Outdoor IP Camera Housing From Garden Lamps





Introduction: Outdoor IP Camera Housing From Garden Lamps

Recently, a friend of mine who regularly installs IP security systems found he had a surplus of cameras and was looking to get rid of them. I had an uninvited guest relieve me of a few things a couple of years ago and had been considering putting in a number of cameras myself. Guess it was fate.

As I was planning the installation I realized that I wanted at least some of the cameras outside where they would be in the weather. Of course my friend only had indoor cameras. I needed camera housings that were..... 1. inexpensive (the regular housings were more than a hundred bucks more than the camera) and 2. the correct shape (take a look at the picture) . I did what anyone who visits this page would do...I went to my junk box an made a square peg fit into a round hole for the betterment of all humanity. (I have been looking for a way to fit that phrase in)

I began tinkering as a way to make something that is no longer useful, useful again. That is the green component. Taking trash and making something relevant. I thought, if I could save a bunch of money as well, so much the better. All said, this project saved me in upwards of 500 euros which is as green as it gets.
I had thought of running everything on solar power, but that requires solar panels which are not free. We are saving money, remember. Perhaps when another friend of mine has a surplus of solar panels and batteries........

Step 1: The Stuff

Necessity being the mother of invention. I helped birth this idea from some yard lamps I found. A neighbor was having some work done in his garden and wanted to change the wall mount lamps to some post lamps he liked. They were still in good shape. I have since located these steel AURIA lamps (because I am a wonderful person and my neighbor told me) at LEROY MERLIN the hardware/decoration store for about 30 euros. The Velleman ip cameras came from a friend but I think they run about 130 euros give or take. I used standard UTP communication cable for the RJ45 IP connections. My install required several hundred meters of cable. (I had to buy the cable) However the lamp itself only needs about a meter plus the distance to your computer or router.
A few other things you will need:

- #1 & #2 Phillips head screwdriver
- a sturdy pair of side wire cutters
- electrical tape
- soldering iron and solder (optional)
- RJ45 crimping tool (only a few bucks at Radio Shack)
- RJ45 connectors (cheap)

The project took me all afternoon for the first one. The next three took me about 20 min. The build is really not that complicated. If you can install a light fixture, this wont be a problem.

I should also mention that neither I nor this website is responsible if you break, burn, electrocute, stab, cut or otherwise mangle yourself or your project.

Step 2: Disasembly

First you have to get all the existing electrical out. The transparent dome simply twists out. You will find a reflector plate with two screws that you will not need for this project. Remove them. Next, under the bulb connector is a metal plate with two small screws that have to be removed and saved for later. Once the bulb support is loose you need to cut the wire and remove the bulb support from the cup like bulb connector. This and the ground wire can go to the junk box for use in another project.
In the second picture below the bulb support, three screws have to be removed. This will free a large plastic bell shape and the outer metal covering. Moving the two bell coverings reveal a rubber seal and a decorative cup spacer. Up inside this cup are yet another two screws to remove.
Between these last two screws is a rather narrow hole. I didn't think their was enough space to widen it. I took it off to make it easier to pass the cabling. I replaced it in step 5.

Step 3: Preping the Tube

Now the mounting bracket has to come off. First remove the two mounting nut on the face. DON'T LOSE THESE!! The black plastic on the back is the electric box, it should come off easily. Under this box is a gold philips #2 screw and another one about two inches down in the next niche. Both have to be loosened. This is a good time to remove the cabling.
At the very end of the tube is a large decorative finial. (see photo) This finial is a large nut that unscrews. I had to use a pair of pliers on one, but the others came off with just my hand(and my grip of steel) With this removed, the tube slides out of the mounting arms.

Step 4: Making the Hole Bigger

With the wires and finial removed you can see a hole where the wires came out. I had to make that hole larger. Large enough to pass the power connector for the camera. A radial grinder would be great. I had to make do with some side cutters. This part is tough if you don't have a good grip. You don't have to be overly careful with the width of the tube because the mounting arms cover most of it.
You do have to be careful not to cut the portion where the screw from the mounting arm will tighten. Once cut,(see photo)you have to file or grind the edges till the mounting arms can slide over the hole again.
Now you can replace the mounting arms and finial. Don't forget to tighten the screws that hold the arms to the tube.

