Camera Pre-Installation / Bench Testing

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on May 04, 2012

There is a fine line between profit and loss on many surveillance projects. If just a few unexpected problems arise, the integrator may as well be paying to perform the work. Checking against 'Dead on Arrival' conditions and pre-installation configuration of cameras are ways integrators can 'hedge their bets' against losing money. In this note, we examine these pre-installation processes and how they are used to keep installations profitable.

3 Steps

These 'pre-installation' efforts can be divided into 3 progressive steps:

  1. "Dead On Arrival" test: confirms device receives power
  2. Device Updating and Preconfiguration: setting up devices for install
  3. Function Testing: pre-install validation of important camera functions

Performing these tests require scarce resources during a project: labor and time. As a result, the installer might decide that certain cameras are 'triaged' for in-depth testing based on several factors, including how difficult servicing will be after final installation, how critical its delivered surveillance images are, and how many moving pieces it may contain. (ie Pan-Tilt-Zoom controls, Wipers, Heaters/Blower, Cutfilters, etc)

"Dead On Arrival" Testing

In this stage, each camera is unboxed and booted up. This minimum testing stage confirms that the device works and should power up as expected during final installation.

Documenting device MAC addresses or serial numbers is a prudent step to take here, for future reference. Making note of this information is especially valuable for warranty reference, for both the installer and end-user. The device MAC address information may also be valuable for camera licensing in the VMS software. Keeping an accurate record of the installed devices is best accomplished by documenting MAC addresses at this stage.

Device Updating and Preconfiguration

The next deeper step of pre-installation testing includes updating device firmware and pre-configuration of IP addresses/ network settings. Updating firmware should not be performed by untrained technicians, and adding UPS or other sources of 'backup power' to the test bench equipment is necessary should a power failure occur mid-flash.

If device IP addresses are being configured at this time, tying together the IP address and physical installation location is vitally important. Keeping track of this information on a floorplan or spreadsheet will clarify where the installers should hang the camera, and will also significantly aid future surveillance system troubleshooting and maintenance efforts.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Function Testing

Pre-installation function testing is helpful if enough benchtime is available. At this stage, advanced functionality like IR cutfilter switching, IR LED function, motion and zoom checking for PTZ cameras, and heater/blower function should all be checked. Confirming the IR cutfilter operates and the LEDs light up can be achieved a number of different ways depending on the camera type, but the best test method approximates field conditions. Instead of using firmware buttons to trigger these functions, consider placing the camera in darkness and allow the sensor on the camera to switch into night functions. In many devices, the IR cutfilter is a moving part whose alignment and movement should be confirmed as fully operational.

PTZs cameras include many moving parts. The full function of travel and zoom should be confirmed during this step. Some PTZ have a 'selftest' feature built into firmware that automates this movement. If the camera does not include this feature, it may require setting up a continuous patrol while working the tilt and zoom functions to the full extents of their ranges. Especially because PTZ cameras are expensive, catching operational glitches as soon as possible under warranty is vital.

Depending on camera type, the installer should confirm that 'edge' functions, like SD storage is writing/reading at this point. I/O events can be preprogrammed, greatly enhancing installation efficiency in the field. Additional I/O components can be 'kitted up' and packaged together to follow the camera in the field for install.

Value Added Services

Performing this type of work for large installs with high camera counts can be logistically challenging, and not every installer will have the time nor facilities to accomplish the work quickly enough. However, it is vital that installers check equipment before install or money and time will be wasted. No manufacturer will admit to shipping faulty or broken equipment, but it frequently happens. The risk is higher when buying budget line or 'flavor-of-the-month' cameras.

Some installers may be able to negotiate this work as a 'value-add' service performed by distributors and manufacturers, since it does consume time and resources. However, the scope of these services should be carefully considered. Communicating pre-configuration details must be done very accurately, and nothing may be gained by failing to confirm operation firsthand if devices break during transit.

