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Linksys WVC54GCA – A great little IP webcam

For just over $100, you can go down to your local computer/consumer electronics store and pick up a nifty little Linksys IP webcam that does a fair job as an indoor security/monitoring solution. However, I ended up using one outside, mounted under the eve of my garage.

The only problems I’ve seen with using the camera outside are: 1) the motion detection system is way too sensative to things like ambient light changes (clouds moving overhead, cars driving by shining reflections or shadows, etc.) and if I turn on the motion system on I’m always getting alerts… and 2) the camera is not sealed for outdoor use so if you don’t mount it in a well protected area, expect your IP webcam to be converted into a nicely mounted piece of black plastic artwork in no time.

The thing runs off 5v and just about 1A and has both wired Ethernet and WiFi connectivity options. Because I have my main network switch mounted in my garage attic, I opted to go with the wired option, but I didn’t want to run network and power, so I improvised my own non-standard PoE system.

I’ve had problems getting decent monitoring software to work with this camera, but that’s ok because the camera comes with some alright software of it’s own. Aside from the motion detection and alerting capabilities built right into the device, there is also some basic monitoring/recording/playback software that comes with the camera that will support up to 9 IP cameras. Even though it’s not documented (or maybe it’s just hidden well), you can also directly pull images and video feeds via special URLs (no audio though).

Image snapshot
    http://camera/img/snapshot.cgi
    Options: ?size=S&quality=Q
        Size:
            1 = 160×128
            2 = 320×240
            3 = 640×480
        Quality:
            1 = very high
            2 = high
            3 = normal
            4 = low
            5 = very low

Motion JPEG
    http://camera/img/mjpeg.htm
    http://camera/img/video.mjpeg
    http://camera/img/mjpeg.cgi

Video feed
    http://camera/img/video.asf
    rtsp://camera/img/video.sav

With all this great cheap technology at my disposal, I put it to work right away. I wanted to find out which pet of ours was leaving little presents for us on the stairs. Literally minutes after setting up the poo cam and going out for a walk, I had my answer.

I got the image stream on my phone via email alert. He was quite surprised when I came straight in from my walk and kicked his little ass. It was like “How did you know!?”. On that day I truly became doggy god to him, but that hasn’t stopped him from slipping up occasionally. I can’t wait to rip out the carpets and replace it all with hardwood. Pets and carpet just doesn’t mix no matter how well trained your pets are.

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16 Responses to “Linksys WVC54GCA – A great little IP webcam”

  1. […] been toying around with those cheap LinkSys cameras, which are great… but they have bad low light and no IR light sensitivity. So, I got some […]

  2. uriel says:

    great cam but no audio via rstp.. unless some one can enlighten me

  3. Amal says:

    hmm, i’ve not actually used the rstp feed… not sure :(

  4. Amal says:

    I’ve decided to comment on my own post in hopes someone reading this post will have some answers:

    – Does anyone have any NVR software suggestions that will work with this camera and get both video AND audio? The linksys software is unstable and not designed to be ran as a service.

    – Another question I have; dose anyone know of any server software that will pull a video stream from a camera like this and restream multiple unicast/multicast streams from the network source? The camera itself only allows 3 clients to connect and stream, but if anyone knows of a central server on a high bandwidth connection could pull in the live stream and restream to multiple clients, I’d be all ears.

    – Also, does anyone have any ideas about removing the camera IC and replacing it with a IR responsive IC? I was hoping someone had gotten around to sourcing possible replacements. The IC itself has a fully integrated lens and image sensor that drops right into a socket on the board, and I was hoping perhaps a different model number (one with IR sensitivity) could work as a pin-for-pin drop-in replacement… but that’s probably asking a bit much.

  5. ADN says:

    Hi, how do you get the live feed on the wordpress blog?

  6. Amal says:

    If your camera is behind a firewall or NAT router, you’d have to set the camera to a static IP address and set up a port forward on your NAT router so requests coming from the public Internet could make it past the firewall/router to the camera.

