Repurpose an old phone or tablet

A friend had her vehicle stolen from the front of her house last week which started me thinking about different things we could do with our binary buddies to either prevent or solve problems like these.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on

Many folks have in a drawer, previously used cell phones or even an old tablet. Just because they do not have a cell phone plan doesn’t mean they don’t work. Charge them up, turn on the phone and connect to our secured home Wi-Fi connection and the phone can surf the web, call out on Skype, Facetime or other video chat service. More importantly it will have a working camera.

The working camera can be configured to be a security camera, a baby monitor or even a spy camera. What do we need to set up our own monitoring service?

Power cord and outlet for the phone if we want the phone to monitor 24/7. Some way to mount the camera such as a tripod or duct tape. Finally we need software to run the camera on the phone (server) and software on our in use smart phone. (viewer) Windows computers, iPhones and Android phones have the ability to set up and run these apps so use the appropriate ones for your equipment. There are “free” programs with limited functions and possibly some advertising that pops up or there are some apps that can be purchased that have many functions such as real time viewing, two way communications, motion detection, night vision, or the ability to record and review events that took place while we were away.

I grabbed Wardencam ( from the Android Play Store that had a free trial version with 48 hrs of recording and good ratings and reviews. It took only a few minutes to download and install on an old tablet from the junk drawer and the same for my smart phone. The app opens for the first time and asks that we log in with a Dropbox or Google Account. Wardencam records video and stores it in our Dropbox or Google Drive cloud storage and not on Wardencam servers. The app then asks if the device is to be the camera or the viewer. I checked the tablet as the camera and my smart phone as the viewer. Within a few seconds the video from the tablet appeared on the smart phone which means I can be anywhere in the world and view what the camera is seeing. I then surfed over to my Google Drive and sure enough, there were the video captures from the tablet.

Other features are available such as motion detection, night vision, email alerts, share video and more and the Pro version of the app is $6.99 with no monthly fee.

Almost all the apps available have trial periods so find one that works best for the tasks at hand. There are also products such as Nestcam from Google and many others that work as full fledged security systems but if looking for something just to fill a gap these apps might do the trick.

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