Bjorn Hovd

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Hands-on with Staples’ “Connect” and Home Depot’s Wink

by Bjorn Hovd - on Jul 27th 2016 - No Comments

Home automation is something that is being introduced to the mainstream consumer through product lines like Lowes’ “Iris”, Staples’ “Connect” and Home Depot’s “Wink”. There are many more products and providers in this growing space, however, in this article I will focus on the Connect and Wink solutions.

Home automation has been around for quite some time but typically as a niche market for people who have the time and money to tinker and tweak systems plus the knowledge to do so. The home automation hubs introduced through Lowes, Staples, and Home Depot are all meant to be used by people that have no interest in writing code or rewiring to automate their home. They want an intuitive graphical interface, where it will be easy to both setup and configure the home automation devices. (more…)

Product Review: Angelcam – New Cloud-based Video Storage Platform

by Bjorn Hovd - on Jun 21st 2016 - 7 Comments

Searching for a cloud-based video storage platform, I came across Angelcam works with any brand camera and there is no need for any software installation or specific hardware (other than the cameras). In addition, you can watch it from anywhere via almost any platform. At first, I assumed that you would only be able to store still images and watch live video in the free plan but not review recorded video. It turns out that Angelcam is actually a modular platform allowing for add-on apps to provide different features. For example, using the Cloud Recording app, you can review the last 3 days of video for free and if you want to view/store the last 7 days, it will cost just $4.99/month or $9.99 for 30 days. There is no video data limit on any of the plans and you can attach as many cameras as you want. (more…)

Bluecherry – VMS that works on all platforms

by Bjorn Hovd - on Oct 12th 2015 - 1 Comment

An issue with many VMS platforms and camera vendors is that they are very Microsoft Windows focused. You can only install any server components on Windows boxes, if you use a browser to connect and view cameras and videos you can only do so with Internet Explorer. Well, just like the most interesting man in the world (from the Dos XX commercials) I do not always use Internet Explorer, but when I do I use it to download Chrome.

The other day I was looking at open source Motion video monitoring, when in my search I came across Bluecherry. BlueCherry runs on Ubuntu, which is of course free, and it also has very active development, making it a very good server platform.

The install of BlueCherry on a minimal Ubuntu server image was very quick and easy, and once it was done I could launch any browser (IE, FireFox, Chrome) and setup and view my cameras. (more…)

Camera Review: Advidia B-5360 – 360° Dome Camera

by Bjorn Hovd - on Mar 17th 2015 - No Comments


The ADVIDIA B-5360 360 5MP Dome camera is powered over the CAT5 cable, using a Power Over Ethernet (POE) switch, it is a POE class 1 device so it only requires 4W the Switch port, but if you are running IP phones over POE and other cameras, you may want to check the spec of the switch so that it can support all your POE devices.  In case you don’t have POE switch you can use a POE injector to power the camera.  Next to the data/power cable there is a 3.5mm microphone jack if you want to capture audio. The fish eye lens has a fixed focal length and aperture of f1.19 mm / F2.0.   The image sensor is a 1/3.2″ Progressive Scan CMOS sensor.

The technical specs of a camera are important, but I find that it is the software and the device interface usability that makes the big difference when looking at a camera. The quick start guide got me connected to the camera quickly and I could start looking at the management interface for the camera.   In the quick start guide it states to use Microsoft IE for full feature support.  Not being a big fan of IE I tried Fire Fox and Chrome and I could not use all the features of the camera using those browsers.  I also tried connecting with Safari from my Ipad, and with Chrome from my android phone, and neither was working , so it looks like I will have to monitor and manage it from my Windows PC. The web based interface is pretty basic and at times feels a little sluggish when making updates to the settings.  You can adjust settings, zoom in and out, get the video in full screen, take a snapshot, turn on or off a mini fish eye view, talk to the camera (since the camera do not have a speaker, I am not sure how that will work), adjust the volume for the audio captured from the camera microphone (if you have it installed), and select from three different views.


The different views you can set up is ePTZ , Panorama, and Fisheye view.   ePTZ  is a virtual pan tilt and zoom, and since it is a fixed lens camera, you are panning, tilting zooming the fish eye view.  The way you do this is by clicking with the mouse in the picture and drag it to a different angle and then clicking again, it is not the most easy way to navigating around in the picture, more often than not I ended up sideways or upside down from what I wanted to see.  The Panorama view is taking a cross section of the fish eye view (more…)

Camera Review: Advidia B-210 2MP Mini PTZ

by Bjorn Hovd - on Nov 13th 2014 - No Comments


In this review of the ADVIDIA B-210 2MP Mini PTZ we will review setup, physical install, camera performance, and image quality in day and night conditions.

In the box there is a quick installation guide, a hex screwdriver, screws, a drill template for mounting the camera, and cable grommet.  The camera can be powered either by external 12 volt power source or Power Over Ethernet.

Camera Setup

Following the quick start guide it was easy to setup and connect to the camera.  The onboard software is pretty much the same as with the ADVIDIA B-5360 which we reviewed earlier, so if you want more detail on the camera’s onboard software see the ADVIDIA B-5360 review which cover that in more detail. (more…)