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How to Install a Panasonic Network Camera – Part 4

This is continued from How to Install a Panasonic Network Camera – Part 3.

This article explains how to configure the Network Time Protocol (NTP) service, recording to a memory card and the status LED indicator control.

Camera Network Time Protocol (NTP) Setup

Enter an Network Time Protocol (NTP) server host name or IP address to synchronize the camera’s date and time to within 10 milliseconds of the official time. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Internet Time Service has a list of NTP servers to choose from; I choose the time-a.nist.gov server. The date/time is important because the camera places a timestamp over each image.

NTP Server: time-a.nist.gov

NTP Server: time-a.nist.gov

Camera Color Night View

As a matter of preference, I enable Color Night View because color does so much to enhance an image. Try it both ways to see what you like best.

Panasonic Network Camera - Color Night View

Panasonic Network Camera – Color Night View

Panasonic Network Camera Audio

Enable the camera audio output if you’re hooking up a set a external speakers.

Panasonic Network Camera Setup - Audio

Panasonic Network Camera Setup – Audio

SD Memory Card Formatting

The Panasonic Network Camera uses an SanDisk Standard SD™ memory card. A 2GB card will store about 24 hours of 640×480 high quality images saved at 1 image per second. The camera will also accept a 4GB SD/SDHC memory card. The number of images that can be saved to an SD memory card depends on the resolution and quality of the pictures. See this table for the number of images for a given memory capacity and image settings.

SanDisk Standard SD Memory Card - 2GB

SanDisk Standard SD Memory Card – 2GB

Formatting a New SD Memory Card

A new SD memory card must be formatted first before the camera can record images. There are two ways to format a new memory card:

  1. The camera’s on-board command located at Setup → Buffer/Transfer Trigger → Format
    or
  2. Panasonic’s free formatting software utility for WinXP and Vista. The formatting program requires that your personal computer has an SD memory slot.

The SD memory card slot is located on the side of the camera under a rubberized dust cover. The SD memory card installation instructions by Panasonic are here.

Panasonic Network Camera - SD Memory Card Slot BB-HCM511A/BB-HCM531A

Panasonic Network Camera – SD Memory Card Slot BB-HCM511A/BB-HCM531A

Recording Images to an SD Memory Card

After the new memory card is formatted and installed in the camera slot, you’re ready to configure how images will be recorded. I use a Timer Trigger to save an image each second the SD memory card.

To configure a Timer Trigger, click Setup → Trigger and click on a trigger number 2, 3, 4 or 5.

Setup Triggers to Store Images to Memory – Panasonic Network Camera

The Trigger Setting screen is displayed for the chosen trigger #:

Timer Trigger Setting – Panasonic Network Camera

Click the Next to button to display the Timer Setting screen (below).

On the Timer Setting screen, you can select the days, times and frequency the images will be written to the SD memory card. Here I’ve enabled 7×24 recording of one image per second at 640×480 resolution favoring clarity. The “No Transfer/Memory Overwrite” setting means the images are not transmitted externally (e.g. via e-mailed) and new images overwrite the oldest images when the memory is full.

Trigger Timer Settings - Panasonic Network Camera

Trigger Timer Settings – Panasonic Network Camera

Click Save to retain your settings. The camera is now recording images to the SD memory card.

Viewing Recorded Images

See the Panasonic User Guide for a wealth of information about viewing images and MPEG-4 videos.

To view images recorded to the SD memory card, click the “Buffered Image” tab on the main web menu.

Viewing SD Memory Card Images - Panasonic Network Camera

Viewing SD Memory Card Images – Panasonic Network Camera

Use the fast forward and reverse scan buttons to choose a starting point in the recording history, choose the number of images to download and click Download. The images are saved in a proprietary .PNC file format. You will need the Network Camera SD Viewer utility to view and convert the .PNC files to .JPEG.

Stealth Mode – LED Indicator Control

The camera status LED is located on the lower right front of the unit. The LED will flash and/or change color to indicate various conditions. You can disable the status LED if you don’t want to attract attention to the camera, especially at night. (Or maybe it’s better to leave the LED so it will glow a steady green to let people know a camera is there to deter crime.)

To disable the LED, click Setup → Indicator Control and select the “Never turn indicator on” option, the click Save.