Step 5: Threading the Wires

The next step is the cabling consisting of the connector from the power adapter and standard UTP networking cable. Start from the back. When you can grab the wires at the other end, pass them one by one through the rubber seal and the decorative spacer. (the one with the small slot) You need to leave just enough wire to work with about 15cm. As long as there is not to much, you can hide a bit of extra wire under the camera at the end. The back end is not so important. For now leave about 30cm.

Step 6: Placing the Wire Connectors

This step could be an instructable of its own. The UTP cable needs a connector in order to use it. The standard connector is an RJ45. The Problem is that there are a few ways that the colored wires are ordered. I think the one of the most widely used is:

1 Orange and White striped
2 Orange
3 Green and White striped
4 Blue
5 Blue and White striped
6 Green
7 Brown and White striped
8 Brown

With the metal (usually gold color) contact crimping teeth on the RJ45 connector facing you,(the little plastic clip facing away from you) pin one (orange and white) is on your left.

Being careful not to cut the colored wires, trim about 3cm of the outer insulation off. It is best to get the wires in order and close to flat before going further. Once in order I like to cut aprox one half cm from the tips all at the same time. This leaves a nice even edge that helps ensure all the wires have contact with the teeth inside the RJ45.
Now that the wires are in place you need to place the whole connector into the crimping tool, and squeeze firmly. Both sides of this wire need the exact same order. Don't reverse the order. A female adapter can be used to make this longer after the build.

Step 7: Fitting the Power Adapter

I wanted the power adapter as integrated as I could. After removing a small screw from under the sticker, I CAREFULLY pried open the adapter case in order to remove the small computer board. The small red wires connecting the actual plug can be snipped off leaving the wires connected to the board as long as possible. I then liberally covered the board with electrical tape to avoid accidental contact. The whole thing gets enclosed in the round black connections box. I added some small wire nuts and electrical tape when I connected the red wires to the household power the same way you would a regular lamp after the build. (don't forget to cut the power BEFORE wiring in the camera)
In step 5 I mentioned in one of the pictures, trimming the wire reinforcement. That just means using a box cutter to cut off the ribs directly behind the camera connector. DON'T CUT THE WIRE. It would be bad and could lead to short outs.

Step 8: Mounting the Camera

The camera has a grey painted plate included in the box, which attaches to the underside of the camera. On the grey painted plate is a threaded hole. You need a bolt to fit this hole. I don't have the size of the bolt.(it all came from my junk bow remember) The bolt I found was a bit long and I needed a few spacers which can be seen below.
In picture two of step two, I removed a silver metal plate from the lamp housing. I threaded the bolt through the silver plate adding a toothed washer and a nut so the whole thing wouldn't spin later.
Once the bolt is mounted on the plate you can mount the plate to the lamp housing.(exactly where you got it from) This leaves you with a stationary bolt threading pointing away from the lamp
The last picture shows the whole thing from the side. The first time I coated the plate in hot glue to insulate it. I later left that out. I don't think it is necessary.
Finally, screw the camera onto the stationary bolt. The RJ45, and power connector may now be connected to the camera. Take care before covering with the transparent dome that the dome does not pinch either cable.

Step 9: Finally Finished

Your now exterior camera is now ready to mount on the wall. This goes up just as if it were a regular light fixture. You will need to connect the power with wire nut and electrical tape, and use a female-female RJ45 to extend the UTP cable to your computer or router. The camera comes with its own instructions on configuring the camera.

On the whole this project was not complicated. It was very practical, and it allowed me to save quite a bit of money I was able to use fixtures that would have otherwise have gone to the trash. The cameras have been safe from rain and condensation, and don't make the property look like Fort Knox.
I am currently using 3 camera housings outside and two in indoor storerooms. Since making the housings I have noticed just how many types and styles of exterior lights could be adapted even easier than the ones I have shown here.



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    19 Discussions

    simple night vision soloution, take cover off ip camera. dissconect the connector going to the ir led board. put camera back together and buy an led illuminator, its the same size as a dome cctv camera, theyr about £4 on ebay, mount it just below the camera, sorted

    How well is this holding up outdoors? Light bulbs are a little bit less finicky than cameras, so I'm curious if this solution is weatherproof enough.


