Category Archives: Product Reviews

The Most Undetectable Spy Camera

Is a full-blown camera system too bulky for the décor of your home? Fair enough. But don’t you still want to know what happens in your home while you are away? I did. That’s why I recently started doing research on spy cameras until I found the perfect fit.

The bummer about spy cameras: their image quality and storage capacity usually doesn’t even come close to a proficient and recommended surveillance camera system. The benefits: Most of them are built with so much expert thought that they are truly undetectable.

I have some strict requirements when it comes to spy cameras that I’ll invest in: 1) They must have a built-in DVR; 2) That DVR should hold at least 2 GB worth of memory; 3) The image quality must be at least 320×240 resolution; 4) They should have a USB connection to my computer.

I have these requirements for a reason. The spy cams I have installed are for weekend use. If I’m leaving town for the weekend, I want to know what’s happening while I’m away. With these requirements, I can turn on or set my spy cams to motion detection record, they’ll record all activity for the entire weekend and when I get home, I just plug them into my computer via USB port and immediately I find out what I missed.

My most highly recommended Spy Cam is the KJB Power Outlet Spy Cam. They stick to a wall and have 2 different face plates (white and light beige) to match the other outlets in your home. Now, think about the blue print of your home. How many different places could you place this disguised wall outlet and get away with it? I have 2 of them. One in the living room near the front door where I can view my entire living room from wall to wall and one in my bedroom at waist-height, right next to my television.

Nobody has ever even considered that these things could be spy cameras because they are very well-designed surveillance cams. More so, they meet my spy cam requirements. My KJB Power Outlet Spy Cams shoot at 640×480 resolution and support up to a 32 GB Mini SD card. That’s more than enough storage space to hold all the footage they captured over the weekend. I also have the option to record in standard VGA or bump the quality up to HD.

The best feature about this spy cam, in my opinion, is the Passive Infrared Motion Detector that picks up heat from up to 15 feet away. Its effectiveness is paramount. I began truly trusting this spy cam after it caught my dog ripping up a pillow on my couch, at least 19 feet from the camera. I looked through the footage when I got home from a weekend trip and its sensitivity level absolutely stunned me. It also has a snap shot mode if I want to conserve memory space and the battery lasts roughly 5 days in standby mode.

Spy cams are discreet and to the point. The technology in them these days is truly amazing and they’re more dependable than a lot of people tend to imagine. Cameras in businesses have also been known to keep employee productivity up. Oh, and did I mention? This spy cam records sound too. I was on the fence about spy cams, but now I see their value: peace of mind, when I need it.

March Madness: A Recap of New Products at Home Security Store in March

March’s new products at Home Security Store have been a great representation of 2013. Each product is pushing technology to its brink and maximizing the personal security of every home or business owner. It’s been a good month for security- take advantage of it.

The We.R Security System

In a word: futuristic. Guaranteed this is the design of the future. With the speed of technology and the “build the product so that it fits in the consumer’s hand” strategy, within a few years alarm systems will be built exclusively like this.

All operations of the alarm system are run directly through your smart phone. No longer do you need a call from an alarm monitoring company to know your security system has been triggered. You get a lightning-fast push notification AND VIDEO of what happens in your home, as it happens.

How this system separates itself from the pack is that video connection. Someday, I believe that cameras will be incorporated in every alarm system for two reasons: 1) Many people prefer visual communication and 2) Cameras are only becoming more and more cost-friendly. The We.R is a trailblazer and one of the best releases in the home security industry in a long time.

Nature Power

Built mostly for vacations and excursions, the Power Bank 5.0 and the Folding Solar Panel were impressive when I had the opportunity to test them. The folding solar panel is as advertised. You step out into the sunlight and it instantly begins charging your smart phone or other electronic device. I was truly startled when I stepped outside with this panel. Not only did it start charging my iPhone immediately, in the span of 30 minutes my phone was almost completely charged.

