It is not that the Logitech Alert video surveillance system we use has become all that long in the tooth. It still works well enough. The fact is I want/need to expand my coverage and their outdoor cameras are difficult to get ahold of and surprisingly costly when you do. Julie and I have been discussing surveillance cameras for a while now and the Dropcam Pro comes up regularly. With the conversation usually ending in the sad note that it is a shame Dropcam does not have a solution for mounting their cameras outdoors. So, I started looking for an aftermarket outdoor enclosure for the Dropcam Pro and discovered how few there are. However, I did come to find out that folks were creating DIY (do-it-yourself) enclosures and decided to give it a try for myself…
After puttering around a couple of my local hardware stores, Dropcam Pro in hand, I went with 2″ PVC piping due to its ease of use and how perfectly the Dropcam fits inside.
- 2 x 2 inch PVC pipe – 1.25″ long (pennies)
- 1 x 2 inch PVC coupling ($0.85)
- 1 x 2 inch PVC end cap ($2.49)
- 1/8″ clear plexiglass (pennies)
- 2 x black zip-ties (pennies)
- 1 x plastic adjustable speaker mount ($4.00)
- Clear silicone caulk (pennies)
- PVC glue (pennies)
The parts come together quite easily, as if they were designed for this purpose. First step is to cut the two short lengths of pipe. I used a miter chop saw.
The Dropcam Pro slides into the coupling as if it were engineered to hold it. The center stop on the inside of the coupling holds the camera from the slipping all the way through.
To protect the front of the Dropcam and seal the enclosure, I created a plexiglass lens with my bench grinder that I siliconed to a piece of the 2″ PVC pipe 1.25 inches long. This picture is of the two together before I cleaned off the extra silicone and removed the protective plastic from the plexiglass.
The back is made of a 2″ PVC cap and another piece of pipe 1.25 inches long. To keep the Dropcam and interior of the enclosure dry, I added a small desiccant pack to the rear section to absorb moisture. I originally envisioned the enclosure to be completely sealed. But taking excessive heat into account, I drilled three holes in the cap for the heat to escape and cool the interior. I plan these Dropcam enclosures to be mounted under the eves of my house and semi-protected from the weather/rain…so, water getting in should not be an issue.
I glued the tail cap and pipe piece together but due to its snug fit, it was not needed. The base cap sandwiches the Dropcam between the couplings stop ring and itself.
I used a 1/2″ drill bit to create an access port to plug the USB cable into the Dropcam. This part takes relatively precise measuring for a perfect fit.
To mount the Dropcam enclosure, I zip-tied a plastic adjustable speaker mount I purchased off of Amazon to the top of the setup. It turned out surprisingly secure and didn’t look half bad.
After I cleaned it off, the lens took nothing away from the picture quality of the Dropcam Pro.
But it does reflect the built in IR lights for night vision.
All things considered, I am very pleased with my first attempt of Macgyvering an outdoor enclosure for my Dropcam Pro. The entire setup cost less than $10 and that cost would decrease with each enclosure made. I plan on three or four exterior cameras in all. Once I determined the best design, I created two additional enclosures in less than 30 minutes; less silicone drying time.
However, before I go all in with an exterior DIY Dropcam Pro video surveillance system, I will see how my prototype survives the next few months of Seattle rain. If all goes well (aka the camera survives moisture and heat build up) the next camera or two will hopefully be installed around the holidays.
As requested, here is a picture of how poorly the night vision works in the outside enclosure.