New Uses for Old Gadgets: Build a 'Watch Anywhere' Baby Monitor with Slingbox

Those who know me or follow my blog will attest, I have a fair amount of older gadgets and gizmos I've collected over the years. Some sit on shelves behind a glass door museum-style, but most would be surprised by the sheer number of old devices I've found new uses for. So, when the need arose to put together a nursery for my new bundle of joy, I went to work putting a few of my older gadgets back into service.

One of our goals was to have the option to monitor the baby visually, and after pricing out some $200+ baby video monitors, I decided to slap something together from several devices I already own that are no longer in use; most notably, the Slingbox Classic [original review]. The result is what my wife and I call "The SlingTot," a baby monitor accessible from around the world as well as at home.

What You'll Need:

  • A Slingbox
  • A video camera with an A/V output. Night mode is required if you're planning on using it at night.
  • Network accessibility or a Wireless internet solution
  • Optional (but recommended) is at least one smartphone or PDA with SlingPlayer Mobile.

Set up time: approximately 30 minutes.

Setting it Up

Putting together your Sling-based baby monitor isn't much different than setting up a Slingbox with your DVR. The only tricky part is finding a position for the camera so it gets a good view of the crib. For now, I've used a mini tripod to attach the video camera to the crib side. This should work for a little while, but I'll plan on moving the camera to a tripod out of reach from the crib, or hanging it high above the crib. Just make sure that any thing near reach of the crib is securely fastened.


Once you've found the position for your camera, attach the camera's A/V output to the Slingbox. Depending on which Slingbox you use, you may need some adapter cables to make the audio work. I'm using S-video for my video connection, and two female-female RCA adapters to plug in the sound. Don't forget to attach the power cord to the video camera.

Next you'll need to get the Slingbox on your home network. If you have a wired Ethernet jack in the room, you're all set. If not, you'll need to use some kind of adapter. For my setup, I'm using a D-Link 802.11b Wi-Fi to Ethernet Bridge to get the job done, but you could use a powerline kit like the SlingLink. 

Tuck the Slingbox and Wi-Fi adapter out of sight, and plug everything in. Power on your video camera and check the menu for its power settings.  Many cameras automatically turn off after a few minutes idle time, so you'll want to disable that feature if you're going to use it for this purpose.


Head to your computer and fire up SlingPlayer. Run the Setup Assistant, and perform the Slingbox configuration. Most of this process should be familiar.

When asked what you have connected, select "Non Controllable Device."

If you only want to use this inside the home, you can skip the section for remote viewing. If you'd like to be able to connect remotely (and why not?), you'll need to keep a few things in mind. If you're doing this, you probably have more than one Slingbox. Make sure each Slingbox is assigned a different IP address and port number.

Once you've configured your router for remote access, you're all set. 

(No Cabbage Patch dolls were harmed during the making of this article.)

If using a camera without a night mode (low-light) feature, night viewing won't be possible.  If your camera is equipped with night mode, adding a small room nightlight should provide enough light to make nighttime viewing possible.

Having a PDA or Smartphone makes this very useful. For our setup, we pulled out an older Windows Mobile PDA (it has built in Wi-Fi) and loaded it up with SlingPlayer Mobile. It works great as a mobile video monitor around the house. If you have a smartphone equipped with 3G data and SlingPlayer Mobile, you could even tune in while on the go or at work if your little one is taking a nap.

A SlingCatcher is another useful device with this setup. You can run your SlingTot cam on the SlingCatcher via your TV's picture-in-picture!



Now THAT is slick. That is something that I could even sell my wife on, and that is saying a lot. Perhaps I can convince her to let me upgrade to a better Slingbox, when we have our first child.

Great idea. I've been looking for a diy baby monitor for a while. What do think as a variant to your 'skype baby monitor' to use some remote desktop software, like 'LogMeIn'? This way you have the ability to use as a baby monitor or for two way communication [trying to calm an unsettled baby- not to be confused with lazy parenting, mind you]. Also, possibly use some video capture freeware to record those precious moments.

does any one know the cheapest way i can add mutiple camera`s to my sling box pro so i can monitor my whole home with my sling box

Video monitors of any kind should never be attached to the crib. Sooner than you think, babies can reach and grab that chord and wrap it around their necks. Other than that, cool.


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