Hackspace Cameras


as a result of the breakin/theft, I propose installing 2 cheap ptz ip cameras in the space and use a system I have already created for controlling such cameras using Docker and ffmpeg to make a streamable, recordable feed.


  • 2x PTZ ip cameras, of which I am happy to contribute Like so
  • Somewhere to run some docker containers on some moderately powerful computer.

Options available to us to use the cameras would include:

  • Streaming (though unlikely to be used in the space, due to our poor upload speed)
  • Storing to disk (with a cron task to rotate older video to /dev/null)
  • Single frames to view akin to the Swindon Makerspace “lookaround” telegram bot.

Source code: https://github.com/CameraCCTV/Camera

Mechanism of operation:

There are several docker containers:

  • Encoder
  • Stream Server
  • Recorder
  • Web UI

An instance of the Encoder is run for each camera. This handles the ffmpeg encoding of the input video

The Stream server receives the video stream and makes it available to either be streamed to a user (Via the Web UI) or to the …

Recorder container, which consumes all video feeds and turns them into 5 minute long webm files which can be deleted/rotated by a cron task as desired.

The Web UI container, though likely not to be made available to outside the hackspace LAN, also provides support for PTZ and enforcing correct time stamps on the cameras.

I have a bare bones PC + CPU I’m willing to donate if it wants to be used for this

Won’t be available until the end of the month though as it’s on the other side of the country right now.

From what I understand of the last conversation
I think the cameras might need to be outside the main area, probably in the corridor bit in-between the units looking at the two entrances.

Personally, I’d rather the initial system was set up in the common areas, covering the fire escape door and the big metal door, as a proof of concept, and to deal with the current problem. We should have a proper discussion of cameras-in-the-space when we’re not rushing to react to outside events :slight_smile:

As a Board Member, If we’re recording and storing video, we have to be registered as a data controller with the DPA, so we’ll have to factor the overhead of complying with that into the installation plan.

Yup, that’s what I was anticipating. Maaaybe in the future there’d be a general space camera. Or maybe one in the space with the focus set to blur so that one can tell if something is moving in the space, but not whom or what.

Ok, out of interest, could we just take a few frames a second and not
bother too much with the cpu required to deal with this.
Also, I’m not sure if we /should/ stream the content outside of the

for the two cameras, would the current hp microserver cope, or do we need
to find a new machine?

Regarding taking a few frames a second, the CPU load would not be any different because ffmpeg still has to process the video. Also, theres more than adequate hardware being volenteered. And the likelyhood is @thinkl33t’s offer of a VM will be adequate for 2 cameras.

Some suggestions:

  1. There is no point in having cameras unless the quality is good unless they’re only for use as a deterrent, in which case signage is important.
  2. Mount the cameras strategically at eye-level where possible or all you will get is a video of someone’s hat. Not necessarily possible in communal areas.
  3. Suggest video over stills, stills will tell you someone was there, not necessarily be able to identify someone.
  4. The cameras may be operating in low light, motion sensitive lights (think, converting existing lights) would both spook an intruder and provide lights for a camera. Could also use motion sensors + entry system to determine wether legit visitor or intruder, could play warning through sound system.
  5. For the privacy conscious, stream video (auto-rotating files?) to disk with a public encryption key, the private key held by one or more trusted members. Bonus points for multiple keys required. This secures video streamed for storage outside the hackspace too, but the bandwidth requirements would be high.
  6. I’m not doing any of this :slight_smile:

Out of interest, what is cost per camera, lead time on them, and is there
any data sheet available?

There are a variety of similar cameras. Most just present the same rtsp stream on port 554 and a soap service on 5000.

Theres no documentation for anything, really.

~£20-25, ebay, and lead time of “eventually”

I don’t know if this one supports the correct resolution or streaming mode required
but I did find this on amazon

  • About £30
  • Delivery might be quicker than ebay
  • I think it has remote pan / tilt control for moving the camera around

Hi Mhisani.

(everyone else disregard this, chasing shenanigans)