For some time now I have been wanting to have a monitoring system on the layout. With the addition of the completed Helix, Staging Deck and Return Loops I needed to find a solution.
I have looked at many different technologies and hardware, from webcam cameras, to mini-cube cameras, reversing cameras, and just about everything in between too.
But I kept coming back to one platform. The security camera and DVR option. It is by default exactly what most of us with a model railroad need to be able to achieve the ability to "monitor" our layouts from many different locations, usually via one screen. And the security camera platform is mostly a one box solution.
I did want to get fancy and have dual mini-HD cube camera in an interlocking tower looking east & west so the dispatcher could see the action from a 1/87 perspective.
The system I ended up using was a refurbished Swann eight (8) channel - 1080P HD PVR.
The system has everything in the box needed to get you going, and is plug & play too.
The quality being 1080P HD is suburb.
The camera's also have infrared built in too, so when the Staging Deck isn't lit, the layout can still be easily seen.
The ability to spilt the screens into varying combinations is also included in the systems software. The screen shots above are actually taken from the smart phone app that also allows you to use your phone to view too.
I will have all eight channels fed through a 23" monitor located with the dispatchers desk.
The camera's are easily mounted underneath the layout and are adjustable too.
A worthwhile investment that is already paying off making dispatching and operation of the Staging Deck so much easier.