How to use your PC and Webcam as a motion-detecting and recording security camera
This tutorial will take you step-by-step through setting up your PC and Webcam to act as a motion-detecting and recording security camera system. And the software required to do this is open source (free).
Advanced includes: Multiple Webcams, Sending pictures to a remote location (FTP), How to duct-tape the light off your webcam (super-stealth)
Coming soon: How to do the same thing, with a Mac.
6 Reasons to set up a motion activated web-cam
- Maybe you live in a questionable (at best) part of East Vancouver and you’ve already been broken into (while you were doing the dishes). It would be helpful next time to have pictures of the intruder.
- Maybe you’re trying to prove to your landlord that some of the more questionable members of the general East Vancouver public are using the pathway between your building and the one next door as a shortcut between streets. Often with very large bags of cans (it’s a Vancouver thing). Loudly. At all hours of the day and night.
- Perhaps you want to catch someone using your PC after you’ve asked them repeatedly not to use it (because they seem to go out of their way to install spyware, toolbars you don’t want, and leave behind Britney Spears mp3s on your desktop)
- You’re bored?
- You want to get pictures of the pretty birdies eating from your new bird feeder.
- Yeah I know what you were expecting here, that’s lewd. Get your mind out of the gutter, this is a family site.
For this tutorial you’ll need:
- a PC running Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP (the software is untested on Windows 95 and NT, but should work)
- a webcam (or two, see advanced)
- Dorgem – an open source (free) webcam utility. Update: Though Dorgem has been discontinued, the download links still work, as does the software. The author will not be updating it anymore, and won’t be answering email support questions.
To upload images ‘off-site’ (in case someone steals your computer) you’ll need an FTP account. See the Advanced section when you’re done the initial setup.
- Install (if it isn’t already) your webcam. If you’re pulling one out of the closet and have long since lost the install CD, here are links to download the drivers for some of the most common webcam vendors:
take a picture every time Dorgem “reconnects” to it, so try using 5 minute (or higher) intervals. Otherwise you’ll end out with a LOT of pictures, most of which won’t have captured actual “motion”.
Because my camera is taking pictures of movement on my patio, I named the file patio-camera%G%g. This results with images being saved as patio-camera20060926165001.jpg. Broken down that’s patio-camera – the current year – the current month, day, hour, minute and second. Click Save after you’ve selected a folder and file name.
If you can get more than one Webcam to work in Windows (not always an easy task, esp. if they’re Labtec), Dorgem can support them all. You don’t need to install another copy of Dorgem, but you do need to start each instance differently. To do so, follow the steps below..
- Right-click on your current Dorgem desktop icon and select Create Shortcut
“C:\Program Files\Dorgem\Dorgem.exe” /c:cam2
If you installed Dorgem to somewhere other than the default location, make the appropriate changes.