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Cameras For Hidden Staging

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  • Member since
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  • From: Ontario Canada
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Cameras For Hidden Staging
Posted by Mark R. on Saturday, June 09, 2018 10:20 PM

For those who are using them, what are you using ? I've looked at a lot of automotive back-up cameras / monitors on ebay that look promising. Many of the kits can be had for under $20.00 including a 4.3" monitor. A lot of the reviews seem to be positive for the most part on quality. Plan on using wired versions as I'm afraid the wireless versions just adds to more signals in the room than could cause interferrence. The cameras and monitors will be near each other anyway. 

Mark.

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Posted by BNSF UP and others modeler on Saturday, June 09, 2018 10:31 PM

What resolution do you want?

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Posted by Mark R. on Saturday, June 09, 2018 11:26 PM

BNSF UP and others modeler

What resolution do you want?

 

Not really all that important. Just would like to SEE where the trains are and if they are moving. I already have optical sensors on each track as an indicator on the panel, but would be nice to have an actual visual as well.

 

Mark.

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, June 10, 2018 4:41 AM

I have been using video "surveillance" of my staging yard for about twenty years now. For me it is a very good solution for keeping an "eye" on things. My system started out simple enough when I found some CCTV cameras at Electronics Surplus and a 13" B&W TV way back when. Today I have sixteen cameras and some of those are watching and recording activity around the property, too.

For a bare-bones, two camera setup you mention I would go this route. A two-input, seven inch LCD display such as this:

https://www.amazon.com/Padarsey-Backlight-Serveillance-Satellite-Equipment/dp/B06X1BKZVC/ref=pd_sbs_107_8?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B06X1BKZVC&pd_rd_r=6MGMDPAYJ5KM2NYMQPZA&pd_rd_w=Ku3KG&pd_rd_wg=TBCMC&psc=1&refRID=6MGMDPAYJ5KM2NYMQPZA

I don't recall if this screen is "Split-Screen" capable but there is an input button that will toggle between input 1 or 2. For a little more $$ you can find larger or more sophisticated screens. I mention this one for its price point.

Many of the mini "spy-cam" or backup cameras out there don't have additional low light IR lighting so a camera like this would be my choice, if you have the room for them (about the size of a beer can). I have several of these Zosi cameras and, for the money, they are very good. I do use a couple of the tiny cameras intended for automobile back-up or blind spot use. The ones I have on the layout are actually mounted inside structures and allow me to see blind areas behind structures when I'm switching industrial areas. They have an optional grid overlay which can be disabled by snipping a wire.

https://www.amazon.com/ZOSI-1000TVL-Surveillance-Weatherproof-Security/dp/B00J21DFGE/ref=sr_1_10?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1526757182&sr=1-10&keywords=zosi+security+camera

These show full color when light levels are higher and revert to B&W with the IR-LEDs in low light situations.

I power some of my cameras with the 12 VDC supply that I have for layout lighting so when the layout power is on, so are the cameras and monitor.

The above linked camera doesn't come with power supply or wire but those are easily found on Amazon. I picked up a 1000 foot roll of RG59U and compression B-N-C connectors.

https://www.amazon.com/Pre-made-Extension-Cable-Connector-Security/dp/B00LAL4W7K/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1526757532&sr=1-5&keywords=cctv+cable

This should get you up and running for under $100. I prefer hardwiring. There's plenty of stray interference around the layout and that can easily show up in the video signal, so I am in agreement that a hard-wired system is best.

If I get time later I'll try to get some screen-captures and post them.

Hope that helps, Ed

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Posted by nealknows on Sunday, June 10, 2018 8:14 AM

I wish I would have known about some of those surveilance cameras available when I bought my set up from Harbor Freight. It has 2 cameras and a small monitor. Cameras are wireless and I use it only for staging. It has a feature for freezing one camera or I can add 2 more cameras. 

I have the monitor located at the dispatchers area on the layout. Works fine for me during oiperating sessions. The camera you see in the photo needs to be relocated as I had this in a different location. 

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Posted by Mark R. on Sunday, June 10, 2018 8:49 AM

Thanks guys. This is one of the ones I was looking at on Amazon.ca (I'm in Canada) so the prices are in Canadian funds ....

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00J9P0WO6/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A1EHHZGK8CZDMP&psc=1

Also this one on ebay ....

https://www.ebay.com/itm/4-3-TFT-LCD-Monitor-Car-Rear-View-Reverse-System-Night-Vision-Backup-Camera-kit/361629777823?var=null

I've been running my hidden staging yards for over fifteen years now using just photo-cells between the rails to display locations, which has worked quite well. Just thought it would be nice to have a visual to monitor speed in and out. The screen will be mounted close to the operator, so it doesn't have to be very big.

I took a picture of my staging with my phone and held it up on the valence where it would be and it was quite clear what I was looking at .... and my cell screen is smaller than the Amazon screen I linked to.

This is more a novelty and not really a necessity, so I don't want to make a big investment. 

Mark.

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Sunday, June 10, 2018 12:33 PM

I have bought three different models of inferred surveillance cameras from Harbor Freight over the years. They all connect to a 8 channel recorder. I don’t use them on my layout since my staging is open and scenic. I just use them on the outside of the house and in the rooms with valuable electronics like my home recording studio. Any of them would work fine for hidden staging since they are all very small and are all hard wired in. The cameras were about $30. The recorder with 4 cameras was just over $200.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 8:14 PM

I have several of the HF 2-camera systems. Used to be a CRT came with them, but that was upgraded to a LCD falt panel a few years back. The cameras have improved, too.

I have a Zosi system for the house now. If I had it to do over, I'd go that way for the layout, which has a mix of the above HF stuff that was acquired incrementally. A Zosi system goves you 8 low-light cams, a DVR and the ability to send the whole group of 8 images to a single monitor for about $200 delivered. Good stuff.

The Zosi cams may be a little large for some applications, but Swann, HF, and other offers smaller cams if those are needed.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by Mark R. on Saturday, July 14, 2018 7:44 PM

Just a quick update .... I bought three of the $20 backup cameras from ebay. For the money, I'd rate them as excellent. Depth of field is perfect from one inch to across the room. Screen is very sharp and has brightness / saturation / tint controls. But ....

It's a BACK UP camera - meaning the image on the screen is a mirror image like looking in your rear view mirror. Perfect for what it's intended, but not so much for what I wanted it for. Better versions allow you to switch the screen from mirroe to normal, but not this one.

If I would have realized that going in, they also have forward facing camera versions. These would be what I needed to monitor the staging area. All is not lost really - I can get forward facing cameras for about $8.00 each, so I'm still not breaking the bank. The rear facing cameras also have that red / yellow / green parking grid on the screen (which can easily be ignored) where-as the front facing cameras do not.

 

Just thought I'd put it out there in case anyone else was considering them as an option.

Mark.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, July 14, 2018 9:49 PM

Mark R.
The rear facing cameras also have that red / yellow / green parking grid on the screen

The mini cameras I bought for viewing trackage hidden behind structures have a small wire you can snip to eliminate the grid and distance markers:

https://tinyurl.com/y9p7b4k7

A little more than the $8 but I'm happy with them.

Cheers, Ed

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