Adventures in Home Security Surveillance with a TS-7970

As you may have seen in my TS-7970 Home Security Systems video on YouTube, I took a TS-7970 quad core single board computer and built it into my very own home security system using the open source software Zoneminder. This product works very well for the two camera system that I have hooked up. In case you didn’t get a chance to see the video, I wanted a security system that was cost effective and still worked well with the capability to expand if I so desired. I was referred to Zoneminder by a good friend and coworker of mine. Since I work at Technologic Systems I thought it would be cool to be able to use one of our boards to build up this camera system. After getting approval to use one of our boards my journey began on making my very own security system a reality.

To start out I am NOT a software developer. However, with the available user guides, and the occasional help from my co-worker friend, I got the system working. When starting out I originally used a TS-7970 solo SBC to begin my project using a board from work that I prepared as if shipping to a customer including an 8GB micro SD card. Once I got home I got to work on the project. I have to say Zoneminder has some great install guides. They take you 80% of the way when using this SBC, the other 20% was trial and error and a little help from my friend that knows Debian much better than I. Once I got set up on my computer I connected to the board using the USB B port and TeraTerm on my computer. I booted the TS-7970 up to its main prompt and began following the Install guide on Zoneminder’s wiki for debian systems:

https://wiki.zoneminder.com/Debian_8_64-bit_with_Zoneminder_1.29.0_the_Easy_Way

First thing I had to do in the system was to create a password for the root user. Once I did that I did apt-get update  to make sure I was up to date. I then installed PHP, MySQL, and Zoneminder which also included installing apache web server onto the TS-7970. To install some of those packages I had to make sure to add the Jessie backports to my sources.list file (as mentioned in the guide). It took some time to do everything in the right order and to get it to work perfect. I believe I honestly had to do this three times to get the system working how I wanted it to. Again, I remind you I am NOT a software developer so I may have done stuff on accident that a normal more software savvy individual would not have. Once Zoneminder was installed I had to create a MySQL database that Zoneminder could use. Then I had to add Zoneminder to start automatically when the board boots. To get the apache web server to work properly I had to create a new user to the sudo group. Many fine tuning settings later my board was running Zoneminder and I could hook up my cameras that I purchased.

I was able to log into the Zoneminder web GUI and setup my cameras. This is specific to your cameras that you would use. The Zoneminder web service does well and has many options to tweak, many more than what I need in fact. Once I got the system up and running I was now able to tweak the cameras to detect motion and set the resolution. Mind you this is still on the TS-7970 solo board. I noticed that the FPS on the captured frames was around 8 frames per second, which I guess is normal for surveillance systems, but I wanted more, so I swapped out the TS-7970 solo for a quad core. By doing that I had to start all over and reinstall the security system. This time I also did some port changes for the apache server to go through the router, as well as API permissions so that only authorized users can access my system from the outside world.

After getting the TS-7970 quad core board up and going I was getting 20+ FPS on my captured video, much better! I was very happy with how this project came out, I now have a security system that is running on a single board computer that could honestly be installed almost anywhere since it is wifi capable, and is capable of running in environments that other boards are not. I could see this setup being used as a standalone server in multiple locations for a business with all of them sending the captures off to a single server over the internet. All of this is made possible by the TS-7970’s powerful hardware, it is definitely a great little system for this project.

After several months of use, the system is still working flawlessly, I have now downloaded ZM Ninja from the iOS store so I could have a nice app to check on my security system with. I also have a sweet base made by one of my coworkers at our office using our 3D printer (which also uses one of our boards as a print server), I have been very happy with this product but I still wanted to tinker because our little TS-7970 quad core board had more features available to use. One thing that would have been nice is more storage to keep events longer. My friend had an amazing idea of using the mSATA on the TS-7970, so I went on a search for a mSATA drive to use on my little security project. Two days later I received my mSATA drive and once I got home I turned off the board, installed the mSATA, and powered on the board. Immediately linux recognized the 32GB mSATA device. Using this guide: https://wiki.zoneminder.com/Using_a_dedicated_Hard_Drive I followed it step by step only to run into a few technicalities of binding and mounting folders, as well as getting the drive to mount automatically. After only about an hour worth of tinkering, my system was back up and running using this fancy new fast mSATA device with tons more storage. After adding the 32GB mSATA to the TS-7970 I noticed immediately an improved playback on the video when reviewing the stored footage. I was impressed to say the least.