The Power Bank 5.0- same deal. With a 5000mAmp lithium polymer battery, it charges smart phones up to 5 times on one full charge. This is a manufacturer estimate, but in my personal test, I got 5 and a half charges on my iPhone with one full charge of the Power Bank. Basically- this thing is not afraid to show its strength and will probably surprise you- it sure surprised me. 9.5 out of 10.

AR500 Armored Backpack

Capable of defeating rifle rounds up to 7.62×51/.308 @ 2780ft/s, I haven’t personally tested this product in action because, well, I try to avoid being shot as much as possible. But I have worn it, seen it worn and seen the 9.5” x 13” pack plate in action, so I can say this: It’s comfortable, it blends with other backpacks and it might honestly save your life. The world is an unpredictable place. Violence is among us. I truly felt safer wearing around the AR500 Armored Backpack.

Lorex Video Baby Monitor

This thing is just cool. Everything you could want out of a video baby monitor- it has, including the freedom of a portable LCD video screen as you move about the house on a daily basis. The pan/tilt camera is also a plus. It allows you to push this camera any which way you like in case your baby changes positions or tries to make a run for it.

I didn’t use it as a video baby monitor because I don’t have children, but as I set it up near my front door it occurred to me that it was more than just a video baby monitor. I was watching my front door from my bedroom and I realized that this thing easily doubles as a smaller scaled Home Security System. The Skype capability also let me look in on my home while at work. I was truly impressed. 9 out of 10.

Evolve Through Z-Wave

Everyone is a potential victim of breaking and entering, unfortunately. It’s a frightening thought: A creeper, prowling around, sniffing through your stuff, wanting to steal pieces of your life for their own personal gain. How do you stop it from happening?

Your first goal when it comes to home security should be this: Scare the living daylights out of thieves and stop them in their tracks- before they even consider targeting your home or business. The best way to do this is what I like to call preliminary warnings. Yard signs, window stickers and driveway security lights let burglars know that they are being watched and are stationed outside to scare them from coming inside. Basically: Stop them at your sidewalk.

Let’s think about the psychology of a petty thief for a moment. What do they want? Cash or high-valued goods- like jewelry. How do they want it? Fast. Did you know that over 50% of burglars live within 2 miles of the home they burglarize? To see a great visual of the characteristics of a burglar, click here: Characteristics of a Burglar.

What does this mean? Petty burglars don’t want to be seen or heard when they break in to your home, they don’t want anybody inside when they enter and they want to grab and go as fast as humanly possible. Did you know that most burglaries are non-violent, are usually committed by white men under the age of 25 and are over in less than 12 minutes?

Which again brings us back to: Stop them at your sidewalk. If it’s dark outside, the yard signs and warning stickers may not work. What if your driveway light malfunctions? What is your fail safe plan? Home automation. Make sure the lights are always on inside and keep the burglars outside.

Many new-aged alarm systems come with Z-Wave capability. This allows you to control lights and other appliances straight through your alarm system including- setting them on a timer.

Home Security Store recently started carrying Evolve Z-Wave products that really simplify and expand what you can do with home automation. Instead of buying a Z-Wave compatible lamp or other appliance, these products make electrical plugs Z-Wave compatible meaning all appliances plugged into that plug become Z-Wave compatible.

The LOM-15 Wall Mount Outlet Module  is actually a replacement wall outlet with two plugs for appliances. So if you install one of these, you can technically now schedule on/off times for 2 living room lamps through your home alarm system! Keep them on through the wee hours of the night and even though your electrical bill might slightly go up- you’ll be keeping those criminals outside.

The LDM-15 Plug In Lamp Module is similar to the LOM-15, but features an entirely different purpose. This module plugs directly into a wall outlet (and has a 3 prong plug of its own built in) and dims your lamps. Remember how I mentioned electricity bills going up? The LDM-15 works against that. It still keeps your home lit at night with less of a toll on your pocket book.

Thermostats, garage doors, and coffee machines other great appliances to set timers on through Z-Wave alarm systems. If you have a strong daily routine, you might honestly get to a point where you never have to flick a switch in your home ever again!

