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The Mystery IP Camera

October 13th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments


I’m usually a brand name shopper, so it was uncommon for me to order an Asian no-name IP camera from geeks.com. Ends up it came from Taipei from a company called Edimax. But the mystery is just starting.

The phone is referred to by several confusing models:

-gcj51w (alleged manufacturer’s model number, per geeks.com
-MJPEG Internet Camera (on the app/doc CDROM)
-IC 1500 (in the on-board web configurator)
-IC-3010WG (from the company website picture, not features)
-IC-1500WG (from the website features, not picture)

So what is this thing? It appears to be a scaled back version of the IC-1500WG in that it doesn’t have all the bells & whistles, such as 2-way audio, etc. Check out the features pages above to see what I mean.
I got this one as it was the cheapest 802.11b/g self-contained camera I could find. I surprisingly am not disappointed.

Features/Specifications:

* Wireless Compact MJPEG Internet Camera

* General Features:
* Color: White
* Wireless: IEEE 802.11b/g

* Video Specification:
* Max Resolution: 640 x 480 pixels
* Sensor: 300K pixels 1/4″ color CMOS sensor
* Gain control: Automatic
* Exposure: Automatic
* White Balance: Automatic
* Focal Length: 6.0 mm (I read elsewhere it was 4.8mm -pat)
* Aperture: F=1.8

* Image (Video Setting):
* Image compression: MJPEG Image Video
* Digital 24-bit Color
* Frame rate: 30 fps @ QVGA, 25 fps @ VGA
* Video resolution: 176 x 144, 320×240, 640×480

* LAN Connector: One RJ-45 port to connect to 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
* Wireless Antenna connector
* LED Indicator: LAN LED (Green), WLAN LED (Amber), Power LED (Blue)

* HTTP/Utility:
* Includes easy-to-use Viewer & Recorder utility
* Provides Admin utility & WEB browser Management
* View multiple cameras simultaneously – Up to 4 cameras at a time
* Manual/Schedule Record, Video Playback/Stop/Forward/Pause
* Supports four additional user accounts for viewing camera
* Auto sending Snap Shot by E-mail or FTP
* Support DDNS and UPnP functions

* Regulatory Approvals:
* FCC
* CE

Package Includes:

* Wireless Compact MJPEG Internet Camera
* Camera Mounting Bracket
* Power Adapter (100 – 120V 50/60 Hz)
* Antenna
* Ethernet cable

Additional Information:

* Requirements:
* Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
* Intel Pentium III 750 MHz above or Intel Celeron 1 GHz
* 128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended)
* DirectX 9.0 and above
* VGA card Resolution: 800 x 600

It also does WPA, which is way cool.

The unit shipped with firmware version 1.28, which was fine, as I didn’t know any better. I looked for a firmware upgrade on the site, and found the linux source code for the thing this.

If you go to the IC-1500Wg firmware download page (even though the picture is wrong), you’ll see a link to the v1.34 firmware upgrade (remember, it shipped with v1.28). What caught my eye was this:

“Add schedule snapshot, loginfree & firmware checking functions.”

“Loginfree” means that with just a URL, you can get the internal web server to give you the latest image, on the fly. So as fast as you can hammer this little thing, it will serve up those pages! This is very important because this is how 3rd party motion detection and movie making software acquires its images.

I’m playing with Cam Universal by CrazyPixels. The problem is, it crashes a lot. I can’t get it to do XViD without freezing my whole XP SP2 box and bricking it. For $55, I need it to be a lot more stable.

Sample image at 640×480, normal compression:

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  1. October 14th, 2008 at 11:55 | #1

    Well, I’m finding out some of this camera’s quirks already:

    1. There are 3 sensitivity modes: 50Hz, 60Hz, and Outdoor. While Outdoor works in bright daylight perfectly, it is too dark to use at night. I have to switch it’s mode to 60. Problem is, when daylight comes around again, it is way too bright to be useful on that setting, so back to Daylight it goes. The Auto-Exposure cannot handle large swings in brightness. For all I know, this is to be expected from a Frankenstein model.

    2. The NVRAM has a very small battery. I unplugged the device for 7 hours and it forgot its wireless settings. This meant I had to disconnect it, bring it to a wired connection, and start over with the wireless settings. Weirdly enough, it remembered all the passwords, accounts, etc. so it was a fast effort.

    3. Wireless won’t work until you disconnect the wired connection. I think this is because I have the LAN set manually to the DHCP reservation that the unit has on the wireless DHCP server. Adding more cameras might clear that mystery up.

