Throughout the past four decades in the electronic security, business technicians have often had to rely on testers and tools that were not specifically designed for our industry’s needs. With the notable exception of the “Peter’s Meter” swinger detector (all you old guys raise your hands!) the meters and testers we’ve used were designed for general electrical/electronic usage, such as the ubiquitous volt/ohm meter.
One of the primary difficulties when installing surveillance video cameras is that in many cases the technician must climb the ladder and/or use the cherry picker twice. The first time, the technician will connect and power the camera and make an attempt to aim and focus the lens for proper coverage. In many cases a technician will have to go up to the installed camera again to make final aiming/focusing adjustments.
The time technicians spend installing and finalizing the settings of each device is precious, and directly affects the overall profitability of the project. More time spent equals less money made.
The Triplett company has directly addressed the specific needs of technicians installing IP and analog cameras with their new Cam View IP Pro+ multi-function surveillance-camera programming, installation, testing and troubleshooting meter. This device has more usable features than any other on the market today.
OK, the goal is to go up the ladder one time, nail that particular camera installation, and move on to the next one. Let’s look at some examples of how the Cam View IP Pro+ can streamline camera installations.
IP Camera Installation
The IP camera being installed is a current model that meets ONVIF standards, which is very common among the major manufacturers in our industry. Once the Cam View IP Pro+ has been charged up, it provides PoE power out of one of its RJ-45 ports so the camera can be temporarily powered by the meter. The amount of PoE wattage that the camera is drawing is displayed on the tester screen. This tester also includes a DHCP server so the tester will provide a temporary IP address for the camera so it can be accessed and programmed.
Once the camera is connected to the tester, two pushes of a button will bring up a window that provides access to the camera. One great feature is the code book, which contains a number of common default user/passwords such as “admin/admin,” making it quick and easy to get into the programming of the camera. For specific camera models, the proper user/password can be quickly added to the code book, locking the information into the tester for installing those types of cameras.
Once the camera is connected and accessed, the fun begins. Technicians can set all of the basic network address parameters using the “QWERTY” keyboard in the Cam View IP Pro+, along with the specific unique user/password that should be put into that camera.
One of the fabulous features of this tester is that not only can a technician view the live image from the camera, once the lens is focused and the camera is aimed at the desired area, the Triplett tester can take a snapshot or record video clips that can be downloaded onto any laptop or PC. Now the technician can show the end-user exactly how a specific camera is aimed and focused, with the downloaded pictures as the proof.
The Cam View IP Pro + also includes a time domain reflectometer for UTP cables that will show the length of the Cat5e/6 UTP cable being used, and indicate any problems with the cable itself. Assuming the cable is good, the technician can hook up the camera to the permanent cabling, and the installation of that device is done. We only had to go up the ladder one time.
So the IP camera can be programmed, checked for PoE functionality, and the client can be shown the camera’s viewing area.
Another IP feature of this tester is that it can be connected to the network switch at the head end, and it will locate and connect to all ONVIF IP cameras on the network. Conceivably the cameras could be hung without being programmed — just plugged into PoE enabled UTP cables — and the cameras can be programmed at the head-end. While the lens adjustments would still require an additional visit to each camera, this ability to access all IP cameras on the network provides quick testing and checking of IP camera program settings.
Analog Camera Installation
Many of the features listed above are also available for analog cameras. The Cam View IP Pro+ has BNC connections and a 12 vdc output which can temporarily power most analog cameras, and it also has an RS-485 output for pan/tilt/zoom adjustment. So the technician can go up the ladder, mount the camera, hook up the tester, adjust the lens, shoot a snapshot, and connect the camera to its permanent cabling. All camera features and settings are available right in your hand with the Cam View IP Pro+.
Analog Camera Troubleshooting
A common servicing scenario is when a specific camera stops sending video for some unknown reason. The Cam View IP Pro + can help technicians quickly determine whether the problem is in the camera, the cable or the DVR. This tester can provide an assortment of analog black & white or color test patterns which are powerful troubleshooting tools. If a specific camera is “dead” a technician can disconnect the camera at the DVR and plug in the tester and transmit the test pattern. If it appears on the display used with the DVR, the problem is elsewhere.
Then the technician would go up the ladder, disconnect the camera, and transmit the test pattern over the cable to the (reconnected) DVR. If the test pattern appears, the cable and connectors are OK. If not, the problem is in the cable. While up the ladder, the technician can connect and power the camera directly with the Cam View Pro+ tester to verify that it is performing properly. So what could have been a puzzling service problem becomes a simple one-two-three testing process.
Time saved equals happier customers equals money saved.
The Cam View IP Pro + is ruggedly built and might just survive a drop from a ladder. To avoid this possibly catastrophic test, though, the meter comes with a neck strap and carabiner-type clips to secure the tester, leaving the technician’s hands free to work. This thing also has a very bright flashlight (two blazing LED bulbs) to assist in providing lighting for close-in cabling and installation work.
Every company in our industry can save substantial time and money on both new installs and servicing of IP and analog cameras and systems by using the Triplett Cam View IP Pro + tester. Currently priced south of $700, this vital device will pay for itself in the first couple of uses, and from there it just plugs money into your bottom line by slashing installation and troubleshooting time.
Buy it today at your favorite distributor. It’s 2017, not 1997; get the tools and testers that make your company as efficient as it can be.