Video door peephole – remote control of the staircase

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In this article: history and early models; types of video eyes; pros and cons of video eyes; how to choose a video door peephole; average cost of video eyes and additional equipment; is it legal to use video eyes.

Video door peephole - remote control of the staircase

In the old days, a dog was considered a universal remedy in matters of home safety – its physical parameters did not really matter, the main thing is that the “man’s friend” emitted a loud barking at any noise outside the door. And since there were no other relatively simple ways and means of control over the safety of property in the absence of the owners, the option with a dog was very popular. Nowadays, the arsenal of technical home security tools has grown significantly and they are easy to integrate into a single security system for a smart home. There is only one problem left – if the security devices are visible to the attacker, then he will try to render them unusable. The solution to this problem was a video peephole, the capabilities of which cannot be determined from the outer (outer) side of the door..

The history and purpose of the video eye

Video cameras, outwardly imitating familiar door peepholes, appeared in Russia around 1995 – this observation device was created by Russian inventors and is always popular in the CIS countries. A reasonable question arises – why did the video eye not find demand in the West? It’s simple – a Western homeowner who does not suffer from spy addiction does not need to place any kind of covert tracking system at the entrance to his house, a regular intercom is enough. The average Western visitor, going to the door of the house and finding the video intercom panel, will definitely use it and stand up so that it can be seen by the household. And in our country, for some reason, guests act differently – the view of the video intercom panel causes them a steady dislike and a desire to stand in such a way as to leave the video camera’s viewing sector. In addition, the neat intercom panels have a phenomenal appeal for vandals of any age and gender …

Video door peephole - remote control of the staircase

The first models of domestic video eyepieces consisted of a black-and-white CCD camera, there was no body as such, the lens on the camera was typical, i.e. upon close examination, the video camera was not difficult to recognize. By 2000, a number of improvements were made to the video peephole – a typical lens was equipped with optical attachments that expand the camera’s viewing angle in the horizontal plane to 180 °, while achieving a complete external imitation of the video peephole with the usual door peephole. Special wide-angle lenses were created with an elongated body, the design of which made it possible to transfer the image plane – such video eyes were installed in the door leaf in the same way as ordinary eyes, while the main elements of the camera were located outside the door leaf, on its reverse side.

The developers of the video eyes took into account the peculiarities of staircase lighting in the CIS, or rather, its periodic absence – infrared sources of illumination were created that are not visible to the human eye, but well perceived by video eyes with high sensitivity. At the same time, the source of IR illumination itself was reliably camouflaged under the number plate of an apartment or house, under the head of a screw screwed into the door leaf. The potential market for video peepholes in the CIS aroused interest from the largest Asian manufacturers of video equipment – first the Japanese Sony, and then the South Korean Sun Kwang, Brinno and others, who have developed their own models of video devices for installation in the door leaf.

Video door peephole - remote control of the staircase

Types of video door peepers

Video surveillance devices, placed instead of the usual door peephole, are divided according to their technical characteristics into:

  • b / w frameless CCD video cameras, the lens has the shape of a truncated cone. Technical characteristics – resolution from 380 TVL, light sensitivity 0.4 lux, audio channel available. This type of video cameras, which can be used as a video door peephole, allows the use of IR illumination, costs about 1100 rubles. Advantages – low cost, availability of an audio channel. Disadvantages – low resolution, difficult installation in a door leaf, a clear difference between the camera lens and the usual video eye (at least a glass cap is required to simulate the lens of the peephole), the presence of a “removed pupil” casts doubt on the legality of their use;
  • b / w case video eyes, the shape of the case is similar to the classic door peephole. Technical characteristics – CCD (CCD) matrix, resolution from 420 to 600 TVL, photosensitivity 0.1 lux, the ability to use IR illumination. Price – about 2,500 rubles. Advantages – easy installation (installation in the existing hole from the door peephole), good resolution. The disadvantage is the high price;
  • colored case video eyes, the shape of the case is square or imitating a regular door peephole. Technical characteristics – CCD (CCD) matrix, resolution from 330 to 480 TVL, photosensitivity 0.1 lux, IR illumination is allowed. Average price – 2,700 – 3,000 rubles. Advantages – relatively easy installation (in the case of a video peephole in a housing for a regular peephole and a suitable door leaf width for it), a color image that allows you to better see the visitor. Disadvantages – lower image quality, high cost compared to high-resolution b / w video eyes.

All described types of video eyes are equipped with an electronic shutter – simpler and cheaper cameras have a shutter 1/50 – 1/3000, more expensive ones are equipped with an electronic shutter 1/50 – 1/100000. Power consumption of video eye cameras, as a rule, does not exceed 300 mA / 12 V. This review of types of video eye glasses does not consider models based on a CMOS matrix, since video quality obtained from CMOS cameras will be significantly worse than from cameras on CCD matrix. Despite the lower cost, CMOS video eyes are not suitable for effective observation of a staircase..

Video door peephole - remote control of the staircase

Video eyepieces differ in the way they record and transmit information to analog and digital, to wired and wireless. The image quality obtained from wireless IP cameras is slightly worse than from analog ones, in addition, digital video eyes have a smaller viewing angle – as a rule, no more than 120 °.

Advantages and disadvantages of video eyes

The advantages of video eyes are as follows:

  • invisibility of a video camera for burglars and vandals;
  • the ability to integrate into a common video surveillance system;
  • low, in comparison with video intercoms, cost;
  • round-the-clock control of events on the staircase;
  • guaranteed protection against a bullet wound through the hole in the peephole in the plane of the door;
  • video recording of all visitors;
  • the possibility of video filming in the absence of light sources (for video eyes with a minimum photosensitivity of 0.01 lux;
  • the ability to connect a video channel to a TV or computer, the ability to record on a hard drive of a PC or DVR.

