DIY Home Surveillance

Simple DIY Surveillance Systems

Interested in learning how to set up a surveillance system on your property? Some people hire professionals, but they are prohibitively expensive, the services can be overly complicated, ineffective at times, and may not provide the security you were hoping for. If you want to learn how to set up your own DIY surveillance system, follow these tips.

To get started, all you need is a functioning Internet connection at home, a home wireless network,  and a wireless enabled camera.  A WiFi enable security camera system is not a requirement, however.  You can apply the principles in this guide using some good outdoor cameras, like extra game cameras that you probably already use for hunting.

To set up your DIY home surveillance system, you will need to be familiar with your computer’s browser, ad you will be configuring the security system from here.

DIY Home Surveillance

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Placing the Cameras

The first step is to place the cameras. The entrances to your home and property are obvious places, but it can still be tricky to place the cameras so intruders are actually visible and your cameras are not.

Have cameras face the intruders’ fronts and faces, in the event of a break-in, a burglar’s back will be of little use to you or the authorities.

Make sure the camera’s not facing into a light. Even if you can see intruders’ faces, if they’re silhouetted by light, it’s difficult to see details.

A general rule of thumb to follow is the cheaper the camera, the lower the image resolution. The top low end trail cams will still have at least a 6 to 8MP camera sensor. If you can afford better cameras with 10 to 12MP images, then I recommend you do so.

Position the camera as closely to the location of interest as possible, allowing visibility even with low resolution or cheap cameras.

Make sure the background of your image is still (any objects which never move and will definitely be in the shot). A swaying tree or flag can trigger motion detecting sensors, and can induce blur on your images, making it more difficult to detect intruders’ features.

Don’t point a camera through the window! It won’t make a difference in the daylight, but the reflection during the night will ruin your image.

Connecting Your Cameras

Do you have trouble connecting your laptop to internet in certain areas of your house? This means it will also be difficult for your surveillance camera to connect to the Wi-Fi. Make certain your Internet connection is strong and secure throughout your property.

Most power supplies aren’t made for outdoor use, so make it easier on you by using low-voltage power outside and your regular power supply inside.

Configure cameras to work with your home wireless network. Simply follow each camera’s installation instructions. They should have all the information needed to set up your wireless camera to the Wi-Fi.

Use your Internet browser to log into the camera’s control panel. Under “Alarm settings” (or a similar name, such as “motion alarm” or “motion detection”), configure the device so you receive an email when motion is detected. You may also find it helpful to receive a notice to your smartphone or other device when these emails are received. If you have your camera is not very motion sensitive, and your emails are less frequent and more important, such an alert can be very useful.

I suggest you create a new free email account with which to receive surveillance pictures. A Gmail account will work great for this purpose.

The Bottom Line

One word of caution, while it’s absolutely okay to use cameras in the privacy of your own home, but what if you inadvertently take images of public spaces? In certain cases, it’s difficult not to get a picture of a street or neighbor’s house on your camera. Check local laws to see if this is okay, and to know whether or not you need to post a sign.

It’s definitely possible to protect yourself and your belongings on a budget. There are many different ways to set up a surveillance system and keep your home safe, but you don’t always have to use expensive, complicated devices.

IPSC vs. IDPA Shooting Competitions, Which is For You?

There has been an ongoing confusion between IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) and IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association), regarding which is a better format for people.

Comparing the IPSC vs. the IDPA Shooting Competition is like comparing apples and oranges! Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The outcome depends more on the shooter then the game itself. Overall, it is purely a matter of personal preference.

Someone who likes IPSC will obviously think it’s better while someone who prefers the other one will think that’s better. They both differ in their format and the equipment used, but both aim to improve a person’s shooting skills.


USPSA or the US Practical Shooting Association is the USA wing of IPSC. Even though both qualify as competitive games, the USPSA games do not relate to real-life situations and lay more emphasis on technical shooting, whereas IDPA competitions are made to mimic something you might come across in real life.

Both competitions lay equal emphasis on safety. When a person does not follow the safety rules and regulations, it can result in premature withdrawal from the competition, which is something neither shooter wants to do.

The USPSA games have various divisions such as the Open Division, Limited 10 Division, Limited Division and many more. The USPSA lays down ground rules on the equipment allowed in each of these divisions.


IDPA has divisions named SSP (Stock Service Pistol), ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol), CDP (Custom Defensive Pistol) and SSR (Stock Service Revolver) and each have restrictions on the equipment permitted to be used.

There is also a list that entails what all accessories are on the IDPA approved list. Each shooter receives a classification after 4 scores have been submitted to the USPSA. The classification is given based on the best scores under file for that particular stage. Each different division has different classifications.