    4. I can’t find a 3rd party utility that will allow streaming video to that app. They all seem to want a snapshot from the web server at a fast rate, then stitch them together for an avi. I am testing out CrazyPixels’ CamUniversal, and it allows multiple events per motion capture. Unfortunately, this unit only allows 1-a snapshot. I need this puppy to start recording on motion capture, not just give me a still image.

    5. The “Turn LED off” doesn’t actually do this. I have to put a small piece of electrical tape over the LEDs (Power, LAN, and WAN). I could care less about this “issue”.

    Other than these minor issues-some I already have feelers out to work around/fix-it is an incredible value at $55 USD.

    pat
    :)

  2. Skywise
    October 31st, 2008 at 15:24 | #2

    Hey Pat,

    might be helpful for your capture issue, but you can access the direct stream on that cam

    Camip/snapshot.cgi is the mjpeg stream
    camip/snapshot.jpg is the direct jpeg link. You also need to enter the username/password of course.

  3. Bogus Exception
    October 31st, 2008 at 20:32 | #3

    Skywise.

    Thanks for writing. You are absolutely right, but they require port 80. A solution that uses port 4321 (default) is needed, as the web server sitting on port 80 frequently (once/day) crashes. The “Camera Viewer” utility is ships with continues to work, as it uses port 4321 (by default).

    This means that there are no notifications of motion capture sent to FTP or email, as all of these depend on the server inside the camera working. So when you can’t get to the advanced features via the web (vs. the basic ones in the “Control” desktop application), you are also not getting any emails/FTP’d files-either periodic (per latest firmware) or on motion detection.

    Again, a great idea poorly implemented. With no moving parts (save for the focus), the damn camera can’t keep it’s web server running…

    pat
    :(

  4. Peter
    November 3rd, 2008 at 20:38 | #4

    Very interesting posting. I do have one and was searching for it’s”brand name”. Found your post . At this stage, I cant have it working over internet. I have a VSR public 4321 but I’am confused about if the private side should be 4321 to or 80. (the cam itself is configured as 4321 video port and http on 80). Any suggestion ?

  5. Bogus Exception
    November 3rd, 2008 at 22:04 | #5

    Peter,

    I have no clue what you mean by VSR. There is no public or private side with the camera. It can only be on one LAN segment, so the only 2 services it has have to be on the same LAN segment. Whether you configure them as public or private is a matter for how your firewall and/or router(s) is/are configured. Also note that you can change the default port 4321, but not the web server sitting on port 80-that is, unless you grab the source (see link above) and recompile with other options. I’d like to recompile the uLinux kernel so it has a telnet port to the shell, but I just don’t have time!

    Anyway, if your camera is behind _anything_ from the Internet, you should give it an RFC 1918 address (private, unroute-able). From there, you can arrange to have any IP address/port on the outside go to the camera on its own port. The ports do not need to be the same. For example, you can expose (to the Internet) an address from your block on port 1234, and the router will turn that into a request on your camera on port 4321 (if you so chose).

    If you mean you _want_ it to work over the Internet, but can’t configure it to do so, then it is a simple matter of configuring your router/firewall. For openers, though, be sure to GIVE your camera an IP address, and not have it find it’s own (with DHCP). This will ensure that your camera is always at the same IP address each time it comes up.

    I have found Edimax support to be very friendly, and the Taiwanese-English problem to be minor. To help you, they have sent me a PDF with instructions on how to get the camera on the Internet. I have posted it for you at:

    http://atcp.us/vendors/edimax/HowtoconfiguretheIPcameratobeviewedovertheInternet.pdf

    328,992 (PDF)

    Hope this helps!

    pat
    :)

  6. Skywise
    November 10th, 2008 at 13:03 | #6

    Peter,

    the webserver issue appears to be heat related and also varies a bit by firmware.

    This unit runs uLinux if I recall correctly. A friend of mine owns an EDIMAX IC-1500WG, which appears to be software identical (as you pointed out in your post, thanks for testing that) but his even looks like the actual picture of the IC-1500WG on the EDIMAX site. The same cam is also sold as Logilink WC0002 and Hawking HNC230G, although the Hawking has only 512kb flash and the firmware features are very crippled.

    The following wiki has some details about the cam:

    http://ic1500.wikispaces.com/

    You may be especially interested into the heat issue solution:

    http://ic1500.wikispaces.com/HeatSink

    Although I would use an actual heat sink and non conductive thermal glue.

