DISCLAIMER

This web page is not complete. I am not responsible for errors or omissions. The information is presented for informational purposes only, there are no guarantees that what works for me will work for you. If you decide to follow or duplicate my work, you do so at your own risk.

The information provided here is not intended to be an all encompassing representation on every aspect of security cameras. It’s one possible solution in the vast arena of security cameras and how they are implemented. The cameras featured here, Wyze V2 cameras are not billed as “security” cameras as such, nor are they rated for outdoor use. I’ve made some adaptations and do not hold the company liable for my tinkering. This particular arrangement works for me, and by sharing it I hope that it can potentially inspire someone else to either follow and/or improve on my methods and techniques. Comments are welcome. Enough for the disclaimer, let’s begin.


BORING DIALOGUE — FEEL FREE TO SKIP UNLESS YOU HAVE TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP

First a bit of history. I’ve worked in the technology sector for most of my life. Occasionally I had the opportunity to work with surveillance systems and became interested in doing something similar at home. Why? While I live in a quiet bedroom community, there is always the chance for “things” to happen, so, I decided that I should be prepared by keeping an eye on things around my property. It can be quite handy to be able to tell when a package has been delivered, or when someone is approaching your front door. In these days of scammers who might pose as a utility service person, or worse, a police officer, I’d like to have video evidence should that be required by law enforcement to stop things like this from happening to anyone else.

I’ve tinkered with a couple different types of cameras. First was an Axis brand IP camera that required a separate power supply and network feed (or PoE switch). The image was acceptable, and dependable. I could use a program like iSpy (open source, free camera software program) to view and record events to my home computer like a DVR. The problem was that a decent wired IP based camera, especially from Axis, a leader in this field, was expensive. Next was CCTV cameras. These were from Honeywell, another respected player in the web cam arena. This camera required a 12V DC power source and a coaxial connection that needed to go back to a dedicated DVR for viewing and recording. The image was fair to poor, the cameras were extensive, and the the DVR was clumsy to use.

I’m not sure where I first heard of Wyze cameras, but purchased one just for fun to test. This was back in September of 2018. The cost, $25.00 with shipping. When the camera arrived, I plugged it in to a power source, connected it to my WiFi and was completely blown away by the clarity of the video feed. I was hooked. I would have ordered five or six more right then and there, but found that at the time the camera could only be viewed from a smart phone. There is a app for both Apple and Android, but no way to stream to a computer. Rumors were at the time hinting that at some point the cameras would be adapted for PC use. Fast forward one year. The cameras now have a beta firmware load that will allow them to be viewed by a PC through a third-party program like iSpy, Blue Iris, or VLC media player.

I now own six Wyse V2 stationary (Wyse makes a pan camera that can turn 180 degrees and look up and down) cameras. My goal was to install them around the outside of my home — outside. None of the cameras made by Wyze are rated for outdoor use, but, with a little help from my friends at Honeywell, I’ve adapted them to be virtually weather proof. Below is how I used the existing dome enclosures from the Honeywell cameras to provide shelter for my Wyze cameras.

As of this writing, the streaming or RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) is still in beta, but, I’m hopeful that this is just another problem to be solved the amazing folks at Wyze. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the ability to view the perimeter of my property from the comfort of my iPhone, iPad and computer. Below are the steps I took to get to this point. I hope they are helpful.


Protecting the Wyze V2 Camera from the elements …

The Wyze cameras are not rated for outdoor use, so some method of protection needs to be employed. There are many third-party enclosures for the V2, but none of them seemed beefy enough for what I wanted. Since I already had two old Honeywell cameras with their own dome enclosures, I decided not to re-invent the wheel. Instead, why not remove the Honeywell camera optics and insert the V2? I gave it a try and haven’t looked back since. By the way, the Honeywell camera enclosures were so successful, I searched for more on eBay. I found someone selling Honeywell working cameras in their domes for about $13.00/each. I purchased eight. Below is a series of photos that show how I adapted the those enclosures for the Wyze V2 camera.

Disassembly is pretty straight forward, however, the Honeywell domes have tamper resistant screws holding the dome to the base. If you don’t have a set of security bits, they can be purchased from most major hardware stores, Amazon or eBay. Just look for “security torx" bits. I’d recommend getting a set as I’ve found that Honeywell doesn’t use the same security bit on all of their camera domes.

The following pictures document the removal of the existing camera guts from the Honeywell dome enclosures, and inserting the Wyze V2 camera in the empty housing.


Click on any picture to enlarge


The entire process only takes a few minutes … unless you’re trying to photo document the process. Note, the addition of the steel washer was optional. Because the Wyse V2 has a magnetic base, inserting the washer allowed me to position the camera and keep it steady while I worked. I also found that the included washer from Wyze was too large as it covered up the four screws holding the swivel base. The replacement washer I used is a 5/16” x 1-1/2” fender washer. While I don’t show it, I put a little dab of tub and tile caulk (or similar) in the hole where the power cord threads through the base. Not sure if this is necessary or not — just being over cautious I guess. Next step is mounting.

