Review: IR Dome USB WebCam - perfect for Raspberry Pi


The good folk at Ailipu Technology have sent me a fist-sized USB camera to review. This is a cheap and simple way to get external video into a home server like a Raspberry Pi.

This is the, slightly cumbersomely named, elp-usb100w05mt-dl36.

What's in the box?

Camera, long cable, mounting screws and rawlplugs

The USB cable is around 5 metres long, and is wired into the camera. Four screws and rawlplugs are also included. Why? Because there are mounting holes at the back of the camera.

Mounting holes on back of camera

To access them, your have to unscrew the base. The whole camera unit comes apart - this allows you to change the orientation and angle of the camera.

Camera unscrewed and in several parts

The unit is a simple affair. A central lens, a light sensor above it, and 24 Infrared LEDs.

Close up on camera lens, sensor, and IR LEDs

It's rainproof - so suitable for mounting outside. No software is needed - it is detected as a USB video camera in Linux.

Sample Shots

Here's the quality of image taken in the midday sun. Click for bigger.
A photo of the garden

There's a bit of fish-eye on the image, but colours are reasonably good. Image is a bit soft, but certainly good enough to let you see what's going on.

Here's the same shot at night.
A black and white photo taken at night

IR illumination is pretty good. You don't get much fine detail - but it is more than enough to see what's going on. The camera needs to be installed outside - the IR will reflect back into the lens if the unit is placed behind glass.

Drawbacks

It's only a 1280x720 resolution unit. That's fine for seeing detail in things close up - but you're not going to pick up car car number plates very easily.

The MJPEG stream is meant to be 30fps. In reality, it varied between about 10FPS & 30FPS. Again, good enough for security camera footage.

Poor audio. There is a cheap mono microphone inside the unit. As in right inside the dome. If you tap on the lens, you'll hear it, but it doesn't seem to pick up speech or anything else. But if all you care about is seeing what's going on, it's not a huge issue.

The USB cable seems pretty chunky - but I'm not sure how weather-proof it is. If you install it, remember to regularly inspect it for defects.

Internals

You can unscrew the dome! It's tight, and there is a rubber layer there to keep it waterproof.

Internals of camera

You can see the tiny condenser microphone in there. Everything is securely afixed and neatly wired. You could easily replace the internals if you needed.

Verdict

A pretty good camera for forty quid. If you have a Raspberry Pi mounted outside, this is a good way to get video to it.

In a world of cheap, WiFi connected IP cameras, this makes sense for anyone who wants a more reliable connection - and a camera which can boot up instantly.

Quality isn't exactly high def - but, for the price, it will do.

Get it

You can buy the camera for £40 on Amazon (Affiliate link).

Or get it direct from the manufacturer

Linux Tech Specs

Camera works out of the box with Linux - tried on a recent Debian build and an older Raspberry Pi.

USB Info: 05a3:9310 ARC International

Full v4l2-ctl output:

Driver Info (not using libv4l2):
    Driver name   : uvcvideo
    Card type     : USB 2.0 Camera
    Bus info      : usb-0000:00:14.0-3
    Driver version: 4.10.17
    Capabilities  : 0x84200001
        Video Capture
        Streaming
        Extended Pix Format
        Device Capabilities
    Device Caps   : 0x04200001
        Video Capture
        Streaming
        Extended Pix Format
Priority: 2
Video input : 0 (Camera 1: ok)
Format Video Capture:
    Width/Height      : 1280/720
    Pixel Format      : 'YUYV'
    Field             : None
    Bytes per Line    : 2560
    Size Image        : 1843200
    Colorspace        : sRGB
    Transfer Function : Default
    YCbCr/HSV Encoding: Default
    Quantization      : Default
    Flags             : 
Crop Capability Video Capture:
    Bounds      : Left 0, Top 0, Width 1280, Height 720
    Default     : Left 0, Top 0, Width 1280, Height 720
    Pixel Aspect: 1/1
Selection: crop_default, Left 0, Top 0, Width 1280, Height 720
Selection: crop_bounds, Left 0, Top 0, Width 1280, Height 720
Streaming Parameters Video Capture:
    Capabilities     : timeperframe
    Frames per second: 10.000 (10/1)
    Read buffers     : 0
                     brightness (int)    : min=-128 max=127 step=1 default=0 value=0
                       contrast (int)    : min=0 max=255 step=1 default=128 value=128
                     saturation (int)    : min=1 max=128 step=1 default=64 value=64
                            hue (int)    : min=-40 max=40 step=1 default=0 value=0
 white_balance_temperature_auto (bool)   : default=1 value=1
                          gamma (int)    : min=72 max=500 step=1 default=100 value=100
                           gain (int)    : min=0 max=100 step=1 default=0 value=0
           power_line_frequency (menu)   : min=0 max=2 default=1 value=1
      white_balance_temperature (int)    : min=2800 max=6500 step=1 default=4600 value=4600 flags=inactive
                      sharpness (int)    : min=0 max=6 step=1 default=3 value=3
         backlight_compensation (int)    : min=0 max=2 step=1 default=1 value=1
                  exposure_auto (menu)   : min=0 max=3 default=3 value=3
              exposure_absolute (int)    : min=1 max=5000 step=1 default=625 value=625 flags=inactive
         exposure_auto_priority (bool)   : default=0 value=1

One thought on “Review: IR Dome USB WebCam - perfect for Raspberry Pi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *