discrete camera to catch vandal

nolodyne

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
3
Reaction score
1
Country
United States
I've had two breakins to my pickup few months. There was some vandalism and I think I know who it was. I'd like to put a discrete camera in the truck so if it happens again then I'll be able to show the police or use footage in court. Even if it's a different person next time it'll be good for police or prosecutors to have a record. My goal is to record the next vandal/thief without him noticing that he's recorded.

Does anyone know of good solutions to this? Anyone have any success catching thieves or vandals? I'm OK with DIY projects. Maybe this is out of scope for dash cams, but it seems pretty closely related.

Maybe I'll get a small fisheye camera and mount it in the cabin. It's connected to a raspberry pi that's hidden. The raspberry pi has an SD card and is powered by the battery.

Maybe I'll get a small camera that has its own storage. I worry that it'll be easy steal the SD card from the camera than from a raspberry pi that's difficult to get to.

I actually probably don't need infrared since both break ins were done by breaking a door lock. When the door is open the cabin light turns on. Infrared is probably no good for identifying the person anyway. A complex solution would be to use a raspberry pi to turn on the cabin light upon motion detection, but this is probably too complex for a first pass.
 

DashcamDPR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
1,138
Reaction score
581
Country
United Kingdom
Dash Cam
A119 Pro, Mio Mivue 508 for the work van
Is this happening parked at home? if so it's probably better to have a camera pointing at the vehicle from the house as you can slightly better guarantee constant power and recording with larger memory storage rather than hoping a camera within the car catches them without filling the memory card and potentially overwriting, or running out of it's own power?
 

SawMaster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2015
Messages
5,789
Reaction score
5,213
Location
SC
Country
United States
Dash Cam
G1W-S, G1W-HC, G1W clone, B1W, N2 Pro, K2S, B2W, (ex Mobius)
I hate a thief :mad: I do continuous recording in my workvan since it doubles as a home security cam at night.The original Mobius with supercaps will run reliably under almost any conditions and the average car battery will be fine with 12 hours runtime. It's about as small as action or dash cams get. I've done similarly with the B1W which will have better images at night and it's also small too. The B1W has a phone app where you can view a snapshot of what it sees via wifi. It does require a smartphone to set up and use while Mobius primarily uses a PC interface and has no wifi, but there's a pay-app for using an Android phone and cable to work with the settings.

There are some issues when using dashcams this way. One is that if they steal the cam your evidence is gone with it. Another is that with all but one cam you're going to be limited to 8-14 hours recording before your car battery goes dead. You can use a battery discharge preventer kit to save the battery but it will likely cut the cam off at around 6-10 hours or less. You can run the cam with a powerbank but you have to remember to keep it charged. There is also a similar device which charges itself when you drive but it charges slowly and IMHO is both overpriced and under performing. More is that dashcams really aren't designed for this use; you'll void your warranty but some cams handle it well. And cams need airflow room so they don't overheat.

Dashcams usually have a 'motion detect' mode and a "g-sensor" though these are usually not reliable. When they see enough motion or detect enough movement they boot up the cam and begin recording but there's a few seconds delay involved. These modes are often cheesy and unreliable, but my B1W's G-sensor activates on opening a door normally. YMMV with these modes. Another thing is that with the cams I mentioned a 64GB card gives 6-8 only hours recording time so you may want a bigger card. Cheap cards won't work for dashcams.so card cost can become an issue.

You're probably better served with a regular security cam outside the vehicle if you can arrange that, but a small dashcam might do what you need. If you're willing to spend the money they do make ones with wifi alert features, wifi video viewing and file saving, reliable motion detect modes, and some IR cams too. A basic cam like I mentioned with a good 64GB card will be in the $100 range and you can easily spend 5X that on other cams. Look into the Mobius and B1W and I think one or the other might just do what you need.

Phil
 
OP
N

nolodyne

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
3
Reaction score
1
Country
United States
Thanks for the advice guys. Looks like you have a good setup Phil.

I actually do have a regular camera in front of my house that watches over the truck most of the time. But I do have to move the truck on street cleaning days and both times it was vandalized was when it was parked around the corner.

What I'm going to try first is to hide a small camera in the dashboard, maybe in a vent. I think that hiding is necessary because a thief or vandal would probably steal a visible camera along with its SD card. From newegg I got a Zgeer mini camera that's 30mm x 30mm, has motion detection, night vision, and an sd card stot. Based on the specs I'm hoping that the camera can stay on for a couple days without draining the car battery. I'll have to measure that, but it's probably easier to keep a backup battery than to hookup a low voltage cutoff. I'll power it via a cheap 12V to micro USB voltage regulator.

Anyway, I suppose that this setup isn't actually a dashcam. I doubt the setup will work without some modification.
 

SawMaster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2015
Messages
5,789
Reaction score
5,213
Location
SC
Country
United States
Dash Cam
G1W-S, G1W-HC, G1W clone, B1W, N2 Pro, K2S, B2W, (ex Mobius)
I think you'd be better off using a powerbank. In my experience, even my large workvan battery will either barely get me started or will be dead after 48 hours of recording on the average dashcam which uses less than 1/2A once booted. It's very hard on a lead-acid starting battery to do this, and many say that after 5 times of getting this low the battery will be effectively shot :( So rather than risk $100+ buying a $30 powerbank makes sense as it will have other uses too (charging phone etc.) and it's meant to be used in such a manner.

I'm not familiar with the Zgeer, but most of the tiny box-cams are similar and not very good, and many won't support a card large enough to hold a full night's parking. Cam overheating with them can cause shutdown or recording lock-ups so test it as you're going to use it first before relying on it. Those which use the .avi format generate larger files than the .mov format which means less time per GB (these cams come both ways). For 8-9 hours using .mov you need a 64GB card. Some cams won't support the larger size and those which do will need to be pre-formatted to the FAT32 file system on a PC then formatted in the cam in order to record correctly. In your case I'd recommend a 128GB card and AFAIK none of the little box cams support those.

If you're going to stuff a cam into a vent the original Mobius would be your best bet. It's longer but thinner, is top-level in reliability, supports large cards, and will do better in darkness than the box cams. Ideally supercaps would be better than the supplied battery, but in this kind of once-a-week use the battery version should last over a year in summer use. It is a bit tougher to set up the recording parameters using the PC app, but not bad really. The "A" lens version (90 degree FOV) will do slightly better in low light than the "D" lens, but the "D" lens will still beat anything you'll get from any of those box-cams. It offers a lot for the price and while it's old hat for dashcam technology, it's still the best cam for many specific purposes.

All these cams truly need a very good SD card, and one of the best in quality and value is the Samsung EVO Select on Amazon. Transcend also has some good ones as does PNY but avoid Lexar and the old red and gray Sandisk non-A1 types (the A1 versions are also very good). Lesser cards just do not work reliably if they work at all.

I know this is getting pretty deep but it'salso important to know if you want reliability and to get your money's worth from a dashcam or action cam. I just want to be sure you get what you need to do the job you want done reliably, and the cam market is full of money-wasting products as well as some exceptionally good ones. Expecting to catch an image and not getting it is quite a disappointing thing at best.

Phil
 
OP
N

nolodyne

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
3
Reaction score
1
Country
United States
It does look like the Mobius is small enough and it makes sense to get a reliable camera. So I'll try that. This project will take some trial and error so I'll post when something works (or doesn't work).
 

SawMaster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2015
Messages
5,789
Reaction score
5,213
Location
SC
Country
United States
Dash Cam
G1W-S, G1W-HC, G1W clone, B1W, N2 Pro, K2S, B2W, (ex Mobius)
We're always here if we can help!
Phil
 
Top