's can be located at some distance from your computer using extension cables, that rang from short cable extensions to equipment support over 150 feet.

Web Camera other then USB:

There are several different web cam's available that connect directly to the Ethernet. Wired and wireless interface are available in numerous 802.11's . An important point is that for a camera to work with it must serve up a JPG page. It can not use streaming protocols. If the web address you go to from your browser to view your camera requires any plugins (an activeX plugin) then it will not work. works with web cameras using the http protocol as described below, For example: uses a example of a camera that serves up a jpg image,

Http of web pages, Print servers, software Http server, Http of Image servers:

A valid Http:// address can be uploaded to, the contents can be HTML that contains text that can be compared against keywords, a status page from a wired or wireless print server. Also the page can be a JPG image from a web camera (for example:, this URL returns a JPG image. Only the fact of an updated image can be ascertained from JPG image url's.

When the HTML page is from a print server, text can be compared and messages and events triggered base on finding or not finding the requested string.


As asked in the opening sentence "Have a home, apartment, doors, windows, water heaters, weather that freezes, or spaces to watch. ", you will have said yes to at least one of those. All of these can of course be answered by the traditional alarm system company, but if you don't feel the need of a traditional alarm system, you can still be alerted to the status that really matters to you.

From the simplest prospective you can use your Broadband connection and some simple hardware from your local home supplies store, from which create a simple Temperature sensor, for the next time you go away for your winter vacation.

Have a garage door, ever wonder if you left it open? Is it electric and wonder if it opened by its self? Using a magnetic switch assembly from your local electronics store and a print sever (wired or wireless) as the remote device.

USB web camera's allow for a inexpensive way of adding a real-time image and alerts. The motion sensing function can be used to sense not only the motion of an object but it can be used to sense changes in light. Major changes in light are detected as motion, slow changes such as clouds and ambient light from morning to night can mostly be filtered out. But major shifts, a flashing light, a room light coming on or going off, something passing in front of a light pointed at the camera can trigger programs such as from which can be set to sense such changes. Using this feature a device, and events can be monitored creatively that might not at first seem possible. When combined with the Client and service from supplying the complete user interface for managing notification

So the next time you wonder:

Did I close the Garage door?
Skylight open?
Water in the Basement?
Sump pump fail?
No Power?
No Heat?

The configuration and settings for the Client software are done on the WEB, using, no changes to your Firewall, standard protocols are used. Within your personal network you can use any combination of web enabled device. The client works with these devices just as you would from your favorite browser, you set them up just as you would to access them locally. At you enter the same URL you would use with in your local network. The client program, since it is local, uses that URL to access your device on your local network and send the information to where server software communicates to your choice of devices based on your requirements

Settings such as haven't heard from your network, can be setup. This can be used to signal a failure of power, or your isp down. Just want to know about heat or water when you are always? Join configure alerts an event occurring and then turn on the client to run on your home computer while you are away. When you don't need the monitoring don't run the client, it that simple.


At the simplest level your home computer and a USB web camera can be used. Add a low cost temperature sensor, water sensor to the same computer, set it to run the Client by default. Then leave it on when you want monitoring, stop it when you don't need it.

Adding other sensors using low cost print servers (both wired and wireless) distributed around your home or property (I use a wireless print server on my tool sheds door) can easily expand your monitoring network.

The Client software can be run from any computer on your network, also more then one computer can be a client directly to

With the cost of computers having dropped rapidly, dedicating a computer to the client software or to a usb camera is not an unreasonable concept. When you compare the cost of dedicated web sensors or dedicated web camera's one can make a case for setting a machine aside that does nothing but support the monitoring function.


There are numerous ways to connect, and sense the state of your real world. There is no need to wait for technology, the technology is here now! Affordable off the shelf solutions can be used today to give you real peace of mind about your real world.

Don't know how to setup a home network or home sensors? There are numerous companies local to you offering these services, no special knowledge is required to use Home networking companies can configure your system easily, using a standard web browser.

No excuses,, and know what happening in your real world.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of HomeToys

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