What Tools Are Absolutely Necessary For Successful CCTV Technicians?

Everyday I'm amazed at how unprepared/illequiped some technicians are to troubleshoot an IP Camera system. What tools do you guys/gals deem ABSOLUTELY necessary for any SUCCESSFUL IP Camera technician/installer/programmer? I'd like to think this would be for a very well-rounded individual that does everything from install/troubleshoot the wire, camera, switch/network infrastructure, and VMS (programming, loading cameras, etc).

Here are some of the things I can easily see being routinely used by a 'top tech':

  • 4' stepladder
  • 8'-12' stepladder
  • Easy Access to a 20' Extension Ladder (can be shared)
  • Wirestrippers
  • Linemen's Pliers
  • Needlenose Pliers
  • Diagonal Cutters ('Dykes' for the crude)
  • Punchdown Tool
  • Flashlight on a headband
  • Flashlight you can hold
  • Lots of screwdrivers and sockets
  • Multimeter (Voltage meter for sure)
  • Continuity Tester (Grounding & Bonding)
  • At least one Electric Drill/driver.
  • A hammerdrill. More amps the better.
  • Enough batteries, bits, and drivers to keep it going if one gets broken or lost.
  • 30' measuring tape
  • Sawzall
  • Rotozip or drywall saw
  • Utility Knife
  • Switchblade (just kidding)
  • RJ45 8P8C termination/crimper tool
  • One for F-Style BNC terminations also
  • Network Tester/Verifier at least (Wiremapping Needed)
  • Laptop running Windows (sorry Mac fanbois) running decent resolution (not an 800 X 600 junker)
  • 5 port PoE Switch
  • A bangload of patch cords. At least 6, at least 2 crossover cables.
  • At least two really long Cat5e/6A preterminated cables, like 100' or more.
  • Electrical Tape
  • Cable Labels/Sharpie or Labeler
  • Maybe a Wire Toner
  • Dremel Tool
  • Outdoor, Heavy Guage Extension Cords
  • Veracity PinPoint or PointSource (or similar)
  • Steel Fishtapes
  • Set of pushrods. The kind that glow on the end are awesome.
  • Glass Cleaner and Cotton Rags
  • A dental mirror (just trust me - inspecting the backs of devices is common)
  • USB Thumbdrive
  • A smartphone, with the numbers of all vendor tech supports & magic passwords/support numbers stored in memory. And GPS maps/email/SMS & Picture texting turned on. Internet tethering or mobile hotspot option is a nice-to-have.
  • The Cell/Business/Home Phone number/Email address of every technician, PM, and Engineer you work with.

-and finally-

  • Membership to IPVM (Discussion Forum, for real)

Why the multiple preterminated 100' cables? Troubleshooting?

Yes. Under the precept of 'divide and conquer', you can eliminate (or zero-in on) entire legs of potential causes by bypassing them. If you're troubleshooting a camera problem, sometimes isolating the issue between the camera and the switch or VMS server means you need a long run of cable.

Invariably, if you need 60', you'll only have a 50' cable. :)

Sounds like a corollary of Murphy's Law.

Has your list of tools grown over the years, or have you been able to eliminate items or use multitools?

Undisclosed B,

For me my tool back hasn't gotten any lighter yet there are tools that I haven't used in many years such as mechanical coax stripper and crimper yet I still continue to keep them in my pouch for some reason unknown...

I agree with Brian (and judging by his response he had been waiting for someone to ask that question :) )... a general journeymans tool kit works well plus all the other networking tools that would be necessary... when technicians are missing tools it drives me crazy and unfortunately it seems to happen all to often...

I still have a toolbag in my car or daily use most of this stuff. (sans ladders)

Why? Because any time a friend or family member has a low voltage system/networking problem of any kind, who do they call?

You people know exactly what I mean.

Brian included a USB thumbdrive in his comprehensive list. I am curious as to what software tools you all keep with you. I have all of the various device finders for the cameras I normally install as well as Angry IP Scanner. Are there any more suggestions to load onto the thumbrive?


For me it is a camera finder, teamviewer, company logos (for desktop backgrounds), controller scanner for access control.

In my opinion, software tools should be included nmap, wireshark, putty, notepad++, onvif device test tool, vlc, kmplayer, eve media player, angry ip scanner, process explorer, softperfect connection emulator, tight vnc, teamviewer.

Small level in the tool bag. Got to maintain the non-trunkslammer reputation.

A chisel, amazing how often you have to notch out some trim or remove some blips of rubbish on a wall before mounting something.

Wireshark on the laptop. Only way to figure out what is actually going on when trying to troubleshoot integration issues.

This may be less needed but I have to have a USB to serial converter in the laptop bag. Use this for troubleshooting managed switches, managed UPS's etc. Of course you then have to have Hyperterm or some other terminal emulation program.

What programs or apps do you guys/gals deem ABSOLUTELY necessary for the following types of installs: IP camera, network switches/routers, wLAN/wireless APs, and access control products? Let's cover Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android, please.

My entries:

Wireshark (Windows)

Advanced IP Scanner (Windows)

ONVIF Device Manager (Windows)

WiFi Analyzer (Android)

I find that many jobs tend to be...multifaceted. Be prepared to be fighting malware, updating drivers, and cleaning registries just to get to your intended purposes on site.

Triplett 8071

Platinum RJ45EZ crimpers



5 Port POE Switch and a shitload of CAT-5 cords

Expensive LAPTOP (No cheapies)

Ok, I'll bite! What are nippers?

This is a pair of Nippers that we provide, long lasting, very sharp, and Made in Vietnam actually.

Nip Nip Nip Nip Nip

Aren't Wihas supposed to be German?

