Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Best IP POE camera compatible with Blue Iris

I recently purchased, and ultimately returned, a LaView 4 1080P NVR/POE IP Cam combo from Amazon for $600 (It's listed cheaper now).

They claimed to be ONVIF compliant, but for the life of me I was not able to set up Blue Iris to connect to the cameras. I noticed that the IPs in the NVR chose a subnet at random and I could not connect to the individual cameras directly without passing through the NVR.

When I gave the individual cameras a manual IP it was unreachable. If I bypassed the NVR and went straight to the network with POE, it wouldn't get a DHCP IP.

My old setup was a Night Owl (forget the model number). Since it was the old analog BNC type camera setup, I had no choice but to go through the DVR. Although, I could connect through the streams RTSP directly by addressing the CAMNO (1-4). This was a breeze to add to Blue Iris.

The LaView was a hassle. I thought, with the price, it would beat cheaper NVR alternatives but I found the UI to be clunky, slow and unintuitive.

I have indoor Amcrest wifi cameras and saw they now sell POE outdoor cameras. I've never had an issue with my Amcrest so I decided to get rid of the NVR model and feed from the source.

While I have a POE switch, it does not provide the adequate wattage to power all my cameras so I purchased a standalone 8 port POE injector for $40.

I purchased 2 of each of the Amcrest outdoor POE styles Amcrest IP2M-844E and Amcrest IP2M-842E.

Which match or exceed the specs of the LaView option. They cost $75 each (both models).

The total for the Amcrest setup was $340... almost half the price of the LaView and very easy to set up in Blue Iris.

I also have another 4 ports on my POE injector to add more cameras if I choose.

Long story short, skip the NVR, go directly to your own recording device. If you don't want to pay the proprietary software license for Blue Iris and/or Windows; there are alternatives.

You could set up a Linux box and use Motion by Foswiki to create your own NVR with a lot of flexibility.

Blue Iris costs money, but it does a lot. It's also a GUI app, which I like when dealing with videos due to the instant gratification of knowing if it's working.

Motion works great, but you can get bogged down in options and the Linux+CLI nature is off-putting to most.

One of the downsides to most DVRs, NVRs and standalone IP Cameras has to be the requirement for IE with an addon. I usually just spin up a test VM with Windows and install/config it there... then deleting the VM. I noticed with the LaView this did not work. I could modify the settings, but could not view the live stream. It did not like the virtual VGA adaptor.

The Amcrest worked, but still required IE to set up. At least I was able to verify I had a stream before I added it to Blue Iris. I hope one day IP Cameras just work in Chrome over HTML5 without any plugins or software required.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Record Google Nest Cam from Blue Iris

(Updated May 2018)

Since Nest is pushing their expensive ($10 to $30 per month) cloud recording feature, the Nest Cam is pretty locked down to prevent recording video locally to your own network. There are APIs you can use to scrape some information, but nothing to record video and audio to a local file share/FTP/NAS out of the box.

I use Blue Iris to record my other network cameras and found a hack to do the same on Nest.

There are some privacy concerns using this method, but the tradeoff is you can have both cloud and local storage of video events. Also, more flexibility of live video and video playback.

Requirements: An apache server with PHP installed. Also, obviously, a Nest cam and Blue Iris.

The first step is to allow sharing of the video. No one will be able to access this feed without the url, and if found, they cannot view archived video or manipulate settings.


Open the Nest camera properties and select "Camera sharing".

Make sure the "Preferred video player" camera settings are set to Flash instead of HTML5.

Select "Share publicly" and click "Agree & Share"

You will get a URL like this:
Open that link in a new tab. View the page source and search for UUID. You will have a result like this:
(obviously xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx is your uuid)

Apache script

On your Apache server, create a directory called "nest"
mkdir /var/www/html/nest && cd /var/www/html/nest
Create a php file called nest.php
vi nest.php
Add this code. (Don't forget to change xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to your unique uuid)


file_put_contents('image.jpg',fopen("".rand(10,1000000)."&height=512", 'r'));



Verify you can run it with PHP
php nest.php
If you get a file called "image.jpg" in "/var/www/html/nest/" and can browse to http://<yourserverip>/nest/image.jpg you should be ready to add it to blueiris.

Run a watch command to generate that file every 0.1 seconds (or 10 frames a second). Watch does not allow more than this speed.
watch -n 0.1 php nest.php
(There are many ways of doing this that are much better. It can be added to cron and many other things to improve reliability and performance. This is just a simple test and needs a lot of improvement.)

Blue Iris configuration

Once you have your url

In Blue Iris, add a camera, go into the video tab and click configure.

<your apache server ip>
Click OK

Check "Anamorphic (force size)" then change "Image format" to 904 x 512

You can play with the sizes but I've noticed a performance hit when trying to run anything greater than 720p.


Until Google updates the firmware to allow local file storage from the Nest camera, this is the only solid way I've found to import the feed and save it locally. I don't want to pay for their cloud service when I can just upload my own clips to dropbox or any other free file service.

Google's integration with Dropcam/Nest doesn't seem well implemented. You would think that Nest would allow you to save your video clips to Google Drive. A perk to paying for the premium Google Drive service should be that you can record your Nest clips there for free. Instead, you are essentially billed twice for storage.

I'd go so far as to say do not purchase this device if you want more options such as using Blue Iris. Amcrest/D-Link/Netgear and dozens of vendors all do the same and are ONVIF compliant... and I can link those to my Google Drive/Dropbox storage for cloud backups.

Nest is not ONVIF compliant and their app sucks. It's the same app as the (awesome) Nest thermostat... but there should be a separate, dedicated app for the Nest cameras. It's too cluttered and not intuitive.

For the same price of a Nest cam, you can get two wifi PTZ cameras with the same quality video (if not better) and many more features such as the ability to save to a MicroSD card.

If your internet goes out with the Nest, your camera stops recording.