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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.

Nice-to-have:

  • 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.

Edit:

  • 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.
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+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
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted
+75

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.

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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
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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.


Edit:

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?

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Would any of the X10 cameras suffice?

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