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How to build a DVR – Digital Video Recorder

I am building a custom DVD digital video recorder security camera system from scratch and am going to explain how to do it.

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First you will need a basic desktop computer to start with. You can buy a pre-built computer such as a DELL or an HP or whatever brand you like want or you can build a computer yourself from scratch like I did. I chose to use 2 separate hard drives for my particular custom DVR build. Hard drive #1 being a 120 gig SSD hard drive and hard drive #2 being a large terabyte hard drive for storing the video feed. You can also record audio if you chose however this particular DVR isn’t going to be configured for recording any audio, only video.

After you have a computer all ready to go, next you will need to install a DVR card. I chose to use a Geovision DVR card but there are other manufacturers of high quality DVR cards that you can research yourself. I choose Geovision because I’ve always have had good experiences with their products.

Make sure the DVR card you choose is compatible with the computer you bought or built. The best way to do this is to contact the DVR card manufacturer and ask them if the card you want will work with your computer.

After you have the DVR card and the DVR software installed you will need to read the DVR card documentation and find out which ports you need to configure to listen on your computer. If you want to access your DVR remotely using remote desktop or through a web browser you will need to open and forward those same ports through your network router. This is most commonly referred to as port forwarding. “Don’t forget to assign your DVR computer to a local internal IP address”. You don’t want to use DHCP for obvious reasons when port forwarding is involved.

Next you will need to connect your cameras and power on the camera power supply. Most CCTV cameras come with their own power supply that you can plug into any electrical outlet. If you want to power multiple cameras you may want to consider using a multi output CCTV camera power supply which would supply power to multiple cameras.

After you have everything physically wired up you will need to power on the DVR computer and experiment with the DVR software. Now is a great time to start reading through the DVR card owner’s manual so you can figure out how to configure it to suite your needs. You may even wind up emailing the DVR card manufactures technical support to ask for help.

I purchased my DVR card from a company called CCTV Camera Pros. They have always answered any technical questions I have had and are very knowledge with the products that they sell. Wherever you decide to purchase your DVR card from make sure you call or email them to make sure they are easy to get a hold of should you need help configuring your DVR card before you purchase your DVR card.

After you have your DVR setup and working you there are some serious things to think about. Most DVR card software requires you to manually log into the DVR computer. The problem is what if you lose power? Of course I highly recommend you have your DVR plugged into a heavy duty UPS – battery backup up. Anyways let’s pretend your DVR lost power. You will want it to power back on all by itself when electricity is restored. This can usually be configured in the computers BIOS. I do suggest you make sure whatever computer you build or buy has this feature built into the motherboards BIOS.

I didn’t like the fact that I had to manually log into the operating system using a user name and password just so the DVR software would start. Another way was to set the computer to have no local password but this isn’t every good security practice. You certainly don’t want anybody being able to walk up to your DVR and have access to the computer whether it be employees or anybody else.

Ideally you want the DVR software to start and run as a service as soon as the operating system boots up “without requiring you to log into” the operating system. The best way I have found to overcome this obstacle is use a special tool called “Always Up” by Core Technology Consulting LLC” They mention the following Able to automatically start your application when your computer boots, to run when no user is logged in and to run despite logon/logoffs — all to guarantee uptime without manual user intervention AND Converts both GUI and non-GUI applications to run as Services.

After you install and configure “Always up” to start your DVR software as a service you are ready for what I call the DVR test. Turn the DVR on and see if it starts recording video feed all by itself with you doing anything beyond powering the DVR computer on. After it is powered on and running go ahead and verify you can access the DVR remotely via remote desktop, VNC or through a web browser.

Internally experiment connecting from another computer using the DVR’s internal static IP address and also go ahead and experiment connecting using your external WAN IP. Hopefully you have a STATIC WAN IP otherwise you will be on DHCP from your internet service provider and this means your WAN IP address will not stay the same.

Finally here comes the big test.

Unplug the DVR to mimic a power outage then wait a minute and plug it back in. It should turn on all by itself. If not then you need to re check your motherboards BIOS settings. The idea is building and configuring a DVR that turns itself on all by itself after a loss of power and automatically begins recording video feed without any human intervention.to mimic a power outage then wait a minute and plug it back in. It should turn on all by itself. If not then you need to re check your motherboards BIOS settings.

The idea is building and configuring a DVR that turns itself on all by itself after a loss of power and automatically begins recording video feed without any human intervention. Final thoughts are if any of this is beyond your skill lever then I suggest finding somebody that is educated and skilled with computer networking to help you get everything configured and working to the above mentioned specifications. The end result is a rock solid DVR that you can count on to be easy to use and most importantly reliable and “always on”.

Posted in CCTV, DVR, GeoVision, How To's, Security cameras0 Comments


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