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Zmodo Help & FAQ

Zmodo Direct now offers WIFI DVR connection to any of our models

After months of test the new WIFI module has finally arrived works better than expected. When installing any of our DVR's to a home or office network the DVR only comes with a hard line ethernet port on the back which of course, makes it hard to install far from the modem. With our new add-on module you can simply plug the device into the back ethernet port, join your home wireless network, and stream all your data as if the DVR was plugged into a hard line. The device works transparent so your DVR and ports will act as if it was plugged in directly to your modem. These are now in stock and ready for shipping. Please contact our sales dept. at 800-330-9060 for more info or email us at sales@zmododirect.com More Home Automation and Wireless Security Alarms will be available this month. We will post updates on a regular basis. 




Zmodo remote viewing now works with Kindle!

We have been getting many requests to test the our DVR's on the new Kindle HD. Well... it works and we have the tested system on sale now.

KDB8-BARBZ4ZN-500GB is priced at an ultra low $209 for the complete kit. 


Zmodo 2012 New Product Release ISC West Las Vegas

 

How to choose a Surveillance CCTV Camera

 

When shopping for a security camera it is important to know what resolution means. CCTV surveillance cameras have a resolution range from 330 TV Lines (television lines) to 600 TVL. Now for color resolution, CCTV cameras max out at 560 lines, however you can get black and white CCTV surveillance cameras in 600 TVL. IP security cameras are now available in much higher resolution, up to 5 megapixels. So what does all this mean?

There are  many choices of security cameras all across the web , it is fairly easy for a consumer to get overwhelmed in finding the best surveillance camera for their system needs. Before buying a new security camera or complete system, there are some basic things that all consumers should consider in order to make a good choice. Hopefully this will help guide a non-technical person that is researching the purchase of a security system. The topic of this article is security camera resolution.

Here in the USA, normal Television transmission (not high definition) displays 480 lines of resolution. So it is possible to buy a CCTV camera that can record equal to or greater resolution than TV. The higher the resolution of the camera that you choose, the more detail you will see when you play back the surveillance video. Now a High definition television (HDTV) displays either 1080 or 720 lines of resolution depending on the channel and the type of HDTV that you have. In order to get higher resolution from surveillance cameras, the “only” choice is IP based megapixel cameras, which is connected over an IP network instead of a closed circuit. In general, IP mega-pixel cameras are much more expensive than CCTV cameras. These are designed for  high end applications that demand really high resolution, believe it or not a megapixel cameras can capture surveillance video at more than twice the resolution of high definition television.

Some people that are shopping for a security camera are unrealistic (because of their lack of experience) about what a surveillance camera can capture (especially CCTV cameras). I will go into more detail about lens types at a different time. I will explain it briefly  as it is so closely related to resolution. For example, we will say a 3.6mm lens which gives you about a 90 degree field of view outward from the lens. Most consumers think that if you take a 480 lines of resolution camera with a 3.6mm lens that you will be able to get a clear picture both of an object that is 20 feet away and an object that is 80 feet away. This is not true. While the 3.6mm lens will easily pick up the object in detail at 20 feet away, it will not pick it up at 80 feet away. In order to pick up the object at the further distance, you have to either use a larger lens that would make the image appear more close up or use a high end megapixel camera that would allow the operator to zoom in digitally without distorting the picture. Digital zoom is possible with high end megapixel cameras, but not with normal resolution CCTV cameras. Because of the huge price difference between CCTV and IP mega-pixel cameras, a lot of times it makes sense to add additional CCTV cameras instead of upgrading to megapixel cameras. This will lead us into the next article which will be about understanding and choosing the right camera lens.

 

Camera FAQs

What is the widest viewing angle available on a camera?

A 3.6mm lens produces a wide 90 degree angle; however the S22358SV and the S21138BK have a wider 2.8-12mm vari-focal lens. A 2.8m lens produces the widest possible viewing angle.

Why do the cameras display a black and white image at night? I thought all cameras were color cameras?

The camera works at night using Infrared (IR). Infrared will only show you a black and white image.

What type of damages will void my cameras' warranty?

Any permanent alterations will void the warranty on any product from our company, such as severing the cable that is attached to the camera. Opening the outer housing on a camera to re-focus or re-adjust the camera will not void the warranty.

Can I use the outdoor bullet cameras indoors?

Yes, a lot of people use the bullet style cameras inside and outside alike. Just make sure not to use indoor cameras in an outdoor setting.

Do you have screenshots or demos of your cameras?

Yes, most of camera descriptions include a "Video Sample" section which includes a short video sample of the quality of that camera.

Can I change the viewing angle of the dome cameras so that they can be wall mounted instead of ceiling mounted?

Yes, when you open the camera (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vie_E63JCio) you will see that the camera itself is on a bracket. If you need a different angle, change the location of the camera on this bracket. You may have to do some trial and error to get it just right. If you only adjust the angle, and not the front to back position, you may get a telescope looking view, or your IR (infrared) will bounce back into the lens off of the clear plastic.