These new Evolve Z-Wave products have tremendous capability. They work to turn your humble abode into a fully functional smart home at an affordable price. Most importantly, they work to keep the bad guys out and the good guys safe.

Not A Boyscout? Get Ready Fuel

Andrew wasn’t a boy scout. He wasn’t the “outdoors” type. In fact, every time he reached the outer-limits of Los Angeles, his heart beat would speed up and his mind would slow down. He was a city boy, through and through. He believed the tallest mountain in the world was the US Bank Tower in Downtown and to this day, he still believes you can white water raft on the LA River.

I found myself always wondering: What creates a person of this genetic make-up? Is it possible a man could go his whole life without ever actually embracing the Earth’s natural beauty? You can imagine- as a Caveman- this was hard for me to fathom.

So one day, while we were chowing down at the Rainforest Cafe in Anaheim, he mentioned a business-wide retreat to Mammoth. He was basically debating with himself if he should go or not right in front of me at the table. LA people- I will never understand.

His words: “Upside, kids get to see what the wilderness is like. Downside, it’s Yosemite. Upside, day-long hikes and I have been feeling a bit beefy lately. Downside, it’s Yosemite.” So I cut in, hoping to find this deep discomfort he has with the outdoors: “What’s wrong with Yosemite?”

It was like I had just unlocked Pandora’s Box. He named every imaginable problem a person could ever run into in the wilderness: “Bears.. Mud slides.. You lose your compass, you lose your life.” It was eye-opening and frustrating at the same time. I was determined to get to the bottom of his kooky fear of the great outdoors by the end of this conversation. So finally I asked, “What happened?”

His fast-moving lips suddenly slowed down. Realizing he finally had to share this with somebody, he perfectly explained a story of how he was separated from his father and brother on a hike in the mountains once. He was alone, lost and the dark had set in on a chilly night. He had a backpack with supplies, none of which could really help him stay warm in the night- including emergency food and extra clothes.

Worst- he didn’t know how to start a fire. He was found the next morning by a search and rescue team and developed pneumonia because of the freezing temperatures the night before. His most poignant words: “I’ll never forget that cold.” Andrew almost died, mostly because he didn’t know how to start a fire.

If Andrew would’ve had Ready Fuel he wouldn’t have nearly froze to death. READY FUEL is this little gel substance that turns to fire with the strike of a match. It comes in on-the-go pouches, burns for up to 20 minutes and gets hot enough to boil a pot of water. Tested and approved by the U.S. Military, it’s great to have in a camping kit or as part of your survival gear.

I had to share this because, technically Andrew thought he was prepared for the outdoors. He had his first aid kit, extra clothes, water and food. He even had a lighter, but nothing to start a fire with.

If you’re an Outdoorsman and don’t know how to start a fire, fear not my friends. Ready fuel is your fast and easy solution. Don’t be an Andrew and more importantly- don’t get trapped in the pace of city life. Get out there and get out there with a plan. Cavemen for Ready Fuel 2013.

 

Meteorites and Car Cameras

Russia’s got a new fad. If you’ve watched the news or been on YouTube in the last week, you might’ve noticed multiple videos of an enormous 10-ton meteorite heading straight for us, majestically burning brighter than the Sun before making contact with Mother Earth. Have you noticed that 95 percent of the videos surfacing are from Russian Car Cameras? The footage is truly amazing. To view a clip, click here.

NASA reports that it is the largest meteor to enter the Earth’s atmosphere in over 100 years. Thanks to car cameras, the entire world witnessed history on a real and frightening level in a matter of minutes. How phenomenal is that?

What’s interesting is how many cameras picked up the meteorite footage. Why do so many Russians own dashboard cameras? Multiple reasons- according to the Washington Post- including reckless drivers, poor road conditions and intimidation from traffic police. To read the Washington Post article by Olga Khazan on Russian dash-cameras click here.

It makes me wonder why more drivers in the United States don’t own a dashboard cam. Don’t Americans face these same circumstances every time we drive to work or drop off the kids at baseball practice? According to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics there are over 254 million registered passenger vehicles in the US (80 percent of the country) and over 10.8 million traffic accidents per year. Frightening? I think so.

