In February 2020 I received a very nice IP camera from INSTAR Deutschland (Germany) GmbH – the IN-9008 Full HD camera (1920×1080 which has turned out to be a winner). I’ve had several emails with support and comments from Mike Polinowski of Instar about the “first ever” MQTT IP Camera. I have to say it is GREAT – rock-solid in fact….and works perfectly – not cheap though. I’ve tested ONVIF, http, https (SSL certificate), fixed or dynamic IP and rtsp – oh, and not just an MQTT client – this thing has it’s own built-in MQTT BROKER. WHEEEE.
But can you compare Chinese cameras that look similar but often cost massively less than this beast? Not even remotely – as they are not like-for-like. I must take this opportunity to point out that I’ve alread submitted lots of feedback to INSTAR and as a result, some typos on their website have been fixed in days, documentation changes are on-going and the company is very responsive).
The IN-9008 would be ideal for a commercial environment – it does the job smoothly and without issue so far. Is it overkill for domestic use? Hopefully and most likely over time I’ll attempt to answer that question. Read on… I want more already. From the box: Microphone, IP65 waterproof, Onvif, WPS, WLAN, MicroSD, PIR, Push/email, h.264. Made in Germany.
The box is in German with some English titles – probably as this is new – the camera is made in Germany (most other cameras I’ve come across so far have been made in China).The manual looks excellent – 2-part with one part in German, the other part in English – as I write this there is still a little overlap. The mounting kit, like the camera, is solid and comes complete with Allen key and screwdriver. A WiFi antenna is included and again that looks solid. You get lots of screws and 3 different seals – i.e. this is a complete package. A variation of the IN-9008 unit can also manage power-over-ethernet. Amazon sell this at £249.00 (pounds sterling).
Update April 6, 2020 –
Something new – THE most requested MQTT feature for the Instar cameras covered here – was the exposure of alarm events through the MQTT interface. And that is finally implemented! Users with the IN-9020 camera may wish to update their camera to the newest firmware version and will then have this new MQTT topic to work with.
Instar’s Mike Polinowski built this simple object tracking flow with it and published its code on the Node-RED forum:
Tested with an IN-8015 FHD indoor camera – but the code referred to in the above link should work just fine with, for example, the IN-9020 FHD.
Update March 24, 2020 – Mike Polinowski of Instar just sent me theis info with links…
Mike has had quite a few support requests for smarthomes and MQTT in the last few days. He is trying to attract Node-RED and Home Assistant users. So far ioBroker and Homee are the most popular combination for INSTAR cameras – as those systems have large German followings.
Here is an FAQ that might be useful – how to find your way around the INSTAR MQTT API:
Update March 15, 2020: From Instar’s Mike Polinowski – “All our outdoor cameras use IR LEDs with a wavelength of 850nm – which is visible at night since the emission does not have a sharp peak at 850nm and then stops, but tails into the visible range. “Invisible” LEDs usually work around 940nm and we do offer external spotlights with that wavelength. The problem with longer wavelengths is that the CMOS sensor becomes less sensitive and you start fighting some absorption effects – the effective range with LEDs with the same output is cut in half when you drop from 850nm to 940nm.”
More about this at the Instar wiki.
Instar also list the wavelength in the technical specifications of each camera model:
Again from Mike at Instar: “The only camera we offer with 940nm LEDs is an indoor camera (IN-8001 FHD) that is primarily used as a baby cam or to keep an eye on pets… situations where the red lights from other models tend to be a distraction.”
“We know that our customers would prefer “invisible” LEDs on our outdoor cameras – but the complaints about the lack of range are usually louder. First of all, it is more discrete. And secondly, you stop attracting insects that attract spiders that have you removing nets in front of your cameras every other morning. But here is how you can solve this issue with Node-RED – on our wiki.”
