I got sent the Y-Cam Bullet last year and then when I moved home it found itself into a box, only to be re-discovered last week.
Cables, adapters, wall/ceiling mount, power lead, optional sun visor etc, all come in the box.
I had already purchased a Y-cam S in black over 2 years ago (the older model without the micro sd card slot). I used it as a night vision baby monitor and at the time I remember it wasn’t the easiest device to set up as the Mac software from Y-Cam was pretty shoddy.
The new setup application for mac seems to have fixed this and I had the Bullet unpacked set up and operational in a little over 5 minutes.
Having used the smaller Y-cam S in the past I was expecting decent build quality but was a little surprised at the size. It was bigger than I expected and when unscrewing the front to insert the micro SD card I could see the size was not just a result of it’s sturdy IP66 weather proof external case, but this also had to house the chunky Infra Red diodes that give it is night vision capabilities.
So, what can it do..?
It does all the things you would expect from an IP camera. You can view and listen into what ever it is pointing at in real time, from anywhere in the world, through a computer on the web, or a smart phone. There is also a nifty little iPhone app that also works on the iPad.
It has motion detection that you can set up to trigger recording from movement in various regions of it’s sight. When motion is detected, the camera can email you a photo of what’s going on, or record the video to an internal micro sd card that you can view when logged on to the camera’s web page. You can also grab snapshots and record video whilst viewing through the browser.
It’s IR-cut filter enables true/day night operation so daytime colours are pretty good, it also has power over ethernet (PoE) and as yet un-explored by me (as it is still PC only), 2-way audio. I’d love to be able to talk through the camera from my Mac as this would open up all kinds of possible uses.
I had a play with the app and whilst viewing you can grab snapshots with a click of the button (see image above). The snapshots drop into your iphone photos gallery. It’s a pretty simple app at the moment and I’d love an update that would enable remote recording and push notifications instead of email. I get a ton of emails a day and would not necessarily see an email notification that the camera had been triggered. I am thinking some kind of ftp push to app hack could be done but not needed if the guys at Y-Cam just update the app. I’m sure more sales would be generated as the great reviews for a fully functioning app rolled in.
(This test clip was recorded through the camera, downloaded remotly through the browser, looked fine on the computer, but seemed to have the audio scraped on upload to youtube.)
The Y-cam records video at a maximum frame rate of 30fps at 640 x 480 with the frame rate automatically adjusting with your internet connection. Stills are taken at the same resolution although I have reduced them to 500px to fit this blog column.
Although I have only used the ethernet connection during set up and then wifi from then on, the camera also has a Digital I/O and 2-way audio connector should you have a more complex monitoring system you want to plug it into.
I like the fact that adding an internal microSD card to the slot enables a local back up option should you not be continually recording the footage to an external hard drive. This also means you can use the camera on it’s own in a remote location and later view the footage via a mobile device with a MiFi, or plug the camera into a PC. This way it is effectively a self contained detection and recording device. As long as it’s powered of course.
As far as I remember there was only PC support originally but now things seem to work much better on a Mac with the video viewed using Quicktime and the motion detection settings adjusted in the browser. This does have to be adjusted using a flash enabled device though so using the iPad for fine tuning the camera is not an option. Once again perhaps a future app update will open up this functionality.
Should you want to get imaginative and use the camera for video conferencing, the Bullet supports up to 16 simultaneous remote users with password protection.
At time of writing the Y-Cam YCBL03 Bullet IP Camera is £270 on Amazon and looking at other options with similar specs, this appears to be the best value for money.
Apart from all the fun to be had just playing with tech like this and of course the usual security uses, I have a couple of other uses in mind. One would be front door monitoring when I’m locked away in my garden office and expecting visitors or post. The other is for the camera to be a kind of digital babysitter for my semi-independent Grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s
I’d like to monitor the times when she uses the kitchen and taylor her care accordingly. The carers at the moment visit three times day but my Gran never seems to be hungry when they are there. They told me that if they knew exactly the time she wanted food and assistance (as She can’t remember) then they can adjust their visit times. With the camera setup temporarily in her kitchen, it can be programmed to record all motion and this would log what my Gran is doing and when. No need for an internet connection as the footage could be stored internally on the microSD card. The footage could be used to see exactly what my Grandmothers needs where and when.
Ideally if a long term solution was needed, via an internet connection my Gran could talk to me through the video camera and me back to her from anywhere in the world. This would need Y-cam to sort out the two way audio feature for the Mac user. If you have any questions on this or the latest developments, perhaps connect on twitter with @YcamSolutions who seem very pleased to answer any questions and who have helped me out immensely with any queries I’ve had.
It’s a serious camera worth the money with lots of browser based functionality capable of dealing with all kinds of projects.
I’d happily recommend any camera tech from Y-Cam but take a look at the whole range to ensure you are not buying something over spec’d for your needs. For some of my planned projects the £100 cheaper Y-Cam YCB003 would probably suffice. That said, the Y-Cam Bullet is a solidly built professional IP surveillance camera that works well both indoors and out, night and day, in all weather. It’s great value for money with more features than I’d personally use. I love access via the iPhone app, but it is simple and I’d like to see more app development to cater for the increasing number of Mac users and those working from mobile devices.