# Monday, August 15, 2011

This is a wireless network camera.

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This is a BATTERY POWERED wireless network camera.

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This is a RELATIVELY SMALL CR2 BATTERY POWERED wireless network camera.

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You’ve just seen the Trek Ai Ball battery powered wireless network camera. It’s unique feature is that it is an honest to god WiFi Network camera in an extremely tight package and through the use of a battery means its can be truly wireless. All these features make for some very interesting applications.

The camera has very little physical features, the entire rear section after the blue divider line happens to be the battery compartment.

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It’s design has an interesting purpose, more on that later. On the side you find the on off switch.

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when you first turn it on the camera will establish a ad hoc network which you connect to using your web browser, then like any other network camera you will be able to view the feed from it. image quality is…. usable, but I guess I shouldn’t be expecting miracles from a 3V driven camera.

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So… it runs off a pretty expensive little battery, the manual says it’ll run for about 90 mins on a fresh battery depending on how long you spend looking through it. The range of the wireless radio is about 2 rooms in doors I expect longer range reception when you have line of sight.

Now, they didn’t expect people to keep running the camera off batteries, so they sell a cradle accessory.

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which, luckily for me was included in the old slightly trampled package. The cradle basically allows the camera to be powered through a USB connector, or what I’d like to call 5V of the gods! The socket sits at the back as you’d expect.

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The entire front half of the cradle is actually a battery analog complete with the necessary contacts.

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But the damn contacts on my cradle wasn’t high enough to reach the contacts in the camera, causing me a few moments of panic as I thought something was wrong with my set. An interesting thing to note is that the voltage coming off the contacts is 3V and not 5V, so there’s some sort of resistor dropping the voltage in the cradle.

So all you need to do is just snap the camera onto the cradle and you have your typical connected network camera.

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Snap is the right word to use, because there’s a horrible crunching noise of weak plastic whenever you insert or remove it, wonder how long it’ll last if you keep moving it from the cradle.

So, while the cradle grants the ability to use 5V to power the camera, the stand gets in the way, luckily it is easily removed by unscrewing it from the side.

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So now I have a more compact camera, now all I need is a source of power to make it mobile again, and a way to secure said power supply to the camera. I believe I have the parts.

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And here’s what I ended up with.

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Why is it that all user hacks end up looking like IEDs? But aside from that it is now a slimmer package which can be concealed easier, also the fatter battery should provide a longer runtime than the single battery.

Why should you get it?

It’s a pretty darn small battery operated network wireless camera, yes it broadcasts it’s SSID out in the open and there doesn’t seem to be any advanced settings available to turn that off. But still if a light bulb went on in your head when you heard the product description you know you want it!

Why SHOULDN’T you get it?

There’s no onboard recording medium, you’ll need a Java capable web browser to record streams. Or… you could just BUY their iOS recording applications, I understand that the apps would most likely be generic enough to work with any MJPEG source, but seriously? I bought your hardware and you couldn’t even give me the software for it? Not even just the ability to ONLY VIEW the streams? (granted, if all you wanted to do was view the camera, browsing to it using most modern mobile browsers would work)

Another downgrade of the Ai-Ball’s appeal is that the build quality just doesn’t feel too good! inserting the cradle feels like it’s gonna snap the hooks, the battery door feels thin and flimsy, the power switch feels flimsly. You get the picture?

If you DO intend to pick it up, do realize that there are TWO hardware revisions out there, v3.0 and BEFORE V3.0, from the pictures I see on the web seems like v3.0 has some new management functions in admin mode for dealing with the wireless settings. I got a PRE v3.0 model, guess that’s why they were bundled it along with the cradle.


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