Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Repurposing The Stuff You Already Have

Last week, a co-worker told my wife that in order to check her newborn, she needed to crawl into baby's room, rise up carefully, and spy on baby between the bars of the crib. If baby saw mom or dad, baby would start to cry. As this is a second account story, the reasons my wife told me was that the baby was fine on his/her own, but when he/she saw mommy or daddy, he/she wanted to be held by them. Or something to that effect.

Of course, crawling for us isn't an option as we don't plan on a crib. We do have a bassinet for the few few months, however, after that, baby will be sleeping on a floor bed. So how do we check on the baby without her spying us?

The simple solution is a camera.

However, getting a WiFi camera can range from $40 (if you're buying a cheap no-name thing) to $90 (if you're getting a basic WiFi camera from a bigger name) to $140 (even $250!) for an all the bells and whistles camera.

Of course, we don't need all the bells and whistles. We just need a camera we could use to check on baby when she's in her room.

So what is a Loonie IT Guy like me to do?

Well, first thing that came to mind was setting up my old webcam. The issue was figuring out a way to set up the webcam. As we did not install shelves in baby's room, we can't place the webcam high enough. That and we don't have a spare laptop to use to point at the baby's likely position in bed. Alternatively, I could have the webcam attached to the door frame or door and have the computer outside the room, however, I don't have the parts necessary to build a computer just to spy on the baby.

Well, what do I have?

Wifey and I upgraded our phones in 2014 and 2015. That means we have a couple of android smart phones. We paid $399 for each, so maybe I could repurpose those?

First was looking for an app on the Play Store. I found called IP Webcam. Setting up the phone to broadcast video onto my network old took 5 minutes. Accessing the feed from my phone took seconds. Once that was finished, it was time to figure out where to mount the camera.

I didn't want to add nails or screws into the dryway in case they didn't hold. Also, I wasn't sure how I would be able to keep the phone in place, even if I did.

I took a look around the house and found a rubber band and a huge binder clip. After some trial and error, I found a way to attach the binder clip that doesn't interfere with the power button. I used the rubber band to create a sort of non-slip surface for the clip to hold onto the phone. That and I didn't want to scratch the screen of the phone in case we reuse it again in the future (unlikely, but who knows).

Next was figuring out how to hang this new contraption. After some thought, I figured the best place was to hang it with a wire on the screws of an air return vent. Fortunately, during the installation of the network cables in the basement, I was left with a lot of spare cables. I had already taken some wire (4 pairs of wires) from one of the cables to hold a power cord under an electric fireplace. I used some of this wire and hung it from the wall.

It's not pretty, but it works.

Now that we have it hanging, next was adjusting the position to point the phone at the bed. I used more rubber bands in the joint to angle the phone down.

The last step, which I haven't attempted yet, is to power the phone.

I figured the best way to do this would be to extend a power cord parallel to the floor and power the phone from outside the room (less chance of baby fiddling with the power cord if it is out of reach).

In the end, although we spent $399 for this phone originally, we saved some money by not spending more to purchase a dedicated WiFi camera for the sole purpose of spying on the baby, while she's a baby. We won't need to spy on her when she's grown up (hopefully) and she would be able to reach the phone later anyway.

Wifey's reaction to all this? She doesn't care. She's still thinking about labour and such.

4 or 5 weeks to go. Possibly less.