Last week, we talked about how to install a video surveillance system. In that marathon post, we mentioned that we weren’t too excited about installing bright, metallic silver cameras on every corner of our 1930′s Spanish style home. As a result, I devised a simple and relatively quick hack to dress down the appearance of the cameras and help them blend in more to the architecture. Before any hate mail comes in, let me start this off with a disclaimer: If one of your primary goals is deterrence, then camouflaging your cameras might not be the best strategy. Then again, you can use this exact same how-to, but substitute glow-in-the-dark, day-glow, fluorescent pink paint instead, and then you’ll really draw attention to the cameras.
To Camouflage or Not to Camoflage, That is the Question
Let’s face it, most surveillance cameras are butt ugly for domestic use. If you’re securing a Walmart parking lot, that’s one thing. You probably don’t care much about how your cameras look. However, if you’re securing your home, you may not want it looking like a prison compound with gaudy cameras hanging off every corner of your house. Then again, most people that install surveillance cameras also expect some level of deterrence. In our case, I couldn’t stand hanging four bright silver Vivotek cameras off the eaves on vintage (by California standards) home. One option would have been to paint the camera housings directly. Instead I came up with a hack that would clean up the whole look of the camera assembly and camouflage it perfectly with our brown eaves.
Finding the Right Conduit or Pipe
It turns out, Lowes carried some PVC electrical conduit just slightly larger than the diameter of the Vivotek cams. I tried Home Depot first, but they didn’t carry the right size for my cameras. You may need to do some hunting around, but ideally, you’re looking for PVC or ABS conduit/pipe with an inner diameter that’s a hair bigger than the outer diameter of your video camera.
Cutting the Conduit or Pipe
Drilling for the Camera Mount
Painting the New Camera Housing
Installing the New Video Camera Housing
The conduit I used was actually about 1/16″ too big for my cameras. I likely could have installed them loosely, and no one would have been the wiser, but I couldn’t bring myself to look at them if the camera looked slightly off-center. I know, I’m totally obsessive, especially given most of these would be 20 feet off the ground. My wacky solution was to get a length of wax paper, fold it in half lengthwise, and then wrap it around the camera several times. I then cut a hole where the threading for the camera mount was and carefully slid the camera into the new housing. It worked brilliantly. Regardless of whether you do any wax paper craziness, you’ll want to thread the camera mount arm through the hole in the housing and into the camera. By doing so you then lock the camera into place. One note of caution, make sure you pay close attention to your grip on the camera and housing. Until you get the mount arm in place the camera can easily slide out of the housing and wind up an expensive pile of scrap materials on the ground.
The Finished Result
As you can see from the before and after pics, the difference is pretty remarkable. Before the camouflage, the surveillance cameras looked like a neon Swatch on a 90 year old man. Now, they blend right into the house and are hardly noticeable. The downside is, it would most likely take an observant, professional burglar to notice the video system. And, contrary to popular belief, most burglaries aren’t exactly pulled off like The Italian Job. IF you’re as obsessive as I am about the appearance of your home or business, then this strategy is an easy, inexpensive DIY project that produces a very custom result.