  7. Skywise
    November 10th, 2008 at 14:09 | #7

    err.. I actually meant Pat

  8. November 10th, 2008 at 16:35 | #8

    Skywise,

    Outstanding. I have resolved myself to finding out how to compile a new image (*.bin) for this thing. The source is available (see above article), so it is simply a matter of finding the right compiler, and compiler options.

    If nothing else, I could write a simple cron job to reset the web server. It looks like, from your links, that the chip to compile to might be the “Realtek RTL865x Advanced Home Gateway/SOHO Router Chip”.

    But what bothers me most is that the jpeg server/app on port 4321 (default) never crashes! Port 80 (along with motion detection and email/FTP transfers) will drop off, but the video stream is always available on port 4321.

    So far, the only applications I have found that can read that port 4321 stream are the included one (crappy, no time/date stamp, etc.) and a nifty utility pointed out to me by Edimax support: VLC Media Player (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/). While not a surveillance product, it IS able to connect to the 1500 via port 4321.

    I just can’t find a solution that permits software motion capture (via app, not camera), as this functionality falls over after just a few hours of operation. And don’t get me wrong, sw like CamUniversal is really nice-I just can’t get it or VLC, even, to connect to port 4321!

    pat
    :)

  9. Skywise
    November 11th, 2008 at 19:06 | #9

    Found one more thing – the actual manufacturer.

    http://www.minitar.com.tw/

    Hope you can figure out how to recompile the firmware, would open the device up to all kind of possible new features.

    -Sky

    PS: Actually waiting on my cam, it’s in the mail right now. I first had gotten the Hawking crippled version, but it’s going back.

  10. November 12th, 2008 at 12:19 | #10

    Skywise,

    I got this camera as an experiment for another project I have whereby I’m looking for the cheapest device to offer contact closure at distance-wirelessly. So I want to find a compiler (seems they are easier to find than you might imagine!) to make the chip/board act on a relay to offer a NC/NO situation, which will drive a remote 12vdc (same as camera) device.

    This camera is proving to be very unreliable, though, and I just sent another email off to Taiwan asking for port 4321 detail. The language barrier is significant, but it doesn’t stop them from a prompt, courteous reply.

    I cannot recommend this camera for remote use (as is), as it requires frequent re-powering (assumed to be due to well known heat problem). To have this camera “watch your house” while you view it over the Internet is impractical due to this problem. As soon as I have time, I’m tearing it apart and seeing what kind of heat sink I can attach to it.

    Weather sealing is another point that comes to mind, but it is far from a deal breaker. Weather sealing also invariably means creating a situation where air circulation is restricted, so making a waterproof heat sin is in the back of my mind.

    I know most of you are wondering why I’m pursuing making improvements to the cheapest IP camera out there, so it might interest you to know that not only do higher priced cameras use the same chips, but they, too fall prey to the same overheating problems.

    I’d rather solve this problem with a cheap camera.

    pat
    :)

  11. November 17th, 2008 at 02:10 | #11

    Pat,

    I’ve gotten my cam and had a few days to play around with it. Running the 1.34 Edimax firmware with most features enabled, but frame rate limited to 10 the unit appears pretty stable so far:

    Device Uptime : 1 days 0 hours 37 min 23 sec

    My cam is mounted using the included mount. It does get warm, but the mount actually seems to help with that. How often does your cam crash?

    -Sky

  12. November 19th, 2008 at 03:58 | #12

    Hey Pat,

    Device Uptime : 3 days 2 hours 27 min 18 sec

    so far. Maybe the heat issue is no longer a problem on this model and you cam is just a RMA candidate.

    Thanks!
    -Sky

  13. November 19th, 2008 at 10:44 | #13

    Sky,

    You’ve got an interesting blog!

    I haven’t had time to do anything by keep rebooting it. It sits in the window, and I live in CT, so you’d figure the heat wouldn’t be a problem. It does get warm, though.

    What draws me to this unit, though, is that it should be possible to alter the OS and put telnetd or even sshd on it. From there I can do a lot more testing, even automated/scripted from another machine by simply cat’ing /proc. Right now I’m just guessing.

    Once I find a compiler and setup to make an image for it, then I think the real troubleshooting will begin!

    We’ll see!

    pat
    :)

  14. Ricardo
    December 22nd, 2008 at 06:45 | #14

    Cant make the e-mail to work on the 1500. I am trying using a gmail account but the camera just returns “Failed to send mail to”.
    Help …Thanks.