What do 420, 480, and 540 TVL mean?

The TVL stands for Television Lines. A camera that has equal or less than 420TVL is considered standard definition. A camera that has more than 420 TVL is considered high definition.

Why do some cameras have more IR (Infrared) LEDs than others?

The more LED's on a camera, the further it can see at night. Cameras with 10-20 LED's can see 20 feet in complete darkness.

Will an indoor camera work outside if it is placed under an awning, or if it is protected from wind, rain, and snow?

If an indoor camera is placed outside in a place that is safe from rain, wind, or snow; it still has the possibility of becoming un-focused whenever there is a significant change in temperature. Our outdoor cameras are built to withstand harsh weather elements as well as significant changes in temperature.

What camera can you recommend for behind my company's cash register?

A vari-focal lens camera is ideal for cash register monitoring due to the control that the camera offers with the adjustable lens. You have the option to manually increase the lens size which will zoom in and narrow the peripheral view.

Is it possible to hide which direction my dome camera is facing so that my customers and employees are unaware of whether they are being filmed?

There is no way to actually mask the camera portion of the dome camera, the only way for you to hide the viewing direction would be to position your dome camera high enough for the camera portion to blend in with the camera's housing. We do offer spy cameras that appear to be smoke detectors, sprinklers, or motion detection sensors if you would like your customers and employees unaware that they are on camera.

Can you recommend a night vision camera that can capture a license plate number?

Due to the way that license plates are designed to greatly reflect light from vehicle headlights, an IR camera would be unable to capture a license plate in complete darkness. Unless there was some portion of light in the environment, the IR camera recording the license plate would only reflect back a solid white rectangle with no visible digits.

How far can the camera see?

This depends on the focal length of the camera. The larger the camera's lens is, the farther away it will view.

All of your cameras are manufactured by either Sony or Sharp, right?

All of our cameras are manufactured by ZMODO, only the CCD image sensor inside of the camera is manufactured by either Sony or Sharp. The ZMODO Company essentially designs and builds the cameras, and we insert either a Sony or Sharp CCD image sensor inside of the camera.

Which app do I use for my iPhone? Your website says to download APlayer, but I just can't get it to work.

Make sure WiFi is turned off on the phone while viewing your cameras. Also, the app MEye is recommended for our newest products. For Android platform phones, use IP Cam Viewer. Both of these programs offer a free version with 4-6 cameras and a full version with support for up to 32 cameras.

I am having trouble setting up the movement functionality on my Z2212GY PTZ camera.

On the newest model of the Z2212GY (August 2011 or newer) there are now two DIP switch locations. The easiest DIP switch to access is just underneath the top ring between the inner and outer housing. The other is located on the bottom of the inner housing. SW1 controls the Protocol and Baud Rate. SW2 controls the addressing. The default dip switch settings are: Protocol: Pelco-D Baud Rate: 2400 Address: 001 The two DIP switch locations work in conjunction with one another. For example: if the address dip switch on the switch located just underneath the top ring has addressing switch 2 on, and the address dip switch located at the bottom of the inner housing has addressing switch 1 on, the camera's address will read Address: 003. It is recommended to turn all dip switches off which are located at the bottom of the inner housing so that you may independently use the dip switches located just underneath the top ring of the camera. All of this is made easier with the on screen display (OSD) that comes up once the camera is finished with it's home sequence. The OSD shows the Protocol, Baud Rate and Address at the top of the channel.

DVR FAQs

Is your security networking software compatible with Apple Computers?

Unfortunately our networking software requires DirectX, which is unsupported by any MAC operating system. A Windows operating system is necessary to run the DVR networking software. In order to use our networking software on a MAC, you'll need to install dual boot software that allows you to install and run a Windows operating system from a MAC computer.

Can the DVR connect directly to a computer using a USB cable?

Unfortunately, the DVR will not be able to communicate with a computer if you connect the DVR directly to a computer using a USB cable. The only way to bring up your DVR interface on a computer would be to connect your DVR to a router and communicate with your computer by configuring the DVR's remote network access.

The manual shows a power button on the front, which is actually a USB port.  Where is the power button on 9104/9108?

This is a mistake in the manual.  Some models have a power switch on the back.  You can reset your DVR through the menu by going to Main Menu -> System -> Maintain -> Reboot.

How long can the DVR record?

The DVR record time is directly related to the size of the hard drive. A four channel DVR with a 500GB Hard Drive for record for approximately 16 days before it begins deleting the oldest footage. A 500GB Hard Drive is usually an acceptable pair with a four channel DVR, and a 1TB Hard Drive is usually an acceptable pair with either an eight channel or a sixteen channel DVR.

What accessories come included with the DVR?

The DVR comes with a power cable, a USB mouse, remote including batteries, a manual, and a software CD which includes the net viewer software and file conversion tools.

What operating system do the DVRs use?

All DVRs use a Linux kernel that is developed by our OEM manufacturer. This software is only developed from a Linux kernel, and does not use an actual Linux operating system.

