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Home automation Personal Computing

Dismal Manor Dog Doorbell

Dismal Manor has a dog doorbell built from Apple HomeKit and Anker Eufy Cam2 video cameras. This article describes how to assemble one from parts.

At last, the dog doorbell I’ve been wanting. Apple HomeKit Secure Video with Eufy second generation wireless cameras makes a nice dog doorbell. This article tells how to set up HomeKit 4 for the dog doorbell application.

I primarily use HomeKit to alert me when the dogs want in. We have only a couple of months of door open weather where temperature and humidity allow the garden door to stay open. The rest of the year it is shut. The cameras are more reliable than an ear peeled for barking (greyhounds are notoriously non-vocal). It also collects video in case we have a break in while I’m away. Greyhounds are not territorial but Rocky is. He scares the bejesus out of anyone who comes to the door.

References

  1. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210538 HomeKit Secure Video setup.
  2. https://www.eufylife.com/products/variant/eufycam-2-pro/T88511D1

Eufy Secure Video at Dismal Manor

Dismal Manor has two Eufy Camera 2 wireless battery powered cameras and a USB powered wireless camera. Since I purchased these for Dismal Manor, Eufy has retired the first generation products and now offers only the newer products compatible with the second generation bridge. Only the newer bridge runs the HomeKit gateway.

Eufy has extended the product line to include a complete set of home security door and window sensors, motion sensor, doorbell, etc. Although I’ve not tried it, I believe the perimeter sensors are also HomeKit compatible.

The featured image shows the view from our two back garden cameras. A Ubiquity UniFi Protect DVR and wired 3G cameras capture the front door approach and deep back garden. The Eufy cameras serve primarily as greyhound and fence line monitors. Note that they clearly show the gate and carport X-pen, fence line, and porch landing.

Eufy Battery Life and Motion Settings

Your mileage may vary. I find battery life is about 2 months here as there are many dog motion and dog coming and going events to be recorded. Battery life is easily checked in Home App camera settings.

Dismal Manor is set up to detect animals and people on the porch. HomeKit will spool video, send an alert, and save video when people or pooches are detected on the porch deck at the door. This is very useful as it lets me know that a dog wants in. Or is mounting Zombie Squad HQ patrol from the porch deck.

An Eve Home door sensor logs door openings and closings in HomeKit. These can be correlated with video clips to locate video of an unauthorized entry.

I have disabled vehicle detection and carefully panned the cameras to minimize the view of the street. Vehicle motion will significantly reduce battery life. Night time vehicle light motion will also eat into battery life.

Note that, depending on motion detection sophistication, the cameras may also report shadow movement and tree branch movement. Be careful to keep busy tree limbs pruned out of view.

Motion Detection

Each camera can be configured individually detect motion. There are three settings that may be enabled individually.

  • All motion
  • Vehicle motion
  • People motion
  • Animal motion

This is the key. I can suppress vehicle motion that I don’t care about. These cameras can see a bit of street and traffic is continuous so I don’t want to spend battery saving vehicle transit clips.

People motion can be disabled when the camera has a view of street or public sidewalks. No sense recording passers by. Local or state ordinances may restrict such recording. At a minimum, you must tell people they are on candid camera.

Filtering or reporting animal motion is useful depending on use case. Here at the manor, I have enabled animal motion detection. This ability makes the dog doorbell possible. When a dog comes up on the landing, it is detected and reported.

I have my cameras configured as shown above. Detect people (usually me), detect animals (usually Rocky) and record them. The bridge reflects these settings properly on the Eufy side of things.

Recording happens in an AppleTV or HomePod in the Manor. I’m not sure which takes lead. The Eufy Base Station also has 16 GB of video storage to cache clips locally. Clips pushed off site are encrypted and can only be recovered via the Home App on a Mac or iThing. And all devices must be logged in to a common Apple ID. Access by other Apple IDs may be configured by adding the Apple ID to the HomeKit home.

Off Site Video

I can look in on the dogs while away from home. A third Eufy wired camera is our “RockyCam” that is active when I’m away from home. I can check it over LTE to see how badly Rocky is pacing in my absence. He’s convinced there are Zombies under the bed. This camera is positioned primarily to show door reactions and pacing between the lounge and bedrooms. It is set up for away recording.

Notifications

I have the MacOS notifications set up as shown below. The iPhone is set up to report when any motion is detected.

Notifications Management

To participate in HomeKit secure video, an iThing must have a Home App installed. Each iThing individually controls notification delivery. I have my iPhone set to always deliver motion detection notifications. It is also set to pass these on to Apple Watch. This combination lets Apple Watch tap me on the wrist when a dog wants in.

You can gate notifications using your WHISKEY (location, not single malt preference). When home or when not home. I leave this setting off which is treated as always. This works nicely as I get a tap on the wrist when Rocky or Missy wants in.