How to create your own baby monitor using a deactivated Android phone

HTC EVO 4G as a baby monitorChances are if you’re a techie you have a deactivated Android device somewhere in your house, or you know someone who upgraded their phone recently and they have a functioning Android phone with a camera you can use.

For purposes of this piece, I took my wife’s old HTC EVO 4G and with one app turned it into a fully functional baby monitor that can stream images not only to one other device like traditional baby monitors do, but also to a parent who’s at work and wants to see what’s up with the little bundle of baby.

Baby monitor equipment checklist

  • Deactivated Android device with a decent front or rear camera
  • Wireless router within range of the Android device
  • Internet connection if you want to share with others
  • Receiving device: Android, iPhone, Laptop, Chromebook, Google Glass, etc.
  • Something to hold the device at the right angle
  • Power source if you’re going longer than a couple of hours at a stretch
  • Application such as IP Webcam

Ready? Set. Go!

IP Webcam QR code

From here down we’ll assume you’ve already enabled WiFi and connected to your wireless network on your deactivated Android device.

Go to Google Play and grab yourself a copy of IP Webcam. If you’re feeling saucy you can scan the QR code and it should take you directly to the download.

After you’ve installed it, you’re going to want to lower the FPS limit to two or three unless you’re leaving the phone plugged in constantly.

Higher FPS will mean the video is smoother, but it will also drain your battery a bit. Depending on your preferences you can raise or lower the resolution of the camera. I find that 640*480 is fine unless you’re attempting to see fine grain resolution.

You’ll also want to enable audio mode if you want to be able to hear what’s going on on the remote end.

No, really… GO!

Viewing: an HTC EVO 3D viewing the HTC EVO 4G stream being taken by an HTC EVO 4G LTENow start the IP Webcam server, that’s the last option on the options page. If all goes well you should see a picture on the screen from the camera, and a button that says “how do I connect?” Clicking that should give you a fairly good idea of what to do.

On another device also connected to the WiFi, navigate to the address it gives you and you’ll be presented with a small webpage with various methods of viewing the stream. You’ll need to figure out which one works best for you to view your baby.

Be aware that not all Android devices and methods of viewing the stream are going to transmit audio. So check before you realize that it’s not been working for you. Also be aware that the average cell phone picks up sounds differently than you might think.

It works in your house, now share with the world!

OK, chances are the world’s not going to care to watch your baby sleep, however that doesn’t mean the grandparents, friends, and other family aren’t going to be interested.

You’ll need to open a port on your WiFi router in order for anyone outside of your limited WiFi radius to be able to see it. Since forwarding a port to a device is a chore to explain, I’ll direct you to Google to look up port forwarding. I’m hoping that since you’re on The I.T. Baby you already are comfortable with this part.

After that’s done, you’ll need to find out what your internet address (public IP) is to give to friends and relatives. You can find this out by going to WhatIsMyIP.com.

You can give your relatives the public IP and port, and they should be able to jump in and look at your stream whenever you want. The general public is not going to even know this baby monitor service exists on the internet, but if you feel the need to, you can protect the IP Webcam server with a password.

You’ll get significantly more functionality with an investment of only a little time than you would out of a store-bought baby monitor without wasting money, destroying the environment, and depleting your hard-earned savings.

Alternately

You can also do this with an activated device, although be aware that carrier data charges will apply and you could go over your limit very quickly if someone forgets to stop watching.

Things to consider on Android baby monitors

  • Free software and ancient phones are prone to failure
  • Using an activated device can get you a baby monitor anywhere
  • your mileage may vary
  • You may be saving $150 and gaining amazing functionality that enables the grandparents and thirty or so other people to watch any time they want, but the instant something goes wrong you’re going to be blamed

Have fun!

  • Jamin

    I am attempting to set this up with my HTC evo 4G. I can stream video without a problem, but I am unable to get the audio to transmit. How were you able to get your audio to transmit?

    • I was running a Sense ROM, not stock however, and it seems it only transmitted audio to IE (on PC) or Dolphin (on Android) on the other end. I’ll see if I can locate that EVO 4G I did this on and do it again. Lot has changed in the Android world since I wrote this so don’t know what’s broken, what’s new, etc…

  • Great stuff, Paul, thanks for writing this up! Here it is two years later and your suggestion/tutorial is still an excellent option for my family.

    • One thing you might want to throw into the mix is adding a remote control software to the phone so that in the event your camera locks up, or if you just need to do something in network you’ve got that ability to reboot, control the device, etc.

      Plenty of free ones in the store.

      • Excellent suggestion, Paul. The old phone I am running this on was somewhat buggy during its working life anyway.

  • Rodger Phillips

    as one whom is very familiar with technology, I have to say one ammendment might be needed, where you say “Free software and ancient phones are prone to failure” I would have said “All software is prone to failure” I have had many paid for apps and even the OS fail, locking up or resetting the device.
    nothing to say about this other than praise you for some brilliant advice, thank you!

    • Thanks.

      I should have said free software can fail, paid software can too. You only have a right to scream at people for one of these probably 😉