Bitcasa & Home Security Cameras = Awesome!

The front door in the daytime.

Over the last few years we have had a number of minor cases of vandalism at our house. Our mail box was ripped off the side of the house and stolen, had our Halloween pumpkins stolen and smashed and regular ring and runs on our frontdoor late at night. The way our house is built the front door faces the busy street and there is only one window on that side of the house with no real view of the front steps or door. I had been thinking of getting a wireless network cameras and installing it to watch the front door for a while and last fall I came across a deal on the D-Link DCS-932L Wireless-N Day/Night Network Cameras and picked up a couple. You can still get them at Amazon and other places if you look around.

These cameras are great for the price. They are day and night, take decent photos and are wireless so they are easy to mount anywhere you want them. The night time photos are not to bad but do have some lines on them as you can see in the night shot but considering the cost of the cameras I have been very pleased with them. I picked up a couple of cheap outdoor light fixtures from Home Depot and a can of black spray paint and ripped out the light fixture and one pane of glass, painted them all black and mounted the camera inside. Considerably cheaper than a security camera mount and on the side of the house it just sort of blends in as another light fixture.

The only real problem with these cameras is how to monitor them. I tried a couple of different things like using the built in email settings and using iSpy Connect to record but they were just not right. The camera email settings work but you get flooded with emails when there is movement not to mention too many emails too fast and your email account or IP might get flagged for sending out spam.

iSpy Connect works ok when we were away but once we got home it was annoying to have to have it running on the Windows computer all the time. If I had a Windows computer that could be dedicated to just that it might have been alright. One thing I did use with iSpy Connect was Dropbox. I setup the software to save the videos from the cameras into Dropbox and I could check on the house when I had time from my smartphone or tablet. The only problem with that was the size of my Dropbox account. After a little while I had to make sure I deleted the videos so I did not run out of room.

If only there was a way to save all of the photos the cameras took straight to the cloud without filling up my Dropbox or my hard drive. The cameras don`t offer any kind of straight to cloud option, but they do offer an FTP setup. You could set them up to upload straight to a web host FTP account but FTP is not the most secure file transfer method in the world and having a ton of images of your house uploaded to a web host will still get you into problems with running out of space.

On my main desktop I run Linux (currently Ubuntu) and I also use the Bitcasa Linux client. The Bitcasa Linux client is not as nice as the Windows or Mac client and it is still in beta but it has been very reliable since I installed it. So I installed an FTP server on my Linux desktop and created a folder in the Bitcasa infinite drive. I then set the cameras up to FTP to my desktop to the folder I created in Bitcasa and presto I now have an infinite storage drive for my security cameras! It works great, the cameras take photos when they sense motion and FTP them to my desktop all on my internal wireless network. Bitcasa then encrypts the photos and uploads them to the cloud. I can then use my web browser or the Bitcasa mobile app to browse the photos that have been taken.

The best part is because Bitcasa is my hard drive in the cloud and I have a paid Bitcasa account so I am not limited to 10GB free plan, I don`t have to worry about running out of hard drive space on my desktop or in my Bitcasa account. This is one of those cases where Bitcasa is perfect, if only I could just setup the cameras to send it straight to Bitcasa without having to use my desktop as the local FTP server.

Update September 2013
Since I wrote this I have since replaced my Linux machine with a Windows 8 Desktop that I picked up on sale and have replaced the FTP server that was running on my Linux machine with the built in Windows FTP server on the Windows 8 machine. The Windows Bitcasa client is much more stable than the Linux one was and has been running well. Essentially it is the same setup with the Windows 8 machine being the FTP server and running the Bitcasa client. It automatically uploads between 40 to 75MB a day in photos to Bitcasa and I can easily access them on my smartphone or tablet.

Update December 2013
Well it was fun while it lasted but all good things must come to an end apparently. Bitcasa has since made changes to their pricing plan and while my account is grandfathered in with the old pricing plan I no longer trust them. I have since purchased a new 3TB hard drive and have replaced the Bitcasa FTP drive with it. I have also uninstalled Bitcasa from all of my computers since they do not seem to want the old users. I recommend that anyone considering using Bitcasa look at another company. Bitcasa no longer seems trust worthy. If you want to know more about the changes Bitcasa has made you can read more here and how they are forcing Linux users to adopt the new plans here.

The front door at night.

Comments

  1. Very nice write up. I have been doing pretty much the same thing with my security cameras. I have them upload via FTP to my server on the same network as the cameras. Then I have a simple bash script which grabs all of the uploaded images and sorts them into folders by which camera and the date the photo was taken.
    I then use an rsync script to move all the images into a Bitcasa folder.

    A little more process here as it stores everything to the harddrive first and then uploads it to the cloud, but I find it to be more reliable in case the Bitcasa client crashes the photos don’t just go into the ether (failing to write to the Bitcasa folders). rsync will just kick back in once I have Bitcasa back up and running.

    1. The few times I have had the Bitcasa client crash the photos just kept being saved to the hard drive and when Bitcasa was restarted it uploaded all of the images. Perhaps it is something different about the way it is setup on my system. I am actually mixing the newer Windows client and the alpha Linux one, even though the Bitcasa website say not to. So far no problems.

      I have had more problems with my cameras lately than Bitcasa. The wireless connection will drop and not come back online. I have hard wired then in now so hopefully that solves that problem for awhile.

  2. I’m not sure how versatile the linux client is but if you could get it working on a raspberry pi then you could run the whole thing without having to have a large power hungry desktop running all the time.

    1. That would make sense but I will admit my desktop is on all the time anyways. If I am not working at it it is usually backing up or processing something.

  3. Hey, I would like to set something similar , but on windows?? Is there a FTP server I could use on windows to do that?

    Thanks a lot,

    regards

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