Trigger a relay to open or close to trigger recording on my security way to do it?

So I want to start a fun DIY project for myself.

I have a security camera that I LOVE to use, and want to get more…however, it’s not smartthings supported. The camera has pins on the back to support alarm input/output. You can select in the software whether the alarm input is NC or NO. So it seems SUPER easy to trigger the alarm on the camera and start recording.

What would I need to make something that is able to take an event from the hub, like a motion event, or an open/close sensor, etc, and close a relay to cause the camera to interpret it as an alarm and start recording?

I noticed in a recent hub update, that it now supports LAN discovery? Does that mean it can support LAN based devices? (meaning I wouldn’t have to deal with supporting zigbee wireless on an arduino or something, instead I could just go over wifi)

The next step from here would be to use the camera as a device, and use the alarm output pins to send events to the hub. Since the camera only supports an alarm bit, it would basically just be like a motion sensor and report whether the alarm is on or not.

I have a little bit of experience working with the smart app and device type code. I’m not fluent by any means, but I’m learning more and more every day. Would this be something that could be done with something like arduino or rasberry pi? I’ve never worked with them before, but I’ve always wanted to. I’m not very familiar with their capabilities, but I’m open and willing to learn. In school years ago, I took some electrical engineering classes and I worked with something called the BoE (Board Of Education) which I think was like a simpler version of arduino, so I think I’d be able to pick it up.

This is the camera:

Do you know if you have to supply the power to the alarm inputs or just open/close the circuit? There are dry contact z-wave modules that provide the open/close functionality. I use a one to control my fireplace - it is a low voltage circuit. The module needs mains power (110v in US) to run the z-wave radio, etc. but doesn’t send any power through the switch contacts - unlike a regular switch. The one I use is a Remotec ZFM-80. It can do both NC and NO and more.
You could mount it in a plastic box, run a power cord to it and a low voltage line from it to the camera.

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As far as I know, I think you just have to close (or open) the contacts. you can choose in the software if it’s NO or NC.

Perfect. That should do it for you, then. I put mine in a surface mount single gang box but I was burying it inside the gas fireplace workings. You may want a nicer box.

I’m not sure how you’d leverage the input, but the output could be tied to a monoprice open/close sensor which has input connections if I remember correctly. That way you could trigger the open/close sensor when the camera sees motion.

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I was hoping I could buy/build something that basically follows this:

Camera Alarm Input:

  • Open/close sensor sends “open” event
  • Smart app picks up the “open” event and sends the “close” action to the relay connected to the camera
  • Relay connected to camera picks up the “close” action execution and closes the relay causing the alarm to be triggered on the camera and the camera starts recording
  • Open/close sensor sends “closed” event
  • Smart app picks up the “closed” event and sends the “open” action to the relay connected to the camera
  • Relay connected to camera picks up the “open” action execution and opens the relay causing the alarm to stop, and the camera stops recording

Camera Alarm Output:
I would basically be able to use this as a motion sensor…so I would need some way to broadcast those events from the camera based on whether the alarm is on or not (aka motion is being detected or not).

@dmw999 hopefully I can find one that runs on 12v/5v…the camera is a 5v camera, and I’m currently using a car battery to run it using a hard wired DC jack and a usb car charger…it’s in the garage in my apartment, and there’s no electrical outlets. lol. I know it’s jenky.

Hmmm… I was thinking of just the input side before. You could have the system turn on the camera. If you want the camera to notify the system then @blebson’s idea may work - I haven’t worked with the monoprice device. Another option for the output would be the Aeon microswitch - it takes momentary contact or NC/NO input and then turns on/off the switch side and registers that with SmartThings.

I don’t know of any of these sorts of things that runs on battery or low voltage, off hand.

The easiest thing I can think of is maybe I can use a Wemo Maker with IFTTT, but the delays with that sort of stuff is terrible I’ve noticed.

Any time I try to use IFTTT there’s always like a 5-20 second delay.