Mike uploaded a Node-RED flow for this use case on Discourse:
Update March 8, 2020: While showing the camera to a friend we noted aliasing on door edges in my office and a right-side settings menu in the Instar PC app that does nothing. Instar Staff were very responsive even during the weekend and came back with the hour with information – use the following links to obtain various quality streams from the camera – the first is the highest resolution – this works perfectly using VLC both in Windows PC and on Android phones… I also got the Android App showing high res – still working on the PC Metro App. Anyway – VLC…
- RTSP Stream 1:
- RTSP Stream 2:
- RTSP Stream 3:
THIS is exciting: https://wiki.instar.com/Advanced_User/Node-RED_Dashboard_Live_Video/ See the example flow if you are into Node-Red – I’ve tried the first example at 1 FPS (I could have done a lot highter data rate) on my main Raspberry Pi – almost ZERO effort – it works a TREAT and is now a permanent feature of my Node-Red Dashboard in it’s own tab (soon to be joined by the Instar IN-9020).
Update March 3, 2020: More feedback from the company: ” We made the update files available for manual download – if you have to update an offline camera: https://wiki.instar.com/Downloads/Outdoor_Cameras/IN-9008_HD/#download ”
“We also tested the SSL encryption with Node-RED and it works as expected: https://wiki.instar.com/Frequently_Asked_Question/INSTAR_MQTT_Node-RED_Self-Signed_Certificate/ “
Update Feb 29, 2020: the final MQTT Firmware can now be downloaded through the System/Update menu in the camera’s webUI (I just grabbed the update). The company also added a guide for using self-signed SSL certificates with their service here.
Back to my original article:
To start the ball rolling I used the supplied screwdriver to remove the back and put in the single 12v power cable. Easy. The board inside is held in a frame with a single screw for ease of access. Looks like it was built by engineers for engineers – I love it already.
I then powered the unit up and looked to see what to do next. At this point we had a power cut. Bloody useless electricity company, if only their service was as solid as this camera. To set up the IN-9008 I went off to the INSTAR website and was asked to rate the camera on one of two sites – in order to get a free licence for their InStarVision 2.0 software. Lovely. as well as the web UI, there are Apps for EVERYTHING including IOS, Android, PC and more.
I have latest beta update from the web and I’m looking at the MQTT support which includes both the camera’s own internal MQTT broker and any external broker of your choice with or without user/password, with or without SSL – but why wait – they talk about interfacing the camera with MQTT and Node-Red over on Discord. There are so many features… it beggars belief.
For my next trick I figured I’d set up the camera using it’s own WiFi access point and my mobile phone – that all worked but I thought that maybe the camera had been tested at the factory as I could not get any usual default passwords I know to work (RTFM), so I tried the Ethernet route.
The DHCP address was 192.168.14.143 according to Advanced IP Scanner on my PC (INSTAR Deutschland GmbH). As it happens I didn’t need that first step – the user is “admin” and default password is “instar”.
I then set up the camera showing video simultaneously on my phone and PC and left it on overnight just to prove the point. I’ve not tested the actual alarm zoning yet but I will soon. Meanwhile I hope this is interesting including my pretty awful snapshot (top) showing simultaneous App and WebUI views on the PC..
Before anyone comments about my dress sense – the camera image was a REALLY early morning effort to get some feedback to you guys quickly.
I initially had an issue with horizontal banding but Instar tech support responded quickly and suggested changing hardware WDR (wide dynamic range) to software WDR (web interface – in settings – multimedia – image – advanced). It looks like my LED lighting was causing the issue. Their suggestion worked a treat. I’ve now tested the camera in low light level conditions, i.e. NO light other than the 5 IR LEDs on the camera. As you’d expect the image switches to monochrome but is excellent quality.
Here’s a thing: I’ve already had advice on choice of colour for Instar’s IN-9020 pan-and-scan model (my decision was white for sunny Spain) – how often do you get sensible advice like that – I of course know for a fact that black is a bad choice for Southern Spain but fine for the UK but it is nice to hear this from the company selling the product. This is typical of the level of information I’ve had in the time I’ve been looking at Instar products.