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Using old Smartphone for surveillance/baby monitor etc.
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Posted 12/19/2021 09:23 (#9385633)
Subject: Using old Smartphone for surveillance/baby monitor etc.

Southern Minnesota
I'm in the process of setting up a workshop/lab for my Winter projects in my basement. Problem is I can't see out like I could upstairs in the office. The other day I hit upon the idea of placing one of my Larsen Cameras in the back window facing the dooryard so I could check on it via my phone. I have one of the Larsen cameras mounted on a plastic box that holds a 110VAC to DC adapter to run the camera. The camera communicates to the CamHi phone app as a Soft Access Point. This means that the internet is not involved and the communication is directly between the phone and the camera. I have magnets on the box so I can stick it on a grain bin pointing down at the truck for loading.

At first I thought this was going to work well for checking out the dooryard from the basement. I soon discovered that the range is rather limited when obstructions are involved and I was not receiving the camera signal in the basement. It worked in the kitchen and some rooms upstairs depending on the number of walls in between.

I decided to explore security cameras. I don't have any but know there are a wide range of choices. When looking at some You Tube videos I happened upon one that described using a smartphone or modern tablet as a "camera" and another smartphone or tablet as a "viewer". I watched the video which described using a phone/tablet app called ALFRED. I'm sure there are others but I went with this one.

Since I recently purchased a refurbished iPhone 8, I had still have my iPhone 6. I have moved the SIM card from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 8 so I have phone service on the iPhone 8. I had done a backup of the iPhone 6 which I restored to the iPhone 8 which copied my contracts, apps etc. to the iPhone 8. I have some Bluetooth apps (garage opener etc.) that required me to pair them but otherwise this went well.

This means the old iPhone 6 can still do most of what is used to do. I cannot talk or use a cellular connection on it anymore but the camera, music etc. still work fine. I can use the Internet but I must be within range of WIFI.

I decided to try the Alfred App. I have the iPhone 6 and iPhone 8 mentioned above as well as an iPad Pro all of which use IOS. I also have a cheap Onn tablet that uses the Android Operating System. The Alfred app is available for both operating systems. I downloaded it for the iPhones and the Android tablet. The system does require internet access which is not a problem for my purposes in my house. The information goes from the device being used as a camera to my router and to the Internet. The app on the viewer uses the Internet for communication to it. This means I can check on my dooryard wherever I have internet access for my viewer. This could be WIFI or cellular.

The installation was very easy. Like many apps, they have the free version and a paid version. I stuck with the free version so I do have to work around some of the Ads which seems acceptable at this point. The paid version eliminates the Ads and allows for some advanced features.

Upon installation of the app, it asks a few questions, one of which is "Should this device be setup as a camera or a viewer?" I set the older iPhone 6 up as a camera and the newer iPhone 8 as a viewer. This was really about all there is to it. I launched the app on the iPhone 6 and placed it next to a window. I launched the app on the iPhone 8. After it connected it showed the picture from the iPhone 6 in the app on the iPhone 8. I tried this at home and then away from home both with cellular and WIFI. It seemed to work fine.

Next I tried using the Android tablet. I set it up as a viewer also. At that point in time, I had two viewers and one camera. When I tried to view the camera from the tablet, the app on the tablet informed me that the camera was already being used by another device which it identified as my iPhone 8. I then closed the app on the iPhone 8 and was able to use the tablet as a viewer. So I can use one or the other to view the camera but only one at a time. This might be undesirable for some situations but is fine for me. Later edit: It appears that this limitation is different with the paid subscription.

I then tried another combination. I changed the iPhone 8 from a viewer to a camera. So both iPhones were set as cameras and the tablet as a viewer. I was able to view one camera or the other by scrolling around an ad. So it appears that a viewer can work with more than one camera unless the camera is already in use with another viewer.

The app has all kinds of features. It can take "manual" videos that the viewer can start/stop. These videos can be played back later. It can be set to start recording automatically based on movement. Those videos are saved for a week. This would be handy when used as a surveillance camera. The viewer is notified when this happens so the viewer could review the video and take appropriate action.

The viewer can talk to the camera and thus someone within hearing range could hear your message The viewer can hear sound from the camera area. A button can also sound what they call a Siren, to scare someone off.

It appears that I should be able to view the cameras from a website on a computer but I have not been able to get that to work.

So far it seems like a good fit for my situation where I already had a spare phone.

Edited by tedbear 12/24/2021 13:45
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