Updated BenTV Video Monitor Camera

The IP camera that I have been using for the ‘BenTV’ video monitors for Benjamin (Benja-Telly as we call it) started to fail (picture started breaking up more and more, and sound was replaced by an awful loud buzz), so I needed a new one.
The one I was using was a WansView pan and tilt wireless IP camera, and I was using an RTSP audio/video stream encoded using H264 codec to display it on the raspberry PI based monitors.
When I bought it I had bought a spare – a cheaper, lower resolution one, so I just installed that and expected it to work. Alas, in addition to being lower resolution, it also used different audio/video formats – rather than H264 video it uses motion-jpeg, and an audio format I have been unable to fathom – basically, to use my ‘spare’ camera would need significant changes to how I play the audio/video on the raspberry Pi.
So, I gave up and bought a new camera – the WansView one had been ok, but its wifi was always a bit weak, and I suspected it ‘jammed’ my wifi network for a while if you switched off one of the monitors, so I thought I’d try a different manufacturer. FosCam seemed quite popular, so I went for a FosCam FI9821W Version 2.

All started very promising – plugged it into an ethernet port on my router, and I could see it connect to the router and receive an IP address. Pointed a web browser to the correct IP address and I could access the admin interface and tell it to connect to my wifi network. I thought I ought to upgrade to the latest firmware before I commission it, because I know I’ll not touch it once it is working, so I used the admin interface to download the latest firmware from FosCam and then install it.

It was at this point that I suffered a sense-of-humour-failure because under the new software you can not log into the camera unless you have installed a browser plugin…..and that browser plugin only works on Windows, but my computers all run Linux…. Now I don’t mind Linux not being fully supported because I know most users of a commercial product will use Windows…but I do object to it working with Linux then stopping when the firmware is upgraded. I found a very bad tempered forum ‘discussion’ about it from last year, but no apparent answer.

I tried a factory re-set, but that came back with the new firmware.  I tried downloading some older firmware from the FosCam web site, but that did not seem to do anything (newer firmware retained).   Got very tempted to send the thing back….

In the end I got it working by installing the Wine windows ’emulator’ for Linux, and the ‘winetricks’ tool to install extra things (sudo apt-get install wine winetricks), and used winetricks to install the windows version of the firefox web browser.  With that I can download the browser plugins from the camera and access the admin interface.   Not Ideal!

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