So for the past little while someone has been stealing our mail… yes, our physical mail. I decided to handle this in the way I usually handle these sorts of things… I over engineered a non-solution.
So rather than simply get a locking mailbox, like my sensible neighbour, or even cutting a mail-slot in the door, I decided what I really needed was a security camera system.
After lots of research, I found some awesome free (for non-commercial use) camera software named Shinobi CCTV that will run on just about any common platform (*NIX, Windows, MacOS) and loaded that on my Linux box and attached a Web Camera. After some experimentation I got something working, but the camera was inside, and had a poor view of the front of the house, but as a proof of concept it was a pass! And as DIY goes, this is a win because most of the “D” has been done for me.
Next, I bought a Raspberry Pi from BuyaPi.ca, and tried that but it was less than ideal… the Pi just didn’t have the oomph to work with the camera… nearly 90% CPU with one camera, but it was not the Pi’s fault… I was doing video conversion, video noise suppression, and zoned motion detection, on a Pi… which was never designed to do that much heavy lifting. I either needed a more powerful platform, or a camera that did much of the processing itself before even handing it to the Pi.
After some more research, I bought a “real” security camera, a HoSafe H2MB6A for just $65CAD delivered overnight from Amazon! It allowed me to use hardware acceleration on the Pi, and CPU usage dropped into the teens even with motion detection being done by the Pi! Woot!
After some testing, I was very happy that the system would work. so I ordered a second camera, and today I installed them both… one on my side of our duplex, facing East, and one on my intelligent* neighbours duplex, facing West. Just a few hours and it was working! It still needs some tidying up (the wiring is exposed, for now) but it’s running, and should catch my mail thief any year now.
I have been tweaking the settings since installation, but am very pleased. One of the things I am really impressed with is the low light performance of these cameras… in fact, you can see a video of the test here on YouTube.
Anyway, that’s it for now… with any luck I will post some more interesting things I “catch” on this system… wish me luck catching my mail thief.
*He’s intelligent because not only does he have a locking mailbox, but his neighbour ended up installing a security camera system so he doesn’t really have to.