Tutorial: How to set up an IP camera on Apple Mac OS X
I am writing this tutorial because of the lack of available support for Apple Mac OS X users like myself who are interested in setting up an Easy N Tech branded IP cameras for external access. The fact that the software included (if the installation disc works in the first place) with these IP cameras are Windows-only does not help and the included instructions are written in poorly translated English tend to add to the frustration during the setup process for folks who are not experienced with setting up IP cameras.
The included software, IP Camera Management Software, is quite versatile and offers a plethora of features and extra configuration options that is only accessible on a Windows computer. If you have Parallel Desktop, consider using this program.
These cameras are generally built by Shenzhen Technology Co., Ltd. of China but are cross branded in different markets as Easy N Tech, Foscam, Wansview, Apexis, Hootoo and Asagio. I prefer Easy N Tech line of IP camera for several reasons:
- Easy to set-up
- Cost effective (you can purchase a brand new IP camera starting at $40.00 from Amazon.com – links below).
- Easy to use and functional features
If you are reading this, I am assuming you’ve come across this page searching for IP cameras and Mac OS X setup or configuration help. You’ve come to the right page. After setting up my first indoor Easy N Tech F-series IP camera, I’ve developed enough knowledge to setup subsequent cameras with ease, including an outdoor Agasio branded M105I surveillance IP camera. The set up is straightforward and easy. As you read my tutorial, keep in mind that I am writing it base on my own ISP (Time Warner Cable), my own router (Motorola and 1st gen Apple Time Capsule) and Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.x. You may need to adapt this tutorial to work on the specifications of your LAN / WAN and router settings.
For this write-up, I will demonstrate how to setup and configure two IP cameras. One is an F-Series indoor pan and tilt camera. The other is an outdoor weatherproof M105I series IP camera. Both are made by Easy N Tech.
The initial setup is probably one of the most confusing and frustrating step. Configuring the IP camera for wireless access is by far, the most confusing and frustrating step according to general consensus. After you’ve unpacked the IP camera, connect the IP camera to your router via an Ethernet cable, and then plug in the AC adapter into a wall outlet and connect it to your IP camera. If you have the pan and tilt model, it should boot-up and swivel around for about 30 seconds. If you have an outdoor model, it’s most likely fixed-position so it will not move. Once the IP camera is ready for use, you will see the array of Infra Red LED glow faintly – this is normal and this is how the camera capture low light videos at night.
Identifying the IP Camera’s IP address and MAC address
Since the IP camera has a built-in web server enabled for access to its web-based user interface, you’ll need to find out its IP address assigned by your DHCP server in your router. There are several ways to accomplish this.
- If you know how to access your DHCP client list in your router’s admin backend, you can pull that information from there. Depending on your router, it may or may not display the IP Camera’s MAC address – which you may need to connect to your network. See notes on Access Control List below.
- You can use the included “Search IP Camera” software on a separate and available Windows machine that’s connected to your LAN and scan for the IP Camera (downloadable at http://www.easyn.com/download/Search IP Camera.exe). It will return both an IP and MAC address associated with the IP Camera. This will not work with Parallel Desktop since Parallel Desktop will self-assign an IP address for Windows running on your Mac, making it inaccessible to your LAN.
- You can download an IP address scanner called IP Scanner for Mac by 10base-T Interactive at CNET. It’s a shareware app that scans up to 6 devices and report its IP address as well as MAC (media access control) address. If you have less than 6 devices connected to your network, you should be able to identify the IP camera easily. If you have more than 6 devices, you may need to keep scanning until you see an IP address that you do not recognize.
Once you’ve identified the IP Camera, write down its MAC address and IP address. You are now ready to access the IP Camera’s built-in web server and web-based user interface.
Keep in mind that the MAC address you are writing down now is the Ethernet MAC address. There is a separate MAC address when it comes time to setup your IP camera for wireless connection.
A Note on Network Access Control Lists
If your network is configured for secure access, you may have Access Control List enabled. If you do, you may want to temporarily disable it for the duration of the IP Camera set up process, or you can add the MAC address of the IP Camera to your Access Control List.
For those that do not know what an Access Control List is, it’s simply a list of MAC addresses of devices that has permission to connect to your network. If your device’s MAC address, say your iPhone or MacBook Air, is not on the Access Control List, then it will not be able to connect to your network. For advanced routers and switches, you can configure timed access of devices base on their MAC address. If you’re not sure, chances are it is not enabled. If you’re not administering your own network, you might want to check with whoever’s in charge.
Accessing the IP Camera’s web-based User Interface
So now you’ve identified the camera’s LAN IP address. Punch it into your web browser, followed by :81 (port 81). For some strange reason, Easy N Tech decided to make the web server port 81 instead of the standard port 80. For example, my IP Camera’s IP address was assigned 18.104.22.168 by my router, I would type in http://22.214.171.124:81 on my web browser.
After doing so, you will be prompted to enter your login credential. The default username is “admin” and the password is blank. You should double check the bottom of the camera of the box that the camera was packaged in. There is a silver sticker that will indicate the log-in credentials:
Enter your credentials and press Enter to continue.
The Web-based User Interface
At a glance, this is what the splash page of the web-based user interface looks like:
Unfortunately for Mac OS X users, only the second option works. The first option has the most features but require the use of Internet Explorer. For the sake of comparison, here is what the ActiveX mode vs. Server Push Mode look like:
The main difference is that under ActiveX Mode you can control multiple IP cameras (up to 9) under one setting and have the ability to record video and communicate through the IP cameras’ speakers via a microphone.
Configuring the Web-based User Interface
First thing you want to do inside the web-based UI is set up the network parameters. The IP Camera allows you to do this in two fashions:
- Obtain an IP address automatically through your router’s internal DHCP server (default)
- Manually assign a static IP address for the IP Camera. This method is for advanced network users and require that you enter the following information:
- IP Address
- Subnet Mask
- DNS Server
For this tutorial, I will keep things simple. Click on the “Basic Network Setting” link on the left navigation menu and check the box marked “Obtain IP from DHCP Server.”
In the same screen, you can also reassign the port on the IP Camera that opens up the web UI. The default factory port is 81. You can keep it at that but for security reason, let’s change the “Http Port” from 81 to 123 (you can change it to whatever number you want). Click on Set to apply the changes. Your camera will reboot itself. If you changed the port number, then you will need to enter the new port number after the IP Camera’s IP address. So in the initial setup, we access the web-based UI at http://192.168.0.11:81. Since we changed the Http Port setting to 123, you’ll need to punch in http://192.168.0.11:123 to resume access. Be sure to wait 30 seconds for the camera to fully reboot itself before proceeding.
If you would like to rename your IP Camera to something more task designated, click on “Alias Settings” and enter a new name. My Agasio M105I outdoor IP camera was purchased to monitor my Sulcata and Red Foot tortoises, so I named the camera “TortCAM” as follow:
You’d definitely want to change the administrator credentials so that your IP Camera is not public domain. Click on “User Settings” to make changes to the access level. You can change the username, password and access levels here.
There are three access levels:
- Administrator – complete access to the web-based UI and complete control of the IP Camera.
- Operator – no access to the web-based UI and limited control of the IP Camera (i.e. pan, tilt, zoom if your IP camera is equipped with these features).
- Visitor – no access to the web-based UI and no control of the IP Camera. This access level is “read only”, or “watch only”. Perfect if you have a camera set on your pets and want your friends, family or co-workers to watch.
Mail Service Settings
You can configure your IP Camera to send email. If configured properly, the IP Camera will email you its external URL upon boot-up and if you set up the camera to enable alarm with email notification, the IP Camera will use your email setting to send you email with six screenshot of event proceeding the event that triggered the alarm. Click on “Mail Service Settings” to make changes to the email settings.
The parameter for Mail Service Settings is pretty straightforward. You can utilize any SMTP server to send email as long as they accept email relays and you can authenticate with the outgoing server.
- Sender: This is the email address that will appear in the “FROM” field of the email.
- Receiver: You can add up to four email addresses to which the IP Camera will email to.
- SMTP Server: This is the outgoing email server (i.e. mail.gmail.com).
