Tuya/Smartlife Outdoor IP Camera: HowellCam QJ05 - Gadget Victims

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Tuya/Smartlife Outdoor IP Camera: HowellCam QJ05

After 5 years outside, my old camera had lost its ability to see in the dark and I decided to try a newer, smarter model, that kind that is compatible with Tuya Smart Life but also with the Onvif standard...




First look


There's no clear branding on this camera but it looks in every aspect like the HowellCam QJ05. I think the manufacturer page was not updated because it mentions  a resolution of 720P and this model, available on eBay for little less than 45€/50$ has a resolution of 1920x1080@30fps.
The box contains: the camera, a detachable antenna, a 12V/1A power adapter, and a short startup guide in Chinese and English.

There's a tocal cable length of 150 cm, accounting for the 50 cm cable from the camera and the 1 meter from the power adapter.
That's roughly what I had before and, for me at least, it's just long enough to reach the nearest power strip inside the house.



An outdoor camera rated IP66 and coming with 2 way audio is something new to me. The sound in general is excellent, with a sensitive microphone and a very loud speaker.
It would make an excellent door intercom if they only provided a volume control in the mobile interface.

When choosing the previous camera, an Amovision AM-Q6320 , I didn't pay attention to its narrow field of view (6mm lens).
This time I checked that the QJ05 would have a wider angle, and the 3.6mm is much better and gives a FOV of about 75 degrees instead of 40.



image from insytesecurity.com





I'm not entirely sure that the software makes proper use of the PIR sensor.

MicroSD card slot

The speaker is attached to the cover and the wires are long enough to give an easy access to the microSD card slot inside.



Installation and usage through the app

Soon after being powered for the first time, the camera emits a repetitive chime: that's the moment to add a new smart camera from the Smart Life app.
A QR code appear on screen and must be shown to the camera. That's how the Wi-Fi AP (2.4Ghz) information will be transmitted. Immediately after, the installation will begin, with the various phases announced out loud through the speaker ("Connection start", "Connection success", ...).


A firmware update to v1.1.26 was available but I have no idea what the improvements were. 


























The Tuya/Smart Life app integrates the camera with your existing smart devices, and it is very easy to setup an automation action, e.g. turn on a light in the living room when a movement is detected at the door.



Unfortunately it only gives a very basic access to the camera parameters. It lacks an access to some settings like muting the spoken announcements or at least controlling the speaker volume.

The camera likes to speak on many occasions: "connection start" "setup successful", "update completed", etc...
While it's useful during the installation, it's far less desirable when installed outside.

Hopefully the speaker connector is easily accessible, so I just disconnected it.


The microphone is located at the back of the camera and remains operational.


3rd Party compatibility 

Once the camera has been installed, it receives an internal IP address from the router while the Tuya app only shows the public IP. So the easiest way to find out the internal IP is to check your router for any new wireless connection on the 2.4GHz band, or use a tool like Fing.

ONVIF, Synology Surveillance Station and other streaming methods

The ONVIF port is 8080
The default authentication is:
user: admin
password: admin
To change that password, you will have to use a 3rd party software like Onvif Device Manager
The connectivity to Tuya Smart Home app is not affected by this change.


RTSP Streaming
The RTSP port is 6554

MediaProfile_000: 1920x1080@10fps + PCM Audio
rtsp://192.168.1.70:6554/stream_0
or just rtsp://192.168.1.70:6554

MediaProfile_001: 640x360@10fps + PCM Audio
rtsp://192.168.1.70:6554/stream_1

Visiting this page from any browser will show a snapshot
http://192.168.1.70:8080

...and... surprise! There's an undocumented HTTP interface on port 9527!

It's old fashioned and limited but you can do a few useful things, like...set the speaker volume.
However, it does not mute the startup announcements and there's still no option to change the admin password from there.
The Web UI Version QJ03.2.2.0.7-en is from an older solar-powered model -QJ03- from the same family. The device FW version is 20.34.0.0.26E.


Conclusion

The HowellCam QJ05 is a very nice and complete outdoor camera and can be bought on eBay for less than 45€/50$

It is worth every cent and I hope that Howellcam will, one day, acknowledge the suggestions for improvement I sent to them.



πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
- Very easy installation with Smart Life (or Tuya)
- ONVIF compatible
- Not Cloud-restricted, you can control it without registering to someone else's computer.
- Embedded web interface present
- Ethernet port provided
- Good microphone sensitivity
- Good speaker volume and sound quality

πŸ‘ŽπŸ‘ŽπŸ‘Ž
The main fault of this camera is the very limited access to camera parameters:
- no documented volume control for the speaker (but it can be done).
- the spoken announcements are independent from the volume control and cannot be muted.
- no option to change the default admin password from the native app or web interface.






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