Hands on with the Ring Stick Up Cam: Plantpot thieves watch out

Adding security to older homes is a lot easier thanks to a new generation of wireless devices, making any home a smart home.
Written by Simon Bisson, Contributor

A few years back someone broke into our building, and into the flat downstairs. They also attempted to break into our flat, smashing the front door, but were disturbed before they stole anything. That was lucky for us, as we didn't have any security systems in place. That's all changed, as we've taken the opportunity to deploy a collection of different wireless security devices outside and inside our home.

One recent addition to our network was a Ring Stick Up Cam. Based on Ring's existing wireless video doorbell, it's a standalone camera with motion sensors that connects into your WiFi network. A large built-in rechargeable battery should keep you going for some time, with a USB connection to handle recharges. We set it up with the optional solar panel, so it stays charged on even the grayest days.

Ring's Stick Up Cam

Ring's Stick Up Cam (though we'd recommend using screws to be sure!)

Getting going was quick and easy, using the Android Ring app to connect the camera to the house network, and handle initial configuration. Once connected, the camera could be managed via mobile app, through the web, or from a Windows 10 desktop application. As it uses the Ring cloud service to manage alerts, I could quickly respond to triggers from a phone or tablet no matter where I was.

Using Ring's Android application to control the camera.​

Using Ring's Android application to control the camera.

A good quality wide angle lens on the camera covers a large area, and this can be tied into a motion sensor to trigger recordings or alerts when someone approaches the camera. Ours is over the front door, and we've tuned the motion sensor to cover the path to the door, but not the pavement (the sidewalk, for those outside the UK) and the street. The camera was easy to fit, with the right screws for the door frame, and an adjustable mounting bracket.

One slight issue was the length of USB cable from the solar panel. It's likely to be a lot longer than you might want, so we tied up the excess and hid it behind the panel, using cable ties to attach it to the panel's bracket, with cable grips routing it around the porch roof.

Perhaps the biggest problem with any WiFi security or door camera is that they're designed to work with US homes, especially those built for earthquake-prone California. That means they're perfectly capable of transmitting through wood and wall insulation, but they do struggle with connections through brick and stone.

That's clear from both our existing Netgear Arlo system and the Ring camera, as both have trouble connecting to a router that's only 10 feet away - just on the other side of a London brick wall.

Despite this issue, devices like this are something of a game-changer. Unlike traditional security cameras they're integrated with every device I use, if only through a web app. Ring provides a good mix of desktop and mobile apps, with a Windows 10 app that's integrated into the Windows notification tools, so I can get alerts on my PC while I'm working.

That came in useful a few weeks back when I was expecting a courier, and our front door bell had stopped working. I was able to wait for the pop-up alert, run down the stairs and sign for the package before he'd started to fill out the dreaded "while you were out" card.

Looking out over our front path from the Ring camera over the door.​

Looking out over our front path from the Ring camera over the door.

The camera was also able to help when our downstairs neighbour found one of their window boxes missing. We could use the online archive of recorded videos to show someone taking their plants at around 2am the night before, information we were able to share with others on our street who'd had plants and pots stolen. The IR camera wasn't quite able to give us a clear picture of the thief, but it was able to at least put a time on the theft.

Internet-connected security cameras like Ring's are a quick and easy way of improving the security of any home. They're easy to set up, easy to manage, and give you peace of mind. There's also the added benefit of two-way voice and video, so you can talk to someone on your doorstep without leaving your desk. If you can't fit a complete security system to your home, then this is an effective alternative - giving you video in just a few minutes.

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