Security Camera Systems


Well-Known Member
Since I'm out of the hunting scene until my crossbow is fixed, I decided to work on security for the retirement property barn. I hope to extend this to the house. I watch a bunch of reviews online and decided to take the dive with Reolink. I initially got an 8 channel NVR with four 4k PoE cameras (RLC-811A) with the kit. I also got an Argus 3 Ultra to see how the wifi cams work.

I'm just starting to play with it. I have two of the PoE cams installed and operating. Here is my take so far:

Cam 1 - This cam is mounted under my overhang and covers the patio outside the 500 sqft of living area in the barn (eventually extra bedrooms for the house). This works great for security during both day and night. It has occasional false alarms at night, but I'm still playing with the detection criteria. It is interesting that these cams use frame differencing rather than a PIR for detection. They have both red LED and white LED for night color video.

Cam 2 - This cam is on the end of the barn pointed outward into the field. I have it mounted about 10' or so high. It works great during the day. I have it the white LEDs turned off, so it is running the red LEDs. Since these are on all the time at night, deer seem to completely ignore them. Again, I'm still playing with detection criteria, but this camera false alarms a lot at night. The big issue right now seems to be insects. The swarm around the LEDs. Sometimes it looks like a blizzard. I'm not sure there is much I can do about this. It works great during the day, and the 4K video is very sharp.

Today, I setup the Argus. It has a non-changeable internal battery. I got a solar panel with it, but the spot it is in gets little direct sun. I don't have a feel for battery life. I'll have to either bring it back to recharge from time to time or maybe I'll get a cell phone charging brick and hook it to the camera when it needs charged.

The picture is just as good, but connection is spotty. It is about 120 yards from my mesh router. I may need to get some kind of extension for it. I can live view the camera through the wifi, but I'm finding limitations with it. The picture craps out from time to time as it is on the ratty edge of wifi distance. Next, I learned that it can't record to the NVR like the PoE cams. It can only record to an internal micro-sd card. I'm not sure why it can't record to the NVR, probably a power management issues with battery life. I may get a directional wifi extender to improve the live view, but I'm stuck with the limitation of their battery powered cams.

I have the other two PoE cams physically installed in a similar configuration on the barn overhang on the opposite side of the barn, but they are not connected. The ethernet cables are not long enough. Rather than running a bunch of long ethernet cables, my plan is to add two switches one one near these 2 cams and the other on the far end of the barn for additional cams.

I ordered one more PoE cam to play with. Unlike the 4 cams that came with the kit, this came has pan and tilt.

If anyone else is using a Reolink system, feel free to chime in with tips and such.
Well, I'm learning as I go. As for the PoE cams, I'm still pretty happy. I found I was not transmitting at the highest streaming rate even though the video was great. The video improved when I increased to the max and the picture improved noticeably.

I'm less sanguine with the battery operated Argus 3 Ultra wifi cam. I learned the camera goes into sleep mode with only the PIR running like many cheap game cams. It is monitoring my driveway. I headed to Lowes to pick up a part I needed and returned. It did not even pick up the car when I left and was so slow when I returned, it barely caught the tail light.


If you look close next the the big tree on the right, you can see my taillight.
I've been working with tech support but so far, no resolution of the issues with this Argus Wifi cam, and I've found a few more issues:

- Slow wake-up (as shown above)
- The wifi signal meter on the PC app does not work. It either shows a full signal level or none and the camera doesn't connect. When I survey the location with my cell phone, I see decreasing power (as expected) as I get further from the router and the closer to the camera. Tech Support admits this is an issue.
- I often can't connect to the camera. This is likely because I'm at the limit of the wifi of my router. I have ordered a wifi extender and a directional antenna that should solve this.

I generally like the PoE cameras. I find the optical zoom worthless. The auto focus is very poor. When I use optical zoom I have to manually focus. Regardless of the zoom level, the picture clarity is not really any better than simply doing a digital zoom. These cameras don't have a PIR like game cameras. They use frame differencing. I get constant false alarms from the out facing camera at night. I think much of this is caused by insects being attracted to the red LED lighting. I've been using LED only rather than the white spotlights as I think deer are more tolerant of them. Another issue I had with the outward facing camera is some circular glare making rings around the lens. This was likely due to spider webs and stuff like that getting on the face of the cam. I cleaned the cam and this problem pretty much resolved. I then sprayed the camera with permethrin to deter spiders and other insects.