Just like the USPSA, there are different classifications for each division in the IDPA based on your shooting score. There are differences between the two based on the when to dump a magazine (only when empty in IDPA), whether cover must be taken behind an obstacle and which target to hit first.

Since IDPA tries to simulate real life situations, magazines are dumped only when empty and it is imperative that you must shoot at the target that poses a bigger threat as a result of proximity.

So Which is Better?

Simply put, it is foolish to claim that one competition format is better over the other. Both have their own pros and cons that individual shooter have to weigh when deciding. Better yet, compete in them both to become a more skilled shooter. The overall goal is to ensure that each shooter understands the game and enjoy their shooting experience.

12 Essential Items for Your Bug Out Bag

BOB = Bug Out Bag. The grab and go, advanced preparedness kit for when all hell breaks loose. A well-planned bug-out bag presents you with a chance at survival when everything seems lost.

What you choose to include in your BOB can be the difference between life and death. Regardless of what you are preparing it for, there are certain things that you should absolutely make sure are in your bag. Let’s look at the top 10 bug-out bag essentials.

bug out bag essential
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1. Water

Water is one of the keys to survival. For your BOB, it is suggested that you have a minimum of 1 Liter per day for each person that will be with you. You should have at least a three day supply. Of course, this will take up a good bit of valuable space, so it is suggested that you place your bottled water in a plastic bag and strap it to the outside of your BOB.

You can place collapsible water containers in the bag to break out later when they are needed. Keep a small store of gallons of fresh water, so that you can transfer them directly to the collapsible container when the time to move arises.

2. Water Filtration System

The bottled water you are carrying will not last long, so it is imperative that you have a way to collect water, as well as a way to filter it. You may opt for water filtration tablets, a straw filter, or a complete portable water filtration unit.

Personally, I like to rely on the hand pump systems with self-contained filters. The filters can pump many 100’s of gallons before needing to be cleaned. The cleaning is simply scrubbing the surface of the filter core to remove debris.

3. Food and Cooking Utensils

While space is at a premium, you can still pack up enough food for at least a week. You are in need of foods with a long shelf life that have some nutritional value, as well as an ample number of calories. Energy and protein bars, MREs, meal replacement shakes and powder, nuts, and freeze dried fruit are all good options

Only bring the bare minimum in the case of cooking utensils. Essentially, all you need is a large cup or small pot that can be used to boil water for drinking and freeze dried meals, as well as a spoon/ fork. I prefer a multi-functional utensil that can cut, stir, scoop, and stab all in one sturdy utensil.

4. Shelter

Some form of protection from the elements is critical for your survival. You need a ground tarp and some sort of tarp or tent (preferably one that is lightweight and all-season) and a way to set it up. In addition, a sleeping bag (if room is available) or a few blankets should be included in your BOB.

5. Appropriate Clothing

You will need clothes that are suitable for the weather you will likely be facing. Make certain to include a good pair of hiking boots, some sort of jacket or poncho that can provide protection from the rain and wind, pants that are comfortable and have plenty of pockets, wool socks, and a bandana. When choosing what clothing to take, also pack up a few toiletries you may need.

6. Ways to Start a Fire

You will need matches, preferably some that are waterproof. It is best to store them in several spots, including at least one that is easily accessible. It is also a good idea to include several lighters, including one that is windproof and waterproof, as well as Butane refill fluid. You will also benefit from a fire steel and scraper. Even if it is wet, it will still start a fire. It’s a good idea to carry some type of accelerant, such as cotton balls covered in Vaseline, for emergencies.

7. First Aid Kit

A good first aid kit that is equipped to treat a variety of medical conditions should be readily accessible in your bag. You may want to purchase a ready-made kit or create your own. Regardless, it should include bandages, antibiotic ointment, an OTC pain medication (Tylenol, Motrin, Excedrin etc.), medication to treat an upset stomach, ice pack, and any medications you or anyone traveling with you may need.

8. Light Source

You should have at least two flashlights, preferably one of which is a big spotlight. LED flashlights are the best option. Not only do you get a brighter and more powerful light source, but they draw far less power than incandescent bulbs, and rarely burn out. Be sure to pack some extra batteries just in case.

9. Weapons

This is largely a personal choice, but it is necessary. At the very least, you need a knife. Your best option is to carry two, a large survival knife for cutting wood, clearing a campsite, etc. and one with a medium blade for hunting, cleaning game and fish, opening packages, etc.

Many people suggest having a .22 caliber rifle, both for protection and to hunt for food. The .22 is a reliable weapon with decent range, making it a versatile choice. However, you should also consider your location and what you may come up against, such as bears, deer, and hostile people if the situation is really bad.

