If you are thinking to realize a cheap video surveillance system your are in the right place. Just a few days ago i made this kind of system. It provides some usefuel features such as:

  • motion detection
  • live stream
  • low power consumption
  • security
  • storage
  • and last but not least it's a low budget project

The generic architecture is very simple. For the entire system you need:

  • a low power server machine
  • a router/switch connected to the internet
  • an IP Camera (Ethernet or Wireless)
  • a motion detection software
  • a multiplatform notification system
  • a storage in the cloud

Low power server:

The choice is very difficult and there are many variables to consider. The device power and the installed operating system are basic for your choice. Finally I decided to buy a Raspberry Pi 3 , it's very cheap, it's a low electric power consumption device, and it has enough computing power for our purpose. Price 45€

Network topology

This should be a very simple problem to solve. But if you are trying to mount an IP Camera you need to keep IPCamera network detached from your home network, so if you want to save bandwith you can preserve it at any time. For my purpose i mounted a normal router/switch that is connected to a power line connected to my IpCamera. The server is connected to the router also, and it serves as bridge and Http Reverse Proxy between the two networks. Every time i need to access to the system on demand i need to pass trough the proxy. Continous monitoring can be made in the survellance dedicated network. Price: 10~40€


There many models provided. I bought a Sricam AP004 that has a PTZ built-in system and 10-leds system for night vision. It serves a MJPG stream or a H.264 stream at 720p. I used MJPG stream for motion detection and HD stream for video recording. Price 100€
For my needs i had to buy an outdoor IPCamera there are more cheaper IPCamera if you need for example an indoor system. If you have more than one IPCamera consider to install a proxy server to manage multiple camera instances in order to invoke a unique HTTP URL.

A motion detection software

This was the most difficult part of the system, i'm a developer and i used the OpenCV library for building my own but after hours and hours of research i found the kerberos.io project. It provides a server written in C++ that rely on OpenCv library for image and video processing. It includes an optional web console useful to configure the server, image storage settings and motion detection parameters. While i write these lines the project is at the 2.0 stable release and it does the work pretty well. Kerberos.io is not the only motion detectoin software but i have to admit that is the best trade-off in the open source world. Mostly it is compatible with the RaspberryPi and it's precompiled for Raspbian and ARM based system. Price 0€

A multiplatform notification system

Even in this branch i had to do much research to preserve the low budget requirement. Finally i found Pushbullet with its REST API you can implement a fast notification system with a few lines of code.
If your motion detection software sends the motion detected event, it's easy to bind Pushbullet to your system to check what happened at home. Price 0€

For example with this Javascript function you can send a notification to your registered Android devices:

var PushBullet = require('pushbullet');
var pusher = new PushBullet('<YOUR PB API KEY>');

function push(){
    pusher.devices(function(err, response) {
          pusher.note(device.iden, "Warning!", "Alarm trigger", 

Storage service

A storage service in the cloud is very important for a surveillance system because:

  • we don't want to loose our recordings and image
  • we want to save space on local drive

Storage services are provided by many players in this field you can choose from Google Drive to DropBox or any other service you want. If you are going to use Kerberos.io you can consider that it is possible to subscribe to a cloud service for image upload.
Price: 0~1.50 €


With this system and if you don't have particular needs the entire budget can be estimated about 150~200€ + a lot of patience and a little human work. I think that it's a very low budget and the result is very impressive. Next steps could be an home made PIR motion detection. Maybe in the next article i will show you how it could be done. See ya.

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