But that’s also kind of a work around and an expensive one at that…it’s just a $100 camera, no reason to spend another $80 on it for a wemo maker. Especially if I could make something for a lot cheaper with arduino or rasberry pi (if not cheaper, than more useful for other fun projects and a fun learning experience), or maybe a pre built zigbee or z-wave item.

Hi chadbaldwin, did you setup relays to trigger your camera?
I got the same Amcrest camera and I was planning to use the alarm input/output pins just like you described.

No, I never got around to it. I tried asking their support, and they sent me an electrical schematic of that port, but nothing was labeled so it was basically useless.

I just stick with the motion recording for now

I use a VIVOTek dome camera that has one contact input (external event detected by Smartthings) and one contact output (camera detected event tells Smartthings). I used a MIMOLite relay/sensor to interface to Smartthings. I had to tune the stock MIMO device handler a bit to make sure the sensor and relay functions worked independent of each other, and to make sure the battery low signal was processed correctly. I use a 12v automotive battery to drive both the camera and the MIMOLite. The camera can send emails with single or video clip attached. It can FTP clips to a server and/or record to the SD card. The SD card can be setup to only record if it can’t send the clips. The camera can trigger recording simultaneously based on up to three different trigger inputs (PIR, motion, sound, tamper, Smartthings via contacts stc). My current setup is that the camera sends my email three still shots whenever ST detects movement and ST is in away mode. In addition it sends a video clip by email to Storage Made Easy where it is archived. If it can’t get the emails out, the clips are saved to the SD card. The only issue I have is that I have to download the MP4 files to view them because Storage made Easy cannot play the files directly. I had the same issue with CameraFTP when I tried that as an ftp archive service.

I’m curious, why don’t you use a converter? Car batteries scare me. I don’t like having them inside.

If you can get your files copied to AMZ cloud drive, they have a decent app and browser based viewer.

As far as the battery is concerned, I wanted battery backup for the
security aspects of my system. First I already have a group 29 battery to
power a backup sump pump to make sure my basement doesn’t flood, so the
battery has been there for a number of years. Awhile back I added a solar
panel to keep it charged. For the camera, I could have used the included
wall wart and a UPS, but the battery/solar panel gives me longer coverage
in an outage. I also run my router off the battery. I had planned to also
drive the ST hub using a converter to 5v, but the hubs backup batteries go
dead when driven by a 5vdc supply. Went back to the wall wart for the hub.
Someday I will troubleshoot that one. We get a number of electrical outages
in New Mexico each year, Many last over the two hours that the ST hub
backup batteries can supply.

I see. I lived in a house with a sump that didn’t have any kind of backup power. The problem was that the kind of storm that kills the power often produces a lot of rain. Sounds like a good idea to have that battery. . . .

I’ve been looking at generators that run purely off your natural gas line. It would be wonderful to have one kick in automatically when the inevitable hurricane knocks out the power. They are just so damn expensive.

I have two little houses (1000 sq ft ea) - one in NM the other in CT. We spend roughly 5 months in each. I installed an 8kw GE(Briggs & Stratton) LP generator in CT, after getting hit several times with 5 day outages in 2011. I do not drive the a/c from the generator. The house has gas heat, gas hot water, gas stove, gas dryer, so electric demand is low. The big issue in CT is if the heat goes out in winter when we are not around. I use a computer UPS to keep the router and hub going. It takes a few minutes to get onto the generator. I use Nexia in CT, and Smartthings in NM. The freezer in NM is my only big issue now. Been thinking about driving it off solar, but it is a much larger project than I have wanted to bite off in previous years. I bought the generator from Home Depot. It came with the transfer switch. I did the install myself - I really don’t like doing gas work, but I had Paraco Gas at the time and they just gave me allot of crap about the generator saying my rate for propane was going to go up. Just Paraco BS, because the new supplier rate was about half that of Paraco and they inspected all my work with no issues.