  15. March 14th, 2009 at 06:49 | #15

    Just to let anyone interested in knowing, Edimax have put out a new Firmware upgrade for v1.36, they have placed it against there new camera IC-1510, but this is the same cameras as the IC-1500, just in a smaller package.

  16. Andi
    March 23rd, 2009 at 06:34 | #16

    Pat,

    you said above, that you were able to connect to the cameras port 4321 with VLC. How did you do? I have not managed so far.

    Thanks for any hint.

  17. Gabriel
    April 10th, 2009 at 17:59 | #17

    Pat,

    Have you tried ZoneMinder for motion detection? I’m not sure if it will let you choose the port in the MJPEG url, but it’s free software (as in freedom), so the tweak should be trivial.

    PS: I’m buying one of these Edimax cameras to use with ZoneMinder.

  18. April 11th, 2009 at 10:46 | #18

    Where can one get one of these in the US without having to pay overseas shipping? NewEgg.com apparently stopped carrying them, so a new place is needed that is closer to the US.

    Any ideas?

    pat
    :)

  19. Mostaza
    April 18th, 2009 at 15:23 | #19

    To see the stream with VLC, you have to open network stream, simply do Ctrol+M, then select HTTP/HTTPS/FTP/MMS, and put this adress:

    http://admin:pass@yourip/snapshot.cgi

    Where admin is the user (default), pass is the password, yourip is the ip of the webcam.

    Also, doing that, you can see the stream in others players, for example in CorePlayer, on a pocket PC :D

    Regards,
    Tincho

  20. Baldas
    April 24th, 2009 at 11:13 | #20

    John Barton what is the difference between the 1.34 and the 1.36 firmware??

  21. Mango
    May 5th, 2009 at 13:32 | #21

    I can sympathise with the frustration on this thread. I’ve been wrestling with a similar device made by Afreey (http://www.afreey.com.tw/air106v.htm) which may or may not also be the a-linking ALC-9852.
    I found a copy of the firmware at http://www.laserprinterservices.co.uk/Firmware/IP_camera_firmware/AIR-106V%20Ver.1.34/ and by reading this in notepad have established /img/snap.jpg as the path to get a still picture sent from the cam.
    The firmware won’t however reveal anything that works as a path to get access to a video stream, despite some promising looking avenues I’ve tried and failed with. The only access to moving pictures is via an activex installed by the cam when you first login.
    It seems all these cameras have shortcomings in functionality, the most frustrating with this one being that motion detection doesn’t work, or is so sensitive that it is in effect useless. Whenever motion detection is switched on it responds by sending constant alerts even though there’s nothing happening.
    Playing with the cam has been an education but it can’t function as a reliable security device – the function I bought it for.
    Given that my firmware is v1.34 and you are all working with 1.34 and 1.36 for your cameras the firmware may be the same or may be branched from the same source. May be worth you looking at the compiled firmware as I did to see if there’s anything in there that helps you unravel the inner workings. Best of luck!

  22. Graham
    July 8th, 2009 at 18:04 | #22

    I have been playing with an Edimax IC-3010Wg, which I think is similar.

    There are three ports open on it:
    80 (for the web interface)
    4321 (apparently for AV control)
    4322 (which seems to be a video stream)

    I can download a video stream from it using
    wget http://admin:1234@192.168.1.117:4322 -O test.mpg
    the resulting file will then play nicely with mplayer or vlc.

    Unfortunately I can’t persuade mplayer or vlc to play it directly.

    Has anyone managed to do this?

    Graham

  23. Markus Rathgeb
    July 31st, 2009 at 09:11 | #23

    Start the windows viewer and use wireshark to get the url.
    Use that url with username and password…

    mplayer -nocache -user admin -passwd 1234 http://10.10.10.67:80/mjpg/video.mjpg

  24. leo
    October 12th, 2009 at 16:06 | #24

    Hi, I’m new on IP cameras and bought an IC-1500Wg. I need some basic help

    At Local network, the web administration page works properly with my camera image, but when a I try to acess over internet, the web administration page apears normally to me, giving me acess to all controls and configurations, but image don’t come.

    I Got : “IP Cam failed to connect”

    May some one help me out?

  25. Iulian
    October 27th, 2009 at 15:12 | #25

    Hi Leo,

    I have the same problem.

    My camera is IC-1510.

