Regular blog readers will remember I first wrote about this product after the 2007 International CES in Solar Camera defends Solar Gadget Crown. Prompted by a suggestion from a friend, I requested a SolarCam™ sample from Jasco Products for a product review, and Jasco replied with a same day affirmative.
When I received the SolarCam sample unit back in mid February 2007, Northern California was experiencing a delayed rainy winter, so I waited until a few clear days were forecasted before unpacking and installing the test unit. Although I was geared up to do a full OOBE (out of box experience), the loaner unit components were packed in a boring brown master shipping box encrusted with peanuts.
Here are the main items included with the SolarCam:
- Solar Camera with Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) and Solar Panel with Transmitter
- Audio & Video Receiver
- Power Adapter for Receiver
- 3 ft. RCA cable (behind the Receiver in above photo)
- Remote Control
- Remote battery, screws, etal.
Configuring the SolarCam main unit takes about seven (7) minutes if you read the User’s Manual first.
After removing the backplate assembly, connect the black and red battery leads to the corresponding lead acid rechargeable battery terminals. Next connect the temporary 9V (Volt) transistor battery. Unscrewing the battery hold down strap is suggested. I did it this way but just removing the plastic seal from the battery might be easier. Two more steps for configuring the backplate include setting slide switches SW3 and SW2. SW3 controls transmission time when detecting motion or remote activation in 10 second increments of 10, 20, 30, or 40 seconds. I set this to 40 seconds for maximum transmission time. SW2 selects one of four channels (CH 1, 2, 3, 4) used by the transmitter to avoid interference from other cameras or transmitters. Without reason, I selected Channel 4 for the trial. The Receiver must be set to the same channel as SW2 above to receive the wireless signal.
At the open rear of the main camera body, set the House Code, SW1, with an 8-bit binary number. I used 33h (hexadecimal) or 00110011b (binary) with SW1-1 as the most significant bit (MSB).
Like the channel above, this SW1 setting must match the remote control unit’s House Code on S1.
The final step of configuring the main unit is plugging the multicolored ribbon cable into the backplate. The manual recommends doing this step after the backplate is mounted to the final mounting surface, but:
Diverging from the procedure in the User’s Manual, I recommend testing the SolarCam with the Receiver and the Remote before closing up the main unit and installing it in the desired surveillance location. This is to confirm the selected transmitter channel, SW2, has the least interference, and the House Code, SW1, on the rear of the main camera body matches the remote control’s S1 DIP switch settings.
I shot a video of the configuration process, but since I am not a hand model and my directorial skills are amateurish at best, I decided this video clip will never premiere.
The receiver has a composite video and mono audio output which can be connected to a TV, DVR/VCR, or STB (Set-top box). And the power adapter needs to be connected and plugged in.
Since I am a renter, I installed the Sol
arCam on a balcony railing with ever ubiquitous wire ties. A fancier masonry wall mounted installation may require Home Improvement class expertise.
I liken the complexity of the above process to mating a garage door opener with a remote control and hooking up a VCR.
As a formality, I need to state the following:
The GE Wireless SolarCam by Jasco Products Company. $249.99. It is available at www.jascoproducts.com or 1-800-654-8483.
In Part 2, this SolarCam Product Trial and Review will continue with a look at operation and my impressions backed by objective evidence.