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  • Advice on System Replacement

    I was hoping to get some advice here, maybe you can help. I’m an electrical engineer that’s been doing basically power and lighting projects for the past five years. Before that I spent 13 years doing industrial automation projects that did not include video surveillance.

    I’ve started a new job, and one of my first assignments is to design a permanently installed video surveillance system for a city bus maintenance facility (not a typical project for the company, but high profile and very important). We’ve taken a site plan and an interior floor plan and laid out camera locations based on areas the customer has indicated they’re interested in observing. The current layout design shows a total of 29 cameras. (The cameras are going to be about 50% interior mounted and 50% exterior mounted.) The issues they are concerned with are vandalism, theft and vagrancy (i.e. – homeless people sneaking onto parked busses to sleep.)

    Due to the fact that we have some indoor and some outdoor locations, the lighting conditions will be highly variable. In fact, even for some of the interior locations the lighting may vary significantly in some locations due to large garage doors being opened.

    They currently have a 15 camera system that they want to completely replace since many of the cameras are dark or so poorly focused that they are basically useless. Also, nobody knows how to use the DVR which seems to have about a 3 or 4 day capacity and no means to save data to a more permanent medium like CD or DVD.

    They have a dispatcher that will have the monitors installed at his or her station that will be assigned to keep an eye on things, but I don’t think there will be any real desire or requirement to pan, tilt or zoom any of the cameras. In fact, just identifying that something is occurring in a certain location is all they’re after. They do want the capability to record two weeks worth of video and they want to be able to transfer video to DVDs.

    Running conduit for the video/power cables won’t be a problem since an electrical contractor will be on board for the project. However, we do have two cameras for an employee parking lot that will be mounted on a separate building and that will require cutting through a concrete bus parking lot.

    As part of this project, we are adding card readers at the facility’s entry doors and we’re adding automated gates at the bus entries and employee parking lots. Some sort of integration of these systems would be nice, but not absolutely required; especially if it adds significantly to the cost. For the video surveillance system, we have budgeted about $100K.

    My questions are: What’s a reasonable resolution to specify for the cameras that will result in a clear picture? What are some good manufacturers of cameras? Are lenses set by the camera manufacturers or are their third party lens manufacturers. I’ve decided that we need two 16 camera DVRs with a frame rate of at least 480 fps, a two week storage capacity and a DVD burner. Is this reasonable? Are their any other DVR criteria I should specify? What are some good manufacturers of DVRs?

  • #2
    Short answer is: 100K is a little tight and probably won't get you IP cameras, but I think you should do fine with analog systems, especially since your storage requirements are not all that onerous.

    You will want to specify 520 VTL, 0.5 lux, 1/3" CCD cameras for areas with constant lighting, and you can get away with these cameras for outdoor use as well if it's well lit at night. I like the Sanyo VCC-6584DN- it's cheap and good. It is a box camera, so you will have to purchase lenses separately. Specify Pentax lenses for indoor use and Tamron (or Fujinon if you have to save money) for outdoor use.

    The Everfocus EHD525/EX3 is another good option if you need vandal resistant cameras, as it comes in a hardened housing. Lens is nothing special but it's adjustable, which is nice, as you don't have to spend time calculating the sizes required.

    Cameras that will show areas that will be partially lit and partially dark- say, a camera facing a garage door- require a wide dynamic range camera, which will allow you to see both the very bright part of the image and the very dark part of the image at the same time. I like the Sanyo VCC-WD8574.

    For idiot proof, high quality DVRs, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the DVR-1600RT3-S from Mace. 480 FPS in all resolutions, H.264 compression, DVD burner and USB ports. The graphic interface means anyone can learn how to operate the unit in minutes. Comes with a 1TB hard drive, with room for 3 more internally (the unit will recognize up to 6TB, and you can remove the DVD burner and use that bus for another 2 1TB drives). Uses SATA drives, too, which is a real problem in the industry. Best of all, the DVR will allow you to connect a Mace PTZ directly to the unit and control it with the mouse, meaning you save money by not having to buy a keyboard. 1TB should give you about 3 weeks or so of constant, full motion recording.

