4 Channel Digital Video recorder - 179.99


New Member
Thought someone may be interested in this:

SENTINEL 4 Channel Digital Video recorder

direct link at outpost

Linear Zoom (2x~4x)
Multiplexer & Quad recording mode switching
Full size 30 frames/sec or Quad 120 frames/sec record
Support up to 250 GB HDD
Motion detection triggered record function
Wavelet compression format
4 CH DVR replaces Time-Lapse VCR + Multiplexer / Quad
Picture-in-picture (PIP) & POP in live
Alarm input & output function
Video Loss Detection on each channel can record up to 256 events
Quick multiple search by date/time, alarm, full, motion list
Security password protection
RS-232, RS-485 communication protocol
without a Harddrive... but those are cheap..

As I have yet to get into the video (camera) aspect of HA, unless you count my trials and tribulations with a crappy x10 wireless cam, is this as good as it looks?

I seem to lean towards the "PC" side of things (let a computer do it)..... But if this is as good as the specs indicate....

4 cams would do me just right... I just dont know anything about it (yet). Having a seperate box, esp. at this price, looks really nice.

I'm still in the camp of those that are waiting for: a) a raise; and b ) to decide if I want to go with a computer PCI card... after all, this doesn't have a HD, but my puter does...

Where to spend my money? :)
I prefer a PC as well, but if you don't care, then this is a good deal for sure. Even if you do have a PC, you can have it trigger events on your PC using the alarm outputs, pretty cool.
I think I disagree on the "PC First" approach unless you are talking about a dedicated PC for this purpose. It seems like putting this functionality on your primary HA PC is bound to impact resources needed for timely response to core HA triggers. A stand-alone system with RS-485 communications to the central HA controller is always my first choice when adding new hardware. The Sentinal system looks like a really good option to me.
I am indeed talking about a dedicated PC (which I have), since you can do much more advanced processing with a PC than with one of these units. I noticed it had serial ports, but no where was it mentioned if the serial protocol was 'open' or proprietary.
The serial protocol is documented in the manual (see one of the posts in the Anandtech thread above). It's very simple control - nothing fancy. It does have both RS232 and RS485 interfaces.

The manual specifically says not to try using the hard drive in a computer. There is no indication about what drive or file formats are used.

The only way to get video out of the box is to play it through the composite output. So, if your goal was to get it into a computer (or on the web, etc.), you will need to take this output and go through a capture board/box on the PC (in real time).
Are the Key_CH1, Key_CH2, etc the ascii codes to switch the cameras or does this device only show quad putput?
Rupp said:
Are the Key_CH1, Key_CH2, etc the ascii codes to switch the cameras or does this device only show quad putput?
It looks like the serial protocol is just a single character that does the same as pressing a button on the box. I don't see any mention of feedback or status information.

As far as I can tell, the display can change mode between PIP, POP (?), and single display. I assume you need to see the output to know what the current state is.

Also, the manual mentions that if there is no harddrive, the box works like a switch.