Digital Video Recorder and Camera Overview

April 2, 2018
Although DVRs and cameras have unique features and setup, they also have a lot in common, so as you gain experience installing and programming video, your skills and profits will grow

This article is to offer you an approach to providing professional level video surveillance & services for the residential market. Important features are the ability to record HD video onsite, and the ability to view multiple cameras on a mobile device.

We’re looking at FLIR MPX CAMERAS and DVRs with FLIR CLOUD's quick and secure remote viewing because they have some important features which make them appealing and set them apart form a lot of the other products being promoted by alarm companies and home centers.

FLIR has some impressive cloud technology, as well as equipment both wireless and hardwired. I have been using their products for about a year and I highly recommend this FLIR line as products and SERVICES well suited for locksmiths to offer their valued customers.

Elements of DVR and Camera Installation

The total process of performing a site survey, developing a design and then installing a video surveillance system involves many steps. Powering up of cameras and DVR is the easy part. Getting everything else set up and ready will be more involved.

Wireless products which fall under the general heading of home automation are gaining a lot of traction in the home improvement marketplace. This is because many major players are bringing products to the marketplace and heavily promoting them.

Most locksmiths are aware of the conundrum of many new sales and installation channels converging on the residential marketplace. In its recent report NEW Research: 2018 State of the Industry Report, the home automation industry watchdog CEPRO reports the robust growth in sales over the last few years is predicted to continue with a 13 percent growth for 2018.

Residential clients are sometimes referred to as casual accounts. Few successful locksmith businesses rely primarily on residential customers. But if you get a regular flow of residential service calls, they can indeed add up.

Although home automation products are indeed available through many sources, it is common knowledge that many DIYers are not able to successfully install or deploy many home automation products, making these customers good candidates for a sale and some needed expertise.

It’s been my experience that some wireless devices are not all they are stacked up to be. In reality most wireless cameras are not truly wireless, are not highly reliable, and are subject to the security issues which have become legendary in our society. Most significantly, a camera mounted at waist height next to your front door does not constitute a comprehensive security solution for the majority of homeowners.

You can, however, expect highly reliable professional performance from hardwired video surveillance. By higher performance level, I am referring to the quality of the image and the frame rate of the video. The technology keeps improving, and I suggest you try your best to sell video that will deliver a high quality image and provide reliable operation.

Let’s review some of the components and materials used in the installation of hardwired video surveillance.

Coax: This as the default video data delivery system for decades. There is a lot of coax already installed and is working fine. However, the legacy cameras and recorders connected to it do not provide the higher performance levels of newer technology cameras and recorders.

I always thought coax was heavy and difficult to install, and installing the BNC connectors used for video was difficult and labor intensive. However many cameras and recorders can deliver what is considered state of the art performance using coax, and by repurposing existing coax, the cost to upgrade a video surveillance system becomes much less expensive.

Coax is still used for new installations as well. There are basically two coax specifications: Standard RG59 coax which has a 20 AWG copper center conductor and RG6 coax which has a larger 18 AWG copper center conductor.

RG-6 offers higher bandwidth and longer distance capability. The majority of high-end video surveillance systems I have serviced used RG6.

The other consideration is whether the structure in which you are installing or upgrading the video surveillance requires plenum cable be used. It is usually the responsibility of the installer to determine what cable type the code requires and what cable is already installed in the wall.

Coax connectors & tools: BNC are usually used for video surveillance. Over the years I’ve used a variety of BNC style connectors; some were for RF in rack mount test equipment, and then later for video surveillance systems. For every connector, prep work is necessary – peeling back the outer cover, revealing the shield, and stripping the inner conductor. There are tools available, and also many mechanics use sharp blades and wire strippers instead.

There are basically three types of connectors.

Twist-On: These require no tools to attach. They are the least desirable type because they are not reliable.

Crimp–On: These come in two-piece and three-piece varieties. For a while I used the kind which required the tip to be soldered. Then we used the ones where a crimp tool was used to attach the tip. The crimp tool had several sizes; one for the tip and others for the various types of coax you might encounter. There are also the crimp type where the center wire of the coax is used instead of a separate tip.

The crimp tool is an octagonal die which compresses a collar to attach the braided shield to the body of the connector.

Compression Type: I first encountered these when I was running service for a national enterprise integration manufacturer that did installs. Whenever I had to add a camera, I was instructed to use compression which was their standard connector. Special connectors and a special tool are required, but except for the part where I need to have the specific type of connector for the type of cable, I prefer this technology.