LED Indicator Control - Panasonic Network Camera

LED Indicator Control – Panasonic Network Camera

This series about the Panasonic Network Cameras covered several of what I consider to be frequently used features. Other things you can do with Panasonic cameras are:

  • MPEG-4 video recording with audio. Video recording can be configured to run continuously or triggered when the camera senses motion by comparing changes in the picture image. See Setup → Motion Detection to adjust sensitivity and Setup Trigger → No 1 Motion Sensing.
  • Upload images to a web site or e-mail images. See Setup Trigger.
  • Configure Guest accounts for family and friends. See Setup General User. I created an account for the Grandparents to be closer to the family activities.

Enjoy!

Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2014 HandymanHowTo.com   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

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13 Responses to How to Install a Panasonic Network Camera – Part 4

  1. Rod February 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Bob – I am considering purchasing this network camera but have one question about motion detection. I would like to buy the indoor version and simply sit it in the window (I have a North facing window so sun isn’t a big deal). However, I’m wondering if motion detection will work through the window. I’ve read that some sensors do not work through windows. Can you tell me what you know about this? Would my type of configuration work?

    • Bob Jackson February 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

      The less expensive models like the BL-C111A and BL-C131A use an infrared sensor that senses body heat to detect motion. Window glass can block the infrared and Panasonic notes this in the camera User Guide. False alarms are possible too, because warm air currents from a heating vent can trigger the infrared motion detector.

      The more expensive models like the BB-HCM511A and BB-HCM531A work differently and detect motion by analyzing changes in pixels from one image to the next. The BB-HCM* models will therefore detect motion through windows and aren’t fooled by warm air currents. The motion sensitivity is adjustable and BB-HCM511A/531A User Guide in section “2.9 Adjusting Motion Detection Sensitivity” states:

      • “Motion is detected by changes in the outline of objects and changes in object brightness, however, in some cases the camera may detect rapid brightness changes by artificial light sources (such as fluorescent lights) as motion.
      • Motion may not be detected as desired if the object’s color is similar to the color of the background.

      • The motion detection feature is disabled when panning and tilting the camera lens, i.e., moving the camera lens will not trigger the motion detection feature.
      • Motion detection can vary by the object, image resolution, or image quality. Refer to the [Preview] area to see how the current settings detect motion.”

      Thanks for reading!
      Bob Jackson

  2. Pete May 5, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Bob

    Have you tried to configure saving the images to FTP instead? I’m trying to do this on a BL-C140a, but no matter how I mess with the settings, it fails to save the image.

    Thanks, Pete

    • Bob Jackson May 6, 2010 at 4:29 am #

      I’ve not enabled FTP transfer. Have you called Panasonic Tech Support? They’re very helpful and knowledgeable.

  3. Seamus June 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Is there a network camera that allows you to configure the email functionality only when a digital input is active(only when the house alarm is active). I do not want emails sent when I am in the house

    • Bob Jackson June 26, 2010 at 9:07 am #

      The external sensor inputs are used as a “trigger” to move the camera to a preset viewing position, start recording and transfer images. However, the camera features lacks IF … THEN logic to disable the triggers based on the status of an external i/o sensor such as the house alarm. About the best you can do is configure a time-of-day schedule when the trigger is enabled, e.g. you’re away during working hours.

  4. Steve December 6, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    Hi Bob,

    Very nice you should get a commission from Panasonic for your work here. The photos are outstanding. I bought the BB-HCM511A last week and should receive it this week.

    Have a question. I would like to use the External Device Control output I/O terminal 3 & 4 to turn on a lamp. Do you know of an external I/O interface that I can plug into a 110V AC wall outlet and control the on / off through the camera?

  5. Rob Wild November 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Hi all,

    I’d love to follow the advice given here to turn on a lamp via the external I/O interface, however my camera didn’t come with a connector with which I can plug into the interface and use it. Is it a special panasonic plug and if so where can I buy one, does any one know?

    Many thanks Rob.

    • Bob Jackson November 14, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      The External I/O interface on the Panasonic BB-HCM511A network camera doesn’t have a plug or connector harness. You just insert the end of the bare wire into the spring loaded push connectors. See these documents:
      External_IO.pdf
      Installation Guide on page 3.

  6. Tom Treddles November 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Thank you for your outstanding and unselfish contribution. tt

  7. Phil Fulton January 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Have you had any issues with the cameras losing internet connectivity? My BL-C131As work for a week or 2 (or as short as a few days) and then lose the connection to the internet. They then need to be unplugged from the outlet and plugged back in which restores the connection. Not very useful when I am away from the house for weeks at a time.

    • Bob Jackson January 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      I’ve not tried the BL-C131 camera. My BB-HCM511A has always been rock solid. You might have a problem with your DDNS service or router setup.

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