This is why cave men avoided building cars. See, we were geniuses and had the technology- fact. We just understood how dangerous it was and opted to walk away from the idea. Plus, peaceful strolls on sunny days were so much more appealing to our romantic souls.

These viral videos are a reminder of the importance of car cameras. Beyond saving you ring time in insurance bouts, car cams pick up bizarre and memorable footage that you might normally miss while driving and- they’re affordable.

The Atrix HD Car Camera, for example, shoots in 720p resolution and has a 120 degree view angle. It’s reliable, records day and night and gives you piece of mind every time you step into your vehicle. Watch our video review of the Atrix HD Car Camera above.

What these meteor videos tell us: Record your own history with this new trend quickly sweeping across the world. Now that it’s 2013 and the world has developed into this crazy highway of information, I guess this is one fad I don’t mind following.

Caveman out.

Survive Outdoors Longer with this New Product at Home Security Store

The SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer) Survival Kit is a multi-functional life saving device that fits in the palm of your hand and adds a new level of safety to your emergency preparedness plan. Designed for outdoor use, the tools and supplies in this On-the-Go and indestructible survival pack will fulfill your most basic needs in the wake of disaster.  Learn more in Jared Nelson’s latest product video review.

What is your personal level or emergency preparedness?

SKTK – Guardian Elite Survival Kit has the essentials: everything you need to keep you alive for up to 72 hours of survival and it is all contained in a handy durable red backpack so rescuers can spot you, even if you’re hidden under rubble. This survival bag is your insurance policy should natural or man-made disaster strike.  Home Security Store Host Jared Nelson has more.

 

How to Wire a Motion Detector to an Alarm Control Panel

Need a tutorial on the installation process of putting together a DIY alarm system?  Step into Matt’s Knowledgebase classroom.  Our Tech Manager Matt Apperson explains how to wire a motion detector to an alarm control panel.

Here is that transcript from the video:

All right.  Well, here we go.  Okay.  So today we’re going to wire up a motion detector to the DSC control panel and this particular motion is basically almost the same one you get in most of the kits.  So we’re going to go ahead and wire this up to a DSC control panel and we’ll get this together here.

So usually what you’ve got to have is you’re going to have to have four wires to the motion detector, two wires which are going to carry the power and two wires that are which going to accommodate the zone.  So what we’ll do is usually we have of our four conductor, a red, black and a white and a green and I like to stay with the red and the black for the power.  So we’ll take our red and black here and in the motion, we have a 12 volt and a ground.  So I usually use the red wire as positive so we’ll go ahead and wire up our 12 volt to positive into the 12 volt there and then I’ll use our black wire here for our ground wire and we’re going to wire that right into the ground.  Tighten that down.

And then the other two wires here, the white and the green, this is what we’re going to use for the zone.  There’s no polarity on these two wires so it doesn’t matter which way they go and on the motion, we’ll have an N, C and a C or if it’s a different brand in motion you may have something that might say alarm or it may say RR or I think that’d be about it really but we’re going to wire up our two wires into the N, C and the C and then we’re going to tighten these down here.

Okay.  So that’ll take care of it for the motion detector.  We have our two wires for power and our two wires for zone and we’ll just feed our wire back through this so we can put the cover back on it.  Take our cover here and put this back together and there we go.  So that will be that.

And then we can go ahead–and now we’re going to go ahead and wire this up to our control panel.  What we have here is we need to get our power from the control panel which is 12 volts DC.  So we’re going to take our yellow and our–our red and black wire here and we’re actually going to get it off the auxiliary plus and minus circuit.  So we’ll take our black wire and put that in auxiliary minus and then we’ll take our red wire and put that in the auxiliary plus.  There we go.

All right.  So now we need to wire these other two wires here, the white and the green that we currently hooked up to the normally closing common and the motion into a zone on the control panel.  So for this example we’re going to go ahead and use zone one and common and you can see here I have a resister to shorten that zone out.  So we’re going to go ahead and take the resister out and we’re going to go ahead and use this particular resister for wiring this up to the control panel.

