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camera systems CCTV Camera Systems FAQ

Below are questions others have had about CCTV camera systems. Hopefully, they will answer any questions you may have.

Surveillance Definitions

AGC - Automatic Gain Control is an electronic circuit that keeps the video signal at a constant level (1volt peak-peak). Useful on cameras working at low light levels.

AI - Auto Iris is an automatic method varying the size of a lens opening in response to changes in scene illumination.

AWB - Auto White Balance is an electronic process used in video cameras to retain true colors. It is performed electronically on the basis of a white object in the picture.

BLC - Balance Light Control is a method to compensate for bright spots in a picture. It is also important to consider whether there are bright spots in the picture such as car headlights which can make identification of the vehicle registration or model impossible. This can also be a major problem where it is necessary to identify a person who is moving from bright daylight into artificial light. This could result in the subject becoming an unidentifiable silhouette.

CCD - Charged Coupled Device: It is analog technology. The CCD camera has a little bit higher resolution than CMOS. The camera also functions better in low light. A CCD camera drains a little bit more power than the CMOS cameras. It uses 12v instead of 9v.

CMOS - Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor: a lower resolution camera compared to a CCD Model. The advantage of a CMOS camera is that it uses lower operation current. CMOS cameras are smaller than CCD cameras and work longer with the 9V battery.

CODEC - A term referring to any technology used to compress and decompress large files such as audio and video files for efficient data transfer.

D1 - D1 is a high resolution standard for video.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR) - A digital video recorder is basically a computer that converts the incoming (analog) signal from the cameras to digital, and compresses it, and stores it. The DVR replaces the function of a multiplexor (or quad or switcher) and a security VCR. There are many advantages of digital video recorders over their analog counterparts.

Focal Length - The distance from the surface of a lens to its focal point.

FPS - Frames Per Second is the number of still frames (pictures) that give the illusion of motion, which appear in a single second of time. 30fps is considered "Real Time". So for Real Time viewing of your cameras, you need at least 30fps for each camera.

H.264 Compression - The latest MPEG4 compression technology, released in 2003. H.264 provides excellent video compression. You get the same quality image as MPEG4 even at the higher resolutions like full screen D1.

HAD CCD - Hole Accumulation Diode is a type of CCD sensor with a layer designed to accumulate holes (in the electronic sense), thus reducing noise level.

IR - Infrared, IR LEDS are used on Day/Night cameras which allow the camera to see in the dark.

LUX - LUX is the measurement of low light needed for the camera to view and record properly.

mAh - MAh is how batteries are rated for capacity power. More powerful batteries have higher mAh ratings.

Motion Detection - Refers to the feature in some VCRs and DVRs to only record video if something in the image moves or changes. Therefore, you do not have to look through hours of taped video looking for something to happen. It also saves a lot of space on the tape or hard drive.

NTSC - The National Television System Committee regulates that these cameras record at 30 frames per second, and they have a lower resolution (usually 525 lines) than PAL versions.

OSD - On Screen Display is a method of displaying set-up information or instructions onto a display monitor for your camera systems.

PAL - Phase Alternating Line cameras have higher resolution (usually 625 lines) than NTSC cameras and record 25 frames per second. The analog video representation standard used in Australia, and most of Europe and Asia.

Resolution - Resolution measures the camera's ability to reproduce an image. The more lines of resolution, the better the picture quality.

RTC - Real-Time Clocks run on a special battery that is separate from the camera battery. They keep track of time for your time-date stamp even when the camera is turned off.

S to N Ratio - Signal to Noise Ratio is simply the ratio of the signal power and noise power, expressed in decibels (dB). Or measure of noise on a video signal. It is represented in Decibels as the level of the video signal compared to the level of noise present on that signal. The higher the signal to noise ratio the better.

Surveillance Questions -

What is a Wireless Security Camera? - Most security cameras require two wires: one for power, and one to transmit the captured video to a display or recording device (TV or DVR, for example). Wireless cameras only require one wire - for power. The video is transmitted wirelessly via transmitter and receiver devices. A wireless camera is really a combination of the camera plus a built-in wireless transmitter to send the video, and a receiver to receive the video, which in turn plugs into the monitor or recorder.

What is a wired Security camera? - Wired cameras have a video cable that runs from the camera to your recording or viewing device such as a DVR or monitor. Wireless cameras have a built-in transmitter that sends the video signal to a receiver. The receiver connects to your recording or viewing device.

For what applications should I consider IP? - IP cameras should be considered for large installation sites that already have a high bandwidth network installed - especially if the cameras will be spread out over a wide area. For example; Hospitals, Schools, etc.

What features should I look for in a CCTV Digital Video Recorder (DVR)? - All DVRs are definitely not made equal! There are several factors that are critical to consider when purchasing a DVR, especially when comparing price. The most important features to look at are the number of cameras supported, frames per second (fps), compression technology, hard drive space, network connection / remote viewing capability, motion detection, scheduling, and ability to save video and audio to a CD or flash drive.

Using RG 59 Cable vs. Plug and Play Cable? - There are two basic approaches to hooking up security cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs). You can use Plug and Play cable or you can use RG59 Siamese cable. Both cable types combine a cable for the video and a cable for the power. The advantage of plug and play cable is that it is very easy to use. The connectors for power, video and audio are all pre-attached. All you have to decide is what length you need (we offer 25, 50, 100, and 150 ft. models). This cable type is a good choice for homeowners who don’t need a cable run longer than 150 ft. The RG59 Siamese cable is more heavily shielded so it’s more durable and can be run longer distances (up to 1000 ft without a repeater). Its heavier shielding makes it less susceptible to interference. Florescent lighting in particular can interfere with camera signals. The RG59 is purchased in 500 or 1000 ft. rolls and each camera run is cut to the exact length needed. Since you need to cut the cable and attached the connectors, it is a little more involved to install.

Which type of Security Camera should I use? - A security camera can come in many different styles including dome, bullet, infrared and Hidden. The security camera that will work best for your application will depend on several factors such as whether you will use the security cameras inside or out, during the day, nighttime, or both.
- Bullet style security cameras are the most popular. They can be used inside or out. These security cameras come in black and white or color and come with all of the required mounting hardware. The security cameras casings are weather resistant and don’t require added external protection. Most security cameras have a fixed 4 mm lens that allows you to see facial features out to about 35 feet and provides a 70° angle of view. Resolution levels for black and white security cameras are about 400 lines, any higher and the benefits are minimal. For color cameras, the higher the resolution the better.
- Infrared security cameras are also very popular as they allow an image to be seen in little or no lighting conditions. Most infrared security cameras are bullet style and can be used inside or out. The cameras have infrared lighting installed around the outer edge of the lens which allows the security camera to see in no light 25 ft or more depending on the camera model - even further with a little bit of light (like street lighting or an outside light.)
- Dome security cameras basically provide a different look. Also, if you have any concerns about tampering, check out our Infrared Armor Dome Security Camera. It will withstand a 10 lb sledgehammer blow and can be used inside or out, daytime or nighttime. Hidden cameras are very popular and can be hidden in almost any item. These cameras allow you to have the ability to capture video without anyone knowing. Most hidden cameras cannot be used outside and will need to be used indoors.

How do hidden cameras work? - A small board camera is built into an everyday item. The camera can be wired which means it is connected to the DVR or VCR using a cable. The camera can also be wireless, in this case, the camera transmits a signal to a receiver that is connected to the DVR or VCR.

Can I get audio in my hidden camera systems? - No you cannot. According to United States federal laws, audio should not be used in a surreptitious manner. One example of surreptitious interception is audio in a hidden camera. This includes pinhole board cameras and all covert or hidden cameras; i.e., a clock radio. Audio in a hidden camera or board camera is only available to law enforcement agencies. Title 18, Section 2512.

What is the difference between a wired and a wireless camera? - Wired cameras have a video cable that runs from the camera to your recording or viewing device such as a DVR, VCR or monitor. Wireless cameras have a built-in transmitter that sends the video signal to a receiver. The receiver connects to your recording or viewing device.

How far can a wireless hidden camera transmit? - Standard wireless hidden cameras can transmit up to 1,000 feet line of sight and high-powered wireless hidden cameras can transmit up to 2,500 feet.

How many wireless cameras can you have in one location? - You can have up to four wireless cameras in one location. You can view all cameras at once using four receivers or you can use one receiver and switch to each camera. You will only be able to view one camera at a time if you only use one receiver. If you want to install multiple wireless cameras in one location it's best to order them at the same time so that we can put them on different channels.

