I’ve just bought myself an IP camera, just to play with. I went for the cheapest I could find, to see if it was worth anything.
So I bought a Vstarcam C7824WIP.
It’s a wireless camera, 720p, IR/nightvision, 2-way sound, tilt/pan, motion detection, micro-sd slot for recordings and much more.
First, let me say that this is a chinese product. I didn’t expect much, but at a price of less that 50$, it seemed a fun place to start.
The web interface
The camera has a built-in web interface, from where you can see live video and setup the camera. The interface is a little slow, due to the slow hardware in the camera – I’ll get back to that. On the index page, there’s several options how to access the main interface, as there are different options depending on which browser you are using. I’m using Firefox, which limits some features, but I still got all the basic functionality, like enable/disable IR, pan/tilt and so on. You are able to control it and view the live video.
There’s not much to play with, except the basic stuff; you can set up the wifi settings, the motion detection, timezone, e-mail, etc. but nothing fancy.
They have actually made some OK motion detection. You can chose the sensibility on a scale from 1-10 (I’m currently using level 7), chose to send an e-mail on motions, upload to FTP and record on the SD card. And you can enable the motion detection with 15 minutes precision through a week.
However, the send to e-mail feature isn’t brilliant, as it only sends 6 images in the mail and no video. In most cases the result is that you receive an e-mail with some pictures of things that are about to happen or is already ended.
I haven’t used the upload to FTP setting yet, but it should be able to upload the actual videos and not just images.
The image isn’t brilliant, but OK – I am able to see some details and if you use it for surveillance, the records is good enough for face detection.
The built-in web interface has a live video preview, but the quality is rubbish. You can only chose video in 320×180 or 640×360 and it’s quite blurry. I don’t understand that, it must be compressed a lot, because the recordings are in a way better quality – higher resolution and much more crisp.
The web interface requires you to log in. The default login is admin/888888 and of course it can be changed. However, in the firmware I’m running right now – the latest version – provides a link for streaming video. And no login is required on that file, which is a bit risky. I’m don’t care with my use of the camera, but having it in the house could lead to some concerns. I hope they change that in a later firmware version.
In my router I noticed that the camera is sending something to 6-8 foreign IP addresses, some of which are from Japan. Perhaps I’m paranoid, but the amount of data doesn’t lead my thought to simple firmware update checks. It’s not enough for it to be a stream of video, but I’m wondering what it’s sending and to whom. But I haven’t looked at the traffic yet, so I’m not sure what it is. Again, if anyone are watching my camera, I doesn’t revile anything important, but it’s a bit worrying, in many cases.
The fun part: accessing the file system
It didn’t take me long to find out that the camera can be access via telnet. And neither took it long to find you that root/123456 gives you access to the system.
And there it is: the camera is running some sort of Linux:
Linux (none) 3.0.8 #30 Tue May 27 21:58:10 CST 2014 armv5tejl GNU/Linux
The file system is read-only per default although it says it isn’t:
# df -h Filesystem Size Used Available Use% Mounted on /dev/root 6.1M 6.1M 0 100% / tmpfs 15.9M 4.0K 15.9M 0% /dev /dev/mtdblock3 5.0M 2.3M 2.7M 46% /system none 3.0M 48.0K 3.0M 2% /tmp /dev/mmcblk0p1 29.7G 2.5G 27.2G 8% /mnt/sda0
The web interface can be found in /system/www/
The recording on the SD card can be found in /mnt/sda0
I have disabled the auto firmware updater, by simply out commenting it in /system/init/ipcam.sh (/system is read-write)
I’ve also noticed that it has some GPIOs, that can be turned on/off from the web interface. But there’s no visible pins outside it, so perhaps I need to take it apart and see what’s inside.
Don’t buy this camera, if you’re looking for a surveillance solution. The security is way to weak, the origins way to risky and the quality isn’t good enough in my opinion.
But if you just wanna play around, it’s actually surprisingly nice. Honestly, my expectations was that the camera was at least able to take poor pictures, the pan/tilt not working etc. But at less than 50$, it does a nice job.