Thursday, July 27, 2017

ZoneMinder Sample Infrastructure

So far I've been talking about how to configure ZoneMinder to do certain things.  I haven't said anything about what the ZoneMinder topology looks like.  ZoneMinder can be setup many different ways, but I'm going to stick to the simplest way for the purposes of this post.
Simply put, ZoneMinder needs:
  • A server to run ZoneMinder on
  • A camera to feed images to ZoneMinder from
  • A network to run on
  • A client to access ZoneMinder with
  • A router/firewall and Internet if remote access is desired
This is a basic drawing, somewhat based on what I have setup:

I'll cover everything I'm using in this article, and some commentary on why I choose it.


Cisco Catalyst Express 500 CE500-24PC PoE Switch

I used this switch because it was cheap and easily available on eBay.  It has 24 10/100 PoE ports, and 2 1000-BaseT ports (plus 2 SFP slots).  I use one of those ports to connect to my ZoneMinder server, and the other to connect to the rest of my network.

In the not to distant future, I'll be replacing that with a Ubiquiti Networks Unifi US-24-250W switch.  The reason for the switch is I'm slowly upgrading / converting everything to UniFi gear for management and simplicity's sake.

Ubiquiti UniFi USG Pro Router/Firewall

This is the border router I like to use for SOHO and big homes.  It's a very powerful piece of gear, and provides some nice features like Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to show you what's going on on your network.  (That feature is intensified if all of your network runs UniFi equipment)


ZoneMinder Server

My ZoneMinder server is built on an HP DL380 G5, which I acquired from  I choose it because of the 2 quad core processors, disk capacity, and rack mount ability.  My specific configuration details:
  • 2x 2.33GHz E5410
  • 16GB RAM
  • 2x 146GB SAS drives (mirrored, for OS)
  • 1x 146GB SAS drives (hot spare)
  • 4x Western Digital 1TB Red drives (RAID5, for data store)

ZoneMinder Client

I've got various PCs I run the web UI on, plus my mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc).  Nothing fancy here.  For my PCs I use either Chrome or Firefox to access the UI.  For the mobile devices I'm experimenting with zmNinja (I'll cover this in a future post)


One of the beauties of ZoneMinder is that is supports several different stream types.  These are just the cameras I use.  All of these cameras have IR illuminators built in.  Any camera you buy should.

HikVision DS-2CD2132-I (Dome Camera)
HikVision DS-2CD2032-I (Bullet Camera)

HikVision makes a good quality, value camera.  Both of these are basically the same electronics in different packages (one is a dome camera, and the other is a bullet camera).  They are 3MP cameras, which support PoE as well as 12v power (I use PoE).

I stream from these cameras at full resolution (3MP), at 10FPS.  In theory I could go lower, but that's the rate I seem to have settled out at.  I also have a litany of other settings I put on these cameras, like disabling uPNP, but out of the box these work fairly well.

A big warning with HikVision cameras is that there is a huge grey market with fake or highly hacked cameras.  If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Always ask the seller if the camera is an import or contains hacked firmware, and if you can upgrade the firmware once you get it!

WBox 0E-40DF28WDR (Dome Camera)

This is a camera that looks like it's made by HikVision, and resold to distributors as a house brand.  The "Hunt" brand is very similar.  WBox is sold by ADI.  As such, you need to go through an authorized reseller to get WBox hardware.

This particular model is a 4MP camera with Wide Dynamic Range to help it see in lower light.  It's also only sold with a 2.8mm lens.  So if you're looking for something with a 4mm lens or tighter, look elsewhere.  Otherwise I'm quite happy with my test unit and plan on getting more of these for my indoor applications where a wider angle is perfect.  And just like the HikVision cameras, these are PoE powered and alternatively 12v powered if you so choose. 


That sums up my short version of a sample basic ZoneMinder layout.  Like was stated earlier, there are many different ways you can setup ZoneMinder.  This is just one.  Experiment and check out the ZoneMinder supported hardware notes in their Wiki and forums and see what works well for you.


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