The inward pointing camera (covering the patio area under the overhang) gets far fewer false alarms. Most of the daytime alarms are birds flying under the overhang (swallows and such). The issue here that I reported to tech support, is the pictures generated for the alarms. They show nothing. If I use the timestamp form the alarm and do a video playback from the NVR, I see the bird fly past the camera. The picture for the alarm is captured just after the bird flies by. This is an issue with the alarms. With frame differencing, an algorithm looks for differences in pixels between frames. So, something flying through the scene generates pixel differences over time. When the detection algorithm triggers, it should go back and select a frame from the middle of that triggering event. Instead, they are taking a frame after the trigger With something slower like a dog or a deer or person, the subject will likely still be in frame after the trigger event, but this is not true for a bird flying close to the camera.


I received some long ethernet cables and a couple PoE switches and a micorSD card today as well as one more PoE camera with pan and tilt as well as optical zoom. I was hoping to be able to point at a deer and use the optical zoom, but given how poor the optical zoom is on the other PoE cameras, I don't know how well this will work.

The switches and cables should let me get 2 more of the existing PoE cameras running along with the new PTZ camera.
Well, I made a little more progress today. Some equipment came in so I was able to continue the project. I installed the two new ethernet cables that came in. I got one of the switches installed. This allowed me to get 2 more cameras running.

I'm beginning to think that many of the false alarms coming from these PoE cameras was due to insects. A cold front came through and there a many fewer insect flying around and I've had not false alarms. I hope tin install another switch tomorrow.
I've made a bit more progress with the system and have gained a little more experience with it. I installed a PTZ PoE camera last week and tested it. I'm still waiting on cabling to hook it up permanently. I also have a WiFi extender with a directional antenna on order. That should help me play with the placement of the battery powered driveway camera.

The nice thing about the outward facing PoE cameras is that they help track deer movement. It is much easier to see deer in black and white mode. I've been playing around with the settings to get them to switch over earlier. My west facing camera has a bright sky in the evening which makes everything but the sky too dark to see anything. I've been playing with the brightness setting as well.

I can go into playback mode and figure out how deer are entering the field. With my game cameras I just know when they trip the camera and where they are at that time. These cameras are not a substitute for game cameras, but when you have power available, like I do at the barn, they can really provide some more insight.

I'll report back when I have more to share. So far, I'm finding lots of shortcomings in the control software but the cameras themselves work fine. Tech support has been moderately helpful, but they are very responsive. The don't always understand my questions the first time I ask, but that is to be expected with ESL folks.
Wow! How much to our game cameras miss? Even fast trigger high end cams...

Our retirement property is about 16 acres and roughly half of it was old pasture. Over time, I've been killing fescue and planting clover and a variety of mixes in sections. There is more open area on the neighbors property as well as some early succession. My barn about 100 yards into the old pasture.

I have a wireless BEC game camera out in the field about 100 yards from the barn over a nice clover section. I currently have 2 of the planned 3 outward facing cameras in operation. I did a playback today. I started before sunrise and covered about the first and last hours of legal shooting time. I watched 7 deer running all around that field on the videos both morning an night. Not once did they pass in front of the game cam and it had not pictures.

With limited battery power and limited analysis time, I don't use video with game camera. But with unlimited power at the barn and these security cameras, I'm learning a lot more about how deer relate to my retirement property much faster that I ever did at the pine farm. Too bad I don't have that capability at the pine farm where habitat changes change how deer relate to the land every so often. The habitat at our retirement property will probably be fixed.

More on the installation next week.
I made a little more progress today. I installed the third outward facing PoE cam. This cam has pan and tilt controls on it. It does not seem to have quite the illumination capability as the other cameras

I did run into an issue with the Wifi Extender. It looks like I'll need to change my plan. I have the NVR plugged into the router and 2 PoE switches plugged into the NVR. I've got 2 camera on one of the switches, 2 cameras directly plugged into the NVR, and I planned to plug in the last cam and Wifi Extender into the last PoE switch. Well, I messed with the wifi extender. It can't seem to see the router when it is downstream of the NVR. It seems to work fine when plugged directly into the router. I'm guessing the NVR is more than a dumb switch and must some how block the extender.

So, I ordered another 100' cable so I can put the extender where I want it.