[Official] Cheap Home Security Cameras - reflash Yi cameras for use with BlueIris

Overview

Goal

Re-flash cheap Chinese “cloud” cameras that love to phone home. Prevent them from doing so, and get them ready for use with NVR software like BlueIris.

Hardware requirements

Compatible Cameras


Yi Home Camera 3

Small box, nice packaging. Not bad for $20.

Box contents - a few user manuals, camera, Micro-USB cable, and wall wart.

Red sticker indicating where the micro SD card slot is, about “9 o’clock”.
The USB power is at “6 o’clock”.
The QR code is to identify the model of the camera, nothing else. It is also identified by the first four characters, in this case “9FUY”.

The lens actually looks pretty nice.

Silicon Power 64GB MicroSD card - pretty much any brand will work.

Here’s the yi app running on my iPad mini. Notice the LED light is blue, indicating normal function. You can turn this off with the custom firmware.

BluTack will come in handy with these guys. They are super light and they can mount anywhere without damaging the surface.


Reflashing the firmware

Insert the MicroSD card into your card reader of choice. It should show as below.
If it doesn’t, then open command prompt and type “diskpart”, select the MicroSD card with “select disk X” and then use the “clean” command.

Create a new simple volume of size 8192, even if your card is larger.
yi 3

Name is not important, click through to “Next” and then “Finish”.
yi 4

Open up your custom firmware in 7zip.

Copy the firmware to the MicroSD card. Make sure to safely eject it when you’re done.

Insert the MicroSD card into the camera. Plug in the USB power, and wait about 2 minutes. When the operation is complete, the camera should say something about “waiting to connect”.


Configuring the camera - Yi Home app

Here’s the correct app. There’s a few results in the Apple App Store, probably more in the Google Play Store.

Select your country.

I logged in with Apple. Once you use this account to set up your cameras you won’t have to use it again.

Tap the top right “+” to add a camera.

Scan the QR code on the back so the app knows how to pair your camera.

Type your wifi password.

Place the QR code in front of the camera.

Here’s how the app displays cameras.

Once done, format the MicroSD card if you want to use it in the camera. If not, you can remove it and continue flashing other cameras.

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I have 2 of the older models of these, as well as 3 indoor dome 1080p cameras I use outdoors under the eave and they all work really well! With the hack I am able to use them via rstp stream in home assistant.

Black Friday they usually are around $30 for the rotating dome cameras, and about $15-20 for the ones in this post.

I have been thinking about using some facial recognition via a docker container on the host system, but I ran out of time on that project.
Be careful to make sure that you are buying the hackable model. See which models to use/buy here: Yi Home Cameras - Home Assistant

Also, look around on thingiverse. There are some printable mounts for your camera that allow you to screw in the mount, then slide in your cameras as well.

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Absolutely taking advantage of this sometime. Thanks @JDM_WAAAT for the write up and @spikebyte for the info.

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ordered this morning(10-24-2020) and got it this evening,8pm est(good job amazon prime). just set it up( needed the y25 firmware) and it’s working great! there is about a 1-3 second delay between the camera and the rtsp stream and about a 1-2 second delay with the yi app.phone, AP, cam and desktop are all in the same room, about 8ft from the cam to the AP. which is pretty good imo. i actually got it to use as an always on cam and have it on a display but the fact it can stream to pretty much any device with this new firmware is pretty cool. overall, for $20 i don’t think there is anything that could beat it. now i just need to figure out how to get power to the outdoor version…

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Thinking about getting the four pack and an outdoor version and setting them all up for “private mode”. What’s a good setup to have the cameras record to a local server/nas? How would I be able to setup a remote connection to said server that doesn’t require an app? Vpn and web browser back to my network? The plan is to setup one of them in the living room so my girlfriend can check on the dog while she’s at work. The rest will be facing outside(current camera in in the window sill) and recorded to a local device saving footage for a month or two then deleting old copies. The outdoor camera is for the front door so when amazon etc say delivered, I can keep an eye on my packages.

Can anyone advise on any substantial differences between the Outdoor (1pc) and Outdoor “enhanced Nightvision”? They’re within pennies of each other price wise.

I think I bricked mine, as far as I could tell I followed instructions - however now when turning on its flashing yellow but no voice, and unable to pair with scanning the app.

I thought I bricked mine at first but tried the 8.3(I think) firmware and that solved my problem.

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I haven’t yet completed the updated firmware guide, I hope to do so in the next couple of days.

I’ve also used this firmware on my yi 1080p outdoor camera. GitHub - TheCrypt0/yi-hack-v4: New Custom Firmware for Xiaomi Cameras based on Hi3518e Chipset. It features RTSP, SSH, FTP and more! to get an rtsp feed, and they are working on adding onvif.

This firmware is also used above! :slight_smile:

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Any of these POE cameras?

Not this line of cameras, no.

I’ve used this process for about a year now and it’s been great. These cameras work really well with BlueIris with this firmware!

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in case anyone thinks it’s a good deal to get the 2 pack, i wouldn’t. they are a different model number(rfus) and from looking online they are only supported by the v2 hack. it works, but i’m not getting video out over rtsp. i might try the firmware linked above but not sure i want to risk bricking it.

i’ve had the original one linked up top(9fus) and it’s been working nonstop since day one.

correction: the 9fus dual camera pack does work with the yi hack v2 from this github (model suffix y211ga). for some reason it wasn’t showing up in vlc. reboot my pc and tried again and it works. not sure what happened. also, you’ll need to have rtsp alternative stream turned on. at least in my case using the live555 default through errors in vlc causing it to not work(i’m assuming).

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I’m having a hard time finding the answer to this and hoping someone can help.

  • The custom firmware tries to stop the cameras from phoning home right?
  • The phone is still needed to setup the camera wifi and such, does that make the cameras still accessible when away from home?

I’m concerned about the security of the cameras and want them to be fairly closed so they’re only accessible on the internal network, so I don’t want them punching their own holes in my firewall.

  • The possibility to disable all the cloud features. << this would be the option to stop the phone home.

Still accessible if you have a VPN to connect to your home network

Oh, thanks! Sorry I missed that note.

I don’t have any of these cameras but I’m trying to help my brother with his and I’m trying to do my homework before getting started. I’ll go watch someone do it on YouTube so I can see the interface and what to expect for how to enable that setting.

This is how i have both of mine setup. Once you use the disable cloud toggle and reboot, the camera is no longer talking to the Yi app. I have shinobi setup on a vm that these cameras are connected to for a nvr. if i need to look at them remotely, i turn on my vpn and connect to my lan and can see them in the shinobi mobile app or from a browser. The only time i needed to use the app was to connect the cameras to my wifi. After which i deleted the app (used a throwaway account to set it up).

if you follow the install notes the github page it makes it pretty easy to install. But if you want a video, this will give you an idea. One thing that’s not needed, but shown in the video, is the donation to license for rtsp. Already in the firmware and works OOB.