Installing one-piece compression BNC and right angle connectors just got easier, thanks to IDEAL InSITE® Compression Connectors. With the patented InSITE® Technology feature, standard on IDEAL’s BNC and right angle (90°) compression connectors, field termination of these blind entry connectors is simpler, faster and now provides a higher performance connection for all applications from CCTV to HD Video.

The InSITE® window is a 360° clear window which allows the installer to verify that the prepped cable has been inserted far enough into the connector to make contact with the fixed pin. The cable, which requires a 1/4“ x 1/4“ industry standard preparation, is inserted into the connector until the folded braiding is visible within the InSITE® window. No measuring, no jacket marking, no guesswork.

The patented RTQ™ compression sleeve gives each of these connectors a weatherproof seal at the cable entry point, keeping out moisture and other contaminants that compromise the mechanical and electrical performance of the connection.

Cat 6 is used for those systems where IP type equipment is used or where analog equipment and baluns are used. Cat 6 cable is inexpensive, and compared to coax, weighs less, is more pliable, and has a smaller diameter.

RJ45 is a type of connector commonly used for Ethernet networking. It looks similar to a telephone jack, but is slightly wider. Since Ethernet cables have an RJ45 connector on each end, Ethernet cables are sometimes also called RJ45 cables.

RJ45 cables can be wired in two different ways. One version is called T-568A and the other is T-568B.


CCTV video baluns, also known as UTP (UnTwistedPair) baluns, allow coax to be replaced by category 6 and other forms of untwisted pair wire in video surveillance installations.

The term balun is derived by combining balanced and unbalanced. Baluns isolate a transmission line and provide a balanced output.

Video baluns allow installers to use more cost effective structured cabling techniques to wire security cameras. By using video baluns, UTP wire such as cat-6 can be run over longer distances easier than coax cable and for less money.

One such product is SECO-LARM’s EB-P101-01HQ PASSIVE 4-in-1 HD Video Balun.

  • 4-in-1 TVI / CVI / AHD (up to 1080p) and Analog video
  • Transmits up to 1,443ft (440m) depending on format, resolution, and cable used
  • PAL / NTSC / SECAM compatible
  • Built-in TVS surge protection
  • Anti-static and wave filters
  • Lightning protection – Grade III
  • 60dB Crosstalk and noise immunity
  • Exceptional interference rejection
  • Real-time transmission over low-cost Cat5e/6 cable instead of costly coaxial cable
  • Quick-connect terminals for easy installation
  • Small size allows mounting of multiple baluns behind a DVR


For multiple camera projects, using a hub simplifies the installation and helps you organize cables and hardware.

ALTRONIX offers the HubSat4D UTP Passive Transceiver 4 Channel Hub , Video up to 750' with Integrated 24/28VAC Power Supply

  • Input: 115VAC 50/60Hz, 1.5A. (Primary fuse (internal) is rated at 3.5A/250V).
  • Output: Individually selectable 24VAC or 28VAC power outputs with OFF position.
  • Unit provides up to 1A max. per channel not to exceed a total of 8A (100VA) maximum current.
  • Class 2 Rated power limited outputs.
  • PTC protected outputs are rated @ 1A per channel.
  • Surge suppression.
  • Video: Four (4) channels of video over twisted pair up to a distance of 228.6m (750 ft.) per channel.
  • Four (4) 75 ohm video outputs.
  • Data: RS422/RS485 data inputs.
  • Visual Indicators: Four (4) individual power LED indicators.

NVT UTP Video Passive Transmitter +12VDC Converter is a passive (non-amplified) video transmitter combined with a 24VAC-to-12VDC converter. Designed to fit on the back of a fixed 12 VDC camera, this unit converts 24VAC power from the control room, while delivering real-time baseband (composite) video at extended distances, all over one 4-pair UTP cable.

The interference rejection and low emissions of the NV-226J- PV allows video and low-voltage power to coexist within the same 4-pair cable, using structured (EIA 568B) wiring practices. It is recommended that the 24VAC not share the same jacketed wire bundle with telecom or datacom signals.

The NV-226J- PV carries a limited lifetime warranty, is UL and cUL listed, and is CE, WEEE, and RoHs compliant.


If you are installing a network based DVR, you need to connect the CAT-6 cable to the premises network, which is usually the router. The router, even if it is a Wi-Fi router, will have Ethernet ports you can use to connect the DVR to the network.

