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
3 Green and White striped
5 Blue and White striped
7 Brown and White striped
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.