Long term car surveillance



I am looking to equip my car with some cameras and a recorder. The specs might sound a little James Bond when you read it, but I would like to get it running without Q from the MI6, or needing their funds. :-)

I'm okay with spending some more if the constraints require it, but if there is a cheap solution that's a little worse, that might be fine too.

If something is unclear or underspecified, please let me know!

Power supply:

  • The whole thing should run 24/7, so a low power profile would be good to not drain the car battery too much.


  • Best would be two or three cameras inside of the car, so they are protected and "hidden", so not immediately visible. Small black box mounted on the back of the rear view mirror is okay too.
  • Night vision without extra light (only from street lamps, no IR light) would be really nice. Also highly dynamic, like reading the licence plate of a car that has lights on. Long ago I read CMOS is better suited for that than CCD, is this still the case?
  • Resolution should be recognize cars or persons in case something happens. Let's say anything that is between 5 and 20 meters away should be sharp.
  • Is this possible with a fixed lens or does it need autofocus? If it does, best would be if it works without sending a signal like a focus grid. Same as the IR lights, I just don't want to tip off thiefs or whatever that there is a camera running.
  • Cabling should be simple, so best everything on 12 volts and I think the cables to the recorder could get as long as 6-8 meters.
  • Image quality should be around one mega pixels for "normal" 4:3 or 16:9 cameras. Or what would be even better, if it is wide angle around 2-3 mega pixels.
  • I thought about two wide angle cameras or four normal ones, so around 4-6 mega pixels in total.
  • Monochrome image is okay.


  • No display needed.
  • Data from all cameras should be stored 24/7 and maybe one week.
  • Should connect to the wireless network while I am near home and record the data directly onto a home server and transfer all recorded data too.
  • Data processing should happen on the home server to reduce power consumption in the car, like which images changed at all or compression algorithms.
  • I thought about a raspberry pi, but only know the open circuit boards. If there is a version with full housing that would be perfect. Or specialized recorder hardware, whatever works.
  • If multiple cameras is too much for one recorder, multiple recorders might be good too so each can use shorter cables.


  • Should survive shocks during car rides, so a spinning disk might be bad, but with 3 images per second(?!) that should be around 10 tera bytes of SSD??


  • Not sure if the camera should be in the car or outside, one would need weather protection, the other something to work when the windshield is fogging.
  • Temperature is usually -10°C to 40°C here, but if the car parks longer in the sun, it could go up to 90°C?

If this is too much for one question, I could also split it up?


Posted 2015-11-01T00:56:47.267

Reputation: 76

I remember reading once that every 18 degrees F increase in temperature cuts semiconductor life in half.SDsolar 2017-01-10T18:12:31.233

Rough count on the power requirements exceeds 5A. This means that your standard car battery (63Ah) will supply this for less than 10 hours before completely draining it. Unless the battery is new, so then time would be about 12 hours... I suggest back to the drawing board.AcePL 2017-06-28T09:07:40.680

Just curious...where are you parking your car that it is reaching 90C?Andy 2015-11-01T02:21:08.673

@Andy: I read an artical about not keeping animals in the car, that the "room" temperature goes up to 60°C and they used a grey car, so I figured that the black parts probably get a lot hotter?NotJamesBond 2015-11-01T03:43:11.577

1I think power is going to be your main limiting factor. Run all this stuff off your car's battery and you'll be unable to start the motor after a day. I think you'd be better putting cameras outside the car and monitoring it via POE cabling.Criggie 2015-11-05T09:24:45.673

@Criggie: But shouldn't low power equipment last longer? If I used the camera on my iPhone I don't think it would drain the whole car battery? Just for explanation, I live on the eight floor and the street is 100 m away and usually I park another 200-500 m from there, so cabling that distance would be pretty hard. Lots of trees, so most of the time there is no line of sight either.NotJamesBond 2015-11-12T16:19:52.473

I would be also happy for a partial recommendation for the cameras, I think from there the rest can be figured out somehow, but I have no clue how to find out which camera works at night without extra IR leds or similar.NotJamesBond 2015-11-12T16:23:14.880

http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/2MP-High-resolution-mini-USB-endoscope_60294263358.html This is a endoscope/bore-o-scope 2mp (1600x1200), survives 80C, waterproof, 2M 5M 7M 10M 15M 20M cables lengths,Waterproof Level IP67,Focal Distance 6 CM-infinite. It says low light, and you can obviously turns leds off. Have no idea how these with due at night, but anything Night Vision I found seems to need infrared leds. Its 9mm so you should be able to hide it, and maybe use multiple overlapping units.cybernard 2016-03-30T20:59:30.580

You might trying something DIY built around an RPi and an RPi camera.0-60FPS 2016-08-02T21:05:31.190

I would suggest a Raspberry Pi and Arduino project. That way you can be more in control of system variables.NZKshatriya 2016-11-27T20:02:28.440

No answers