[hackerspaces] Webcam setups, for security and community?

mars at redecho.org mars at redecho.org
Thu Nov 3 18:07:35 CET 2011

Forgive me if this topic has been beaten to death already: I am new to
this list and have found it difficult to search through the archives.

I am affiliated with Air Light Time & Space here in Seattle. We want to
set up some webcams, both as a security measure and as a way of promoting
community engagement. We think that people will be more likely to "just
stop by" if they can check in first and see what to expect.

Commercial security camera systems look complicated and expensive. We were
thinking that we could get a bunch of cheap USB webcams and plug them into
a cheap PC and run some free software on it. Of course none of us actually
know how to do this, which is why I am asking for advice.

Have any of you set up such a system? Can you give me any pointers on
hardware or software that I should look into? What is the state of Linux
camera drivers - are there certain models which should be favored or
avoided? Is there such a thing as a weatherproof USB webcam? How far can
you stretch a USB connection? (It'd be cool to put a camera over the front
door, but that's a good 80 feet from where the PC would live.)  Video
would be great, but we would be happy with still frames.

Thanks for any pointers you can offer!

Mars Saxman @ ALTSpace

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