The slammed webcam: An impromptu teardown

August 12, 2013 // By Brian Dipert
A few months back, replacing an 802.11n dual-band router (out; a misbehaving Apple Time Capsule, and in; a Cisco (now-Belkin) Linksys E4200 v2) had knocked my TRENDnet TV-IP400W 802.11g network webcam off the LAN.

At the time, I thought I'd fixed the issue by downgrading the new router's 2.4 GHz band configuration from "mixed" to "802.11b/g only" and by downgrading its encryption from "WPA2 Personal" to "WPA Personal." But while away on a subsequent trip, I unfortunately discovered that I was unable to access the webcam from the road via the WAN. Upon returning home, I found that the still-lit blue "power" LED on the front of the unit was no longer accompanied by an illuminated red "activity" LED. Power-cycling the TV-IP400W resurrected its connection to the network, but only temporarily ... each time I did, the wireless tether would randomly drop again a few minutes/hours/days/weeks later.

I could have just given in and bought a newer replacement webcam; TRENDnet's TV-IP551W and TV-IP751WC have both been promotion-priced at less than $40 recently, for example. But neither of these units offers the TV-IP400W's horizontal and vertical "swivel" features. And after all, why spend $40 when you don't have to? So I've instead been Ethernet cable-tethering the TV-IP400W to a spare HomePlug AV powerline networking adapter. This alternative connectivity scheme has proven to be rock-solid (at least when premises power is up, that is). But it's still not perfect.

The TV-IP400W is sitting on a window ledge that's no deeper than the camera itself is. Both the Ethernet cable and the power cord hang down from it to a power outlet below and to the left. And it's right by the front door, where the dogs excitedly congregate each day when it's time for a neighbourhood walk or a drive to the nearby dog park. Every once in a while, one of the dogs bumps up against one or both of the cables. And every once in a while (twice so far, to be precise, as I recall) when that happens ... the camera falls to the slate floor below.

After the most recent iteration of