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

$8 Billion Utility Georgia Power Enters Surveillance Business Offering Avigilon And Genetec on Jul 19, 2017
Utilities are typically considered major customers of surveillance integrators but one utility, Georgia Power, with $8+ billion in annual revenue...
March Networks Company Profile on Jul 17, 2017
March Networks was one of the most well-known video surveillance manufacturers of the 2000s. In 2012, March was acquired by Chinese / American...
Power For Burglar Alarms on Jul 14, 2017
In order to operate, alarm panels require the high voltages found in electrical outlets be converted to the low voltages they run on. In this...
Convergint Total Recall CrimeEye Product Profile on Jul 11, 2017
Deploying video surveillance in metropolitan areas often brings challenges, including lack of infrastructure or excessive costs to extend...
Batteries For Alarm Systems Tutorial on Jul 11, 2017
Alarm systems use backup batteries in order to continue working if an intruder attempts to disable the alarm by cutting power to the building. In...
Nest Cam IQ Tested on Jul 10, 2017
Nest has released their latest entry in their camera line, the Nest Cam IQ, touting 4K "Supersight", facial recognition, "HD audio", invisible IR,...
Smoke Detectors Guide on Jul 06, 2017
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors add a life-safety component to burglar alarm systems. As intrusion detection sensors are used to...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial 2017 on Jun 30, 2017
For years, video surveillance professionals have talked about the potential for H.265. Now, in 2017, H.265 is starting to gain mainstream...
Uniview Low-Cost Bullet PTZ Tested on Jun 21, 2017
Uniview is offering a HD zoom bullet camera, the IPC742SR9-PZ30-32G, with an integrated pan / tilt positioner, for the price of a low-cost...
Axis P3225 Mk II Tested Vs. Original on Jun 20, 2017
Axis has released a number of 'Mk II' versions of their cameras, which are the same fundamental camera but with specific improvements. We tested...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Competing Against ADT on Jul 20, 2017
ADT is one of the biggest players in the security industry, with ~$4 billion revenue. In 2017, they were acquired / merged with Protection...
Hikvision Launching Deep Learning Recorders on Jul 20, 2017
Hikvision has become a common choice for super low cost NVRs. Now, Hikvision is aiming to move up market, with deep learning NVRs that claim far...
PR Campaign Exploiting Manufacturer Cybersecurity on Jul 20, 2017
Manufacturers increasingly have a bulls-eye on their back. As cyber security solutions providers grow, they realize a great way to get publicity...
Axis Door Station Tested (A8105-E) on Jul 19, 2017
Axis continues their push into niche markets, especially audio, with network speakers, an IP horn, and video door stations. We bought and tested...
Manufacturer Favorability Guide on Jul 19, 2017
This 120 page PDF guide may be downloaded inside by all IPVM members. It covers our 20 manufacturer favorability rankings and 20 manufacturer...
$8 Billion Utility Georgia Power Enters Surveillance Business Offering Avigilon And Genetec on Jul 19, 2017
Utilities are typically considered major customers of surveillance integrators but one utility, Georgia Power, with $8+ billion in annual revenue...
Knightscope Laughs off Robot Drowning on Jul 18, 2017
A day after a Knightscope robot drowned, Knightscope has issued an 'official statement' making fun of the issue: The implied message is that...
Microsoft Video AI Cloud Services Examined on Jul 18, 2017
Microsoft has released one of the most amazing video analytics marketing videos ever. In it, they detect oil spills, track individual people giving...
Hikvision USA Head of Cybersecurity Exits on Jul 18, 2017
Hikvision USA's Head of Cybersecurity has exited the company. In this note, we review the move, share Hikvision's feedback and examine the...
'Suicidal' Knightscope Robot Drowns on Jul 17, 2017
Knightscope continues its hyper growth, at least when it comes to controversy, this time with a 'suicidal' robot in Washington DC. And here is...

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