Reveal Yourself #2 – Inexpensive WiFi Surveillance Camera

I purchased a cheap WiFi surveillance camera an year back to keep a watch over the domestic help. Needless to say, I did not want to spend a lot because I was not looking for a great build or industry-leading performance. A simple connected camera is all I wanted…and it is exactly what I got and then some!

In this post, an inexpensive WiFi surveillance camera reveals itself.

Externals

The build is OK. Not the best – not the worst. Just OK. The design is pretty geeky – me likey! Check it out.

Dual Antenna – PIR sensor – LED ring for low-light

As far as connectivity goes, this camera supports WiFi as well as ethernet connectivity. It also supports logging video to SD card.

From L to R – Ethernet port, micro SD card slot, micro USB (for power)

Let us dig into the camera now…

Internals

There are multiple major blocks in the system. The below photo shows the main parts of the camera.

System Block Diagram

Main Board

The main board is the one whose interfaces we see from outside. The heart of the camera is the Goke GK7102C video processor. I could not find a public datasheet of the same. One can still find some summary of the processor – like this. This is a very capable video processor. Goke is a chinese company BTW.

The main board also has the other blocks like:

  1. ULN2803F (for driving the PAN and TILT motors of the camera)
  2. H16101MC isolation transformer for ethernet
  3. Micro SD card slot for media logging
  4. XM25Q64A SPI NOR flash – which I guess stores the application image for the Goke video processor
  5. Realtek 8188FTV WiFi Network Interface Controller
Main Board Components

Other Boards

The main board has connectors for other sub-systems in the camera. The external design necessitates having multiple PCBs connected to the main board.

  1. PAN steppper motor
  2. TILT stepper motor
  3. Microphone – this is used to listen to the WiFi credentials from the mobile app for using this camera – pretty slick, huh? The camera literally “listens” for WiFi credentials!
  4. Speaker – this is used to play alert tones when the camera is ready to be provisioned to a network
  5. Camera Sensor – this is … you know what a camera sensor is for!

The camera sensor board itself is connected to the LED ring. The LED ring helps with video capture in low-light conditions.

Knock Knock, Camera!

I had come across a lot of people on the internet who have managed to ssh and telnet their way into such WiFi cameras.

So I also decided to try it. Unfortunately, the camera I have does not have any open ports…sigh!

No telnet…no SSH…no console spotted on hardware…SIGH!

Talking to the Camera

Onboarding the camera to my WiFi connections was pretty simple and was done within a couple of minutes. I decided to play around and understand how the whole thing works.

After some playing around with the mobile app, the camera and my PC (running Wireshark in promiscuous mode), I found that the stepper motor controls are simply http GET requests. Although, there is some basic auth involved, it is nothing that a simple python application can’t handle. More on this in a later post.

Motors can be controlled using HTTP GET requests

Summary

The biggest takeaway from this activity was the tremendously integrated video processor – GK7102C. I have been trying to find out the cost of this processor but could not find a credible source. With the DDR integrated, the design becomes that much simpler. If you know something about this, please do leave a comment below.

I plan to make a show-thing for my living room with this hardware – still thinking…have an idea? Let me know!

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