 

Deionized Water: The Gold Standard for Electronics Cleaning

When washing electronic boards, a common concern among technicians is the purity of their water. Rightfully so because technicians don’t want filthy trace deposits left under and around sensitive components. Some might ask, “If water is bad for electronics, why wash them in the first place?” Washing boards is a common process in the electronics industry because when a board is manufactured or reworked, there is a substance called flux that needs to be removed or it will cause corrosion and longevity issues. Water is a readily available and an effective solution for removing flux. However, technicians need to choose the water carefully.

There are several different levels of water purity. Starting with the least pure option, typical tap water can be used for washing boards. The next quality improvement is using carbon filtered water which marginally helps with the contaminants in the tap water. A quality level above that is Deionized water (DI water) which is commonly used in the board washing process at high quality electronics facilities. Using DI water for the board washing process is optimal due to the absence of contaminants in the water. Because DI water is the purest form of water, electronics manufacturers focused on quality use this as a standard for board washing.

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Insiders View of Company Culture at Technologic Systems

 

TS-Stone-Sign-1600x400In every business, no matter how large or small, you work with others. Going to work means daily interaction with your fellow co-workers and workplace. Many people spend more time with their co-workers and workplace than they do their actual personal lives. So what keeps these employees happy and motivated? Company culture. It is a combined atmosphere that each workplace must consider, embrace, and nurture. It’s not just the people you work with or your everyday tasks. It’s a combination of absolutely everything you come in contact with, from the parking lot to the desk or chair you are at, or even the truck you drive (if it’s a company provided vehicle). Every one of these aspects is what makes up company culture.

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High Quality Embedded Products with IPC-A-610 Certified Technicians

Quality conscience project managers and engineers understand that when looking for a solutions provider, quality certifications are vitally important. Top of mind certifications, like ISO-9001, ensure reliable manufacturing, processing, and testing of end products before they’re packaged up and shipped out the door. In the embedded systems and electronics world, there is another quality certification called IPC-A-610 which is an international source for end product acceptance criteria for high reliability electronic components. This certification allows quality conscience decision makers to rest easy with their choice of embedded systems supplier knowing that all IPC-A-610 certified technicians and production employees are trained not only to spot and correct any physical defects, but also how to handle the end product to maximize life and dependability in the field.IPC-A-610 Logo

IPC-A-610 holds manufacturing technicians to a higher standard for testing and inspection. These trained Certified IPC Specialists (CIS) possess the knowledge to identify defects which could cause latent or immediate malfunction. Examples of such defects include:

 

  • Cold solder joint exampleA missed cold solder joint (pictured) could cause a latent power failure in the field due to the solder bond cracking.
  • Cracked components, which pass initial inspection, break under the forces experienced in the shipping and receiving process.
  • Loose solder balls that when dislodged, can cause a short between traces on the PCB board and result in damaging sensitive components and board failure.

All CIS are trained to carefully detect all of these issues, among others, to ensure the embedded system performs reliably in the field. On top of spotting and correcting any physical defects, they are also trained to be careful when handling the boards to maximize the life of the board in the field. This is important, since a small percentage of a boards life is diminished every time a soldering iron or non-ESD protected person touches it. CIS understand that even oils and salts from their fingers can contaminate the board, causing latent issues.

There are three classification standards for the accept/reject criteria defined by IPC: Class 1 being general electronic products where the only requirement is to function, Class 2 being dedicated service electronic products where continued performance and extended life is required as well as uninterrupted service is not critical but desired, and Class 3 being high performance/harsh environment electronic products where continued high performance or performance-on-demand is critical to the working end product and must not fail, such as a life support machine at a hospital. All CIS are trained for all three of these classifications for the utmost quality assurance.

Highly reliable embedded system deployments start with choosing a partner who not only carries certifications for manufacturing, process, and designing through ISO-9001, but also employs highly trained, IPC-A-610 certified technicians and production personnel to ensure proper handling and repair throughout the entire process.

Here at Technologic Systems, we pride ourselves in our product quality, ensuring our customers get the highest quality end product. Our entire production team is not only IPC-A-610 certified, they are passionate about quality, keeping up to speed on new quality standards to ensure top level performance and life out of our products. We take extensive care in making sure that the product is carefully handled and meets the highest acceptance criteria so that our customers will be getting what they deserve.

“IPC training has given me greater knowledge and understanding of what can cause a latent problem on boards in the near or distant future. Before going to training I would say that you could consider me to be meticulous with the quality of the product I am working with. But I didn’t realize that even something as small as the oils on my hands can cause latent problems for the board. I also learned that there is a long-term cost to making repairs so that on components with metalization loss it’s actually better not to repair it if the loss is still within the acceptable range.” — Camron Vogelzang, Repair Technician