How to build a CCTV system

Updated February 21, 2017

A CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) system provides security using multiple cameras connected to a viewing monitor and recording device. Once set-up, you can monitor any space covered by your installed CCTV cameras, watching in real-time for intruder movements, or watching recorded video picked up by the cameras. CCTV systems vary, depending on the amount of space covered, the equipment used for the set-up and the reasoning behind creating the set-up. What CCTV systems have in common is the ability to add a layer of visibility to the surveillance area, acting as an additional pair of eyes.

Select your CCTV equipment to suit your needs. Determine whether you require constant 24/7 surveillance with high quality details capable of facial recognition, or whether you can use something less technical as an early warning system capable of alerting a watcher that there's someone in the visual range of the cameras. Choose between colour and black and white cameras. Colour is more expensive, but provides higher detail when trying to identify a person or vehicle caught on the image. Choose the lowlight capability of your cameras as well. If operating in a dark area, you'll need a camera capable of picking out details in lowlight situations. The better the lowlight capability, the more the camera will cost. Purchase cameras to fit the quality level you require.

Place the cameras so that they provide complete coverage of the surveillance area. Make sure the camera display angles overlap slightly and that there are no blind spots in the camera placement. Mount the cameras in protective housing if exposed to the elements. Hide the cameras behind specially constructed face plates if you wish for less visible coverage of the surveillance area.

Install the data wiring to the cameras and route the wiring to a central surveillance area. Most CCTV systems use coaxial cables, though some newer systems require Ethernet networking cable like those used in computer networks. Keep the wires off the ground and out of reach of anyone who may wish to cut access to a specific camera. Wireless cameras exist that do not require wiring, but you must provide power for use. Like other wireless devices, wireless cameras are subject to outside interference by other electronic items using the same frequency as the camera signal.

Attach the cameras to a power source near each camera.

Connect the CCTV camera to a monitor and a recording device in the central surveillance area. Choose your recording device according to need. VCRs can record video cleanly, but require scheduled tape changes as well as storage space for old tapes. A DVR can record for longer periods of time, depending on the quality of the CCTV data and video can be backed up onto DVDs for easy storage. You will require a specially made integration unit for your CCTV input, especially if utilising multiple cameras. You can display multiple cameras at once using CCTV software and a PC on a single monitor or by installing a squad switch to the VCR serving as your recording device. Make certain your monitor is capable of high resolution, and is large enough in size so that you can still see detail from the multiple images.

Network wireless cameras into a centralised computer network using a router. Detect each of the cameras' IP addresses using the CCTV system's control PC and add each to the network. Start the monitoring software and then add each of the networked cameras to the system so that you can begin monitoring and recording the camera data.

Things You'll Need

  • Closed circuit cameras
  • False face plates
  • Data wire
  • Camera power cables
  • Monitor
  • Recording device
  • PC
  • Network router
  • CCTV monitoring software
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About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.