- SMTP Port: This is the SMTP’s communication port, default is 25.
- Transportation Layer Security Protocol: If SSL connection is required, you’ll need to select a compatible protocol.
- SMTP User: This is your username (usually your full email address).
- SMTP Password: This is your SMTP email password.
- Report Internet IP by Mail: If checked, whenever the IP Camera boots up, it will send you its public URL to the email addresses under the Receiver # field.
Once you’ve entered all the parameters, click on Set and then click on Test. If the IP Camera was able communicate with the SMTP server you’ve specified, it will report “Test Succeeded” and send you an email of its public URL. If not, then it will indicate that the “Test Failed”. One or two parameters is either incorrect or omitted.
FTP Service Settings
In order to have the IP Camera take screenshots and save it to a hard drive, either due to triggering the motion detector or because the Scheduler was configured, an FTP server and folder must be entered. Click on “FTP Service Settings” to continue:
The parameters, just like the Email Service Settings, is pretty straightforward:
- FTP Server: domain or IP address to your FTP server.
- FTP Port: default is 21. Change this to the correct port # if your FTP server operates out of port 21.
- FTP User: Your FTP username.
- FTP Password: Your FTP password.
- FTP Upload Folder: The folder to save your screenshots.
- FTP Mode: Default is PORT, usually not necessary to change. If you experience connectivity issues, try selecting PASV.
- Scheduler: Allows you to tell the camera to schedule a block of time to begin taking screenshots and uploading it to the FTP Upload Folder.
Once you’re satisfied with the FTP settings, click on Set and the click on Test. If the IP Camera was able log on to the FTP server with your FTP credential, it will report “Test Succeeded” and upload a screenshot filed (*_test.jpg) to the FTP Upload Folder. If not, then it will indicate that the “Test Failed”. One or two parameters is either incorrect or omitted.
Alarm Service Settings
With the Easy N Tech brand of IP cameras, you can configure your IP Camera to begin taking screenshots and/or videos when its motion detector is triggered. You can either turn on or turn off the motion detector or you can schedule a block of date and time in which the motion detector is activated. For example, if you’re going to be away from your residence from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm, you can configure the IP Camera to activate its motion detector only during these time blocks. To get started, click on “Alarm Service Settings”:
The parameters for Alarm Service Setting is a bit more advance, but manageable:
- Motion Detect Armed: Turns the built-in motion detector ON or OFF.
- Motion Detect Sensibility: Allows you to indicate how sensitive the motion detector becomes. From 1 to 10, 10 being most sensitive. The higher the number, the higher the number of false-alarms you’ll get (i.e. a fly, contrasting lights, moving shadows will trigger the motion detector).
- Start the motion detection compensation: This tells the IP Camera to ignore contrasting lights.
- Alarm Input Armed: This field is optional and your IP Camera may or may not have this feature. If checked, an external motion detector or alarm trigger is connected to the IP Camera’s input/output alarm pinouts.
- IO Linkage on Alarm: This field is optional and your IP Camera may or may not have this feature. When checked, this option indicates that you have an external output, such as a loud speaker or a siren, that will be activated when the external motion detector is activated.
- Send Mail on Alarm: If checked, the IP Camera will take six screenshots seconds after the event that triggered the motion detector and send it to the recipients indicated in the Mail Service Settings. You need to configure the Mail Service Settings in order for this to work.
- Upload (FTP) on Alarm: Upon triggering the motion detector, the IP Camera will begin taking screenshots and upload it to the FTP Upload Folder. Here, you tell the IP Camera how long to wait in seconds before taking consecutive screenshots.
- Scheduler: You can assign a block or a range of time and day combination to enable the motion detector. It is very cumbersome but it works as configured.
Once you’ve configured the Alarm Service Setting, click on Set. The IP Camera will reboot itself, taking up to 30 seconds. The motion detector will arm itself 30 seconds after the camera has booted up to give you time to evacuate the premise (and avoid false alarms).
