Our barncam / foalcam on the cheap!

We have our mares online with streaming video every spring.  This allows us to watch the mares from the house or work, allows the public to enjoy them, and also provides us with a wonderful group of people to help us out (extra eyes!)

I put together a system that works for us, and didn't cost an arm and a leg. 
We shoot wireless out to our barn, then run wired cameras from a computer out there.  We only run video, no audio.

  • DSL [or other relatively fast] internet connection
  • Modem
  • Minimum of 9dBi Directional Antenna
  • PC with at least a 40 GB hard drive, Pentium 4 processor and USB 2.0 - I'm using a Microsoft OS
  • DVR card for computer, and software
  • Dazzle DVR Recorder, and software
  • Coax cable - I use RG-6
  • CCTV cameras (I prefer having IR - infra-red- to see the horse in low-light conditions)
  • Appropriate cable connectors (I need BNC and RCA - I prefer the solderless ones from RadioShack)
  • Webcam hosting service (we use Mare Stare, LLC)

Note:  There are many other, better ways this can be configured!  For around $250 for everything above, except the monthly fee for webcam hosting, I'm very happy with our setup.

Replace the usual antenna on the modem with the directional antenna.

Place the antenna in a location facing the 'barn computer'. 

I will eventually move my antenna to a shelf - but for now, this works.

At the other end, in the barn or near where your cams will be, hook up your computer.  Here, I am using an old IBM NetVista (it has USB 2.0 - important).  I got it for $55 including shipping on eBay and it works just fine. 

I don't do much on the barn computer other than check the cam, so I used whatever accessories I could find.

I did a clean install of XP Pro and Anti-virus software.


I use a USB wireless adapter so I can place it right in the window facing the house (and the directional antenna in there).  It is about 250' and I get excellent signal strength in the barn.

Install the DVR card (again, off eBay) in one of the PC slots.  This one has 4 connectors for camera cables, and 1 where I plug in the Dazzle (the red plug is for that cable).  Take note of what style connectors you will need for the cables.

Install the software for the DVR card.

Install the Dazzle device.  It plugs in to the computer via USB.  Run a cable from the Dazzle to the DVR card.  This uses 2 RCA connectors.

Install the software for the Dazzle.

Now, get your computer and software all running and your wireless connection working.  Be sure you have all the Microsoft updates installed.

Run your cable from the computer to the approximate location for the first camera. 

I purchased 500' of cable in order to eventually set up several cameras (eBay again), so I hooked the camera up and ran the cable with plenty extra at first.  I installed the connector on the other end and hooked it up to the computer's DVR card.

For my cameras, I need RCA connectors for the camera end.  I also need to plug the camera in to an electrical outlet.  That's it.

Once you find the best location for the camera, secure the camera, and run the cable.  Cut the computer end to length and redo the connector.

You will likely find an easier way to do this!

Now work with your webcam hosting service to go online.  Mare Stare has excellent customer service.  That is very important to me, because I needed it!

This is the view of our foaling stall from our house computer and everyone else's worldwide.