Cons of video eyes:

  • they are perceived by intruders as ordinary door peepholes, which means that attempts will be made to glue or paint over them;
  • installation of an open-frame or rectangular video eyelet will create a number of difficulties both during installation and when integrating into a video surveillance system;
  • there is no possibility of dialogue with the visitor, only observation of him;
  • transmission of a color image in color video eyes is not possible in low light conditions;
  • if the front door to the neighbor’s apartment is located in close proximity to the door with the video eyelet installed in it, then, being open, its canvas will completely block the viewing perimeter of the video eyelet;
  • the lack of the possibility of a viewing angle of more than 180 °, the dependence of the image quality on the matrix and lighting;
  • high-definition video eyes and viewing angles are not cheap.

How to choose a video peephole

First of all, you need to solve the question – what tasks will the video eye perform? For example, if the purpose of acquiring a video eyelet is to simplify the task of identifying a visitor, i.e. eliminating the need to go to the door and study the visitor through the peephole every time someone knocks on it, you can get by with simple configurations. If you need round-the-clock video surveillance, with video recording and saving it to a video recorder, then you will need a more expensive video peephole and a number of additional equipment.

In the first case, when a video peephole is needed to study the visitor’s personality in real time and only, an inexpensive video peephole with a power supply will do, the video signal from which can be output via cable to a household TV (you need a UHF modulator, average price is 1,200 rubles) or PC monitor (for a PC you will need a special converter board that converts an analog video signal into a digital one – the cost is about 2,000 rubles.).

Video door peephole - remote control of the staircase

To build a full-fledged round-the-clock video surveillance, in addition to a high-sensitivity video eye (better than 0.01 lx) with a 12-volt power supply, you will need a video recorder with a hard disk (cost about 4,000 rubles) or a video capture card for a PC (cost about 2,000 rubles) , an infrared motion sensor (cost about 500 rubles), a cable for transporting a video signal or units for transmitting and receiving a video signal over a radio channel (cost about 3,000 rubles). Assuming a possible lack of lighting in the staircase, it would be reasonable to install an IR illumination source on the door leaf – miniature and inconspicuous IR emitters are sold on the security systems market in the form of a screw head or a hairpin (price – 500 rubles), as well as built into the plate, on which the apartment number is applied (price – 750 rubles). The length of the radiation emitted by such an IR projector should be at least a meter, preferably more. Each type of equipment and devices from among the above must be equipped with its own (!) Power supply unit – it will not work to power two or more devices from one unit, because they don’t have enough energy. For such a video surveillance system to work without interruptions, you will need an uninterruptible power supply – UPS-accumulator blocks used for PCs are suitable.

Installation and commissioning of a simple and, moreover, a complex video surveillance system tied to a video peephole, must be entrusted to professionals – in case of problems, there will be someone to ask.

The modern market of security systems offers models of video eyelets with viewing angles from 90 ° to 120 ° and from 160 ° to 180 °. The wider the viewing angle, the shorter the observation range of such cameras. Therefore, you should choose a video peephole of a certain viewing angle based on the location of the entrance door on the staircase:

  • if the door leaf goes into a long corridor or is located on the wide side of the staircase, then you should choose a video eyelet with the widest viewing angle (the maximum viewing range will not exceed 2 m);
  • if the front door is located at the ends of the staircase, then a wide viewing angle will be useless – choose a video eyelet with a viewing angle of up to 120 °, its viewing range will be greater and will be about 3 m.

There are video surveillance devices with a camera stylized as a door peephole, a monitor, a flash drive and an IR emitter in one housing – a lens with an infrared emitter installed on it goes outside the door leaf, a monitor, an information storage slot and a battery (batteries) are in the housing on the back side of the door. Their cost is about 6,000 rubles, in terms of their functionality, such devices are something in between a regular door peephole and an intercom – to find out the identity of a visitor, you need to go to the door, but you can set a record of all visitors when leaving the house and view it on return. An IR emitter placed on the lens creates one problem – part of the resulting image will be exposed from the side where it is located.

Regarding equipment for covert surveillance and audio recording on the territory of Russia, the decree No. 214 of March 10, 2000 and the list to the decree No. 718 of November 27, 2006 are in force, which lists special means intended for secret obtaining of information subject to licensing.

Video door peephole - remote control of the staircase

According to Resolution No. 214, secret surveillance equipment is allowed to be used only by special services carrying out operational-search activities (their list contains Resolution No. 770 dated July 1, 1996). In other words, installation and video recording with the help of a hidden camera is allowed only if there is an inscription in the room “you are being filmed by a hidden camera.” But does the video peephole belong to “technical means of covert surveillance” from the point of view of the law?

In the list of special equipment for covert surveillance subject to licensing, in paragraph 2 “b”, the following definitions are given:

  • “Camouflaged as household items”. Video eyes of any type (case and frameless) are not an imitation of a certain household appliance, but a specialized surveillance device – a door peephole. When replacing an ordinary peephole with a video peephole, its functions remain unchanged, i.e. this device, as it was intended for observation, will remain so. Accordingly, video eyepieces do not fall under this definition;
  • cameras with “pin-hole”. This refers to video cameras in which the pinhole lens is small in diameter (0.8 – 4 mm) and is placed 1-2 mm from the camera lens, while the camera lens itself has a larger diameter than the exit pupil. Boxed and frameless video eye cameras, as a rule, do not have an external pupil, i.e. do not fall under this definition;
  • working in low light conditions (from 0.01 lux or less) or in low light on the receiving element (from 0.0001 lux or less). Video eyes with a CCD matrix are capable of shooting under illumination of more than 0.01 lux, with the exception of several expensive models, respectively, this definition does not apply to them either..
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