How To... Build a Baby Cam with a Mac Mini and iSight

How To... Build a Baby Cam with a Mac Mini and iSight

Sonia Zjawinski
Jul 21, 2009

Lauren Hirsch, a blogger for The Unofficial Apple Weblog, was on maternity leave when she realized her love of Apple didn't have to go on leave post baby. She decided to turn a standalone iSight and Intel Mac Mini (both gathering dust at her house) into a baby monitor. One half would sit "discreetly, headless and tailless (monitor-, keyboard-, and mouse-free) in the baby's room, and broadcast both locally on my network and also wide-area so grandparents could tune in remotely."

She used her TV, which has a PC (VGA) port, as a monitor for the Mini. "I set it to login automatically to the main account and join my Airport network. In System Preferences, I enabled screen sharing and added iChat as a login item. In iChat, I enabled Bonjour and instant messaging, added myself as a buddy, and restricted chats to pre-approved users under security preferences. Because I didn't want to connect via screen sharing every time I wanted to initiate a chat, I typed the following into Terminal so that it would auto-accept any incoming video chats."

While this worked great for at home (in network) use, daddy at work and grandparents in other states had problems logging into the feed. Lauren breaks down how she solved the problem in her post. She decided on SJKM's iCam software, "which is an iPhone application & accompanying cross-platform video streaming tool specifically designed for video monitoring, available in the iTunes store for $4.99." Unfortunately the video is choppier than when seen via AIM, Bonjour,, or Skype, but it works over 3G and Wi-Fi, and it connects multiple viewers without requiring conference setup.

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