    In general, camera manufacturers do not specify lenses, they just include an industry-standard CS lens mount. Only buy lenses from companies that manufacture photography lenses- Pentax, Fujinon, and Tamron (also Kowa and Schnieder, but their stuff is way to expensive for general surveillance work, and is only good for specialty stuff).

    My favorite DVR manufacturers are Sanyo, Mace, Samsung GVI (not Samsung Techwin), and Nuvico (rated from highest rate of reliability to lowest, standards not even close to being scientific and are based on the gut feelings of Cameraman, The CameraMan Inc, all rights reserved 2009). Everything else is crap, overpriced, or both.

    Bosch, Pelco, GE, and Honeywell are mostly names, and that's all they are. They are overpriced and there is better stuff available for cheaper.

    Hope this helps. Email me for more details- a full answer is complicated and way too long for this forum. You can get me at imrecordingthis AT gmail DOT com
    The CCTV Blog.

    "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

    -SecTrainer

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    • #3
      $100K budget is very reasonable and if not more than what you will need for this project... With this amount, you can easily incorporate megapixel solution that will not break the bank nor will put you over budget...

      The basic questions that I will ask are follows:

      1. How many indoor and outdoor cameras do you have in mind? My suggestion is to consider all camera hardware to be vandal and weather proof.

      2. I may be very biased with major manufacturer products, as they are always there to support and backup warranties, etc... pricing difference is not that much, but it is higher. However, what you get with them is ongoing support for a long haul and a company that will be there tomorrow..

      3. Recorders - dependent what you choose, IP or analog solution, there are some very solid systems in the market... Two week recording should be at bare minimum... In most cases that we get involved, the minimum requirement is 30 days and even 90 days. Such recorders can give you very high resolution and decent storage that you can increase later if necessary (open end solution).

      4. I will not recommend lenses from the same manufacturers of the camera equipment, as they OEM most of their lenses from actual lens manufacturers i.e. Pentax, CBC, Tokina and many others. Therefore, choose your cameras (fixed cameras) from one manufacturer and then look at the lenses from lens manufacturers... The same identical lens will be more expensive from camera manufacturers.

      5. What will work the best for this type of environment is Minidome setups... they already come with high res cameras (both hi res color and day/night), the required range of lenses (some available with very wide angle to give you wider view and others available to give you zoom for an area at distance), vandal and weather proof and easy to install...

      6. As for cables and dependent on distance of runs, I will suggest to go with CAT5 or better yet, CAT6 cables and use video baluns for initial setup... This way in the future if you want to change your hardware to complete IP solution, then all your existing cables are already in place and will not require replacement.

      7. Remote view and control of recorders. - All DVRs have this feature built in allowing remote view of live or pre-recorded video over the Internet. Just make sure that your Internet UP speed is at least 256K and that your network will allow it.

      8. Source of the purchase is also very important... Besides selling hardware, your supplier should be there to answer all your questions and be there if anything goes wrong.

      9. Check for a similar installation and observe the actual functionality before you buy. I am sure there are many other sites that could have equipment similar to what you need. This way you will see and test equipment before purchase.

      10. Warranty - Anything less than 3 years warranty should not be under any consideration.

      Let me know if this help and if you need any additional info, let us know. I am sure with combined efforts of all members here, we can give you very good solution.
      http://www.cctvshowroom.com
      http://www.everythingcctv.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MetzLyov View Post
        $100K budget is very reasonable and if not more than what you will need for this project... With this amount, you can easily incorporate megapixel solution that will not break the bank nor will put you over budget...
        I assumed that the $100K has to cover installation as well. I agree you can go IP if you have $100K to spend on equipment.
        The CCTV Blog.

        "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

        -SecTrainer

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CameraMan View Post
          I assumed that the $100K has to cover installation as well. I agree you can go IP if you have $100K to spend on equipment.
          That is a correct assumption. We can go over budget some, but not much.

          As long as the DVRs can put video streams from the analog video cameras on the TCP/IP network, we should be fine.

          Thanks so much for the advice, what a big help!

          Originally posted by MetzLyov View Post
          ...
          3. Recorders - dependent what you choose, IP or analog solution, there are some very solid systems in the market... Two week recording should be at bare minimum... In most cases that we get involved, the minimum requirement is 30 days and even 90 days. Such recorders can give you very high resolution and decent storage that you can increase later if necessary (open end solution).
          ...
          I'll take that recommendation under advisement, a minimum storage capacity of 30 days really does make more sense.

