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The Eye in the Sky: Wireless Camera Setups

written by: Shawn S. Lealos•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/7/2011

Wireless cameras can be used to protect an individual's home, keep places of business secure or spy on specific areas of a home. However, setting up these systems is something that must be understood before using the product. Here is a look at how to set up the system and use it to your advantage.

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    A wireless camera sends its signal to a transmitter which, in turn, sends it to a receiver so an individual can watch the footage on a television or computer monitor. The transmitter is normally a wireless system so the camera can be in one place and the receiver and monitor located elsewhere. These systems can be used for either security purposes or, sometimes, as a means to spy on a specific location.

    It is not important to understand the scientific intricacies of the wireless camera system to make it work for you but it might help give a slight understanding to the actual process to avoid problems while operating it.

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    Setting Up the Camera

    The term “wireless" may be a little inaccurate in this situation. Yes, the signal from the camera to the receiver is wireless but the camera normally needs to be plugged in to achieve power, so make sure the camera is within distance of an electrical outlet or can be wired through a wall to one. Some operate on batteries but do you really want your battery to die unexpectedly right before someone breaks into your home? With that said, how to operate wireless miniature camera systems is fairly a straightforward effort.

    wireless-camera The first thing you must decide when setting up the system is where to place the camera and what you want it to focus on. If you own a store and set it up there, you might want it placed in a manner to focus on the cash register or the most valuable items for sale in the store. Many stores have numerous cameras set up around the store to capture various important locations.

    If you have more than one camera, each one needs to have its own specific channel it is set to. Most systems have the channels either numbered (1-4) or they use letters (A-D). Make sure two cameras are not set to the same channel or they will interfere with each other's reception and you won’t get a picture.

    If you are safeguarding your home, you might put it outdoors with it pointed towards your front or back door. If you set this up right, it can help alert you of prowlers trying to get into your home. If the receiver is hooked up to a recorder, it can also provide police with actual footage of the burglar breaking in to help identify and arrest the perpetrator. Other places to put it could be inside the home aimed at the door or in specific rooms with valuables in sight.

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    Setting Up the Receiver

    wireless-monitor The receiver needs to be set up in a secure location, next to a monitor or recorder. This unit needs to be kept out of sight so burglars can’t easily locate it and steal it or erase the recordings, making it worthless. Make sure that the receiver is set up to record the proper channel that the camera is broadcasting.

    This is similar to what you might understand from radio signals. When a radio station sends out its signal, it is on a specific channel and when you dial your radio to that specific channel, you can capture that radio signal. When you consider how to operate wireless miniature camera systems, think along the same lines and realize that your receiver will pick up the camera's channel when it broadcasts.

    Don’t worry about someone else capturing the footage because most digital cameras and receivers have built-in scramblers to keep the cameras secure. There is still a danger of analogue systems being unsecure. Some mini baby monitor cameras have been known to get picked up by cell phone users. Make sure to choose a camera and receiver that is secure.

    If you own a store or have more than one camera set up in your home and want to record the footage from all the cameras at once, you can buy a splitter to lead from your receiver to the monitor and recording device, and set up the receiver to operate in a split screen format or move from one camera to another in a steady rotation stream. These units need to be purchased with this in mind because not all miniature camera systems are capable of doing this.

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    Spy Cameras

    Another mode of setting up a mini wireless camera system is the spy cameras. These can be used covertly for a number of needs including room surveillance and nanny cams. These are normally much more compact than basic systems. The camera is small and discreet and can be hidden almost anywhere in the room. These work on both battery power and power plugs.

    The wireless receiver is also different, smaller and more similar to an audio receiver you might see used with lapel mics. This receiver takes an SD card and can record up to six hours of video directly from the wireless camera to the card to view later on a computer.