Where can I get a firmware update for my DVR?

To get new firmware for your DVR, you need to contact tech support and they will give you the correct firmware.

What kind of monitor do I need to use to plug into my DVR?

Either a VGA video connection or a BNC video connection can plug into the DVR's video outputs. Most commonly, end users will plug a VGA computer monitor into the video output in the VGA port in the DVR. There is also the option of plugging in a television monitor into the BNC video output, however most televisions do not have a BNC input. To use a TV that does not have a BNC video input, the end user needs to attach a BNC to RCA adapter to the BNC video output on the back of the DVR, then use an RCA cable to connect the DVR to the television monitor.

A problem has developed with the digital video recorder. There is a horizontal roll on all channels and cameras, also the entire screen is in black and white.

More than likely the DVR has been set in PAL mode, which is a video mode used in many parts of the world but not in North America. To revert back to NTSC video mode, simply go to the DVR's Main Menu, System, A/V Setup. From the A/V Setup screen, change the Video System to NTSC, and select Apply. The DVR will need to be restarted in order to apply this change.

Why is DVR not displaying date and time? Why is DVR not recording?

Test for hard drive failure: 1. Power off DVR 2. Remove screws on the sides and rear of unit 3. Locate the silver rectangular box (hard drive) 4. Remove the two cables connected to the unit hard drive 5. Power on DVR with the case off & observe the DVR for full boot operation ending with a displayed date and time on the unit. 6. If the date and time now appears on the unit, power off the DVr then reconnect the two cables on the hard drive. Power on the dvr with casing off and wait for screen to display date and time. Next you will need to access the main menu>device>hdd> check the box next to the drive listed in line 1. 7. Then choose format hdd. After this you with be prompted with a Save finished or success screen. Click the 'ok' that appears. Then the hard drive should be functional and ready for use. 8. If DVR is still not functional or continuous to freeze, please contact Technical Support at 1.866.888.2251 available Mon.-Fri. 8am-6pm CST.

Security Accessory FAQs

Which accessories are actually necessary?

If you are end users, mostly you do not need to add any accessories at all unless your security installation requires very long cables to be run between the cameras to the DVR and cameras' power source. If you intend to connect a television monitor to your DVR instead of a VGA computer monitor, you may also need a BNC adapter.

What accessories do I need in order to connect my television monitor to my DVR?

All DVRs have a BNC video output that the end user must use in order to connect a television monitor to the DVR, however most televisions do not have a BNC input. To use a TV that does not have a BNC video input, you need to decide whether you would like to use a RCA cable or an F connection cable to run the video signal from the DVR to the television. If using a RCA cable, you need to attach a "BNC to RCA adapter" to the BNC video output on the back of the DVR. The SKU number for this accessory is ACC-CN003-BNCM-RCAF, available from our sales store. If using an F connection cable, you must attach a "BNC to F connector" to the BNC video output on the back of the DVR. The SKU number for this accessory is ACC-CN001-F-BNCM, available from our sales store.

What accessories do I need if I do need to run any cables longer than 165 feet?

Cat5e cable must be used for cable runs that are longer than 165 feet. In order to use Cat5e cable, you must also use Video Balun accessories. Video baluns convert the Cat5e signal to BNC video signal, RCA audio signal, 12V DC power signal, or RS485 data signal. Cat5e cable will be able to transmit BNC video signal, RCA audio signal, or RS485 data signal up to 1000 feet; however Cat5e cable can only transmit a 12V DC power signal up to 200 feet. If the security installation application requires a power signal to be transmitted more than 200 feet, we highly recommend calling a local electrician for advice.

Can you recommend any accessories that will make my installation easier or more convenient?

If you are using more than one PTZ camera and scheduled to regularly operate the PTZ cameras directly from the DVR, we recommend the ACC-KB002 PTZ joystick controller which is available from our sales store. PTZ cameras can be operated directly from the DVR interface or from the DVR's online network interface. However, if multiple PTZ cameras are going to be operated directly from the DVR on a regular basis, we recommend this ACC-KB002 PTZ joystick controller.

What accessories do I need if I am building my own Siamese Video/Power cable?

If you are building specific lengths of Siamese Video/Power cable, you will need a pair of BNC to RCA RG59 compression connectors for each cable that is built. You also need a crimping tool to apply the compression connectors to each end of the cable. These crimping tools are available from our sales store, and they are also readily available at most local hardware stores. The SKU number for our crimping tool is ACC-TLF/BNC/RG59-5082R.

Other FAQs

When I convert my video files to AVI, the audio is not transferred to the AVI file. How can I convert the H.264 video file to AVI and keep the audio?

The audio is transferred over to the AVI file when any video file is converted to AVI, however Windows Media player is unable to play the audio because the audio codex is a very obscure type. If you play your converted AVI file using the VLC Media Player instead of Windows Media player, the audio will play successfully. The VLC Media Player is available for free download at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/