Introduction to CCTV - Must Read For All


What do I need to get started?

 Well, it all depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Each situation is subject to a lot of different variable factors which will determine which camera, recorder, transmitter, etc. suits best. For instance, do you want to capture black & white or color? Indoors or outside? What kind of "run time" do you require? Does the weight or size matter? There are a wide variety of features available out there and one can tend to get carried away quite quickly. However, for practical purposes- figure you'll at least need a camera and a device on which you can monitor and/ or record what the camera is imaging (i.e. tv or vcr). Depending on situation, you may want or need to limit your decision based on expected lighting conditions, movement/ portability, weather/ outdoor environment situations and often, so much more. Is your application covert, low profile- or do you want to create a strong visual deterrent? Take a little time to check into our products- they're the finest you'll find. Our expectations of quality greatly surpass competitors in this same field. Please remember, just because something looks the same- does it really mean it is? And, if you still have more questions- we'll be happy to help.

 What is the difference between "wireless" and "wired" cameras or systems?

Well, we should begin by saying that the term wireless doesn't actually mean that the equipment has NO wires at all- though many of our systems have no visible wiring. To get a camera signal (or the picture it's imaging) to a monitor or DVR, there are really only 2 ways to go- wired or wireless. "Wired" means that the camera is physically plugged into the monitor, quad processor or DVR itself. "Wireless" means that the camera is plugged into (or integrated with) a wireless video transmitter which sends or 'beams' the signal to its corresponding receiver.

How do I record what the camera "sees"?

Almost any of our cameras or wireless receivers will interface with any video recorder, although simple plug adapters may be necessary. For example, our IR-5HAD30 has a "BNC" type plug which is designed for use with coaxial cable. With a BNC to RCA adapter plug (included) on the camera, you may run an RCA extension cable. And while it may be hard to understand at first, no covert video camera available at this time has the ability to store real time images onto itself. You must use some type of recording device to store the video. Of course, we carry a complete line of the latest high resolution and specialized digital DVR recorders.

Are there any special precautions I'll need to take with this equipment?

As with any delicate electronic components, the circuitry always needs to be protected from dust and dirt, liquids and moisture (including condensation), overheating and incorrect power (i.e. overvoltage and reverse polarity). So, if you intend to use a camera outdoors, you must take extra precautions to protect it. Weatherproof cameras are always recommended in outdoor conditions- though you can take cameras outside in nice conditions, if using reasonable care.



What features should I look for in a CCTV Digital Video Recorder (DVR)?

All DVRs are definitely not made equal! There are several factors that are critical to consider when purchasing a DVR, especially when comparing price. The most important factors to look at are the number of cameras supported, frames per second (fps), compression technology, hard drive space, network connection / remote viewing capability, motion detection, scheduling, and ability to save video and audio to a CD or flash drive. You should also look for easy and comprehensive search capabilities and audio support. 

What is frames per second?

The frames per second (fps) relates to how many pictures the DVR will record in a second. Real time recording is about 30 fps on each camera. To calculate the fps per camera take the total fps in the system and divide it by the number of video inputs. For example, a 60 fps digital video recorder with 4 video inputs would result in about 15 fps per camera. The technology has finally gotten to the point now where real time recording is affordable. If you are recording cash registers or something similar then you should definitely invest in real time recording.

How big a hard drive do I need?

The amount of hard drive space is very important because it will limit how many days of recording you can store before the system has to start recording over the oldest video. Each DVR will have its storage capacity listed in the specifications. But this calculation is just a rough estimate as there are many factors that affect hard drive use. The most critical factor being the compression format used by the DVR (for more info on compression formats click here). But also the type of cameras that are connected to the DVR make a difference (specifically the chip size and resolution) and also the features that are selected on the DVR. If you use the scheduling or motion detection features or tune down the frame rate that will extend the storage capacity of the unit. Even the field of view (what you are recording) will affect the storage capacity - the more complex the image, the more hard drive space it will take to capture the complexity.

What is the difference between a PC-based DVR and an Embedded DVR?

A PC-based digital video recorder is basically a personal computer that has been modified with hardware and software to work as a DVR. An embedded digital video recorder is a machine that has been manufactured specifically to work as a DVR. In embedded DVRs there is typically one circuit board with software burned into the chip.

There used to be significant differences in features between the PC-based and the embedded machines. But with recent advancements in the embedded DVR technologies the differences are becoming less. The advantages of an embedded digital video recorder is that they are extremely stable and reliable since they contain fewer parts. The software is often written in basic machine code or Linux code which tends to be more stable than Windows software. The advantages of the PC-based digital video recorders is that they are easier to interact with because you use the on-screen menus and a mouse (as opposed to embedded which you interact with more like a VCR - via buttons). And you tend to have more features and options on the PC-based machines.

How does a CCTV digital video recorder work?

A CCTV digital video recorder (or “DVR” for short) is essentially a computer that saves security video images to a hard drive. Most security cameras in use today capture an analog picture. The DVR converts the analog signal to digital and then compresses it.

Many cameras can be connected to one DVR. DVRs generally come with 4, 8, 16, or 32 camera inputs. The DVR will allow you to view all of these images at once or one at a time, and all of the video is saved to the hard drive. Additional switches, quads, or multiplexors are not required.


How do I see pictures from a remote site?

You can view the camera video over the internet. When viewing remotely, the refresh rate is restricted by the communications medium (your internet connection speed). When viewing or playing back locally, the display is dependent of the unit's frame rate (fps).

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