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Thread: Is the TMO test drive hot spot a good choice for long term monitoring of remote security cameras?

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    Is the TMO test drive hot spot a good choice for long term monitoring of remote security cameras?

    Hi, I would like to set up some Blink security cameras at a remote property (well, remote to me, it has cell service). I was thinking one strategy would be to do the TMobile test drive and request a hot spot rather than a phone SIM, then convert it to either the 500MB plan or the 2GB plan for either $5 or $10 a month after the test drive runs out. Obviously the most important thing is that hot spot WiFi connectivity stays on permanently - I tried to use an old iPhone as a permanent hot spot, and it kept turning off the hotspot connectivity soon after I left the property. I can power the hot spot permanently via a USB cord plugged into a power converter drawing mains power at the property; I'm not worried about preserving the battery.

    I know that T-Mobile sells a hot spot for around $200; is there any benefit to buying that one outright? Is there another carrier that I should be looking at for supplying this service? Obviously I'd like to keep the monthly cost down, but the first priority is that it works, i.e. I can get alerts and short movies reliably if someone is messing about on the property. I'm not a current T-Mobile customer, so I think I should qualify for the test drive. If it matters, our family is on Verizon prepaid plan, could probably add a line to that.

    Is there anything else I'm not thinking of in this scenario? Thanks for your help.

    Kurt

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    The Test Drive hotspot has a pretty terrible built in modem. I understand free is free, but I've had trouble doing 10Mbps where modern iPhones and Androids would be doing well over 50. T-Mobile sells the Inseego 5G MiFi 2000 which would have a much better chance of continuous up-time. My test drive would randomly lose connection or internet service, whereas the VZ MiFi 7730L at my cabin spends 6+ months out of the year without so much as a hiccup.

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    Not to pile on too much gear, but something like this and a cheap router may make a better combo:

    https://www.netgear.com/home/mobile-wifi/lte-modems/

    The older one can be sometimes be had cheaply, but it's lacking a few of the more recent LTE bands. Either will play nicely with the prepaid mobile internet data plans that T-Mobile offers.

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    Thank you both for your replies! I think I will pick up one of those netgear modems; I like the fact that it doesn't tie me down to one carrier, and someday it could be put to use as pass-through backup for Internet service. I've got a spare router/access point laying around, so it's only the one purchase.

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    Have you calculated how much data your setup will require per month? I had a similar idea some time ago and as I remember, one camera ( cant remember which brand) with contiuous accessable video used many GBs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drooper View Post
    Have you calculated how much data your setup will require per month? I had a similar idea some time ago and as I remember, one camera ( cant remember which brand) with contiuous accessable video used many GBs.
    I have 2 separate security camera systems at my house and they don't seem to use much data. I have them configured for email and text messages with a snapshot when motion is detected so I get quick notification. The video is on demand and I need to activate the playback from either the system hard drive or the SD cards in individual cameras.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daleraver View Post
    I have 2 separate security camera systems at my house and they don't seem to use much data. I have them configured for email and text messages with a snapshot when motion is detected so I get quick notification. The video is on demand and I need to activate the playback from either the system hard drive or the SD cards in individual cameras.
    Thank you! I've never set one up or used one. Would you hazard a guess about what brand/system is easiest and simplest for one or two cameras? Inexpensive is good too! Thank you.

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    i'm certainly no expert but if you only want a couple of cameras I'd look to Amazon for their WiFi devices. They are easy to set up and will give 1080 stills & video with cheap SD memory cards. They run around $30-$40 each and seem pretty reliable and sturdy. The brand I'm using is Yi and they currently have a 4 pack for $89 with a 10% off coupon. Add SD cards for $12-$20 each and connect to your WiFi for remote alerts and monitoring.

    I bought mine a few years ago and have not had any problems with them. Reviews are good and the setup is pretty easy. there are similar units that you will see in a search and I suggest reviewing what is currently available. There is no monitoring charge for service but they do offer a Cloud storage which I don't need or use.

    I also have a hardwired 4 camera system that is also 1080p and between the two I get pretty good coverage. I bought that at Harbor Freight for $199 on sale and it's still performing well.

    Both systems have IR lights for night vision. However the Yi cameras use 940nm LEDs, and they cannot be seen by our eyes. The older tech uses 850nm and you can see a red glow from them at night. I'd lean towards the Yi if you want to less conspicuous.

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    Thank you daleraver! I appreciate it! I see a cheap camera at Walmart that I will give a try. It probably does not have the bells and whistles of the better cameras, but will let me get my feet wet for cheap I'll be very curious to see how much or little data I can get away with to have a bit of monitoring the inside of the house. That will tell me if it makes sense to invest in a hotspot device and a plan to set one up in my cabin.
    Again, thank you!

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    I have an Alcatel Linkzone Hotspot that I received for free from tmobile when I added the 2gb plan for $10 to my account. I have 3 blink cameras running off it to monitor a remote property. I also have 4 water sensors and a temperature sensor. I've been using it for 3 months now. Everything works great. I have it set up where I manually check the cameras. So far I have used about 800mb per month. Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dieselguy26 View Post
    I have an Alcatel Linkzone Hotspot that I received for free from tmobile when I added the 2gb plan for $10 to my account. I have 3 blink cameras running off it to monitor a remote property. I also have 4 water sensors and a temperature sensor. I've been using it for 3 months now. Everything works great. I have it set up where I manually check the cameras. So far I have used about 800mb per month. Hope this helps.
    That's great information, thank you! Do you have the cameras set up to send you an alert on your phone if they detect motion or sound?

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    Quote Originally Posted by drooper View Post
    That's great information, thank you! Do you have the cameras set up to send you an alert on your phone if they detect motion or sound?
    I do not have them set up that way. I always check 8n manually.. They are actually in a basement that I use for storage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecs0013 View Post
    The older one can be sometimes be had cheaply, but it's lacking a few of the more recent LTE bands. Either will play nicely with the prepaid mobile internet data plans that T-Mobile offers.
    Hi, I'm wondering how I might get a prepaid T-Mobile data plan? I ask because when I went to a local TMO store they wanted to sign me onto a non-prepaid plan. That didn't work for me because it required a credit check, and I've got my credit locked down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiphone4 View Post
    Hi, I'm wondering how I might get a prepaid T-Mobile data plan? I ask because when I went to a local TMO store they wanted to sign me onto a non-prepaid plan. That didn't work for me because it required a credit check, and I've got my credit locked down.
    Unfortunately, the training at some stores leaves a bit to be desired. They should be able to set you up with one (they're technically called prepaid Mobile Internet plans), or if you want to go the route in the store, you can always set up a $15 Connect plan and then change it (the plans use the same billing system and you can switch between them easily). Stores are also "encouraged" to sell postpaid services, with little incentive to sell prepaid services, so that's why they could've been pointing you in that direction.

    If you don't want to go that route, you can also order a SIM with service online: https://prepaid.t-mobile.com/prepaid-internet

    Also, any unused SIM can also be used for the plans, if you pick "I have a T-Mobile SIM card:" https://prepaid.t-mobile.com/bring-your-own-device.

    One thing I'll recommend regardless, pick a 6-digit PIN when signing up, no more, no less—the prepaid billing system lets you select longer, but once you try to associate it with a T-Mobile ID to manage the account, it expects 4-6 digits. One of those quirks with two systems trying to play nice with each other.

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