  26. Mark
    January 9th, 2010 at 06:24 | #26

    Leo etc, have you got the ftp setting correct? In the web page which controls the camera (type in the ip address of the camera and then the username / password – admin / 1234 is the default) make sure under the ftp and email tab that the ftp address is just the domain address (ie not http://ftp.example.com but example.com) and make sure the ftp folders are properly capitalized (some servers don’t like it if you miss out any capital letters).

  27. Mark
    January 9th, 2010 at 06:26 | #27

    sorry – silly example of ftp address – but basically leave out any ftp. bit at the beginning. Also make sure ftp is enabled wherever it appears. Try to send a test file and you will soon know if that works. You may also need to reboot the camera on the “system” tab near the bottom of that page. That seems also to cure any freezing issues.

    Let me know if you still have problems. The good news is that once you sort it it’s usually OK after that.

  28. Mark
    January 10th, 2010 at 09:51 | #28

    My camera doesn’t work any more
    :(
    Shame as it was working so well!!

    I’m now getting the following log entries when I restart my camera – the web page interface is there, but there is no video / jpeg, just a white rectangle. I think something in the camera might have fried when I plugged it in! I’ve contacted Edimax so will post any replies from them. Anyone else have this problem – as in the log below, and the last message just repeats endlessly:

    2010/01/10 13:47:20 Video server: accept connection from 192.168.1.66
    2010/01/10 13:47:20 Video server: “admin” login
    2010/01/10 13:47:20 Camera usb link is broken! Try to reopen it…
    2010/01/10 13:47:21 Video server: disconnect connection from 192.168.1.66
    2010/01/10 13:47:22 Camera usb link is broken! Try to reopen it…
    2010/01/10 13:47:24 Camera usb link is broken! Try to reopen it…
    2010/01/10 13:47:26 Camera usb link is broken! Try to reopen it…
    2010/01/10 13:47:28 Camera usb link is broken! Try to reopen it…

  29. Theophilus
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:38 | #29

    Hey guys.

    I have the 1510wg model and I’m confused as to how I go about viewing the live feed over the internet.

    The camera is set up fine locally. Feed works, recording works, I can view the feed using the Camera Viewer software or by typing the local ip of the camera into a web browser.

    But if I am not on the local network, how do I access the camera? The manual doesn’t seem to have any instructions for this at all.

    Do I have to open a web browser and then type in some URL or IP? If I type the public IP of the router into a web browser, all I get is the configuration pages for my router (not Edimax brand) and I don’t see how that is any help in accessing the cameras connected to that router.

    Basically I need to know EXACTLY what I have to type into the address bar in my web browser to access the camera remotely.

    Say the public IP of the router is 11.22.33.44 do I type \http://11.22.33.44:4321\ or do I type \admin:1234@11.22.33.44:4321\ or what? Really confused here. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

  30. Theophilus
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:39 | #30

    For some reason it switched my quotation marks around those IPs for backslashes in my comment there. Not sure why.

  31. ChrisL
    February 6th, 2010 at 09:39 | #31

    Grrrr…mine keeps disconnecting from the network with security enabled

  32. Luke
    February 8th, 2010 at 21:13 | #32

    Hey all,

    I agree with Theophilus, it is difficult to connect from outside you LAN to the camera.

    There is a feature to use DYNDNS as a host but to enable the signal to leave you LAN you need to get into your router and set up portforwarding on http port 80 (setting it to the cameras IP address) and also the UDP port for the video stream.

    Depending on your router this can be quite tricky (and I haven’t quite figured it out yet!)

    For more info I would visit DYNDNS’s support page: http://www.dyndns.com/support/kb/dvrs.html#whatisit

    and to find out how to forward your ports visit: portforward.com.

    I’ll let you know how I get on!

  33. Alex
    March 12th, 2010 at 06:32 | #33

    Hey,
    “Camera usb link is broken! Try to reopen it…”
    It seems a hardware issue…

  34. Jimmy
    March 12th, 2010 at 10:21 | #34

    The outdoors and 60hz thing change from day to night drives me crazy. here is a list of commands in case it will help anyone.

    http://www.edimax.co.uk/images/Image/CGI/IC1500(wg)&IC1510(wg)_CGI_Commands.pdf

  35. April 23rd, 2012 at 10:23 | #35

    The most popular page on my blog!

  36. October 20th, 2014 at 23:33 | #36

    Nice article!
    We’re the best ip camera :)

 

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