How-To Geek

Turn a Webcam into a Motion Detecting and Email Notifying Security Cam

If you have an old web cam or two laying around you can convert them into a CCTV system that pushes email and growl notifications to you any time motion is detected in the area they are monitoring.

Sean, a DIYer from the UK, wanted to put his always-on-server to even more use. By linking a webcam to the server and setting up Yawcam (for the motion detection and email notification) on the server and a growl/prowl server (for the push notifications to desktops and iOS devices). So far his setup has worked perfectly, his next project is to build a more weather-proof enclosure (rather than a simple piece of flashing to keep direct rain off, as we see in the photo above).

Hit up the link below to read more about his project and setup an emailing/growling security cam of your own.

Webcam into Growl CCTV Camera! [Sean’s Project Blog via Hack A Day]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/20/11

Comments (10)

  1. Paul

    Really cool !

  2. Xantes

    Yawcam is around for more than 5 years and projects based on the Yawcam application are also around on the Internet for at least for the same amount of time. Consequently… no novelty!

  3. Cambo

    Great idea…just be sure to use the right gear for your climate. In Canada, this won’t do at all. The freezing/snow/frost will kill it.

    Better to just invest in a weather-proof unit.

  4. Withanamelikedave

    I heard of the internet a long time ago.

  5. Yellowbeard

    Most web cams are really bad when used outdoors. Because they were designed for indoor use they get saturated in bright light and the entire image is white. Make sure your camera can handle the bright light (Microsoft Lifecam Cinema works well).

  6. Sean

    I never said it was a novelty, I simply added a quick half day project to the internet for anyone that was interested, obviously Xantes you are not! And besides which my main point was the iOS notifications that I get with it.

    Yellowbeard, the camera I have seems to work faultlessly in most light conditions, maybe I was just lucky, however it was very much a test project just to see if it worked. Thanks for your suggestion of the microsoft cam, may help others that wish to do the same.

    Cambo, yeah I think your right, in Canada this would be toast in less than a day, however I am assuming the software side and growl notifications could be used with a more weather proof camera setup

  7. KJ

    Do you think it would be sensitive enough to pick up the motion of bats or birds??

  8. Sean

    I got an email with a pic of a cat this morning, however that was in resonably good light.

    I would think you would need a better quality camera for night work or fast moving stuff, but who knows. The software allows you to configure the motion sensitivity and tolerance

  9. Kat

    First I would like to know why a few of you come in here and say I heard of this long time ago ? If that the reaosn you came to post to be a smart A$$ then why waste the time to comment. Big frickining deal Who cares, I swear …grow up for Pete sake.

    Well I for one have been on the internet since windows 95 hit and the world busted a gut to get it. WINDOWS 95 What a cool program. (So the world thought)

    I have never heard of this, and the comment from Canada – thank You, Great comment…I was wondering? Now back to the post, THANK YOU for posting this.
    I will not be un-grateful. I have wondered was such a thing possible. Cool ! World can do without smart ass remarks, a little kindness goes much further.

  10. Foxxer

    I agree with you Kat! I always think that when people post something that it will be new to many people and some people may already know – that’s the nature of information. If it’s something new, you’ll read it (like I did with Sean’s post) and if it’s already known, you’ll just move on. Excellent post, Sean…thank you, although I learned from reading the replies that I can’t use your web cam idea in Canada. But, it sure makes me want to hook up a weather-resistant one to see what lurks in my yard at night! Very cool post!

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