Dahua IPC-HDBW1200E

 

Introduction

 

I purchased this WiFi-enabled camera to put in my garage to fulfill the needs of a remote location-based camera. I can honestly say the results have been less than stellar. The main reason I needed a wireless camera was that I didn’t have an Ethernet jack nearby. Getting the camera up and running on WiFi was a little difficult. Once I did, it worked great…until I installed it in the location I wanted. My measure of WiFi signal is usually fairly reliable- my smartphone. I was confident that I had a usable signal in my garage. Once I had the camera on the wireless network and installed, it initially worked. But if at any time it lost the WiFi signal, I had to run a temporary Ethernet cable to the device and run the Dahua Config Tool again to get it back on the network. It did not reinitiate the wireless connection on its own. The resulting unreliability led me to pursue other means of getting the camera on my home network and keeping it there. I finally settled on a Zyxel Home Plug setup to get it to work.

Update (4/23/17): After switching to a Netgear Nighthawk R8000 router , wireless signal stability has greatly improved. The Zyxel Home Plug is no longer necessary.

The camera is in a vandal-proof dome, which is nice. I mounted mine on a 9-foot ceiling and it’s really not all that conspicuous. The dome is in a very small enclosure. I haven’t noticed any glare from lights reflecting off the dome. The camera itself provides a crisp, clear picture at 2MP (1080p) resolution. It has a 1/3″ CMOS sensor, a 2.8mm fixed lens, with 30 ft infrared lights to see in the dark. It supports WiFi and power-over-Ethernet (POE) standards. You can also use a 12VDC power supply that ships with the camera.

I picked this camera up on Amazon for $109 in May of 2016. It’s no longer available on Amazon, but can still be found at other resellers.

 

  • Features
  • Reliability
  • Ease-of-use
  • Price
  • Documentation

Summary

The Dahua IPC-HDBW1200E is a compact, wireless, POE camera. At $109, it's fairly cheap for a camera of this quality. As with all Dahua cameras, it comes packed with features that are accessible through a nice web interface. It works with Blue Iris. The wireless is difficult to work with, and the documentation is awful for this product. If you know what you're doing, or if you've worked with other Dahua cameras before, it won't be difficult to set it up. Newcomers may struggle though.

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Configuring the Dahua IPC-HDBW1200E

 

To set this camera up, first you’ll need to establish an Ethernet connection. If you’re not on the 192.168.1.x network, you’ll need to change your network settings on your PC.

Click “Change adapter settings”.

Right-click on your network adapter and click “Properties”.

Left-click on “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP) to highlight it and then click “Properties”.

Change the IP address to 192.168.1.2  and set the subnet mask to 255.255.255.0 . Click “OK”.

Open a command prompt and type ping 192.168.1.108. You should see all replies.

If you need to change your IP address, set it to anything other than 192.168.1.108. Next grab an Ethernet cable and plug your camera into the nearest switch or router, and plug in the power adapter. You should now be able to open a command prompt and type in: ping 192.168.1.108, making sure you receive replies.

When I set this camera up, I made the mistake of using the web interface and switching to WiFi. I set it up like all my previous Dahua cameras, but for some reason it didn’t connect to the WiFi network after I changed the wireless IP address to a static address on my home network. This caused me to lose access via the web interface for some reason, so I was left scratching my head on how to access the camera to see what was wrong.

I finally came across the answer. The camera I received from Amazon came with a software CD. Insert the disk, and navigate to Tools -> Config Tool. Keep opening up the General_Config_Tool_Eng folder until you get to the files. Open the Config Tool application. Click the “Login” button, and you’ll get a login dialog box. Everything should be prefilled to the defaults, if not, the default IP address is 192.168.1.108, the default username is admin, the default password is admin, and the default port is 37777. If you changed any of these values in the web interface, use those values instead. Click “Login”. Go the “Wireless Network” tab and disable the WiFi. The camera should now revert to its Ethernet address and will be accessible in the web interface using that address. You can now try to figure out what’s going on with the WiFi. Step-by-step instructions with screenshots can be found here.

Double-click on the “Config Tool” folder.

Right-click on the “General_ConfigTool_Eng” file. It’s in a .7z file format, so you’ll need 7-Zip to open the archive.

Once the archive is open, right-click on the file and select “Copy To…”.

Set the path to somewhere on your hard drive.

Go to the file location on your hard drive. Double-click the ConfigTool application to open it. Click “Login”.

The defaults are shown here, and the default password is admin. If you changed any values in the web interface you should use those values instead.

On the “Wireless Network” tab, uncheck the “Enable” box, then click “Save”. Hook the Ethernet cable up and log back into the web interface using the Ethernet IP address to see if you made a mistake configuring the camera’s WiFi.


The basic steps for configuring this camera are shown in the slideshow below. Keep in mind that Microsoft Edge isn’t a supported browser. You can still do the configuration, but you won’t be able to see the video feed due to the required ActiveX control. Internet Explorer 11 will work great for this part.


Slideshow- Tap or click to view

Next click the “Setup” tab.

