HOWTO Make a Cheap Network Camera Enclosure

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When a network camera costs under $100 it doesn’t make sense to spend $300+ on a fancy camera enclosure so you can mount the camera outside.    If you live in a temperate climate, you just need to keep the camera dry.  If you live where the temperatures stay below freezing for long periods of time, this hack probably won’t work for you.  If you reside south of the Mason-Dixon Line or enjoy a Mediterranean climate like coastal California, this might be just the ticket.

Take your camera to your local hardware store and find a PVC pipe that it will fit into. I chose a nice black pipe with a small bend in it.  The black matched the trim on the house, so it was a good fit.  For a lot of homes, white might be a better choice.

Once your camera is setup, connect it to Sensr.net so you can take advantage of all of our cool features, like SMS and email alerts, 30 days archiving, no firewall config, clip sharing, embedable live streams, guest access, etc.

In my case I was mounting the camera on our shed.  My power source (a 110v outlet) is on the inside of the shed, so I just drilled a hole in the wall big enough to snake the power cord through.  (See photo above.)

You can get fancy and actually use screws to mount the camera.  I decided to use super strong double sided tape.  Just slap a couple strips on the camera mount and you’re good to go.

Next you need to mount the PVC pipe around the camera.  Again I opted for the lazy man’s solution, more double sided tape.  I cut a bunch of small strips and stuck them around the circumference of the PVC pipe.  Initially I tried to get away with just two pieces of tape.  (See photo.)  The next morning I was unhappily greeted by PVC pipe on the ground.  Don’t be too lazy.  Cover the entire circumference of the  pipe with tape.

Word to the wise:  super strong double sided sticky tape is super strong.  You want to practice mounting the PVC pipe with before removing the backing paper.  If you place the PVC pipe in the wrong location and have to move it, the tape will most likely leave ugly marks or remove the existing paint.   Don’t forget to make sure the camera angle works for you before mounting the pipe.  In my case I tried several different rotation angles for the pipe to make sure the camera angle worked out.  (Setting up your camera on Sensr.net first can help with this.  Just use the “live view” on your iPhone or Android to preview the camera angle.)

That’s it!  Once you stick the PVC pipe over the camera, you should be good to go.  Sure, the camera is still stuck in the open air and if you get some torrential rains it might be ruined.  But hey, at that point you’ll only be out the cost of the camera, between $50 and $150 most likely.  The cost of this mount and cover is negligible, about $5.  If the camera lasts a year or so you’ll want to upgrade it anyway!

Once you get your camera mounted, make sure to register it with Sensr.net so you can easily view, share, and archive it in the cloud.

Update:  There is a nice Instructables article on making an IP camera housing from garden lamps.   There was also an article in Make Magazine back in 2009 on how to make a Cheap Webcam Enclosure.