Wanting to feel secure in our own home is something that most of us want. In fact, it’s one of the most basic human needs, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow. However, sometimes circumstances make it impossible to have that feeling of safety.
The first apartment I lived in after college was a typical disaster as far as safety is concerned. Not only was it located in a fairly dangerous part of the city — a fact I realized after several months of living there — but the building itself lacked some of the basic safety protocols I now take for granted. One of those benefits is the existence of security cameras.
There are plenty of benefits to having a security camera, whether in front of your apartment or inside of it. However, not everyone has the means to get their hands on the best wireless battery powered security camera. Fortunately, here’s where your old cell phone can come in handy. Today, we’re going to tell you how to use an old cell phone for security camera purposes.
What You Need to Turn Your Old Phone Into a Security Camera
Security cameras can be a great addition to any home. You can even use them to check in on your pets. If you’ve ever wondered what your cats and dogs were up to while you’re at work during the day, now you can find out. And if you’re a parent, you can also use your makeshift security camera as a baby monitor.
So to begin with, let’s talk about the things you’ll need to get your hands on before you try to make a DIY security camera:
- An old phone. You can use an Android or an iPhone, whichever you’ve got on hand. The phone only needs to be able to connect to WiFi and run an app, so you don’t need a SIM card or anything like that.
- Charging cables. You’ll need to consider the positioning of your camera when you get the charging cable. Now, you could just use the charger that the phone came with, but if you’re planning on setting it up far away from an outlet, you’ll want to get a longer cable.
- Security camera apps such as IP Webcam on the Google Play Store or IP Cam on Apple’s App Store. These kinds of apps let you watch the live feed online, but they don’t have many other functions. Fortunately, there are so many other options to choose from — and we’ll mention some of them later on.
- A stand, a tripod, or another way to set up your camera.
Once you have all of these things, learning how to use an old cell phone for security camera setups will be easy.
How to Use an Old Cell Phone for Security Camera Setups
STEP 1: Figure Out the Positioning
Of course, before you do anything else, you’ll need to consider the placement of your camera. Take your old phone and turn on the camera app and try to find a spot in the room that captures the biggest picture. Once you’ve found it, take a moment to figure out how the phone is going to stay where you put it.
As I’ve mentioned, you can use a phone stand, one of those small tripods, or even attach the phone to the wall with a rig. Or, if you want to go for the easy mode, you can attach the phone to the wall using a bit of mounting putty.
You can be creative here — use your surroundings to your advantage. Stash the phone near a plant, lean it against a book stack, and try to keep it unnoticeable.
STEP 2: Plug in and Prep
Wherever you set up your security camera, remember that the phone will need a constant power supply. Measure the space between where you want to put the camera and the nearest power outlet. If that number is bigger than the length of your charger, either reconsider the positioning or get a longer cable.
Now you’ll also want to choose the apps you want to use. If your phone is really old, you may not have as many security camera apps to choose from. In addition to the apps I’ve already linked to, you can also check out others. I’ve heard great things about the Alfred Home Security Camera app, which is available for both Android and iOS phones.
Ultimately, choosing the app is going to be completely up to you. I recommend doing some more research and trying different apps until you find the one that works for you.
STEP 3: Run the Apps
Once you’ve positioned your phone, plugged it in, and installed the apps, it’s time to run them. As you can see by now, learning how to use an old cell phone for security camera apps is fairly simple.
Most of the security camera apps I’ve seen have some options, although the free versions are understandably limited. Still, things like video quality and data logging are often adjustable. You can see how Nev’s Tech Bits on YouTube achieved his setup in this video. In addition to the IP Webcam app, he also used the tinyCam Monitor Android app to look at the feed.
STEP 4: Check Your Feed
In the video above, you can see that turning several phones into security cameras is pretty simple. However, if you don’t want to use another app to check your feed, IP Webcam and similar apps allow you to type the IP address of the video feed in your browser and monitor the camera that way. A word to the wise, though: some apps don’t save the footage, so check the features before you decide upon one.
When you go to check your feed, you may notice some of the drawbacks of using cell phones instead of professional security cameras. For one, most cell phone cameras, especially the older ones, aren’t able to record in low-light conditions. You can get around this by simply leaving the lights on, but a professional camera or even a baby monitor would definitely be more capable in that regard.
Related Topic: How to Access a Security Camera from the Internet?
If you’re worried about your safety and you have a spare phone lying around, this is an easy way to feel more secure in your own home. This method would have come in really handy when I was living in my first apartment.
Now that you know how to use an old cell phone for security camera purposes, let’s hear from you. Can you think of a better way to do it? Which apps have you tried? Tell me all about them in the comments down below. And, if you know someone who could use some extra security, share this article with them, too.