Conclusion

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It may seem like a quaint adage, but it certainly rings true for installers battling equipment failures during field installation. Investing time to ensure and preconfigure camera before install may cost money up front, but can quickly prove to save profits when put into practice.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Backboxes for Video Surveillance Tutorial on Aug 15, 2018
Backboxes are a necessity in surveillance, whether for managing cable whips, recessing cameras, adding wireless radios. But it can be confusing to...
Camera Focusing Tutorial on Aug 09, 2018
A camera's focus is fundamental to quality imaging. Mistakes can cause important problems. In this guide, we explain focus issues and proper...
Hikvision PanoVu Mini Tested (Multi-imager + PTZ For ~$500) on Aug 07, 2018
Hikvision has released their first PanoVu Mini multi imager, the PanoVu DS-2PT3326IZ-DE3, with four 1080p imagers, including a PTZ and integrated...
Camera Cable Whip Guide on Aug 03, 2018
Cable whips are one of integrator's least favorite camera features but seem to be unavoidable, now commonplace on dome, turret, and bullet cameras...
Panasonic 9MP Panoramic Fisheye Tested (WV-X4571L) on Aug 02, 2018
Panasonic has released their latest fisheye camera, the WV-X4571L, with 12MP sensor and 9MP resolution, claiming "extreme image quality" under...
Installing Surveillance Cameras Into Synthetic Stucco (EIFS) Tutorial on Jul 30, 2018
Mounting cameras into synthetic stucco, commonly known as EIFS finishes, can be problematic If not properly planned, EIFS/stucco can be downright...
Uniview Super Low Cost 4MP Tested on Jul 25, 2018
Even lower cost than Dahua and Hikvision, China's self-proclaimed 3rd place company, Uniview / UNV, is offering aggressive pricing including for...
Door Swing Tutorial on Jul 24, 2018
The direction a door swings might seem minor, but it can greatly impact door hardware selection. There are four basic ways a door can swing, and...
Avigilon "Self-Learning" Analytics And VMD Tested on Jul 23, 2018
Avigilon is a popular choice for video analytics, offering "self-learning" analytics built into their cameras as well as appliances. We tested...
Ladder Lockdown and Ladder Levelizer Tested on Jul 18, 2018
Ladders are a daily necessity for surveillance and security installers, but working on an unstable surface can be extremely dangerous. In addition...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Chinese OEM Avycon Gets ADI Push on Aug 15, 2018
Who is Avycon? An American company? A Korean company? A couple of guys relabelling Chinese products? The latter is the best explanation. While...
Backboxes for Video Surveillance Tutorial on Aug 15, 2018
Backboxes are a necessity in surveillance, whether for managing cable whips, recessing cameras, adding wireless radios. But it can be confusing to...
Genetec Stratocast / Comcast 'Motion Insights' Examined on Aug 15, 2018
Comcast recently announced "SmartOffice Motion Insights", an extension to their Genetec OEMed cloud video service (covered by IPVM here). This...
SimpliSafe Violating California, Florida, and Texas Licensing Laws on Aug 14, 2018
IPVM has verified that DIY security system provider SimpliSafe, founded in 2006 and acquired in June of 2018 at a billion dollar valuation, is...
Ban of Dahua and Hikvision Is Now US Gov Law on Aug 13, 2018
The US President has signed the 2019 NDAA into law, banning the use of Dahua and Hikvision (and their OEMs) for the US government, for US...
Cut Milestone Licensing Costs 80% By Using Hikvision and Dahua NVRs (Tested) on Aug 13, 2018
Enterprise VMS licensing can be quite expensive, with $200 or more per channel common, meaning a 100 camera system can cost $20,000 in VMS...
Nortek Sues SDS, Battle Over Unpaid Bill and Cancelled Lines on Aug 13, 2018
Nortek and SDS legal battle continues. As IPVM reported, SDS sued Nortek alleging bribery and antitrust violation. However, Wave fired back at SDS,...
Uniview Intrusion Analytics and VMD Tested on Aug 13, 2018
IPVM's IP Camera Analytics Shootout featuring Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision created some ill will with a Uniview distributor who...
ADT Employees Protest ADT CEO on Aug 10, 2018
So many ADT employees were so upset with ADT's CEO speech reported on by IPVM, that ADT's CEO was forced to send a mass email to employees to...
Axis / Avigilon Legal Battle Rises on Aug 09, 2018
In what is shaping up to be high-powered, will-not-back-down battle, Axis and Avigilon are squaring off in multiple legal contests. In 2017, IPVM...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact