How to Make a Homemade Surveillance Camera

Create an effective security camera for your home or business using an inexpensive webcam and free downloadable software. Your do-it-yourself security system can be tailored to your individual budget and needs.

An inexpensive consumer-grade webcam can be used for home security.

Step 1

Place the USB webcam to monitor activity.

Step 2

Connect the webcam to your computer. If the computer is too far away, you'll need to use a USB extender cable or a webcam with wireless transmission capabilities.

Step 3

Download free (open source) Dorgem 2.1.0 software. (See Resources.) On the main page, you'll read that Dorgem has been officially "discontinued" by the developer as of July 2008. This simply means that the developer is no longer offering support or working on updates, but that last stable release (2.1.0) is still available for download. Despite the discontinuation of development, Dorgem is still arguably the best freeware option for a webcam security front end in terms of size, speed and overall system drain.

Step 4

If you are uncomfortable using a discontinued software package, other freeware options include Vidis Lite 1.3 and Webcams Watcher 2.0. Features are similar to those of Dorgem.

Step 5

Install and configure the webcam software on your computer. You will need to choose whether to capture in still-frame or video format, as well as the rate and quality of capture, and the location to save the images to. Another important option is to decide whether you will capture at constant, regular intervals or if you will use Dorgem's built-in motion detection functionality to capture images only when the camera detects movement in the frame.

Step 6

If you choose to capture images only when movement is detected (motion detection), you'll need to adjust your webcam's settings. High-contrast and high-sharpness setups will likely create some "noise" in every frame, causing false motion detection. But low-contrast, low-sharpness settings will reduce the detail in captured images.

Step 7

Test your new security camera by walking through the monitored area. Review the captured images or video clip(s) on your computer and adjust the Dorgem capture configuration and webcam settings until you achieve satisfactory results.

Leon Williams

Leon Williams has worked as a fiction editor, sporting goods retailer, rock musician, systems analyst, help desk technician and marketing coordinator. He holds a bachelor's degree from Northern Michigan University, where he studied English, computer science and new media. He has had work published in a variety of online venues as well as the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader series of books.