So being as it’s a normally closed device, our resister needs to be in line because we would need to create an entire loop back to the control panel, so from the zone, through the motion back into the calm.  5.6K of resistance and one resister per zone.

So in this case what we’ll do is we’re just going to twist our wire up to the one side of the resister and then we’re going to take the other side of the resister and put this into the zone one terminal and then what we’ll do is we’re going to take our second wire and we’re going to put it directly into the calm terminal.

Okay.  So this right here will give you your loop.  Now you can cap this in several different ways.  You can actually solder this connection here.  We have wire crimps that you can use.  Put it on and just crimp it down.  We also have–or you can get like wire nuts or, you know, things like that, anything you can kind of be creative with to make sure that you secure this connection.  We’re not going to secure this for–today so.

So what we need to do is that’ll take care of the motion to the control panel and then pretty much what we do is we would program the zone accordingly so how we would want this particular device to function.  We’re going to go ahead and we would program the panel to either make it be off when you arm it to the home mode or, you know, give you a delayed time or be an instant zone if it’s in an area that you’re not going to be in while the system is armed and, you know, if you plan on arming this while you’re at home, this device can be programmed to be activated while you’re at home, say if you had a basement or a downstairs level that you knew you weren’t going to be in and so as far as the motion goes, that’s going to be about do it for today.

How to Install a BNC Fitting into a RG6 Cable

Home Security Store Tech Manager and Knowledgebase Host Matt Apperson shows you how to install a BNC fitting into a RG6 cable.  This particular cable may be used for setting up your surveillance system.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Hi I’m Matt Apperson, from SecurityStore.com and today, we’re going to hook up twist-on BNC connectors to RJ6 cable.

So in some cases you probably buy a pre-fabricated cable.  It kind of looks like this.  This is a 25-footer and I already have the ends made on it for you.  It will have the BNC and the power cable, but in some cases the sizes that we carry may not be what you need.  So you may have been got a 500-foot roll of Siamese cable which is RJ-6 and power combined.  The only difference is with the RJ6 Siamese cable you won’t have any fittings on it, so you’ll need to install your own and that’s what I’m going to show you today.

We’re going to do away with this and I’m going to show you a simple tool.  This is a tool that we carry, this is for cutting coax and it makes it real simple.  So all I need to do, is take an end of the cable and you’re going to come back maybe about half an inch and you’ll lay your cutter on the cable, and just crimp it down, and just spin.  Then we’ll take our pair of pliers here and we’ll just rip the end of it off.  Ok, underneath all of this there will be a couple layers here.  So you’ll have your shielded outer core which we’re just going to basically, you don’t wanna cut this off.  A lot of times if you cut this off you’ll end up with a bad ground connection and you won’t get too much video or you may have a jumpy video or a scratchy video.  Also you want to make sure that when you roll it back over the casing that you don’t have any extra braids of this lain into this area here because if it touches this next pin that we’re going to reveal you can end up with a shorted video, video loss or something like that.

We’re going to go ahead and cut this off here and you’re probably going to want just a standard pair of strippers.  What we’ll do is we’re going to cut this about an eighth of an inch right above what we originally had cut off, and sometimes you may need to kind of twist.  This is kind of tough to get off. And this reveals the copper center pin.  Of course this is too much to fit into this, it’s too long, so what we need to do is we’re going to shorten this up and what we want to make sure is that we want to make sure maybe we have about 3/8ths of an inch of it, leaving you with something like this.

What we’re going to do, is we’re going to take this piece here and we’re just going to screw this on.  So again, make sure that you don’t have any copper, you know inside here or touching this pin in any way.  So this is actually just going to split on here like this and you can actually just give it a little twist and it should pop on.  Then you’re just going to screw it down into place.

Now you’ve got that on there tight.  You can take this extra copper here that’s hanging and sometimes it will fall off because it’s been cut by the threads, and then usually what I do is I’ll take the excess and wrap it around.  You can tape this up with like electrical tape if you want or you can just leave it hanging or just tuck it up so it looks kind of like this.  A lot of guys will just cut this off and then run a little piece of electrical tape around it to keep it cover it up, but that’s entirely up to you.  But now, you have your RJ6 with your twist-on connector fitted.  And that should do it.

