How to Install a PTZ Camera

How Do You Install A PTZ Camera In Your Church?

A pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera is used by a lot of houses of worship, in part because of all the things it can do. PTZ cameras allow for great closeups and a lot of other fancy tasks, yet most of them are reasonably priced. You can set them up almost everywhere, and they can be either permanently installed or placed on a tripod. In short, PTZ cameras are versatile enough to meet the needs of most houses of worship, and installing them usually doesn’t require a tech genius.

How to Install a PTZ Camera

Most PTZ cameras will come with everything you need to install them properly, which includes all of the mounting equipment in case you choose to connect them to a wall or ceiling. In most cases, you’ll have one or more of the following items in the package:

  • Camera
  • User manual
  • Ethernet (RJ45) connector
  • Alarm outputs and inputs (usually color-coded)
  • Power supply
  • RS485 control wires
  • Cables

Some of them also have a device to help ensure the camera will fit properly on a tripod, as well as other items. While some PTZ cameras come with just the basics, others include everything in the packaging to make sure you can start using the camera right away, including a hex wrench. With the exception of screwdrivers and maybe drills, you likely won’t need anything except what’s in the box to get started quickly.

The first thing you should do once you get everything out of the packaging is to familiarize yourself with what’s in there, as well as double-check the items list to make sure everything is in the package that should’ve been. Only then will you be able to start installing your PTZ camera.

Mounting Locations and Mounts

There are numerous places you can install your PTZ camera, but most organizations install it permanently on either the ceiling or the wall, set it on a tripod so that they can use it in many different rooms, or install it on a pole on the ceiling using an NPT pipe. The first thing you should decide is whether you want a camera that is mobile or one that is permanently attached to something. Afterward, it is much easier to decide for certain where to install your camera.

For wall, ceiling, and pole mounts, there is a universal 1/4-20 (quarter-twenty) attachment that is available in both black and white and fits most cameras. If the hardware comes with your camera, you’ll have everything you need for the job, so you shouldn’t have to buy anything else just to make sure your camera is installed properly.

Cable Runs

There are two types of cables that come with most PTZ cameras: the camera cables and the wireless cables. PTZ camera cables usually come in 25-, 50-, 75-, and 100-foot sizes. Many are placed either high on the ceiling or inside of the walls to get a more professional look. Sometimes, you’ll need a daisy-chain configuration, which means your cable will be extended from either the joystick or the DVR to the second camera, the second camera will extend to the third camera, and so on, so that your controller can manage all of your cameras at the same time.

You have other wiring options as well, including a star configuration, which means the data cable will simply run to each camera. Many organizations use both the star and daisy-chain configurations when they’ve decided to use more than one camera and they want those cameras to “communicate” with one another while the broadcast is going on.

USB Less Than 15’

Using the “plug and play” feature of a USB port is a common way to install a PTZ camera, but there are a few things to consider before choosing this option. Keep in mind that for many reasons, USB cabling should only be used when only a few cameras are being used and are placed near the production PC or system. Some of those reasons include the limited bandwidth that USB ports have to support high-definition (HD) video, the inability of these cables to provide positive-locking connectors, the fact that most computers are only able to support 1-2 HD cameras connected to a USB port, and the fact that USB cables are only able to be extended short distances.

If you do want to use a USB cable to install your PTZ camera, keep these things in mind and remember that there are some kits you can buy that can accommodate your cameras even if they’re far away from the production system.

HDMI Less Than 50’

If you’re using HDMI to install your PTZ camera, it’s good to remember that this type of cable can only run for about 50 feet before you start having problems with signal degradation. This isn’t to say that you can’t extend this type of cable for more than 50 feet, but if you do, you’ll need to purchase some extension gear. Since this gear is expensive, most organizations won’t use HDMI if they need for the cables to run for more than 50 feet.

SDI Less Than 300’

SDI is perhaps the most common cable when setting up PTZ cameras, mostly because they work well up to around 300 feet, which is more convenient than both HDMI and USB options. SDI cable is made out of solid copper and therefore produces very professional results. They also include BNC-style, 1/4-turn connectors on each end, which is a standard in the industry. SDI cables tend to be more expensive than other types, but the results are above and beyond what those other types offer.

Wireless Options

There are also wireless options, and most of them involve wireless cable that goes up to around 1300 feet, with the option of using a daisy chain configuration to increase that by about 5200 feet. If you have a LAN connection, you can usually utilize wireless options for your PTZ cameras. The best wireless cables are professional-grade WAPS, or wireless access points, and you can connect any NDI or IP device to them for a seamless connection and professional results.

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