Covering Cattle Pens Wirelessly

I have a customer who wants to be able to remotely view his cattle pens while at work. There is a pole centrally located, and there is power to the pole. He also does not care about recording the video, just remotely viewing it. My initial though was to put a PTZ on the pole and to wirelessly trasmit back to his house using Ubiquiti equipment. The budget definately will be a factor, though, so I'm wondering what suggestions you would have for an outdoor PTZ that has decent IR? The lower cost, the better. The PTZs I've used (Pelco, March Networks, Canon) are higher priced than I would like. If I really wanted to go outside of the box in exchange for budget, should I consider putting up multiple dropcams on the pole?

Hi Andrew, just a couple questions sure to be asked by the experts:

What is the budget, roughly?

How high is the pole?

How far do the pens extend and in what directions?

Is there any infrastructure supporting wired ethernet to the pole right now?

If not what is the distance to the nearest switch?

You mention needing IR, what is the current visible illumination?

What level of detail does the client need to see(PPF)?

Is audio required?

You mention a PTZ, is this because customer needs to be able to inspect minute details or because since he is not recording, it doesn't really matter if the camera can't capture the full FOV at any one-time as long as he can control the PTZ?

Hello Andrew:

Do you have an idea of the distances involved between the camera pole and the house? What about line of sight between them? (I am asking only because I am guessing no one plan cattle pens close to their house.)

Also, you talk about an IR PTZ, but keep in mind that if it is the only source of light in the area, bugs are going to swarm that sucker at night. I know from firsthand experience that flies love cattle pens.

It might actually be a better approach to hang several IR illuminators in the area to cut the gang of swarming insects down around the camera.

If you have an idea of pen dimensions, can you share them? Does your customer want to check on his cows, or catch someone stealing them? PTZs are notorious for looking the wrong way when needed.


I don't have hard figures, but I'm guessing around 2000 for a budget. I don't know the dimensions of the pole, only that there is line of site between the pole and the customer's house. I haven't done the site survey yet, but my impression is that the pole has 110 available, but nothing else. The only network equipment is in his house. The lighting is nearly nonexistant, thus why I need IR. Detail does not need to be great, more so for seeing where the cattle are or what is going on at the site. Audio is not required. My hunch was to do a PTZ because the video isn't recorded, and the customer wants to be able to move the camera around and zoom in/out.


Your comment on the bugs is a very good point that I hadn't considered. There is line of sight between camera location and his house.

So, I have some more details after talking with the customer. The pens and everything he would like to see is within 150-175 feet. He wants to see 360 degrees around for the purpose of watching where his cattle are and what they are doing without a huge need for much optical zooming. With the wireless coming in around 1200, I have 600-800 left to get a PTZ.

Any thoughts on what a cheaper IP PTZ would be good? I've been looking at Foscam for the price, but after reading the review of the indoor version, I am not sure it will be my best option. Is there anything else out there in that price range? I keep running into the lower end versions of the bigger brands (Axis, et al) that are still coming in at a higher price.