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Everything you need for a DIY CCTV installation

Updated on September 13, 2014

Installing your own CCTV

Security is a big concern in the modern world and protecting your family or business is without a doubt one of the most important challenges you will face. Thankfully there are some cost effective ways to improve your security and get some well deserved peace of mind.

CCTV is traditionally considered expensive and difficult to install but the reality is that you can install your own CCTV quickly and cheaply if you know which components to buy and how to get them all working together.

This hubpage will show you which components you need for a CCTV system and how they work together.

The Cameras

The first and most obvious component you will need is the cameras, CCTV or surveillance cameras come in thousands of designs but there are some common things to check for based on your specific requirements and budget

  • Waterproof or Water Resistant for outdoor installation
  • Infrared or Night Vision
  • Quality, 380TVL, 420TVL etc (Number of vertical lines)
  • Video only or Audio as well
  • Lens type (1/3, 1/4 etc)
For most home surveillance applications you will not need very fancy cameras and a basic IR 380 PAL/NTSC camera will be suitable



Powering your CCTV

The majority of CCTV camera's run on 12 volt power supplies and although you can use single adapters to power each camera it normally makes more sense to use a distributed CCTV power supply with CCTV power pigtails.

This allows you to power multiple camera's from a single power outlet, the power supplies are also properly regulated which prevents damage to your CCTV system from power surges.

Another important advantage of CCTV distribution power boards is the ability to add battery backup, after all you will want your CCTV running even if the power fails.

DVR Card

Assuming you already have a computer available for your CCTV installation you will just need a DVR card to to receive and capture the video streams for your cameras. Since different cards will have different functions there are some important points to consider.

  • FPS: Some cards share the frame rate between devices, I suggest a real time card which is identified by 30FPS per channel, eg 4 Channel card 120FPS
  • Hardware vs Software Encoding: Hardware encoding cards are far more expensive but place less strain on your computers CPU. With modern computers a software card will be fine and considerably cheaper.
  • CCTV Software: Make sure that the card will run on your operating system, particularly if you plan to use Linux/Zoneminder

Standalone DVR

If you do not have a spare computer or prefer to have a standalone DVR you will find a variety of products available to cater for your needs, price wise you will find most units fall into the same price bracket as a small desktop computer & DVR card

Standalone DVR units are self contained devices which can receive all your camera feeds directly and store or display the video footage. Normally these devices will have connections for TV or monitors.

Modern DVR units also allow web access which you can use to view your CCTV from remote locations via the Internet or on your cellular phone. 

Video Baluns

Video Baluns are the secret to cheap and easy DIY CCTV, these devices allow you to transmit video,power and audio over CAT5 (network) cable greatly reducing your installation costs and complexity.

CAT5 cable is cheap and easy to work with, the balun will convert your camera's signal and send it over regular and cheap network cable.

When picking a balun make sure it can carry audio if you intend to use audio as well since some cheaper baluns may only carry video and power or in the cheapest of cases video only.

Easy Cheap CCTV

And there you have it, with the right components and a bit of patience you will be able to install your own cheap CCTV and gain peace of mind at home or in your business

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