Notice the sidebar on the left side of the screen. Click on “Network” to expand it. Then click on “TCP/IP”. To use the wireless features of the camera, make sure the Ethernet Card dropdown is on “Wireless(DEFAULT)”. Change the IP address and default gateway to match your network. I recommend using a static address instead of DHCP so you know what IP address to use to view the camera on your network.

Since my home network uses the 10.0.1.x  network, I set the IP address to an unused address in that range. The default gateway is set to my router’s address. Click “Save”. Go back and change your PC’s IP address back to what is was originally. Use the new camera IP address to log back in (in this case http://10.0.1.18).

Click the “Setup” tab again. Next, click on “Network” in the sidebar, and then “WiFi”. For most people with a visible network, you’ll click the “Search SSID” button. If you have a hidden network, you can click “Add SSID” and manually type in the SSID. Once the camera finds your network router, double-click it.

Type in your router’s password to give the camera access to your network.

On the left sidebar, click to expand “System”, then click “Account”. We’re going to change the admin’s login to no longer use the default password. You can also create other users, which is recommended. If you get locked out of the admin account, you’ll either have to power down the camera for a few minutes to reset it or wait 30 minutes for the account to automatically unlock.

The admin account cannot be deleted, only modified. Enter admin  in the old password text box, then type in your new password. Dahua does not allow the use of symbols, but you can enter in up to a 32-character password using numbers and letters. According to this site it would take 2 duodecillion years to crack the max password with this criteria. Click “Save”.



Once you’ve got the camera on your WiFi network, go test it in the location where you want to mount it. You might want to leave it there for a little while to make sure it won’t drop the connection. Mine would go days without dropping the wireless connection, but once it lost the connection, the only way I could regain access was to run a temporary 50ft Ethernet cable.

Installation

 

If you’ve installed other Dahua cameras , you’ll immediately notice that this one mounts differently than the others. Instead of using a 3 screw “twist-lock” type of mounting, this one has a base that screws directly into the wall or ceiling. The mounting points are accessible by removing the dome. Other than the base mount, installing this camera will be similar to other Dahua cameras.

Follow the slideshow below for installation instructions:


Slideshow- Tap or click to view

Next you’ll remove the dome by unscrewing the 3 allen screws. The 3rd screw is hidden in the photo.

The camera has an O-ring seal and is rated for outdoors use.

Now is a good time to adjust the fixed lens. There are 2 adjustment screws: one for swiveling the lens back and forth, and one for adjusting the lens up and down.

Once the camera is mounted, you just need to run power to it.

Next you’ll need to power your camera. You can use POE via Ethernet or a 12VDC power supply.



Double-check your camera feed one more time in the web interface before installing the dome. If you can connect to your camera, then you are good to go!





Optional configuration

 

Now there are a few options you may want to configure in the web interface such as resolution, frame rate, watermark, etc. Go back to your browser and log back into the web interface.


Slideshow- Tap or click to view

Click the “Profile Management” tab. This where you set your camera to behave differently for night vs. day. If you choose “Normal”, everything will always be in “Auto” mode (you can see that if you click “Save” then go back to the “Conditions” tab). If you choose “Full Time”, the profile you select will always be active.

If you want to use different settings for “Night” and “Day” modes, then check “Schedule”. A slider will open up and you can drag each end to pick your night & day times. Now the “Day” profile will be active during the day, and the “Night” profile will run during the hours you selected for nighttime.

Next click on the “Video” tab. Here you can choose your video encoding, frame rate, bit rate, stream quality, and watermark settings. Notice that you have individual settings for the main and sub streams.

Settings for manual or activated snapshots. Activated snapshots include scheduled- and event-activated (motion-triggered) snapshots.

Overlay gives you four options to mess around with. First is “Privacy Masking”, which gives you the option of blacking out part of your video, i.e., the neighbor’s property. To set it up, check the box for Privacy Masking, then click “Setup”. Simply drag the cursor across the screen and you cover up that part of the video. Right-click the mouse to delete an area, or use the “Delete” and “Delete All” buttons. Next are “Channel Title”, “Time Title”, and “Location”. Each option gives you a text box that you can custom configure and move around the screen to place each box where you want it.

An example of a privacy mask set to black out the left side of the screen, and all other overlays are active.

This is where your snapshots and videos will be stored. Just go to the web interface from the PC you want to store the information, and click “Save”. If you shutdown the computer, your snapshots and videos will not be saved.

Another useful feature is found under “System” and then “Auto Maintain”. The camera can reboot itself once a week if you want to enable it. The camera will reboot quickly within a minute. You can also perform a manual reboot by clicking the button.

Under “Event”, then “Video Detect”, you can set up automatic snapshots and recordings to your PC. Click “Working Period”.

Here you can set up your surveillance schedule. You can schedule individual days and times, or configure the camera to record all the time, based on detected movement. Click “Save” when you’re finished.

On the previous screen, click to set up an area.

You can set up 4 individual areas each with their own threshold and sensitivity. To set these values, you’ll see a graph on the right side of the screen. Have somebody move around in the area you want to monitor to ensure the motion will trigger the camera. If you get too many false alarms, you can always come back and tweak these values later. Click “Save” when you’re done.



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