CCTV Security Camera News in Da Nang Vietnam

PTZ Cameras : Setting Up a PTZ Camera on a DVR System

PTZ (pan, tilt, and zoom) cameras give you the ability to remotely move a camera to a position where you can see what is normally out of the camera’s field of view.  There are many makes and models of PTZ cameras available on the market, but all analog PTZ cameras have to be setup the same way (IP- PTZ cameras are another story altogether).

On a standard analog camera, you have a cable to carry video and another to carry power. On a PTZ camera, you also have a set of wires that control the movement of the camera. The control wires are usually twisted pair wire at 22-24 gauge. For the control wires to carry the signal, you must have communication between the camera and the software that runs the DVR. The control wire communicates to the DVR software through a connector called a RS485 (shown below).

rs485 connector

If you have a standalone DVR that supports PTZ cameras, there will be a connector like this one on the back of the DVR. If you have a standalone DVR that does not have this connector, chances are that it unfortunately cannot be added.

There are a few PTZ cameras that come with a handheld remote controller, where the RS485 connector is located directly on the remote control receiver (not connected to the DVR). In this case, you can control the camera with the remote controller, but not through the software of the DVR. This also means that you cannot connect to the DVR from a remote location and control the PTZ, because it’s not configured in the software.

gv-net card

GeoVision GV-Net Card w/ RS485 Connector

If you have a PC-based DVR using a capture card, you will require a RS485 installed on the PC. Some brands, like GeoVision, supply a DVR card that has the RS485 connector built-in.

Another way a PTZ camera can be controlled is with a keyboard/joystick designed specifically for this purpose, but that is another article on its own.

Now that you have the hardware necessary to run a PTZ camera, you will need to get the protocol, address, and baud rate the camera is using. On most cameras, when the image first appears on the screen, it will have superimposed over the screen the protocol, address, and baud rate that the camera is set to use.  On some cameras, this will stay on the screen until the camera is correctly configured, while on other cameras, it will come up and stay on the screen for a specific period of time (according to the camera manufacturer’s specifications).

If your DVR supports the camera’s protocol, all you have to do is find the PTZ camera setup menu and enter the information. But if the DVR have lacks support for the camera’s protocol, you will have to manually set the camera to the proper protocol.  Many PTZ cameras will support a protocol called Pelco D (dome). This is a universal protocol designed for this purpose. Keep in mind when using Pelco D that all of the features for the camera may not work. If this happens, there isn’t much you can do unless you can acquire an updated version of your DVR software that supports the native protocol of your camera.

You may have to change the address of the camera to avoid address conflicts, and if you have more than one PTZ camera, you will have to change the address of one of the cameras.

If you have to change a setting on your camera, this will normally be done with dip switches on the camera itself. These switches are used to change the cam’s protocol, baud rate, and address. You will need the manual for the camera to find out how to set the switches to get the camera settings you need. Below is a picture of some dip switches found on cameras.

security camera dip switches

If you have not done so before, setting the address on a PTZ camera can be a little confusing. I have included the following explanation on how most of these cameras set the switches for an address:

When setting up an address on a PTZ camera, the camera will have an address, baud rate, and protocol that you must know in order to setup in a DVR.  As an example, the AP-LPTDX camera has a set of 10 dip switches that are used to set the address, baud rate, and protocol. Dips 1-6 are used to set the address.

The dips are not standard switches that indicate something simple, like “address 4 is set when you throw switch 4 only.” They are using binary math to determine addresses. The chart below shows what each of the 6 switches represents.

1 2 3 4 5 6
1bit 2 bits 4 bits 8 bits 16 bits 32 bits

Here are some examples of acquiring desired addresses for cameras:

  • EX1: Customer wants camera #2 to have address 2. Turn switch 2 on all others off.
  • EX2: Customer wants camera #5 to have address 5. Turn switches 1 and 3 on all others off (1+4=5).
  • EX3: Customer wants camera #12 to have address 10. Turn switches 2 and 4 on all others off (8+2=10).
  • EX4: Customer wants camera #5 to have address 44. Turn switches 6, 4 and 3 on, all others off (32+8+4=44).


One other thing we commonly see is the control wires getting crossed. To avoid this issue, make sure you have the wires correctly connected at the camera and the DVR. Make sure you have matching wire color on each end of the wire. The control wires are using relatively weak DC signal, so if you need to change the polarity of the wires, you can do this with power on the system.

Another issue I’ve seen is when the setup in the DVR software is using one com port, but the device manager is showing the device using a different port. If you think you have the camera configured correctly, check the ports and change the software setting to match the port used in the device manager.

As long as you get the correct information from your camera, and set the same information in your DVR software, setting up a PTZ camera is not too complicated. The problem comes when you are entering mismatched information into the DVR’s software. If this happens, the camera will not respond to command inputs, so write down the settings your camera gives you, and remember to check your settings in the DVR!