Cheap 3G/4G video surveillance system with Xeoma
Suppose this situation: we have a second house which we use just a few month a year; maybe it is in an isolated place far from urban settlements. We don’t have any connection lines, nor ADSL, because we don’t live in the house so much to justify its cost, and when we are there, we normally use our mobile phone. In other words: we don’t want to spend much money on it, but we would like to know if something or someone walks around, eventually acting suspiciously.
So our main objectives are:
- Detect movements on the remote site, and send alarm via emails.
- Connect to the remote site and watch real-time what is happening, whenever we want and wherever we are. We also want to manage all Xeoma settings from a client.
- Keep it cheap! We don’t need professional security, we need to spend as little as possible on hardware and have low maintenance costs.
This article covers a few possible solutions.
From now on, we’ll call “first house” or “local site” our main home, where we usually live, and “second house” or “remote site”, the other one, that we need to secure.
Here’s what we need on the remote site:
- 3G or (preferably) 4G coverage
Here’s what we need in our main home:
- ADSL connection (or better), with a public IP.
Here’s what we need to buy for the remote site:
- Network connected IP cameras
- PC which will be the Xeoma server, with an adequate hardware to support the video streams of the cameras
- USB 3G/4G stick connected to the PC
- SIM card with internet traffic available
THE MAIN PROBLEM
Normally, to connect to Xeoma server directly from anywhere on the Internet, we would just redirect the router TCP port 8090 to our server, but 3G/4G connected devices are usually behind a NAT imposed by service providers, so that solution won’t work. We would indeed only reach our first objective, but not the second one.
We can’t even use cloud solutions, because it can quickly consume all our monthly internet traffic quota, and those services have costs that can be too high for our purpose.
FIRST SOLUTION: install on the remote site a PC with a GUI OS (Windows 10 or Ubuntu), a TeamViewer-like software and both Xeoma server and client. This way we can connect directly to the remote PC’s desktop to check real-time (and archived) videos, and to manage settings.
- We don’t need anything else: we just use TeamViewer client to connect from anywhere.
- Remote PC can’t be a really cheap machine: to run a graphic OS plus Xeoma server requires faster hardware, and a higher power consumption.
- Video won’t be as fluid as connecting directly to Xeoma port, because TeamViewer streams the full desktop. Also settings changes would probably be much more complicated than using a local Xeoma Client.
SECOND SOLUTION: implement a VPN server in the first house to make all the network in the second house look like a virtual connected LAN. So we can use Xeoma client on any PC in our first house to connect directly to the server part in the second one.
- You don’t need any graphic OS, so you can use cheap hardware on both PCs: for example you can use two RPi 3 (40-50 € each): one in the second house with Xeoma server and a VPN client, one in the first house with VPN server to keep the connection opened.
- Connecting to Xeoma server directly from Xeoma client will result in more fluid images and a faster settings management.
- System is modular: if you need to connect to your Xeoma server from anywhere, just use the web module, and install a reverse proxy on the VPN server (in the first house) to redirect all the traffic to it (add a dynamic DNS service if you don’t have a static IP).
- We’ll need to add a VPN server in our first house, always keeping it on and connected to the Internet.
- We’ll need to master some basic Linux and network theory (we can easily find a lot of “how-to” articles on the Internet).
Let’s try and estimate the costs (based on my setup):
- Remote site: 4 FullHD PoE IP Cam + power/recording/managing unit (with an absolutely inadequate embedded software) = €200
- Remote site, for Xeoma Server and OpenVPN client: Intel Atom X5 Z8350 embedded PC = €90
- Remote site: 3G/4G USB Key = €45 (I used a Huawei E3372)
- Remote site: Internet 4G SIM = €7/month (4 GB on 4G)
- Remote site: Xeoma Lite license for 4 cameras = €35
- Local site, for OpenVPN server and Apache reverse proxy: Raspberry Pi 3 = €40-50
Total: €410-420, with a maintenance cost of €7/month for Internet.
The power consumption is less than 30 W/h (measured).
September, 21 2018