Will a cordless phone interfere with wireless cameras? - Cordless phones that operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency will cause interference with 2.4 GHz cameras. Interference should be minimal and usually occurs if the phone is between the camera and receiver. Wireless Internet, networks and Wifi may cause interference too.

What is a 2.4 GHz wireless frequency? - A frequency is used to transmit a signal or data like video. 2.4GHz is the specific wireless frequency that our transmitters use to send video signal to a receiver. All of our wireless cameras operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency. Range varies from 200' to 700' depending on environmental conditions. These units are FCC approved.

Are the transmitters FCC approved? - The transmitters used in all of our wireless systems are FCC and Industry Canada Certified.

What is CCD? - CCD is used in professional cameras because of its high resolution quality and its ability to record in low-light situations. CCD is basically a small silicon chip that receives light and turns it into voltage variations which makes up an image. It's usually measured in inches with 1/3" CCD being the standard. They are higher priced, but are great for cameras that may require vision in near darkness.

What is a Quad? - A Quad is used with a VCR or other single channel recording device that splits your monitor into 4 sections allowing you to view 4 cameras at once.

Will a Quad allow four cameras to record at the same time? - Yes, you can record all four cameras at the same time. You also can record using a switching monitor, which will record the camera that is showing at that moment.

Do the receivers work through walls up to two feet thick? - Yes, as long as there isn't an excessive amount of metal in the wall.

Do the plug and play connections require extra wire to run the signal back to the VCR or TV? - Yes, you need to buy the length of cable you need. We offer the CA-25, CA-50, CA-100, and the CA-150.

What is the difference between a DVR and a VCR? - A Digital Video Recorder (DVR) system records high resolution digital images to a hard disk drive (HDD) and eliminates the requirement of maintaining VHS tapes. Since the video images are stored digitally, the image quality will not degrade overtime, as a VHS tape does when recorded over multiple times. The time-saving search capabilities of a DVR will enable the user to locate the desired video clips via user defined parameters (camera, time, date, etc.) versus the fast forward and rewind functions of a VCR. A DVR can be accessed remotely from anywhere in the world using the Internet.

What is the difference between a PC-based DVR and a stand-alone (embedded) DVR? - A PC based DVR has all the functions of a computer. An embedded DVR functions only as a DVR.

How many hours will a DVR record? - The amount of time a DVR will record for is based on the size of the DVR's hard drive; the number of cameras recording; and the number of frames per second it is recording at. A 4 camera stand alone DVR with a 500GB hard drive will record for 5 days of constant recording and around 2 weeks of motion recording. A 8 camera stand alone DVR with a 500GB hard drive will record for 2.5 days of constant recording and around 1 week of motion recording. A 4 camera stand alone DVR with a 1TB hard drive will record for 2.5 days of constant recording and around 1 week of motion recording.

What is a Plug and Play connection camera? - It is an RCA Video plug and a power plug on the camera for easy connection to VCR or TV. This is done by running the RCA (Aux) line into the VIDEO IN of the VCR or TV. The TV or VCR must be set on the correct channel to view the VIDEO IN picture.

How many cameras can I hook up to one TV? - You can hook up as many cameras as your TV has inputs. Most TVs have 2 inputs but, when using a quad, you can hook up four cameras.

How long will the camera last with a 9-volt battery? - The Cyber Eye and BD-127 will last 5 hours.

Between what temperatures is it safe for cameras to operate in? It is safe for B/W cameras to operate between -23 Degrees C to + 50 Degrees C or -10 Degrees F to +122 Degrees F. It is safe for color cameras to operate between -23 Degrees C to +40 Degrees C or -10 Degrees F to +104 Degrees F. It is safe to store cameras between -30 Degrees C to +70 Degrees C or -22 Degrees F to +158 Degrees F

What is the operating voltage of a camera? - Our cameras range from 9 volts (CMOS) to 12volts. We also have some 24 volt professional models.

What is a varifocal lens? - A varifocal lens is one where the focal length of the lens can be varied. This is a fancy way of saying it is a zoom lens. Most varifocal lenses have, and in almost all circumstances should have, an auto iris feature.

What is a fixed lens? - A fixed focal length lens cannot zoom. The focus is fixed. A fixed focal length lens usually allows more light to pass through the lens at a given focal length than a varifocal, or zoom lens. This can be important in low light situations.

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