    Then in your WordPress blog, the best thing to do would be to just use the MJPEG feed and set up an img HTML tag:

    <img src=”http://x.x.x.x:80/snapshot.cgi?size=3&quality=3″>

    Of course, the x.x.x.x IP address would have to be replaced with your public IP address. But, there are a few problems with this setup:

    1) if you do not have a static IP address for your Internet access account, then the public IP address will change every few days.

    2) the Linksys camera can only support up to 3 feeds at a time… so if 4 people have your blog open and are reading things while the video image is feeding, only 3 of those 4 will see the feed… the 4th will just get a broken image icon.

  7. Luke says:

    I recently setup two f WVC54GCAs at our cottage. They worked fine while we were there. Now I’m back home I could connect to either camera and retrieve images using my web browser. But a few days on I can still connect to the Linksys camera setup pages but can no longer get any images. When I hit the view button I get the headers and footers of the view page, an outline of the image any but only the resolution button in the white image area and nothing else. The webpage just hangs no time outs. Some other blogs and reviews I read mentioned hang ups that required cold restarts by unplugging the power. But would you know if I can do a warm reboot remotely (like the reset to factory configuration). I want to keep the configuration otherwise I lose my wireless connection. You seem to have figured out various special URLs so maybe you would know this one too? Many thanks!

    As for your June questions (if you haven’t yet found what you wanted) I intended to use Argus Surveillance DVR (http://www.argussurveillance.com/). Not a slick interface but very functional and should meet your requirements. What I missed in Argus is to initiate a ftp-file transfer triggered by motion detection. I also found others that look like being able to handle your requirements.

  8. Amal says:

    Hmm, I don’t know of a way to reboot them remotely, however there might be an answer in here:

    http://ourtechstuff.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/hacking-linksys-wvc54gca-cameras/

    To address the stability issues, you might also consider updating the firmware… there wasn’t an update for the longest time but they recently released version 1.1.0 build 02:

    http://www.linksysbycisco.com/US/en/support/WVC54GCA/download

  9. Luke says:

    Thanks for the link, looks wuite interesting (although I don’t want to go that deep down). If you can reset to factory defaults then it should be possible to reboot, the reboot is just a linux command in the embedded library. At least that is thory and I don’t know how to translate that into a how-to.

    The firmware upgrade was the first thing I did because it includes an new ActiveX. The old one wouldn’t install because it wasn’t digitally signed or the certificate was expired.

  10. to reboot says:

    To reboot remotely:

    http://ip address of camera/adm/reboot.cgi

    (you need to enter the login info though)

  11. Amal says:

    Nice! Thanks for the post :)

  12. Mats Bristol says:

    Hi!

    I recently purchased two of these nifty cameras, and I was wondering if you could make a small tutorial as how to modify them to get PoE…?

  13. Amal says:

    Hi Mats,

    Actually all I did was use the 4 unused pins as 5v inputs. Very simple rewiring job, but it’s not actuall PoE compliant. If you plugged it into a real PoE source it would blow the camera. That’s why I had to put this sticker on the back of the camera, to remind myself it wasn’t standard PoE. If you wanted to use real PoE you could use something like this simple 5v converter.

  14. Jordi says:

    Hello Amal.

    I have one camera like this. I would like to set up the motion alerts via email. I tried and I couldn’t do anything.

    Can you capture the screen of this configuration and send me by email. Please It will be great.

    Thanks a lot.

    Jordi
    Alicante
    Spain.

  15. Amal says:

    Be sure you set the schedule as well. If you don’t set a schedule at the bottom of the motion detection page, nothing will happen. Also be sure to update the firmware to the latest version.

  16. carlos says:

    Uriel lhave you managed to get audio on your cell?
    I am using an Iphone and got the lynksys application. The video is superb but no audio so far….
    Any help?

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