Linux compatible Foscam FI8905W/FI8909W/FI8910W IP Wireless IR NetCams

References

Quick Looks

Discussion

This page was originally developed for the Foscam FI8905W IP wireless IR NetCam. I have since obtained a FI8910W and installed two FI8909Ws for a client. The same comments apply to those cams as well, except as noted.

Do yourself a favor and only order from Foscam. They ship free, USPS Priority. The warranty is only good if you buy direct from Foscam. This is a company with a soul. They really do aim to please and their cams play well with Linux. In fact, the cams run Linux. If you have a problem or even just a question and you email them, you actually get an answer from a human, and promply.

The following is excerpted from an email I received from foscam.us

The Windows and Apple software on the CD is only used to discover the IP address of the camera.
Once you have it just insert that in your browser and you are good to go.

Foscam cameras support Linux, Android phones, iPhones and Mac. Foscam cameras are mini linux
webservers with their own firmware/webui and platform independent. You need only a browser...

/s Naeem 
Foscam Digital Technologies LLC 
Sales Department 
Direct: (+1) 713 893 7869 
1-800-930-0949 
sales@foscam.us 
www.foscam.us

The email above is mostly true. However, Using IE gives different options because of the active-X component. Linux users don't really need the record and multi view pieces that active-x provides since we have things like Curl, Motion, and ZoneMinder, and the cams can easily be scripted using nothing more than Bash.

Do yourself another favor and stay as far away from Kim Komando as possible. I received two FOSCAM cameras from them and it was a terrible experience. The first, a FI8905W, had its antenna snapped off within two days of purchase which Kim Komando refused to replace. The second order was for a FI8910W which was sent as an "Open Box" which means a camera that had been returned by someone. The camera was completely defective, refusing to even respond to a ICMP ping request. The integrated web interface would not respond either. I eventually received a refund (minus the shipping cost in both directions) with an insulting statement "As a one-time courtesy, we will grant you a return of the Foscam F18910W -Open Box." This was for an order received the previous day (6/14/2012) and for which they advertise a 30 day return policy. The order was placed on 6/6/2012. Any time you have a problem with a Kim Komando Foscam purchase they refer you to the manufacture who explicitly states they will honor a warranty only if purchased from Foscam.

Setup

  1. Put the Quick Installation Guides and the CD in a safe place. Alternatively just throw them away. The looser's manual is on the CD for both MS-Windows and Macintosh.
  2. Throw away the flimsy mounting bracket. It won't support this 3 lb camera.
  3. FI8909W/FI8910W - The mounting bracket is very well constructed.
  4. Attach the antenna. The shroud slides forward if you need to get a wrench on the antenna nut.
    Be careful. The antenna is junk and will snap off easily, rendering it useless.
  5. Cable the camera to your router. Wireless is turned off by default.
  6. Power up the camera.
  7. <Sick joke> Browse to http://webcamaddress/get_params.cgi and look for the line starting with "var ip="</Sick joke>
  8. Check your router for attached devices to get the IP address.
  9. Browse to the IP address to do all the setup stuff and enable wireless. Default User is admin, no pass
  10. FI8910W only - To enable presets, uncheck "disable preset" in PTZ settings
  11. Disconnect the network and power cables.
  12. Mount the FI8905W in a suitable location on a suitable mount. Mount the FI8909W/FI8910W on the supplied mount.
  13. Reconnect the power cable.

Antennas

The camera has a SMA antenna connector. Most consumer grade devices use RSMA so that an antenna from a wireless network card will not work on the camera as-is. The reason is that the SMA male connector (the one you put a wrench on) has a center pin. The RSMA male connector has a center receptical. That means that the female connector on the camera has a center receptical so there is no contact made with a RSMA antenna (both have center recepticals). The solution is to cut a short piece of AWG 20 guage solid hookup wire and insert it into the receptical on the camera. Then it will make contact with a RSMA antenna.

Confusing? Well, it was meant to be. The U.S.Government tried to prevent consumers from using commercial grade wi-fi devices which usually exceed the power of the consumer grade stuff. For example, antenna boosters that attach to a router or network card. The attempt failed because now there are plenty of SMA to RSMA adapters.

Quick Start

Ignore all the BS and just browse to http://user:pass@webcam.IP.address/videostream.cgi

Alternatively browse to /video.cgi

Put that in your Motion threadN.conf file too if you're using the motion package.

netcam_url http://192.168.1.101/videostream.cgi
netcam_userpass admin:secret

That will get you a mjpeg video stream. The manual on the CD doesn't mention how to stream. All it does is give you the usual junk about how to find the IP address and stuff. When you go to the IP address you get a java/active-X web page with the image embedded. Ok for changing settings, useless for streaming/scripting.

There's no way to add text to the image but if you're using Motion it doesn't matter because Motion lets you do all that. Alternatively use convert from the imagemagick package to add text.

convert -box black -pointsize 12 -fill yellow -draw "text 0,12 \" $(date '+%m/%d/%Y %H:%M') Cam $x ${CN[$x]}\" " $ip $ip

My cam names are in a CN array and $x is a loop variable so my text is the date, cam ID, cam name. See man convert for details.

Some additional commands are: /videostream.asf /live.htm and /snapshot.cgi

I haven't tried ZoneMinder yet but this info is good for that, too

If you don't want to burden your LAN with streaming, you can build a shell script to periodically collect images using snapshot.cgi. Unlike the Linksys cams, the snapshots are the same size that you set for the streaming video.


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