Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I’d like to have a webcam pointed toward my house, so that I can check (via Safari on iPhone) if I left the garage door open, if there’s a package on my doorstep when I’m off on a business trip, etc.

My idea is to place a small webcam inside the electric gaslight in front of my house.

enter image description here

General requirements:

  • WiFi: There’s already electricity at the light post, on a separate circuit from the bulb’s switch no less. While I love PoE, it’s just not worth the hassle of digging.
  • Small: It should fit in the glass enclosure without having to remove the CFL bulb inside. Or perhaps discreetly on the pole itself (see "Single piece enclosure" below).
  • Rugged: Should be able to survive the summer (and the modest heat of a CFL or LED bulb) and winter in terms of temperature, and is sealed (or can be enclosed) to protect against moisture.
  • Still image: Video is awesome and everything, but Mobile Safari has neither Java nor Flash. Video can be an option, but still images are absolutely critical.


  • Secure login: Eh…it’s the outside of my house. I’m not critically worried about security, but a password barrier to view could be a bonus. I guess.
  • Single piece enclosure: There’s an outlet on the light post that points right back at my house, so something that looked like a ruggedized AirPort Express with a camera pointing straight back would be absolutely perfect.


  • Price: (thanks hyperslug!) I think that $200 is a reasonable upper-bound.
  • Maybe just WiFi but not necessarily rugged: Upon further consideration of the problem, I realize that I already have a tough, cheap, and crystal clear watertight box that was purchased from a big-box store for less than $9, IIRC. An "in-use" outlet cover is also an option, and as an added bonus would blend in a bit more nicely. If someone can recommend a regular (non-ruggedized) webcam that meets at least some of the above qualifications and happens to be smaller than "7.7in W x 3.5in H x 7.4in" in size (smaller for the "in-use" cover), I'm confident that a much cheaper DIY solution is possible.
share|improve this question
+10 if I could... there's been some security problems in a forest I monitor + i've always wondered if there's something like this out there. good luck. –  Jason S Sep 17 '09 at 2:00

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I haven't used these but they were recommended on alt.comp.periphs.webcam via Toms Hardware

Panasonic BB-HCM371A

Has good but not great image quality, fast frame rate and built in microphone.

Toshiba IK-WB11A Great image quality but a slow frame rate (looks stop motion-ish), no built in mic.

share|improve this answer
Those are certainly candidates, but man are they pricey. –  Kevin L. Jul 26 '09 at 22:56
Yep ... you might be better off with a long USB cable and spending $50 bucks on a regular webcam. –  Bruce McLeod Jul 26 '09 at 23:59
I doubt a regular webcam would survive one rainstorm, even in an enclosure. –  Dour High Arch Sep 17 '09 at 2:18
Depends on the enclosure ... just get an enclosure designed to work on a boat and you will be fine. –  Bruce McLeod Sep 17 '09 at 23:34

An office I worked from had an Axis network camera outside. IIRC, Axis has great software, you can get images emailed to you, put on web pages, have movement detection, etc.


If you want a non-ruggedized wireless webcam, Axis has the 207w, which looks able to fit in your size constraints, except for a big antenna sticking out of it. Maybe you could cut a hole in the box?

share|improve this answer

Would any of the X10 cameras suffice?

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.