What do you consider an "expensive" laptop? How do you qualify that vs. a cheapie?

Apple logo?

We provide technicians with ALL tools. I try to keep everyone up to date with quality products as I expect what I consider to be a "good days work for a good days pay". So if you give them the best of the best tools that you feel are necessary, it falls on the technicians qualifications to provide the rest. As of late we have found the Triplett 8071 to be faster than using HIKVISION SADP to set up cameras. But laptops are still needed so here is a pic of what we have provided:

I have been told that the Aluminum case is all one piece of material. It is the Dell Inspiron i7 7000 series laptop. ASUS or LENOVO are at the bottom of the stack-You get what you pay for.

I've been running around with a Lenovo "bottom of the stack" and have comissioned probably a hundred systems with it. It's used as a service laptop for everything and even use it to run demos in customer conference room big screens. Gets the job done just as quickly as an expensive laptop for what we are doing with it and if it falls off the ladder or the box or makeshift shelf I'm trying to use it on and something goes wrong...oh well. So I don't see any need to spend $700 or more on a service laptop when a $299 special will do the same thing for our needs. Put the $500 in your pocket and outfit your tech with the rest of their equipment. If you have a tech that isn't going to respect his equipment or there is just a simple accident then the end result will be the same. As for the rest of the tools anybody we hire has to provide their own hand tools. Anybody that is worth hiring should have already acquired these along the way.

You are right, many should acquire tools along the way, and many do just that.

We have been hiring guys out of trade school and training them from the ground up and it is working out well. That was what I was mainly referring to, sorry.

Ethernet coupler

HDMI cables & HDMI coupler

USB mouse

Couple of things i dont see.I have an inspection camera el cheapo one does job for inspecting wall cavities to avoid electrical cables,used it couple times.Also a simple wire coat hangar comes in handy for fishing wires and fishing for fish tape in difficult places.Curved chisel real good too.

For low count wire drags & trouble tickets I always kept a pocket size telescoping fish pole / wire reacher on me. They are dirt cheap and saved me from repositioning a ladder/lift on countless occasions....because you will always be just out of reach.

Other items that are a must are those dust masks for up in attics and assortment of 18 inch wood drill bits and metal bits.The step bits are a must also and a hydraulic hole punch for metal enclosures.

If your going to be installing an IP camera system, bring a dadgum laptop. We get calls in from guys needing support on a system and we ask if we can teamviewer into their computer, their response "I didnt bring a computer with me". WOW! I know I wont offend those customers either as I know if they wont waste their time bringing a laptop onsite, they probably arent going to waste time with an IPVM membership.

Chinese-to-English Dictionary

Me :-)

A solid understanding of TCP/IP subnetting and general networking. The amazing amount of installers that have transitioned from the analog camera days to IP without taking the time to learn the necessary fundamentals of these is discouraging.

The term CCTV in relation to IP cameras baffles me, where the term is used in the field continuously to refer to video surveillance. Definitions seem to be all over the map, but it is my understanding that this refers to analog closed circuit television. The tools above refer to IP Cameras, but the question referred to CCTV technicians.

Has it become fact that the two are one and the same, or is this an old fashioned term that we have carried into the network based solution area.

Maybe I am continuously correcting colleagues and others incorrectly with this terminology. Instead of IPVM this should be CCTVM?

I agree that we need an "update" ion terminology from CCTV. This industry has grown past that phase. Vidicon and Nevicon days are GONE.

Vidicon and Nevicon days are GONE.

I used to attend Vidicon whenever I could. Nice show. Never made it to Nevicon...

Vidicon is a type of TUBE that we regularly replaced in cameras.

Same with Nevicon, so friend I am not sure what you are referring to there?

I have read my Vlado cover to cover, so I'm aware.

I figured some others wouldn't mind an explanation though, thanks! :)

Just something I've found that saves a heap of grief is a wallscanner.

It usually the wall that has nothing in it according to the client/electrician/plumber, that you decide not to scan... that causes you to sit waiting for the plumber to pitch to fix the leak.

It usually the wall that has nothing in it according to the client/electrician/plumber, that you decide not to scan...

Related: Murphy's Laws Of The Security/Surveillance Industry!

Funny how my topic gets referenced twice in this topic when this was the topic that inspired me to make it in the first place.

I see the HoloLens from Microsoft being a very important tool for technicians in a couple of years.

Check out this example video from an elevator company:

Any technician who needs that to tell them how to do their job... isn't. And wow, when we get to that point do we all move to desk jobs or retire if we can't politely explain and demonstrate our trade remotely? Forget "those who can't, teach" now it's even if if you can, no one will pay for you to do it when they can easily have someone else teach them and show them with fly-by-wire interfaces. Most likely that means every one of us will slowly be paid even less. Welcome to the new Geek Squad!

Any technician who needs that to tell them how to do their job...

Agreed. Same goes for the Internet, my Dad didn't need it, why do I?

Sorry to disagree but this is coming sooner than you think. Hololens Development Edition is available now. If you manage large security systems, having all the system info right in front of you with both hands-free to work is a huge advantage.

For professionals out in the field, I see the Atheer Air as a more viable tool for a fly-by-wire HUD. I could see guides, but I would really hope that companies with the kind of budget to buy this kind of equipment for their team members (at least for field managers) we could look at outlining cable and wiring and blueprints in real time and perhaps collect and track data from connected stud detectors and things like that. Definitely camera FOV overlays.

Maybe it could also connect to a cloud managed switch for increased functionality.

Generally, I really don't want it to migrate into a system that takes the professionals off the field entirely.

What's the opinion on the MagnePull?