Here is a screenshot of my FTP Upload Folder with screenshots taken by the IP Camera. As you can see, my Sulcata tortoise went trigger happy:
I think I’ve pretty much covered all you need to know in order to configure the web-based user interface and begin enjoy using your IP Camera via your local area network. For advanced topic, such as port forwarding for remote access (i.e. viewing your IP Camera from your work or through mobile) and setting up the IP Camera for wireless network connection, continue reading forward.
Port Forwarding and External Access
In order to view your IP Camera while away from your local area network, you will need to know a couple of things. First, your ISP controls what incoming connection is permitted. If your ISP does not allow you operating an FTP or web server, then your ports 80 and 21 will be blocked off. You can bypass this through network address translation (NAT) by changing the public port to your IP Camera from port 80 to something obscure, which you should anyways for privacy and security reasons. You will also need to know what your public ISP assigned IP address is. Your public ISP assigned IP address differs from the DHCP-assigned IP address from the fact that it is public and can be accessed by anyone from anywhere in the world (if they know your public IP address that is). Your DHCP-assigned IP address is local and private and can only be accessed if you’re on the same local area network. You can find out your public IP address by visiting http://whatismyipaddress.com.
Once you have this information, you’ll need to select a public port to assign to the IP Camera. If your public ISP assigned IP address is 123.456.789.012 and we’ve already assigned it port 123 in the initial setup, you’ll need to punch in http://123.456.789.012:123 in your web browser. But before you can do that, you need to configure your router and instruct it to forward the PUBLIC port and map it to the IP Camera in your PRIVATE local area network. This process depends on what router you are using. I’ll illustrate this on a Motorola SURFboard cable modem / router and a first generation Apple Time Capsule with built-in AirPort Express.
In your router administration page, you can usually find the port forwarding page either in the Advanced section, NAT section, Port Mapping or simply Port Forwarding section. You may need to consult the manual of your router or ask for assistance on online support forums.
Once you are able to access your Port Forwarding page, you will need to configure the Private IP address (i.e. Internal) to your IP Camera’s DHCP-assigned IP address (i.e. 192.168.0.11 in our example). Since we are using a custom port number of 123, set the inbound port (or internal/incoming start-end port) to 123 and the outbound port (or external/outgoing start-end port) to 123. Make sure the type is either “Both” or “TCP”. Save the configuration and reboot your router.
To test it to see if you’ve successfully configured your router, punch in your public ISP-assigned IP address followed by the port number and hit enter. In our example, this would be http://123.456.789.012:123. You should arrive at your camera’s login screen.
Setting up Port Forwarding on an Apple Time Capsule
Assuming you have the latest AirPort Utility installed (version 7.6.1 as of this writing), this is a very general tutorial on getting your IP Camera set up and mapped on your AirPort device.
Open up your AirPort Utility app and click on your AirPort device and select Edit:
Next, click on the “Network” tab and ensure that “DHCP and NAT” is selected under the “Router Mode” drop-down menu:
Click on the “+” button under “Port Settings” to add a new port mapping / port forwarding configuration:
The parameters are straightforward:
- Description: User-friendly description of the service being forwarded. “TortCAM” is used.
- Public TCP Ports: You can enter multiple ports separated by a comma or a range or ports. But in our example, we’ve already set the IP Camera to port 123. To keep things simple, let’s enter 123. You can change this later, or if you want your public access port to be different than the IP Camera’s internal port.
- Private IP Address: This is the DHCP-assigned IP address that is assigned to the IP Camera. In our example, this would be 192.168.0.11.
- Private TCP Ports: Just like Public TCP Ports setting, since we’ve already set the IP Camera to port 123 let’s enter 123.
Click on Update and allow your Apple AirPort device to reboot. To test it to see if you’ve successfully configured your Apple AirPort device, punch in your public ISP-assigned IP address followed by the port number and hit enter. In our example, this would be http://123.456.789.012:123. You should arrive at your camera’s login screen.
