Connecting Multiple IP Cameras to Windows Media Center

After publishing a piece on how to connect an Internet enabled camera to WMC, iPhones and iPads yesterday, I received a couple of emails basically saying, “great, but I want to monitor more than one camera in a master view like stand alone IP surveillance software”.

I thought about this for a bit and then tested to see if an HTML page could be hosted locally, placed in the C:ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Media Center\Media Center Programs folder with the appropriate MCL and PNG file. The answer was yes, and this now opens the door to more customizations.

Further, I thought that the still images needed to be refreshed. Not much value in watching an image on the screen that just sits there. I fired up Microsoft Expression Web and created a page and added in a META REFRESH tag to reload every xx seconds (I used 30 seconds as the interval). While tables should not be used for layout on a page designed to be viewed in a real web browser (a deprecated means of coding), a nested table structure proved perfect for display inside Windows Media Center. I specified the Segoe UI font and ended up with something that looked pretty decent and worked.  Here is the view inside Windows Media Center:

mycameras

Here is the HTML code. You will need to replace the hostname, port, image path as I documented in the post linked above. The mycameras.html file I created contains the following:

<head>
<meta content=”en-us” http-equiv=”Content-Language”>
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”30″>

<style type=”text/css”>
a {
color: #DDEEFF;
}
a:visited {
color: #DDEEFF;
}
a:active {
color: #DDEEFF;
}
a:hover {
color: #FFFFFF;
}
.style3 {
font-family: Arial;
font-size: x-large;
font-weight: bold;
}
.style4 {
font-family: “Segoe UI Semibold”;
font-size: x-large;
border-width: 0;
text-align: center;
}
.style5 {
border: 10px solid #FFFFFF;
}
.style6 {
font-family: “Segoe UI Semibold”;
font-size: x-large;
text-align: center;
}
</style>
</head>

<body style=”color: #99CCFF; “>

<p class=”style3″>&nbsp;</p>
<table>
<tr>
<td>
<table>
<tr>
<td class=”style4″>Parking Lot Cam</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td class=”style5″>
<img alt=”” height=”480″ src=”http://hostname.com:XYZ/IMAGE.jpg” width=”640″></td>
</tr>
</table>
</td>
<td>
<table>
<tr>
<td class=”style6″>Home Office Cam</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td class=”style5″>
<img alt=”” height=”480″ src=”http://hostname.com:XYZ/cgi-bin/video.jpg?size=3″ width=”704″></td>
</tr>
</table>

&nbsp;</td>
</tr>
</table>
<p class=”style3″>&nbsp;</p>

The MCL file (mycameras.mcl) is as follows:

<application url=”mycameras.html”
name=”My Cameras”
bgcolor=”RGB(255,255,255)”
startimage=”.mycameras.png”
thumbnailImage=”.mycameras.png”
sharedviewport=”false”>
</application>

After removing the files I created and used yesterday, I placed the html file, the MCL file, and the new PNG file in the C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsAccessoriesMedia CenterMedia Center Programs folder. Next I launched Windows Media Center,and  opened Extras.

mycameras.extra

I finished by adding my new My Cameras extra as a top level Extras menu item.

mycameras.main

Now, if I add more cameras, I can just edit the existing HTML. I’m sure I’ll have to change (reduce) the size of the displayed image to get more on a single page, but I now have a personal IP Camera viewport inside Windows Media Center. (And naturally, I’ve added the second camera to my iPhone and iPad Smartvue configuration).

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