          Thanks, to both of you for all your advice!

          Comment


          • #6
            Additional camera questions

            Instead of specifying camera models, I'd prefer to specify performance criteria.

            Originally posted by CameraMan View Post
            ...You will want to specify 520 VTL, 0.5 lux, 1/3" CCD cameras for areas with constant lighting...
            What does 520 VTL mean?

            Would a 512(H) by 492(V) pixel resolution be reasonable? Can this be transmitted via a US standard (NTSC) analog signal?

            Is the 1/3” CCD pretty much the current standard? I can see specifying the resolution and minimum light level, but what would be the advantage of specifying the CCD size? Would it be to make sure we are getting the latest technology?

            Originally posted by CameraMan View Post
            ...Cameras that will show areas that will be partially lit and partially dark- say, a camera facing a garage door- require a wide dynamic range camera,...
            Is there a numeric way to specify a wide dynamic range?

            Originally posted by MetzLyov View Post
            ...6. As for cables and dependent on distance of runs, I will suggest to go with CAT5 or better yet, CAT6 cables and use video baluns for initial setup... This way in the future if you want to change your hardware to complete IP solution, then all your existing cables are already in place and will not require replacement....
            This would be as opposed to using standard coax cable? What would be the distance limitations of this?

            Thanks again for all the help!

            Comment


            • #7
              I will answer the question that was addressed to me... and have my friend CameraMan to answer his questions

              The main reasons to select CAT5E or better yet CAT6 cables are so that later if you choose to convert your equipment to complete IP solution, the cables are already in place...

              You can transfer video using CAT5E or CAT6 by using passive baluns - limitation of the run is no more than 1,500' (better than any coax cable can provide). The restrictions are that you must use the best quality cables and best baluns - cost variance going from the best the worst are marginal. However, you are restricted in running power for the same distance. Your max distance to run power with the same CAT5E or CAT6 is no more than 250'. My suggestion is to run power to these cameras from local source and then stretch these cables to up to 1,500' using passive baluns, if the distance is applicable.

              Now, you can push the cable length to at least 5,000' using active baluns... this type of equipment allows transfer of video on twisted cable by utilizing signal amplifiers and stabilizers allowing proper transfer and without any deterioration of the signal.

              Now, it is CameraMan's turn
              http://www.cctvshowroom.com
              http://www.everythingcctv.com

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              • #8
                When we speak about resolution, we want to know how many black and white lines can be seen in a given area. This is known as “lines”, usually expressed as Television Lines (TVL) or Vertical Television Lines (VTL) - either one is correct. The more lines, the higher the resolution, because when the lines are thinner, more fine detail can be seen. The National Television System Committee, or NTSC, is an analog video standard in which each frame is made up of 525 scanlines, at an actual viewed resolution of 720 x 486. When a picture is sent from the camera to the monitor, the even-numbered or 'lower" scanlines (lines 21 to 263 in the video signal) are drawn in the first field, and the odd-numbered or "upper" (signal lines 283 to 525) are drawn in the second field. This happens 60 times every second, to make up 30 frames or pictures a second - 30fps.

                380 lines are considered barely acceptable, and are used mostly in covert cameras. 480 lines is considered medium resolution, and is good for general surveillance (that is, an overview of activity) at a distance of +/- 32 feet and forensic surveillance (that is, facial recognition) at a distance of +/- 16 feet. 520 lines and up is considered high resolution and will allow general surveillance at a distance of +/- 40 feet and forensic surveilance at +/- 22 feet (all rules of thumb, of course- CCTV is more of an art than a science).

                VGA resolution is 640 (h) x 480 (v). A 520 VTL camera should give you somewhere in the neighborhood of 768 (h) x 494 (v) (effective pixels). 512(H) by 492(V) is somewhere between 480 and 420 VTL, and therefore would be inadequate for your purposes.

                1/3" CCD is more or less the standard nowadays, and looks to stay that way for a good long while. In general terms, the bigger the chip, the beter the picture- but at a certain point, you reach the point of diminishing returns, and thus there is no reason to buy a 1" CCD camera (unless you have some specialty application, like machine vision or super long range IR surveilance or what have you).

