How to turn your Android tablet into a security camera system

Jack Wallen shows how you can use your GoPro Hero Wi-Fi-enabled camera and an Android tablet to make a flexible security camera setup.


GoPro Hero

If you’ve ever experienced the GoPro Hero3, you know just how amazing those little devices are. But did you know, with a little work and an Android tablet, you could turn that incredible little camera into a flexible security system? Although it may not serve a large company (like a proprietary security system would), when you need something in a pinch, this little marvel can do the job just fine.

I’m going to show you how you can use a GoPro Hero3 and an Android tablet to set up a quick IP-based security camera. You can actually use any of the GoPro models, but with the Hero or Hero2, you'll need the Wi-Fi backpack add-on. The GoPro App will also be necessary.

Installing the GoPro App

Follow these steps to install the GoPro App:

  1. On your Android tablet (I'll be using a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note), open the Google Play Store
  2. Search for “gopro” (no quotes)
  3. Tap the entry for GoPro App
  4. Tap Install
  5. Tap Accept
  6. Allow the installation to complete

Connect to your camera

The first thing you must do is turn the GoPro Hero’s Wi-Fi on. Once you’ve done that, go to your tablet and connect to the GoPro Hero Wi-Fi. It should be listed as something like GOPRO-BP (we’ll change that in a moment). The default password for this Wi-Fi connection should be goprohero.

When the wireless connection is established, it’s time to fire up the GoPro App.

Configuring your Wi-Fi connection

Open the GoPro App, and you should see the main window (Figure A). From there, you'll need to tap the Connect+Control button.

Figure A

Figure A
The GoPro App running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note tablet.

The app should very quickly make a connection to the camera and start rolling live footage (Figure B).

Figure B


Figure B

The camera rolling live footage.

With this app, you can:

  • Record footage
  • Monitor the battery of the camera
  • Configure capture settings
  • Listen to sound from the camera (only on recorded playback, not live)
  • Change the name/password of the Hero Wi-Fi
  • See the coordinates of your Hero
  • Turn the camera off/on

You can also set up the camera to shoot images every 3, 5, or 10 seconds (if you don’t need actual video).

Changing Wi-Fi name/password

To change the name of the Hero’s Wi-Fi name and password, do the following:

  1. Turn the Hero Wi-Fi on
  2. Connect the device to the Hero Wi-Fi
  3. Open the GoPro App
  4. Tap the settings button (the wrench)
  5. Tap Name (under Wi-Fi Network)
  6. In the resulting window (Figure C), enter the new name and password
  7. Tap Apply Changes

Figure C


Figure C

Changing the name of your Hero’s Wi-Fi.

Once you’ve made these changes, you’ll need to re-connect to your Hero’s Wi-Fi.

To set how your camera shoots (video, photo, burst, time lapse), tap the little camera icon and select the type (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D
Selecting the type of shot for your camera.

While you’re recording the video feed, you might want to snag a single picture (or a burst of pictures). That is where the shot type comes in handy.

Using this as security system

The most challenging aspect of this system also illustrates the flexibility of the GoPro+Android combination. You’ll need to figure out a way to mount the GoPro to catch the area for security. There are so many mounting options available for the GoPro -- and DIY options are endless.

You’ll find the range of the Hero’s Wi-Fi to be fairly good. I’ve seen tests that concluded the GoPro Hero3 Wi-Fi signal will reach up to 100 yards with no loss of signal. Those tests, of course, were in an open field. You will, most likely, not be using this set up in an open field, so the range won’t be quite as impressive.

As far as your Android tablet, I recommend purchasing a cover that includes a stand -- or you can do what I did and go to Jo-Ann Fabrics and purchase a plastic/metal craft stand (Figure E) for $2.99 (USD).

Figure E


Figure E

This $2.99 (USD) craft stand is perfect for tablets.

This set up has served me for various needs, and I believe it will serve you well when you need an impromptu security camera set up in a location that wouldn’t normally offer such an option (even outdoors). Just remember, the GoPro battery can become an issue; for long instances of viewing with Wi-Fi, you might need a few spares.

Have you turned your Android tablet into a security device for your home or small business? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.



By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....