Need Advice on Security Camera's

I live in a townhouse subdivision with mostly on street parking, though some have driveways. I actually have a driveway, but I no longer own/drive a car, due to disability. So I use paratransit services, and rides from a few church folks. I’ve had problems with cars parking on the street blocking my driveway, plus the paratransit drivers had to double park when they came for me (Which several said was unsafe due to my need for the lift due to use of mobility devices). Many suggested a designated paratransit handicapped spot. I talked to civic association, and they said a number of residents who use paratransit have handicapped parking, and they pointed me to where I should inquire. It took nearly 6 months, but I finally had the signage installed before last Christmas.

I thought with the signage that my driveway would no longer be blocked for the church volunteers who give me rides, and the paratransit bus’s would be able to safely board me. But I still have clueless/lazy people using the spot as a pickup/drop-off zone, or even worse, parking there. I came back from a trip one night to find someone parked in the spot, and my ride was forced to drop me off two houses down. I was exhausted and having some pain - and I was furious! I look out my front window and see some car in that spot, and see that the lazy asses who own the car could have parked on the other side of the street, down the street in front of the next door neighbor’s two cars, or around the corner of the street across from me. I can call the non-emergency #, but the violators are gone before police arrive. Police told me if I can supply them with the tag # and type of vehicle, they can still issue a ticket (And fine is doubled in a handicapped spot).

I asked if camera footage would work, because otherwise I would have to walk out and write down the info (my mobility is significantly impaired). Police said absolutely. I’ve been thinking about getting security cameras, as I’ve had minor vandalism. I need a camera that can be installed on a pole, specifically the Del-Dot signage pole (Police said I could do that). I plan on putting another by my front door, and perhaps a 3rd one looking out towards the front yard. I need suggestions for something wireless, the one on the pole would need to be battery powered. Any ideas? What kind of storage would I need for the footage? I am completely clueless about security cameras. I do know my homeowners policy gives a discount for having them.

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Mounting a video camera on the signage pole will potentially invite vandalism, particularly if someone who receives a ticket discovers how they got their ticket, they may engage in some batting practice.

All you require is the license plate, so if you or a relative have a recently retired cell phone, you could use a free app like Remote Shot (as just one example), and use your cell phone in your home to tell the other cell phone out on the street to take a photo by bluetooth. Bluetooth is not less hackable than WiFi, but the hackers aren’t looking for bluetooth, and even if they did hack it, all they would have access to is the app that takes the photos, whereas hacking your WiFi gets them into your entire network.

You could mount the phone in a small plastic box, obscurely painted to match the pole/sign, and all you would need is a tiny hole for the camera lens.

The battery should last a while as the phone is not connecting to a carrier, which is a major battery drain.

Then you could utilize regular wireless video security cams for your front door and yard.

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Bluetooth has a limited range, shorter than wifi.

Here’s a FWF thread on security cameras. Not sure if it’ll help:

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As I already explained, security-wise, that’s a GOOD thing. From the description, the home is not set way back from the street. Bluetooth will work just fine.

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a) Not concerned about vandals, they would be really. really, stupid to damage the camera because 1) The other cameras I will have will capture them in the act, 2) The neighbor across the street has security cameras, so likely his would also capture then too 3) A ticket will now turn into a criminal offense, you can bet your bippy I will press charges 4) If the vandal damages the pole/sign, additional charges for damaging state property. So, yeah, would be pretty dumb to.

b) Don’t have any retired phones, but I wonder how much they’d go on eBay? Maybe cheaper than cameras? Plus, I could place 2 or 3 in indoor windows facing the street (One facing front door).

c) The same day I posted here, I saw a neighbor post the following in NextDoor. Sounds similar to what you posted, different app. What do you think of this idea? I like that I can view from my PC, and that I can take still pictures (Which I can then print out and hand to police).

From NextDoor: Someone told me about the Alfred app and thought maybe some could benefit from it.

If you have any old Smart Android, or Apple Cell Phones or Tablets gathering dust in the closet then take advantage of this totally FREE DIY security system for your home. There is a FREE App on Google Play Store called “Alfred”, that will work on just about any old Android cell phone with the Android operating system as far back as version 3.x. If you have an Apple device check out the Apple App store.

