Update (7/18/08): this driver and instructions work for ZoneMinder 1.22.x only, see my update for ZM 1.23.x support.
I can’t even remember when was the last time that I had to reverse engineer something.. it may have been as long ago as my college days. But last week I had a couple of evenings of fun figuring out the inner workings of my Trendnet TV-IP400W. This is a cool little internet camera with built in wifi and a built in web server. You can control it from a browser and you can actually pan and tilt this camera around the room, so even though the picture quality isn’t great (probably comparable to your average webcam), it can be very useful if you want to keep an eye on your house, your pets, your baby, etc from anywhere in the world. The best part: you can pick one up online for less than $200, which is a steal for a pan/tilt IP camera.
The built in web server is useful for checking up on the live situation, but it does not have any features to automatically notify something or someone if motion is detected in front of the camera. The windows control application does do motion triggered recording, but if you want to monitor your camera from outside your home you’ll have to set it up to email all the videos to yourself, as the windows app can’t function as a web interface.
All of this makes this camera more of a toy, with limited remote monitoring features. But, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t figure out a way to get what I wanted from this thing. Since I already have 2 Linux boxes running Misterhouse, MythTV and various databases and developer tools, I figured one of these boxes could easily function as a surveillance system as well.
So I set out to install ZoneMinder on my Ubuntu system. ZoneMinder is an extremely full featured (open source) video camera security and surveillance system. It supports multiple CCTV and IP cameras, has a web interface, it can control PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) cameras, and supports custom triggers, multiple motion zones per camera, etc.
After a little bit of tinkering I got ZoneMinder running, and it turned out that even getting it to capture video from my Trendnet cam turned out to be trivial… All I needed to do was to configure the camera stream to http://192.168.0.140/video.cgi on my home LAN!
Unfortunately, that’s as much as I’d be able to do with ZoneMinder and this cam. The IP400W uses a proprietary control protocol to move the camera and there wasn’t any ZoneMinder driver for it yet.
But how hard could it be to write one?