    Anyone knows how to use the "DVS Image Center"? It's the software I was talking about but seems I can't get it to work. I'm a newbie in the IP Cam world and I hope you can help me with it. It's a great software I got for free from tenvis (their site) and it seems useful but the manual ain't helpful. Here's their site (it also includes software for Iphone and Android enabled phones to see your ip cams anywhere):




    I found a seller on ebay that sells dirt cheap IR LEDs. I hope it's the right nm... Jaden, please take a look into it and please advice us. You're right, I guess it is best to come up with an IR floodlight for those dark places in your area at night. No one else will know anyway there is IR lighting up the whole place and it consumes very low power.

    Great Work! Keep it up Jaden.


    There are some concerns here about the infra red reflecting on the dome of the camera. I have read somewhere in a forum and below is the exchange of conversation:

    Q1. My camera has night vision function, can I still use it with the dome?
    A. No, you have to block up the LED window of your camera to avoid IR beams from being reflected off the transparent cover to the sensor.
    Q2. What will happen if I don't block up the LED window?
    A. You will see white halos if IR beams emitted from the camera are reflected back into the sensor.

    But then again, I am wondering, if you cover or block up the LED (infra red) window of the cam, how will you see at night, right? Just try it out guys and let us know the outcome.

    I have become an avid ip cam person since i got my first ip cam last month. I also got a software (some sort of control center) that can handle up to 36 cameras, though I'm still in the study it mode on that. I'm willing to share (as it seems to be unlicensed) and if you guys also have the same, might as well share in this site.


    What is a euro equal to in american dollars? Looks like many countries are not happy with the euro sytstem and are considering going back to their original money, ie.: pound, deutchmark or whatever. I'm glad I hung onto my original pounds, franks, etc...!

    1 reply

    Try this site for forex conversions (I use it as my basis, it's off by a few cents but somehow you'd get the general idea):




    I have found a site that sells low cost cam housing (at least at $37 it's the lowest I found). This is the site (the one with the lowest cm housing cost):


    I just dunno if it would fit your/our cams... You have a great site... Keep it up!!!


    Intersting stuff....I love the enclosure. Unfortunately glass lets some of the IR through and the rest bounces back, giving an aweful reflection on the camera sensor; of course glass is more durable and prettier. I wonder if an acylic like PMM or even some cheaper types migh allow enough IR to pass and not reflect back to get a usable image.
    I must admit this enclosure looks like a work of art (Kudos to the author)and maybe just disabling the IR source and using the IR sensor can give a decent image. I'm going lamp hunting tomorrow for potential housings, then I'm going to see if I can find some type of acrylic based material to fit; I might have to indugle in the use of silicone to seal it up. I'll keep you posted if I have any luck. Great work Jaden! And thx to eupremier for the tid bit on glass.

    Very good instructable. Well made and understandable. Very good idea.

    Good idea but your apparatus needs some work... those cameras have infra-red night-vision... when the light levels fall at night they'll be activated -and you'll lose your image completely! Reason: Reflection of IR off the glass dome which 'blinds' the camera! Solution: Use an IR sensitive camera (Day/Night camera) -but mount the IR emitters externally! Regards, Greg. http://www.halosecurity.ie

    1 reply

    The cameras have a config page where the IR can be disabled. I mentioned in an earlier post a floodlight style IR. So far I have not had any problems with the IR blinding the camera image.

    great job, ive been stolen from a few times and now il know if it happens:)

    Nice job, as other have stated night vision is a problem when camera is behind glass. I would be very interested to see new IR solutions, maximum lighting distance. Looking forward to those.

    What a great idea! Using the garden lamps to protect the cameras is a good way to recycle with a purpose. Good job!

    I had to build a separate infrared flood light for better night vision. I don't really like it. I am still trying to make more of a spotlight that moves with the camera. I'll post when I have it working. Still trying to use old material and that takes longer..

    This is awesome. I tried hiding mine in a birdhouse. Birds were not happy. Is there anyway to use night vision in a setup like this without the infrared glare blinding the camera?

    1 reply

    Unfortunately the Webcam is particially blinded by the IR lighting when they are sharing the same housing, but not always. A solution to this would be to use a separate housing for the IR lighting, which has a secondary benefit whereby a large power output can be used to flood an area with IR light and thus give better video of the field by the Webcam. In your case a duplex bird house could be built with cam in one and IR lighting in the other, also use a darkened piece of plexi glass to hide the webcam and the IR leds during daylight hours.

    That's perfect! I've thought a lot about using webcams for miscellaneous things, but the problem of water proofing always remained. Thanks!