Trying to save some money a while back, I set up an old iPhone on a mini-tripod for use as a baby video monitor. It worked fairly well but crashed just about every night, making it useless to monitor the baby in the morning before getting out of bed. Plus it didn’t work at night in the dark.
Wanting something more stable and viewable in the dark, I recently purchased the “D-Link DCS-5020L Cloud Wireless IP Camera, 640X480 Resolution, Pan/Tilt, Night Vision, Wi-Fi Extender, Sound and Motion Detection, mydlink enabled” IP camera from Newegg.com for $99.99.
This simple review is from a fairly niche perspective. I’m mostly looking for a wireless IP camera that is stable and has night vision. My other big need is for the video to work on both my iPhone and my wife’s Nokia Lumia 920 phones.
I’m a tech geek, so the set up of the camera was fairly easy for me. I hate to use “easy setup” software as I hate installing extra unnecessary software on my computer (it almost always has crap-ware that ultimately bogs down your computer), so I set it up manually.
The camera came with a network cable, so I first plugged the camera into my router using the cable. I then logged into my router and looked at the status of the local network for the DHCP IP addresses it had given out to the camera.
Then I simply plugged that address (http://192.168.1.110/) into my web browser to pull up the camera’s configuration screen. Enter the username is “admin” and leave the password blank for the default login information (Make sure to create a password after logging in. Click on the “maintenance” tab and you should see it).
Once in the IP Camera’s configuration screen, I first set up the Wireless. All I had to do was enable the wireless , click the “site survey” button and find my Cisco wireless home router. I plugged in the login parameters and it was connected.
Here however, was my first stumble. The D-Link doesn’t give you any indication that it has connected to the wireless. You can enter the wrong password and the subsequent screen is no different than if you enter the correct password.
Since I had no idea if it was connected or not, I spent about 2o minutes going back and forth between the D-Link camera and Cisco Router management screens trying to find the IP address that was assigned to the wireless portion of the IP camera to prove it was connected.
It turns out, the wireless gets the same IP address as the LAN (the ethernet cable I originally plugged from the camera to the router above start the configuration).
At first I was confused with the wireless setup, as I didn’t see a way to set a static IP address, so I thought the wireless set up I was looking at was the “WI-FI Extension” feature, but I ended up finding that on another screen.
Finally I took the chance of unplugging the LAN/ethernet cable to subsequently find that I could still communicate with the camera through the already opened management screen which was using the original IP address of the LAN.
So apparently the camera’s WAN and LAN connection share an IP. That was a new one for me. I’ve never seen a device have the same IP address on a wireless connection and a LAN connection. Weird.
Anyway, after figuring that out, I subsequently hard coded the static IP address in the network settings, so it wouldn’t change in the future.
Once connected over WI-FI, I started to play with the camera operation in the management screen.
You can easily pan and tilt the camera to view around the room. You can switch between “day” and “night” vision or set it to “auto” to figure out what is best for itself.
The camera does make a loud clicking noise as it switches from “day” to “night” vision, which I would assume is a relay switching on and off the UV LED lights that light up the “night” vision area so the camera can “see in the dark”.
Another annoying thing I later discovered is that right around dusk, the camera, if in “auto” mode will frequently switch between “day” and “night” vision, and you’ll hear the relay click on and off every couple minutes.
My final task before moving the camera to its final location in the baby’s room was to start viewing the camera feed on our cell phone’s.
It would be great if you could just plug the same management IP address for the camera into the browser on your phone and be able to see the camera. Unforunately, the camera viewer within the management screen runs on Java which is not installed in the iPhone browsers. So you can manage the camera from your phone’s browser, but you can’t see the camera.
My previous camera set up, using an old iPhone as the baby cam, allowed me to see the video using my current iPhone’s safari browser. So I was annoyed at D-Links decision to use Java instead of a technology that works more ubiquitously.
I did discover, while playing around with the management, that I can get a live picture from the camera on my iPhone safari browser by plugging in the address “http://192.168.1.110/image/jpeg.cgi”. Hitting the refresh button, I can pretty much see what is happening in the room and check on the baby with this feature alone.
So, I downloaded the D-Link “mydlink lite” app on my iPhone to connect to the camera. The app worked well the first time and I was able to fairly quickly connect to the camera.
The “mydlink lite” app interface is pretty user friendly. You can just swipe the screen to move the camera around, and all the controls are fairly intuitive.
To get the app working with the camera I switched to the “local” view, opting not to use their “easy” cloud technology as I don’t want my camera viewable outside my home network. Then I let it discover the IP Camera on the local network and I logged in.
All was great.
However, the next morning I discovered the app is not so great, when I wasn’t able to log into the camera while laying in bed. I thought maybe the camera had crashed, but when I got up and went to my computer to log in to the camera’s management screen, my computer connected just fine. The app, however just sat in its “trying to connect” state.
Ultimately after killing the app and trying a bunch of times I was able to log in again. But it continued to have problems to the point that made the app too cumbersome to use.
I searched the app store to find a free app named “D-Link Camera Viewer” by IpCamSoft. I installed it, plugged in the login parameters and it worked well with the camera. This app connects instantly every time. So I’m using this app to view the camera feed.
Next I need to connect to my wife’s Nokia Lumia 920. I haven’t done this part yet, so I don’t know if she can connect. (I’ll update this part once I have a chance to play with her phone).
I do know that even if we can’t get an app on her phone that connects to the IP camera, she can just use the live single image address above to check on the baby from her phone.
In conclusion, I’m using the “D-Link DCS-5020L Cloud Wireless IP Camera, 640X480 Resolution, Pan/Tilt, Night Vision, Wi-Fi Extender, Sound and Motion Detection, mydlink enabled” in a fairly simplistic way and it does accomplish my needs.
10/27/15 – I’ve been having issues with my camera’s java viewer when I log into the camera on my local Wi-Fi via http using a browser. Please participate in the discussion in this link at the end of this sentence if you come across this article looking for an answer to why you are getting a “Certificate has been revoked. The application will not be executed” in your D-Link DCS-5020L management console Java video viewer when you try to view the camera’s video.
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