10. Binoculars

A quality pair of binoculars will be highly useful for hunting and scouting.  First, you can use them to scout for potential hunting areas.  A good par of 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars will dramatically improve your ability to find small game, as well as see new areas to forage without having to walk for miles.  Second, if the survival situation is dangerous, the binoculars can help you locate and avoid potential danger before you stumble into it.

11. Portable Radio

You will need some way of keeping up with what is going on in the world. The best way to do this is to include a battery operated or windup radio with shortwave receiving capabilities.

12. E-Reader

This is a bonus item, and one you may not have expected. Notice I didn’t say tablet or smart phone. The battery power on those will die long before you end up need them. An e-reader can last for days and weeks on a single charge.

Fill up your e-reader with as much information as you can. Grab how to guides, mechanic guides, and anything else you can think of that can give you the knowledge you need when things get difficult.

Survival Skills for the Modern Man

Preparation and practice to survive in the event of a short blackout or a major catastrophe should be on everyone’s to do list, not just those nutty preppers. We rely far too much on electrical power for our everyday comfort, and pampered way of life. Deep down you know this.  So, what if something happens?

When the SHTF, will you be one of those ready to rock, or one of the masses waiting for someone to bail them out. This is where your survival skills will put you far ahead of the blissfully ignorant masses.

Although the basic skills, such as how to start a fire, find shelter, find water are important, these are not the major ones discussed here. The skills noted are the ones needed to keep one living and surviving along with the skills used to make a living from.

What are survivor skills? Skills that could be used in the wilderness, living off the grid or even in your own home are learned over a period of time.

Now is the time to learn these skills. Any practice and preparation is better than none. To truly learn a skill, you must take what you have read or heard and get out there and do it. Here are a few of the most important skills used to survive.

shelter and fire

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Maintaining Drinkable Water Sources

Water is very important for our survival. Where are the current water sources for your home? What would happen if the power or service went out and you could not run water thru the pipes?

Investigate sources of water close by that are within walking distances. Invest in rain barrels and start using them now. Take hikes in your area, study maps to locate any streams, waterfalls or springs nearby. To make sure this water is potable; you will have to invest in a water filtration system.

Hunt or Forage for Food

When you learn to hunt, you are learning a skill that will feed not only your family, but may also be a trade worthy item if the length of emergency grows beyond weeks and months. It’s like the saying, Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. When choosing to use a Rifle, keep extra bullets in a safe dry place along with the items needed to make your own bullets. In extreme cold weather the guns can freeze up. Other options for hunting is using a bow and arrow or trapping. Use the best tool for your area.

Foraging will take extra time to learn and reap, but many herbs and plants can be used to enhance the flavor of food or for medicinal purposes. Buy some field books to help you identify edible plants in your area. Foraging a hat full of gut wrenching berries does nobody any good.

Growing Your Own Food

This is another skill for surviving extended periods of off the grid living. Get to know the environment you live in. Be knowledgeable about what foods will grow in your area and climate. Understand the growing season so the seeds can be planted at the proper time. This will take some time to learn, but starting today will prepare you for the next growing season.

All fruits and vegetables can be preserved by freezing, canning or drying. In addition to growing your own food, knowing how to safely store basic items such as flour, sugar, salt will help keep your pantry stocked.

Raise Livestock

If you are living in the rural countryside where you can raise animals for food, some of the easiest animals to raise are pigs, chickens and rabbits. Chickens can provide eggs on a daily basis. The eggs are not only protein rich, but you can hatch more chicks and butcher some for meat.

Know First Aid, Keep a Well Stocked Kit

Most people know basic first aid for cuts, burns, and insect bites, but it is to your benefit to take your knowledge a little further. You need to have a plan if you become infected, or come down with a fever. Stock up on Fish Mox which can be purchased online or at a pet store. This antibiotic can be consumed by humans, requires no prescription and has a shelf life up to 10 years. Please use common sense when considering using this!

Learn to Harness Alternative Power Sources

Solar and wind power are becoming more affordable and more popular today. Items that are needed for solar power are an inverter, several batteries, wiring and panels. Windmills are also an excellent choice to create power for those that may not live in a sunny area, but is windy.

Learning to harness the power of the sun and wind is something that could be used to make a living at as well as living. Many people who live “off the grid” find these methods to be their number one choice for power.

Channel You Inner MacGyver

MacGyver could fix or rig up anything. When SHTF, you need to be the MacGyver of your family. Carpentry, electrical, automotive, and mechanical knowledge will inevitably become critical the longer your survival experience goes on. Things break, and items become scarce, meaning you have to know how to make the most of the tools and parts available. Each day you learn something new, you enable your chances at survival. Become someone your ancient ancestors would be proud of.