Introduction: Baby Monitor Using an Old Android Phone

Having recently become a father opened up a whole new world of needs, chief among which is keeping an eye on your baby or simply having to do stuff while the baby sleeps in another room.

Having gone through various options, like an IP Security webcam, or attaching an USB webcam to my Raspberry PI, I ended up deciding to use an old Android phone (ancient might describe it better, since it runs Android Gingerbread, 2.3.7). In my case, this one. It only has 3.14 inches and a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels, but you don't need anything fancy, just a phone with a camera.

If you do decide to buy a second hand one, my advice is to get one which has a LED flash light and an Autofocus camera (mine doesn't, but still does an amazing job).

Hardware you'll need:

1. Old Android Phone with WiFi (+charger).

I also have a prepaid SIM card that I stopped recharging 3 years ago that I put in the phone.

2. Optional - mounting system (I reused one that was lying around), but any way of mouting/attaching it to the bed will do.


IP Webcam app (you can get it here )

At the end of this tutorial I will list ideas and instructions to have it portable.

Step 1: Android Phone

Get an old phone, either buying it or simply reusing one that you tossed away when you upgraded. I added a commercial image of the one I used.

I'd recommend a factory reset. You can do this in more than one way, either from the phone menu or from the recovery console. Use Google, any method will do.

Once the phone is reset, go ahead and set it up (you'll need a Google account). Pay attention here, with my Gingerbread era phone I had issues using my account which is set up as two-factor authentication. You'll need to use/create another one or simply disable two-factor authentication.

Connect to the WiFi.

Step 2: IP Webcam

With this out of the way, go to the Play Store and install the app IP Webcam.
I won't go into every one of the multiple configuration options, but let me just say it has an amazing customization level. You'll find Portrait, Landscape, FPS, Video, Picture, stream, etc.

I strongly suggest setting up a username and a password.

Start the server (last line in the options menu). You'll have a video with a small overlay showing you the IP address and port.

Point your browser at that link (for example http://192.168.x.y:8080), then enter the username and pass. Then click one of the options in the video row (I use Browser). See pictures attached.

I am not using the audio option much at the moment, but it goes pretty much the same way as video.

Feel free to explore the other options (LED, nightvision, etc).

Step 3: Step 3: Attaching/Mounting

I had an old phone car cup holder ( you can see precisely the model here ) which I don't use anymore and until I can find a more elegant solution decided to use this one.

It's not a pretty look, but it has its advantages: virtually 360° rotation for any angle of viewing. Landscape, portrait, two fully adjustable mounts, etc. This allows me to attach it to any side of the bed and rotate it accordingly to the child position, without disturbing him.

Step 4: Optional: Port Forwarding to View Outside the Network

Should you want to be able to access this from outside your network, you'll need to set up port forwarding on your router.

This means logging in to the router itself and setting it up. This page has detailed instructions with pictures for every model.

Step 5: Final Thoughts: Upgrades, Making It Portable

If you want to attach it to the stroller or have it 100% portable/mobile for any particular reason, you will need up to three additional items:

1. power bank for the phone. Your choice here, I have 2 or 3 lying around, they have between 6000 and 9000 mAh.

2. Mobile hotspot (depending on your carrier of choice). For example, I've been using this for a couple of years and really love it. You can also use the power bank for this one.

NOTE: This does not support port forwarding. You will be limited to the range of this device.

3. Some kind of a universal mounting solution.

Of course, this solution can be used for any kind of video and audio monitoring, like house, garage, fish tank, you name it :-)

I didn't get a chance to add up all the money this would require, but by far the phone is the largest investment. In my case, I already had everything around.

I'll try to answer any comments, questions or suggestions.

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