If you have dynamic IP address, i.e. either you are on dial-up or on ADSL with a rotating IP address, you may need to sign up for a dynamic DNS service. I recommend DynDNS.org as I’ve been using their service for well over a decade and I’m truly satisfied with their uptime, service and support. Why would you need dynamic DNS? Two reasons. If you have a dynamic IP address, your public ISP-assigned IP address will work one day and may not work a few days (or even a few hours) later. The other reason is if you rather access your IP Camera via a friendly name instead of an IP address. Instead of punching in http://123.456.789.012:123 every time you want to view your IP Camera from remote, wouldn’t it be nicer to just punch in http://www.your-domain.com:123 instead? You can by signing up for an account and configuring the IP Camera’s web-based UI accordingly. Once you’ve registered for an account on DynDns.org, click on “DDNS Service Settings” in your IP Camera’s web-based UI:
While I’ve recommended DynDNS, there are other dynamic DNS service provider that you can utilize which this IP Camera supports. You’ll find a list of them under the “DDNS Service” drop-down menu. To keep things simple, we’ll use DynDNS. Under DDNS User and DDNS Password, enter your DynDNS username and password. In the “DDNS Host” field, enter the hostname you’ve selected upon registration at DynDNS. Click on Set and allow your IP Camera to reboot. You should now be able to access your IP Camera remotely via your own custom domain name, e.g. http://your-domain.com:123.
Configuring your IP Camera for Wireless Network Connection
According to the general consensus (e.g. from online reviews, online blogs, online forums, etc.) setting up the IP Camera for wireless connection is the most confusing and difficult task. After experimenting around with the “Wireless Lan Settings” extensively, I’ve figured out a foolproof way to get your IP Camera connected to your WiFi network seamlessly, well, almost seamlessly. The thing to keep in mind when configuring your IP Camera for WiFi connectivity is:
Your router will assign two individual IP addresses for your IP Camera – one for Ethernet LAN connection and one for WiFi wireless connection.
Meaning if you established a LAN connection via Ethernet and want to switch over to wireless connection, you’ll most likely won’t be able to access the IP Camera with the LAN-issued IP address. I believe this is the primary reason, if not the sole reason why a lot of people have such a hard time getting the IP Camera to connect to a wireless network. Also keep in mind that the IP Camera only supports 802.11 a/b/g standard at 2.4 ghz only. Not a problem with newer routers or dual-band Apple AirPort devices. So with that in mind…
The first thing you need to do is connect the IP Camera to the LAN via Ethernet and configure your camera for LAN access. Basically if you’ve got your IP Cam up and running by following the preceding instructions above or through your own mean, you’re ready to go wireless.
So back to the setup procedure, once you get your IP Cam up and running on the LAN, go to your IP Cam’s web UI and click on “Wireless Lan Settings” on the left navigation menu to configure the IP Cam for wireless access.
- Make sure the “Using Wireless Lan” box is checked.
- Under “SSID”, enter your full wireless network name. You may click “Scan” multiple times until your wireless network shows up on the list (you may need to scan up to 4 times before it appears) or you can just type in the name of the SSID of your network (You will need to type in your network name if it’s hidden). If you have Access Control List enabled, be sure to add the IP Cam’s MAC address to the ACL.
- For “Network Type”, select “Infra”
- Under “Encryption”, select your security type. It’s usually WPA2 Personal (AES), but again, you need to do the research on your own network.
- For “Share Key”, type in your wireless network access password.
Click Set and allow the IP Camera to reboot (30 secs). Next disconnect the Ethernet cable from the IP Cam and remove the AC adapter plug from the camera to power it off, and then wait 30 seconds to power cycle it. Reconnect the power supply but leave the Ethernet cable unplugged and wait another 30 seconds for the IP Camera to boot up.
Now your IP Cam should be connected to your wireless network. Run IP Scanner 2.5 or above to discover the newly assigned WAN IP address on the network (again, you can also find this information in your router’s DHCP client list via your router’s admin page); this should be the new wireless IP address for your IP Camera.
If the wireless IP address for the IP Camera is 192.168.0.12, then you’ll need to punch in http://192.168.0.12:123 to regain access to the web UI – again, your Ethernet IP address for the camera will usually no longer work. If you plan on a 100% wireless connection you’ll need to reconfigure your port forwarding settings, reserved IP setting (if you did this for LAN), access port, etc. Proceed with your WiFi configuration as if you’re configuring the IP Camera for the first time on LAN. That’s it! That’s all there is to it for wireless connectivity.