A digital video recorder (DVR) is an essential device in the surveillance industry that is used to record the video from a security camera. Each security camera unit is connected to the DVR with the use of a coax cable and BNC connectors. The video transmission is then compressed and stored on a hard drive. A DVR is very different from the older time lapse VCRs due to the fact that it digitally stores the data on a hard drive rather than on a VHS tape.
One of the main advantages of having a DVR is that it will be able to store days, weeks, months and even years of video footages before it starts to record over itself. This conveniently prevents the need of switching out tapes.
Another good advantage of having a DVR is the fact that you can often search for video by means of its date and time, or even by event. Searching by date and time is very much easier than the old VCR systems due to the fact that it means that you no longer have to sit and fast forward or rewind through hours of recorded video just to find an event that you are looking for. You can just simply search the specific date and time, and with that you will find the video instantly. Several DVRs are also able to only record when there is motion detected, wherein you can significantly conserve storage space as well as it is easier for you to find the video that you are looking for.
Most people consider that another great advantage of many of the modern DVRs right now is that they have a built-in web server that lets you to connect to the DVR remotely over the Internet. This simply means that you can connect the DVR from another PC and you can view your security cameras wherever you are.
How to Set Up Your DVR for Recording
Even if there are many types and brands of DVRs available in the market today, remember that all DVRs still have different terminologies and configurations. There are DVRs wherein you can set each camera differently, or they can be all the same. Almost all other DVRs have only one setting that applies to all the security cameras at once. Below are the different DVR settings with advice on how to properly set them up:
Set up your overview cameras to 15 fps. You will notice that there is very little difference between 15 fps and 30 fps. Since these are overview cameras, there is actually no need for setting it up to 30 fps. Normally, you would only set detail-capture cameras to 30 fps.
It is recommended that you set your overview cameras to CIF recording (360 x 240). If there are cameras that need extra detail, set them to D1 (704 x 480) recording. This is applicable to security cameras that are used for cash register drawer capture, license plate capture, or facial capture at entrances or exits.
Set up all security cameras to the highest quality level.
You need to set the bit rate to match the available bandwidth. It is advised that you use no more than 40% of the bandwidth. Therefore, if you know that you have 2 mbps up of bandwidth available, and you have 8 security cameras, you should set the bit rate to 100 kbps. Also, you should set the bit rate to VBR rather than CBR. CBR stands for constant bit rate. VBR stands for variable bit rate, and it gives the DVR the ability to throttle the rate according to the available bandwidth.
Set your DVR to record motion only.
Pre- and Post-recording:
You should set the pre-recording to 10 seconds while the post-recording to 10 seconds. This will result to recordings that have 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after the recorded motion event.
This setting will have to be set individually on a per security camera basis. You must set the sensitivity so that the DVR is only activated to record by objects you want to trigger. For instance, you would not want a dog, cat or bird to set off the recording process, but you would want a person to trigger recording. This is done by setting up the sensitivity level.
Ensure that you mask out any areas of motion that you do not want to activate the recording process. For instance, you probably would not want a swaying flag on a pole or a swaying tree to trigger the motion recording. Simply mask those areas out on a per camera basis.
If you follow the steps and configure everything as mentioned above, you should be able to maximize the storage capacity of your hard drive. Do remember that these are only suggestions, and you can always set up your DVR the way you want it to be. There can be many other options that can be derived from these suggestions, depending on your needs and preferences. Also, if you have bandwidth problems to deal with and do not have a substream available, then you may have to lower some of these settings.
How to Connect a DVR to a Monitor or TV
Most of the DVRs nowadays have at least a BNC video output for a monitor or TV. There are some DVRs that also have a VGA video out or an HDMI out. If you are going to connect the DVR to a standard monitor, then you should just use the VGA out since it will provide a better quality display. If you would like to connect it to a TV, you simply connect it by using the BNC video out of the DVR.
All you need is a standard plug-and-play BNC cable or a standard coax such as the RG59 or RG6. If you are using coax, then you need to connect the BNC connectors on the ends. If you use the plug-and-play cables, then the ends are already installed.
After that, connect a BNC to RCA connector on the end of the cable that will be going into the TV. Connect the RCA connector into the RCA input of the TV. If you have to connect multiple monitors, then you should use a BNC T connector to split the cable coming out of the DVR and connect a second cable to an additional TV.
There are times you might like to set up additional monitors to display individual cameras. These are typically called spot monitors. If your DVR does not have loop outs for the individual camera inputs, simply use the same BNC T connectors to split the video input of any individual camera. After that, connect the original coax cable into the video input, but run a second cable off the BNC T and run it to the TV or monitor just like you did before.
If you are running to a TV, you can simply use the BNC to RCA connector and then connect to the RCA input of the TV. If you are connecting to a monitor with a VGA input, you will require a BNC to VGA converter. The BNC end of the cable will connect to the BNC input of the converter, and then the VGA from the monitor will connect to the other end of the BNC to VGA converter.