The only requirement is that you have a Google Account, which is also FREE. This is how simple it works. Connect your old Android or Apple iPhone to your home’s wireless system. Download the “Alfred” App and run it, it does not matter that the old phone does not have actual phone service. It will ask if you want the device to be a camera or a receiver, set it to camera. Place the old phone in a strategic location in your home, say viewing your front door, living room or even your window looking out over your front door. Download the app again on your present phone and when the App asks choose "Receiver” that’s it. You can now be anywhere in or outside your home, bring up the Alfred App, and get a live video and audio feed from your old phone in your home. The best part is the App will let you set motion detection, view either the phone’s front or rear cameras, set night vision, two-way audio, record video, take still pictures, and send you alerts if it detects anything. I have the old phones battery charger plugged in and it never heats up because the phone is always on, and at least in my case the old phone goes into trickle mode. If you don’t want to use the power supply then you can just set it to activate on motion detection and the battery will last for a fairly long period. Think about it. You can go out and pay way over a hundred dollars for a single WIFI security camera, then pay a monthly fee for video storage or you can do this entirely for free. Oh, one last thing, the “Alfred” App supports multiple cameras, so if you have several old phones you can view all of them from your phone. You can also view them from any PC. So, if you would like to check on what the kids are up to or tell the dog to get off the couch while you’re out you can now. Have Fun!


Thank you! Very helpful, as I want something that will show decent images, and that is part of the discussion. Will be researching the make/model’s mentioned.

A phone would definitely be cheaper than a WiFI camera. As mentioned in another thread, some of us picked-up new MOTOs for $29, so used phones will be quite inexpensive.

I previously mentioned ALFRED in the ‘Home automation’ thread under ‘Finance’. I liked the fact that Remote Shot stored the pics in folders on BOTH phones, so you don’t need to go out and retrieve them, ALFRED utilizes free cloud storage, for now.

Do some research on free apps.

Home has a small front yard, street is about 25 - 30 feet away. So yes, not far from street.

I checked eBay, saw some good prices on phones. How can I find out how good the cameras are on the phones? I guess I should stick to known brands like Samsung? My understanding is that most smart phones have pretty good quality cameras.

I bought a GoPro knockoff last year, and set it in the front window last Summer. It came with a waterproof case of clear plastic with hardware for mounting on a helmet or bike. It’s not a very good camera. I think a cell phone might fit inside, I could blacken the interior with acrylic craft paint (leaving a spot clear for the lens), slip the phone inside, and use whatever mounting hardware to attach to one of the signage poles (probably the rear one).

I’ll check out Remote Shot & ALFRED, see which one to go with. And see what other apps are around. And keep checking eBay for cheap used phones.

Bluetooth has a range of ~33ft.

Right. Any relatively recent phone should have a good enough camera.

For phones, check OVERSTOCK > Electronics > Cell Phones > Price Low to High.

Do searches for ‘app cell remote camera’ and ‘app cell security camera’, and then research what you get for free or maybe 99 cent apps.

Yep, that’s the listed range, but I have my cell linked to the base for my cordless phones by bluetooth, and it’s an older Class 2. I usually turn it off before I leave and back on when I get back home. But sometimes when I’m rushing out I forget to turn it off, and when I arrive back home and approach the house, it re-establishes the link, well over 50 feet away, through two interior walls, an exterior wall with no window, and into the vehicle even with all the windows up.

It should work from a street facing window no problem.

Well, I’ve been looking at eBay, and found cheap phones, but they have some issues that may not be a problem for my use. Here’s what I found:

  1. Film is peeling under glass screen, phone is otherwise 100% working.
  2. Has some small cracks under bottom left corner of screen, otherwise works.
  3. Cracked screen, damaged but still working USB port. Phone otherwise works.
  4. Screen sometimes ‘whites out’, phone otherwise works.

These have 13,0 mp rear cameras. No 1 is the only one that includes a charger, all come with a battery. The prices are all similar for each. I can also buy a waterproof case that has various mounting options, including the ability to attach to the rear signage pole, for under $12. That way I can easily remove it when the battery needs to be charged, though I am strongly considering adding a small padlock to the case. Will probably get a spare battery, so I can just swap out one while charging the other.

Some random responses.

The one with the peeling film, perhaps it’s as a result of water damage ? Or simply a known minor defect ? Dunno. Maybe someone else can chime in.

Cracked screens, assuming all else is functioning fine, is merely a visual, which is not relevant for your intended use.

Great idea about swapping batts, a real timesaver. Generic batts are cheap, as are generic chargers.

The phone that has a screen that ‘whites out’ may be an issue with the OS, and get progressively worse.

Bluetooth for a security system…lolzzzzz.

If I hack into your WiFi, I have access to your entire network and all your systems. If I hack into the bluetooth on the two phones, I could take a pic of the street or view stored pics of the street.

Getting into the network doesn’t imply access to all the systems on the network.

My WiFi has a non-dictionary password, KRACK countermeasure, and MAC address filter. Can you still hack it? :wink:

Ummmm OK.

Tell me again, why exactly does that have to do with what I said? I mean 99.99999% of people are going to have the wifi network already. They aren’t creating a new network.

But even then, tell me where I recommended wifi cameras? I would never recommend anything other than hardwired camreas.