                There is no specific number to specify wide dynamic range that I am aware of, so you will just have to take the manufacturer's word for it. Ikegami makes the best wide dynamic (they call it "hyper dynamic", probably because it sounds cooler that way) with their own chips inside, and Sanyo's wide dynamic cameras with the Texas Instrument chips inside are awesome and much cheaper than the Ikegami (although not nearly as good- if you need to be able to read licsense plate numbers even with the headlights on, you've got to go Ikegami).

                I'd also like to address Cat5E and baluns. While it is true that it will make it easier to go IP one theoretical day, way off in the future, the biggest advantage to Cat5E (or Cat6, if you enjoy wasting money) is the distances you can get. Max effective range with coax is ~300'. Using good baluns (made by NVT), you can go much, much further than that. Passive transceivers at each end of the Cat5E will allow you to go 750'. Using a passive transceiver on the camera end with an active (ie powered) transceiver on the DVR end will allow you to go 3000'. Using a powered transceiver on both ends will allow you to go 1.5 miles!

                Only ever use NVT baluns. They've got some super awesome secret sauce interference rejection and low emisions, so you can run cables near high power lines, fluorescent or sodium lights, elevator shafts, and so on, without getting those wavy lines I hate so much.

                Hope this helps!
                The CCTV Blog.

                "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

                -SecTrainer

                Comment


                • #9
                  All do respect to my friend CameraMan, I disagree with his assessment on the CAT5E and passive baluns... and please find my answers below his quotes:

                  Originally posted by CameraMan View Post

                  I'd also like to address Cat5E and baluns. While it is true that it will make it easier to go IP one theoretical day, way off in the future, the biggest advantage to Cat5E (or Cat6, if you enjoy wasting money) is the distances you can get. Max effective range with coax is ~300'. Using good baluns (made by NVT), you can go much, much further than that. Passive transceivers at each end of the Cat5E will allow you to go 750'.

                  If you intend to use only NVT, then these assessments are correct.. However why waste money on NVT when there are solutions that are much more cost effective and yet much better performers across the board.

                  I am referring to the Passive Baluns product line from company called http://videobaluns.com/

                  We use their products for the last five plus years and they deliver exceptional performance and pass NVT's specs in many folds. Even though this manufacturer does claim extending CAT5E cable up to 2,000' is a legitimate performing distance (please refer to their spec sheet), we never tested it that far. Instead we tested these baluns an average of 1,500' and noticed no deterioration of the video signal.


                  Only ever use NVT baluns. They've got some super awesome secret sauce interference rejection and low emisions, so you can run cables near high power lines, fluorescent or sodium lights, elevator shafts, and so on, without getting those wavy lines I hate so much.

                  There is not special secret sauce from NVT... One side of their product line comes with special filters and surge protectors and the other side does not - Most of their competitors, including the one above, produces their version of baluns with balancers, the surge protectors and filters as a standard hardware and at the fraction of the cost compared to NVT.

                  NVT the first to introduce this technology, but they are very much behind the curve compared what is available in the market. I can lineup their active baluns technology against similar products from Fibertek and I can tell you not only we can save tremendous amount of money, but also have much better performing hardware. NVT and their product line are nothing but a thing of the past - if people are loyal to this brand, then stick by them. But if there are other companies that make more cost effective and yet better performing hardware, then that is an option that should be explored.


                  Hope this helps!
                  http://www.cctvshowroom.com
                  http://www.everythingcctv.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'll look into this company. I hate NVT's prices. Thanks!
                    The CCTV Blog.

                    "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

                    -SecTrainer

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CameraMan View Post
                      I'll look into this company. I hate NVT's prices. Thanks!
                      Hey bud, it is a very decent company... they mainly make passive baluns and the performance is exceptional... I like their latest offering of toolless baluns that work very nice and the already come with all the necessities, the surge protectors, etc as a complete unit... The pricing is yet another major advantage... starting from $30.00 per pair of these baluns..(not per balun)...

                      As for active baluns, we have been using American Fibertek... again, very good pricing and yet still works better than NVT... In this day and age, saving money on parts alone allows to be ahead of the game...

                      Thanks,
                      http://www.cctvshowroom.com
                      http://www.everythingcctv.com

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