Swimming Pool Safety Alarms

Each year, nearly three thousand children in the United States are rushed to a hospital emergency room after nearly drowning in a swimming pool. Being deprived of oxygen for prolonged periods, many of these children suffer severe brain injuries and some never fully recover. Adding to this distressing statistic is the deeply sad fact that more than 300 American children die from accidental drowning each year. Installing pool safety alarms can drastically reduce these numbers. While parents of young children are among those most likely to show interest in pool safety alarms, security experts also recommend them to grandparents and other relatives of young children.

Accidental Drowning Can Even Occur In Busy, High Traffic Environment

Reports of unattended children drowning after accidentally falling into a swimming pool are unfortunately common. What may alarm many reading this, however, is the fact that children also drown at poolside family gatherings and in the midst of other social events. In a number of past cases, people have frantically searched a home for a missing little one only to find out too late that the child has drowned. This, despite the fact that other swimmers were in and around a pool, but just did not notice in time that a child had fallen in. Considering the fact that a drowning death can take place in a matter of minutes, it is imperative that young children be offered the safety of wearing special sensors that activate pool safety alarms the second the child becomes submerged under water.

Pool Safety Alarms Protect Pets

Children are not the only ones for whom pool safety alarms are important. Pets can also be better protected simply by installing an alarm system designed to instantly alert owners in the event that an animal falls or jumps into a swimming pool. Some dogs cannot swim and those that can often panic upon finding themselves submerged in water. Flailing in terror, it is not uncommon for a dog to become exhausted and drown before finding a way to climb out of a pool. Small dogs, those that are overweight and senior dogs are often at a greater risk for drowning when living in a home with a swimming pool.

Portable Pool Safety Alarms

Individuals living in apartments or condominiums with shared pool access can also benefit from the safety offered by pool alarms. An electronic base alarm station can be plugged into a standard wall outlet and no permanent installation is needed. The alarm’s sensor is worn on a child’s wrist or around a pet’s collar and a shrill alarm is immediately triggered as soon as a wrist sensor is submerged in water. Parents and pet owners should also consider a portable alarm system since such can also be used when visiting a friend’s home or while vacationing.

Save a Child

Many of the most disturbing stories of children and pets dying from accidental drowning can be prevented. As most people reading this are grieved to hear about the loss suffered by families who have had to endure such tragedies, all should take comfort in knowing that future drowning can be avoided. Even in cases where a child does not perish, a lifelong brain injury resulting in a severe handicap can also be prevented. Those who do not have children, pets or swimming pools, however, can very easily participate in the process of helping others avoid such an incomparable loss or injury simply by offering a pool safety alarm as a gift to a neighbor or a friend.

Alarms Are Not Just For Swimming Pools

Pool safety alarms are not only recommended for households where a swimming pool is present. Homeowners with backyard ponds or who live in homes that are located in close vicinity of lakes and streams should also invest in a pool safety alarm kit. As long as a base station can be plugged into an electrical outlet, a pool safety alarm can help protect against drowning in any body of water. The STPAKIT2 Safety Turtle Pool Alarm with Wristband Sensor, for example, works at ranges where the sensor is located within at least 200 feet of the alarm’s base station.

Protection Beyond Fences

Homeowners who have erected a fence around a pool in order to protect children and pets from accidental drowning should also consider a pool safety alarm. In fact, an alarm such as the STPAKIT2 Safety Turtle Pool Alarm with Gate Sensor can also be affixed to a fence, which will emit a loud alarm whenever the gate is opened. A fenced pool that is further equipped with a safety alarm serves as a double barrier of protection.

No Excuses

Pool safety alarms are easy to install and are not very expensive. Sadly, not utilizing such a system can literally cost a child’s life. In comparing these two facts, there is no good reason to delay purchasing a pool safety alarm to protect children and pets.