Just a quick note about putting the Wyze V2 under a plastic dome. I know that some of you have already been shaking your heads saying that the image will be distorted, or the IR lights on the Wyze V2 will reflect back on itself causing a flare. I’m here to tell you that first, what little distortion might be caused by putting the camera under a dome is worth the protection of the camera.

As for the IR lighting, you would be correct in thinking that this would cause a reflective glare. Fortunately, Wyze allows you to disable the “Night Vision IR Lights.” The camera is still able to view in low light, but not in total darkness. Wyze reports that the IR lights can project up to 29.6 ft. I haven’t test this, and for my purposes isn’t necessary.

Here are some samples of the video image with and without the dome, and again with the dome with the IR lights on and off.


Note: In all photos, night vision mode is in “auto” mode. The top photos show that the difference between having the dome on or off is insignificant. The second row shows how the glare from the IR lights reflect back when the dome is on, and how dark the image is even with night mode on. Finally, the bottom photo is with the dome off and the IR lights on in total darkness.


Mounting the Wyze V2 Camera

Because I own my home, I can drill holes in to it just about anywhere I want. Obviously, I don’t want my house to look like a descent of woodpeckers targeted my home for practice. And yes, that’s what a group of woodpeckers are called. I’m pretty confident with power tools, so I wasn’t too concerned about mounting, but how to do it so things stayed where I put them. I thought the best location would be under the overhang or eves by my garage. Here’s a picture of the final outcome.

 
Mounted+2+of+2.jpg

The first thing I did after deciding where I wanted to mount the camera was to create a drill template. This would allow me to drill once. I decided on 3/16” toggle bolts with 4” screw shafts. The template also had an additional hole for the power cord coming out of the bottom of the camera. Fishing the holes was straight forward. If you have access to fiberglass fish tape, you should have no problem. Harbor Freight Tools has a 50 ft nylon fish tape for $7.99. Basically anything that is semi rigid that will fit in the hole might do. A coat hanger (untwisted of course) might work as well.

After fishing the wire, I now have five holes, four for the toggle bolts, and one for the power cord. The rest is simply mounting the bottom of the dome enclosure to the surface. Next, connect the power cord to the camera and put it in position. Now is a good time to power up the camera and test whether or not it’s pointed where you want it to view. After you have it aimed properly, install the clear dome top (clean the inside to remove any finger prints, smudges, etc.) and fasten it down. Test the aim again before putting the ladder away. There isn’t much room inside this enclosure and putting the dome on might alter the aim of the camera slightly. Make sure the outside of the dome is clean too!

Below are some pictures that show the steps in mounting the dome enclosure.



I will admit, this particular installation was more difficult than the other two I did. Being in the corner of the eves, it’s was nearly impossible to fish the power wire without taking a peak under the siding. What I didn’t show you was what it took to get the power line fished. I even used the V2 inside the garage to try and spot the drill bit so I didn’t have to keep running back and forth. That was a time saver. You may also notice that in the third photo “ready to mount the camera base” the power cord pull string would have been in front of the camera. I simply drilled another hold behind the four mounting holes and fished the power cable to the correct position. In picture #5 “Insert toggles in to the pilot holes and tighten” you’ll see that there are six holes. At least the base covered up that mistake! Finally, if you’re wondering why I have two pull cords/strings, I decided that I would leave the pull string up there for future use. If Wyze ever comes out with a wired IP camera, I’d be in line to buy it.

Powering the Camera

With the installation of the camera behind me, it’s now time to give the camera some power. This can be done several ways. My choice was to use USB extenders. See picture below. As I didn’t have a convenient AC outlet near the cameras, I needed a way to extend power, in one case, up to 70ft.

The Wyze V2 camera comes with a USB A (male) to micro USB (male) connector on a 6 ft flat cable for power that connects to a small AC/DC power converter. The converter is a 120VAC to 5VDC 1000mA. Pretty standard stuff. But six feet? What if you don’t have an AC outlet within 6ft of your installed camera? No problem. There are many USB extender kits sold that will allow you to boost that 6ft limitation up to 150ft using standard CAT5/6 Ethernet (network) cable. I use one from a company called Monoprice.com. The P/N is 6042 and a single kit runs $13.07. The kit has two pieces; one end is used at the camera end, the other is at the power converter end, CAT5/6 wire (not included) connects the two. This allows you to keep the power converter inside as I doubt it’s weather resistant. Below is a picture showing how everything connects together. Note, the yellow cable is a CAT5 patch cable — obviously it would be much longer in a real set up.

By the way, if you don’t know how, or don’t want to pin your own Ethernet cable, Monoprice sells inexpensive CAT5 patch cables from 1/2ft for $0.97 to 100ft for $12.81. You could use CAT6 cable, but for this purpose it’s not worth the extra money. My longest run is 70ft. so far. I have yet to tackle the second floor.

If you only need to extend your power cable by 25ft or less, you might be better off purchasing a power extension cable sold by Amazon or the like. Last time I checked, a 25ft USB extension cable runs $7.99 from Amazon. This is just like the 6ft cable included with the camera, only much longer. Just do a search for “Wyze camera power extension cable.”

To be continued …