DIY High-Tech Home Monitoring With a Dash of iPhone Coolness

Due to a rash of break-ins in our neighborhood over the last several weeks, I decided to take the plunge and purchase and setup a couple of iPhone controllable security cameras in the hope that we could keep an eye on our house and be alerted should anyone try to break in.

There were dozens of options to choose from. I had three goals in mind that helped me to narrow down my choices.

1. Wireless Camera – The camera had to be wireless because I didn’t want to run any cables.

2. iPhone accessible – I wanted to be able to use my iPhone to view the camera whenever and wherever I wanted.

3. Motion sensing with snapshot or video to e-mail – Unless I was willing to watch the camera feed 24/7, I would need to have some type of motion sensing capability to alert me via e-mail when someone was trying to break in.

After thorough research, I finally settled on two cameras from Foscam (the indoor Foscam FI8918W (Buy on Amazon) and the outdoor Foscam FI8905W (Buy on Amazon). Many folks were impressed by the low cost, build quality and the features that these cameras offer. The indoor model offered pan and tilt capability (so I could remotely control what I was looking at) and the outdoor fixed position model allowed for weatherproof housing and enhanced night vision capabilities.

Setup was not as straightforward as I would have hoped. Instructions were adequate but contained some very rough Chinese-to-English translation.

Even though the cameras are wireless, you must still plug them into your router via an Ethernet cable to perform the initial setup procedures. Once setup is completed, you can untether from the network cable and use wireless to connect to the camera. Both cameras featured WEP and WPA encryption as well as password protected user access.

To complicate things, I was using an iMac with an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station as my router. I had to do some digging in the AirPort Utility in order to find out what IP address my router assigned the camera when I plugged it in. You must know what IP address is assigned by your router to the camera because all of the setups is browser-based.

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