For those who have a cabin or boat out in the wild that doesn’t have any internet signal, this is the security camera for you.
Download the video files directly to a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
You do not use a “recording” function to capture the video. (we’ll talk about this later)
Use solar power or power plug, easily switching between the two.
What you’ll need:
A router of some kind and we’ll go into detail on which one to use. But any household router should work.
There are two parts to this amazing setup. You’ll need the camera and you’ll need a wifi router. This wifi router does NOT need an internet connection. For anyone who understands this concept feel free to read on in the next paragraph. A router signal provides what we love to call wifi which is NOT an internet signal. Today we’ll be using something call a LAN a.k.a. a Local Area Network. The word local is used because this communications signal will be staying local and not connecting to anything else. Why do you need a router? Simple, it’s the device that allows communication between the security camera and the device you’re wanting to download onto.
Very few cameras will allow a direct connection, it takes too much power. Our camera is no exception. To set this up you’ll need to connect your security camera to the router one time. Then you take the camera and the router to the cabin. Each time you return to the cabin you’ll need to bring the router with you. The cheaper routers can of course just be left out at the cabin so they’re not forgotten.
Install the camera where you want it on the outside of the house. Power up your router and connect your camera to the router. You then connect your smart phone or laptop to the router, again there’s no internet signal required here or cell phone service. When you connect your smart phone to the router it will give you an ! next to the connection saying no internet. This is normal. You will now be able to log into the camera through the free app and start downloading any video files.
Ok let’s get into the details of it all.
The camera we’re using is the Reolink Argus Eco that comes with a solar panel. For a higher resolution camera and little more expensive I also recommend the Reolink Argus 3 Pro. Links to the cameras are provided below.
Let’s look at some cheap router options. You can get a great little portable wifi repeater for about $20. You can also build one from an Arduino Wemos D1 board or ESP32 for about $5 but that’s a different blog post.
The first thing to ask yourself, do you have regular electrical power available at the cabin? If yes than any router should work if you want to save some money. You can also take a look at your local stores to see what they have. The TP-link router link above is very hand to have as it plugs into just about any portable battery bank and works on 5v power supply.
In the tutorial below we’re using the Argus Eco and we did not order the solar panel because I already had a few of them in stock. We will be using this camera out in the wild to help track endangered species on Vancouver Island. This camera is destined to be the first test camera where we will be downloading the videos from an airplane! Sign up for our newsletter to stay tuned on that project.
FIRST THING! Do NOT power up any security camera without the antenna attached, it can over heat the transmitter and kill your camera.
Next, plug in the camera to a power source that’s either 100% full or a dedicated power supply as you’ll need to charge up your camera. The orange light signals that it’s not yet full. Once you’re connected to the camera in the app it tells you what percent the battery is at.
Don’t turn on your camera until you’ve downloaded the free app, the camera will say welcome to Reolink in quite a few languages over and over until it’s set up so save yourself from listening to that until you’re ready.
The app is just called Reolink. At the time of writing this post the app has a 2.5 star rating and I really don’t agree with that, but everyone has their opinion I guess. The fact that I had to search for months while spending money on cameras to see if they will work for this, perhaps caused me to give the app a 5 star rating because I was so overjoyed when I got this to work? Who knows.
Now that the app is installed, we’re still not going to power up the camera. We need to have the router setup and running that will be used out at the cabin. If you set your camera up on your home router that’s fine, but when you leave to the cabin with the camera you will NOT be able to then connect it to your portable router as the camera will be searching for your home router and won’t find it.
Time to set up the portable router
When your TP-link router is powered up it should already be in router mode and there’s nothing you need to do it. If you want to check, connect to the router using the details on the back. It will tell you what the broadcast ID is that you select on your phone or PC. The password will be there as well. Then, type in tplinkwifi.net on your browser and you’ll be at the admin login page. It’s important to note here that the admin username is in lower case letters and your device might default the A of admin to a caps. The login will NOT work. The username is admin all lowercase and the password is the same.
When you get past the login page click on operation mode on the left menu and it should already be selected to Wireless Router shown in the image above.
With the router powered up and your smartphone is connected, it’s now time to turn on the Reolink camera. Important, you must be connected to the portable router with your device first.
Your camera will come with an instruction booklet, please follow the instructions for connecting it to the wifi, if you have any issues or questions please comment below.
Now that the camera is all setup and installed where you want it let’s walk through the method of checking your camera when you arrive.
You’re glad to finally be back at the cabin and it’s time to see what’s been going on while you’ve been away.
Step one is to power up your router once it’s in range of the camera. The camera may not connect right away and there’s a couple of ways to get it to connect. Since the router has most likely been power off the whole time, the camera will have stopped trying to talk to it. You can try walking in front of the camera to trigger it and it should connect. If not, turning the power off and on again (on the camera) will do it.
Most of the time within a few minutes of trying to connect to the camera it will work.
This information uses the image above:
To download or view the video files connect your device to the router and then open the Reolink app. Click on the camera you want in the list. Follow the instruction in your manual or click on “playback”. Then select the date that you want. Select the video file that you want. You can download two quality types, Low and High. Low resolution will download faster and have smaller file sizes. High will have larger file sizes and longer download times so choose the one you want. If you’ve had a security issue I always recommend downloading in the highest resolution for the police to view it. To change this click the little button that says “low” and an option menu will come up saying fluent and clear (in the image above, it’s in the black section near the far right. Clear is the higher resolution. The word fluent is used to describe that the download will be quicker? At the top right corner of the screen you’ll see a downward arrow. Click the download arrow and a new page will come up, lower down on that screen you’ll see a download button. Click this and it will download to your device.
The videos will go straight into your photos section on your phone without being encrypted or needing to be modified in any way, you can share the videos right away.
In the image above you can see the file is downloading. There is no hosting service required with this camera which is what I love the most. So many of the cheap security cameras require you to be connected to the internet which for most houses is no problem. But for those that will be operating the cameras in areas without internet or using satellite were you don’t want bandwidth being wasted, this is a great option.
If this article has helped you, please consider helping US! NatureVR is looking to raise money for wildlife protection and we need all the help we can get. There are many ways to help:
Use the links on this page to purchase the gear as we get a small commission. In exchange for this you can use the comments section below for support and we’ll try to help you as best we can.