A security system for your home can be very expensive to install and difficult to operate. For those of you that have a do-it-yourself attitude, you can buy kits and wire the system on your own, to save a lot of money. But, if you just want a quick and dirty method of monitoring an area, one solution to consider is the Swann Digital Private Eye.
Imaging Sensor: 1/ 4″ Color CMOS sensor
Lens: F2.0/f3.6(4G+IR) pinhole
Resolution: 640H x 480V (4:3)
Dynamic Range: 60dB
S/N Ratio: 45dB
White Balance: Automatic
USB: 30 frames per-second
Power Supply: 8~14VDC
Current Consumption: Standby@12V~50mA, Max.(Alarm)@12V~50mA
Digital Private Eye
Driver CD (required if connecting PIR direct to PC)
AC Power Supply
9 Volt Battery Snap Cable
The Digital Private Eye is a do-it-yourself kit that will allow you to monitor an interior area by taking digital images every 3 seconds when motion is detected.
The main module of this kit is a White plastic motion detector with a pin-hole camera built into it. The module is approximately 5 x 2.5 x 1.25 inches. The module resembles motion detectors that are used to turn lamps on and off, so it might not be noticed in a room. The pin-hole camera is hidden in the W of the Swann logo on the front of the module. An LED on the top of the module blinks Green when motion is detected.
On the Right side of the module, you will find an SD memory card slot and a mini USB connector. The camera built into the module saves images to the SD card and can support up a 1GB card, which can store up to 30,000 images. A 128mb card is included with the kit. The USB connector allows you to use the module as a card reader and also as a web cam for your PC.
On the opposite side of the module, you’ll find an On/Off switch and a manual shutter button.
The Digital Private Eye can be powered by the included AC adapter, or a 9V battery (not included). If you want to monitor an area that has a power outlet, your best bet is to use the AC adapter. It has a 13 foot long cable that should make it easy to set up. If the area / room has no power outlets, you can use a 9V battery. It connects to the module using the included short cable with a 9 volt snap connector at one end. The battery will hang loose though as there isn’t a built in receptacle to store it in. A long life lithium 9V battery will last up to 7 hrs.
During my testing, I had some issues getting the Digital Private Eye to even take pictures. For all appearances, it was working as the LED would blink when I would walk in front of it. But, when I would take the SD card out to check for pictures, it would be empty. I even tried pressing the manual shutter button on the side during these tests and still, I would not find any images on the card. I finally decided to read the instructions (horrors!) and noticed a sentence that said that you were supposed to wait at least 30 seconds after plugging the camera in, before switching the power switch to the On position. Once I paid attention to that little bit of info, the camera started working better. Here’s an example image.
Images are captured every 3 seconds when motion is detected up to 15ft from the motion detector. The images have a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and the quality is ok. Unfortunately, the images are not correctly time and date stamped. Each image has the same time and date. This makes it difficult to determine when a specific image was captured. It is also important to note that this camera can not take night vision images even though it can detect motion in the dark.
The Swann Digital Private Eye is a security tool that while easy to use, lacks features that would make it a more useful. If this product had time and date stamping and the ability to capture images in low or no light, I would be more excited about it. As is, I think the price tag of $145, is a bit high for its feature set.