It is possible to extend the capacity of the router by using a switch. It is not neighborly to use up the last spare port on the router. The switch can be near the router or you can install a Cat 5 cable and located the switch closer to your DVR.

By adding a switc,h you will have additional ports available for other equipment such as a Nexia Z-Wave bridge.

D-Link's DGS-1100 Ethernet switch provides an affordable solution for simple network management. Most models come in a compact desktop-sized metal case and feature a wide selection of Gigabit port configurations with optional Gigabit fibre uplink ports.

  • 5 Network Ports
  • Port/Expansion Slot Details: 2 x Fast Ethernet Network, 3 x Gigabit Ethernet Network
  • Media Type Supported: Twisted Pair
  • Ethernet Technology: Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet
  • Network Technology: 10/100Base-TX, 1000Base-T
  • Layer Supported: 2

Powering the Camera

There are many choices for powering your cameras. When you are installing multiple cameras, you are advised to use an enclosed fused device to protect your cameras, your system and your reputation.

The Altronix ALTV244 series CCTV power supplies provide 24VAC or 28VAC distributed via four (4) fuse or PTC protected outputs for powering CCTV cameras, heaters, and other video accessories. Additional features include:

  • Surge protection.
  • AC Power LED.
  • Power ON/OFF switch (ALTV244 and ALTV244CB).
  • Illuminated power disconnect circuit breaker with manual reset for all other models.
  • Models with factory installed 3-wire linecord are available
  • Spare fuses provided (all models with primary and/or secondary fuses).
  • CE Approved.
  • Lifetime Warranty / Made in the U.S.A.

Digital Video Recorders

As mentioned earlier, a significant feature is the ability to record on-site and view the DVR remotely. The FLIR CLOUD mobile app makes this possible, and you can enroll more than one DVR with this app. NOTE: When you are configuring the DVR, change the default password from the default before you attempt to set up the mobile app.

FLIR’s M4200 Series DVRs use the latest HD-CVI technology, giving you the flexibility to upgrade your security systems to 1080P HD resolution using existing coax cabling. With support for both HD resolution MPX cameras plus standard analog cameras, the DVR is ideal for retrofit applications. MPX also facilitates advanced features previously unavailable over a coax cable including duplex transmission for PTZ control, audio transmission, and extended distance cable runs up to 2300 ft (700m) @ 720p or up to 2000 ft (610m) @ 1080p, depending on the type of cable used.*

FLIR MPX™ is a revolutionary video surveillance format powered by HD-CVI technology. MPX delivers megapixel picture quality over coax, meaning you can upgrade your existing analog systems to HD resolution (1MP & 2.1MP) over a single coax cable (RG59 & RG6 compatible).


The FLIR 2.1 MP HD Motorized Varifocal WDR Bullet MPX Camera uses the latest HD-CVI technology and True WDR to deliver outstanding 1080p picture quality over coax cabling in any lighting condition. Ideal for retrofit applications, C237BD/C237BD1 is compatible with FLIR MPX DVRs, offering a hassle-free upgrade to HD resolution plus the added advantage of remote zoom and focus control via the DVR or web interface. Dual video output offers simultaneous HD and 960H video streams. This camera provides HD picture quality for outstanding image detail, both day and night,

Another advantage is easy installation, making it possible to upgrade to HD without the expense of re-cabling.

Here is a sequence of operations to get up and running. It’s best to have the steps on paper so you can be sure you do not overlook a step, or if you have to troubleshoot either on site yourself or remotely with a technician or possible the end-user, you can be coordinated & organized.

1-Connect your cameras which are the BNC connectors. The BNC connectors can be on the ends of the coax cables from the cameras, or the BNCs can be baluns which are attached to UTP (untwisted pair) cables which are connected to baluns and the camera on the other end. The FLIR DVR delivers top performance over RG-59 or RG-6 coax as well as Cat 5 cable.

2-Connect the USB mouse which is supplied with the DVR. If the DVR is located where a wired mouse is cumbersome, you can use a wireless mouse.

3-Connect the Ethernet cable (which connected to a port on the router).

4-Connect a monitor. The FLIR DVR supports VGA, and or HDMI.

5-Connect the 12 VDC power supply which is supplied with the DVR. (Refer to the rest of the article which discusses UPS and surge suppression.)

6-Power ON the DVR! If all goes as it should, the DVR will perform a self-test and check to see if firmware updates are available. If there are, it will download and install the updates.

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.