Cheap Wi-Fi IP Surveillance Camera (Very little DIY needed)

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When I first came across this device, I thought
no way we can have a fully customizable Wi-Fi IP camera for less than 5$,
but Chinese tech often surprised me, unfortunately not always in a good way. Well, let’s find out what this small device
is actually capable of. As you can see this device comes without any housing and even doesn't have any USB ports for power. So it is aimed at people that at least know
some basic stuff about electronics. Well, let's connect it to 5V and see if it
even works without any flashing. if everything goes well you should see a new
network when you do a Wi-Fi search. The name is obviously ESP32_CAM, it is open
so let's connect to it. Now let’s use the browser, and go to address yay, we got a picture from the camera, and we can update it. but this is not all, we should even get a
working video stream if you add _stream to the address. Let’s try it. And it works. Well, that is all cool of course, but my initial
idea was to flash it in order to get a user interface with settings and make a surveillance
camera out of it.

In order to flash it, we need a USB to UART
converter, such converter is cheap and easy to find on aliexpress, it is less than one
dollar. Many people already have such converter because
it is very universal and widely used. Flashing is simple, a google search "esp32
camera flash circuit" reveals how to connect everything. In Arduino IDE, Choose COM port of your USB
converter. Then we need to choose AI-Thinker ESP32-CAM,
if it is not here you to install ESP32 Core, I leave the link in the description. Now open the terminal, make sure that speed
is 115200, then press the reset button on ESP32 Camera
and you should see some data in the terminal which means we can receive data from the camera. Code for the camera you can get in Arduino
IDE examples, also I’ll give a link to my modified code that has LED control and some
additional useful features, link in the description. Here in the code, you need to type your Wi-Fi
network name and password. Now we almost ready to flash the camera.

In order to enter flashing mode, you need
to connect gpio0 to Ground and press reset, or disconnect USB and connect it back. And in Arduino IDE we just need to click on
compile and flash button and wait. It can take some time. If everything is successful it should say
“Done uploading”. Now you can disconnect gpio0 from Ground and
press reset, or disconnect USB and connect it back. Now esp32 camera should be connected to your
wi-fi network. To find its IP address you can go to your
router settings, or you can just open the terminal in Arduino IDE and press reset.

So let’s see what interface we have now. Cool, and I even have LED control now. By the way, LED is very bright and hot, because
it doesn’t have a current limiting resistor, so I bet it will die very soon, But actually,
I don’t care cause I’m going to use a much bigger led module, and I am going to
power it from 5V instead of 3.3V, so the build-in voltage regulator will make much less heat. So let’s do the work. Now let’s test it. To build the housing I’ve used clear silicone
sealant and glass. There are a lot of options here, for example,
you can 3D print the housing or buy a dummy camera, it is up to you. I am going to power it from 12V so I need
12V to 5V DC-DC converter.

So let's assemble everything. Also, I decided to paint it black, I hope it will prevent
some lens flare. Now it looks not so good, but again it is
not a thing that you going to look at, quite the opposite, this thing is going to look
at you. Now I installed the camera on this tree, so
let’s see what it sees. Here is the camera's interface, with a higher
resolution we get lower fps, which is expected. Also, you can use software like iSpy, which
would be very useful if you have multiple cameras. Also, consider adding an external antenna
to the camera if you are far away from the router. Like if you learned something new, also consider
subscribing and see you in the next one..

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