Toemat Labs

Foscam C1 IP Camera Teardown and Review

The Foscam C1

The Foscam C1 is an inexpensive wireless IP camera that sells for about $70 USD. I'm looking to replace some aging security cameras and based off my experience so far it looks like the C1 is just the ticket.

I've been using Foscam cameras around the house for a number of years. Specifically the FI8918W model which has motorized pan and tilt. I installed the first one in Jan 2011 and have added a few here and there since then.

That first camera has been running 24/7 for 5 straight years, outside with just a minimal amount of protection from nature. Somehow it's survived and I haven't had a single issue with it or with any other to others I've installed since then. (Impressive since they have moving mechanical parts. Even still – no issues).

Going inside the Foscam C1

Foscam C1 disassembled

How are we going to know what we're working with without first tearing it all apart? Besides, it's a great way to learn!

Just by looking at the outside it's clear that Foscam is trying to compete with the Nest Dropcams (It looks a lot like this model).

The Nest/Dropcam cameras are great but they're expensive and rely on a monthly subscription.

Foscam C1 top removed

It was easy to get the front cover off. It just snaps in place. Under that were a couple screws that hold the front half of the frame in place.

Looks like they've done a nice job with the spacial design. Two boards with a couple interconnects.

Foscam C1 cover with antenna

Here's the front half of the frame. If you look closely you can see the wifi antenna traces embedded in the frame.

The C1 doesn't have an external antenna hookup so you'll have to do with the internal one. Although I suppose you could connect something like this to the internal uFL plug and mount your own external SMA antenna if necessary!


The lens had to come out to get this first PCB out because the front of the lens doesn't fit through the center hole.

The component at the top is the PIR motion sensor. This is something my older cameras lacked, so I'm looking forward to seeing how well this detects people and other things.

Besides that, we've got a nice ring of IR LEDs and an ambient light sensor at the bottom of the ring. There's also a hookup for the microphone, which is mounted in the front cover.

Back PCB with lens

Here's the main board. I've reattached the lens just for the photo.

That enclosure at the base of the lens is actually an electromechanical IR filter, which moves the IR filter off the sensor when it goes into night time mode.

That red bit is the wifi module. Looks like they're using a MediaTek MT7601UN chip for the wifi.

Back PCB, IR filter

Here's with the IR filter in place. The PCB is densely populated. I'd say they did a great job on the layout.

Back PCB bottom

The back of the main board reveals the microSD card slot, the main processor (which had a heatsink stuck to it), and a mysterious unlabeled 4-pin port.

The processor is a Hi3518, apparently pretty standard for devices of this type.

Serial port connection

I suspected the unlabeled port near the CPU was a serial port, a little prodding with the oscilloscope confirmed.

Serial connector pinout

The connector fits a PicoBlade 51021-0400 (see Mouser). It spits out the linux boot output at 115200bps (at 3.3v):

U-Boot 2010.06 (Dec 11 2014 - 15:55:58)

Check spi flash controller v350... Found  
Spi(cs1) ID: 0xC2 0x20 0x18 0xC2 0x20 0x18  
Spi(cs1): Block:64KB Chip:16MB Name:"MX25L128XX"  
MMC:   MMC FLASH INIT: No card on slot!  
In:    serial  
Out:   serial  
Err:   serial  
Auto-update from SD Card:  
MMC Device 1 not found  
MMC Device 2 not found  
MMC Device 3 not found  
Can't find sd card device!  
Can't load upgrade file, aborting sd -update  
Auto-update from TFTP: trying update file 'recover_image.bin'  
Hisilicon ETH net controler  
MAC:   *redacted*  
Up/Down PHY not link.  
Can't load update file, aborting auto-update  
Hit any key to stop autoboot:  1 0  
16384 KiB hi_sfc at 0:0 is now current device

## Starting application at 0x82000000 ...
Uncompressing Linux... done, booting the kernel.  
Linux version 3.0.8 (root@foscam-virtual-machine) (gcc version 4.4.1 (Hisilicon_v100(gcc4.4-290+uclibc_0.9.32.1+eabi+linuxpthread)) ) #5 Sat Sep 13 12:38:53 CST 2014  
CPU: ARM926EJ-S [41069265] revision 5 (ARMv5TEJ), cr=00053177  
CPU: VIVT data cache, VIVT instruction cache  
Machine: hi3518  
Memory policy: ECC disabled, Data cache writeback  
AXI bus clock 200000000.  
Built 1 zonelists in Zone order, mobility grouping on.  Total pages: 10922  
Kernel command line: mem=43M console=ttyAMA0,115200 mtdparts=hi_sfc:512K(boot),3M(kernel),6M(app),6M(app_ext),512K(para)  
PID hash table entries: 256 (order: -2, 1024 bytes)  
Dentry cache hash table entries: 8192 (order: 3, 32768 bytes)  
Inode-cache hash table entries: 4096 (order: 2, 16384 bytes)  
Memory: 43MB = 43MB total  
Memory: 37244k/37244k available, 6788k reserved, 0K highmem  
Virtual kernel memory layout:  
    vector  : 0xffff0000 - 0xffff1000   (   4 kB)
    fixmap  : 0xfff00000 - 0xfffe0000   ( 896 kB)
    DMA     : 0xffc00000 - 0xffe00000   (   2 MB)
    vmalloc : 0xc3000000 - 0xfe000000   ( 944 MB)
    lowmem  : 0xc0000000 - 0xc2b00000   (  43 MB)
    modules : 0xbf000000 - 0xc0000000   (  16 MB)
      .init : 0xc0008000 - 0xc0273000   (2476 kB)
      .text : 0xc0273000 - 0xc060c000   (3684 kB)
      .data : 0xc060c000 - 0xc0622540   (  90 kB)
       .bss : 0xc0622564 - 0xc06328cc   (  65 kB)
SLUB: Genslabs=13, HWalign=32, Order=0-3, MinObjects=0, CPUs=1, Nodes=1  
NR_IRQS:32 nr_irqs:32 32  
sched_clock: 32 bits at 100MHz, resolution 10ns, wraps every 42949ms  
Calibrating delay loop... 218.72 BogoMIPS (lpj=1093632)  
pid_max: default: 32768 minimum: 301  
Mount-cache hash table entries: 512  
CPU: Testing write buffer coherency: ok  
NET: Registered protocol family 16  
Serial: AMBA PL011 UART driver  
uart:0: ttyAMA0 at MMIO 0x20080000 (irq = 5) is a PL011 rev2  
console [ttyAMA0] enabled  
uart:1: ttyAMA1 at MMIO 0x20090000 (irq = 5) is a PL011 rev2  
bio: create slab <bio-0> at 0  
SCSI subsystem initialized  
usbcore: registered new interface driver usbfs  
usbcore: registered new interface driver hub  
usbcore: registered new device driver usb  
cfg80211: Calling CRDA to update world regulatory domain  
Switching to clocksource timer1  
NET: Registered protocol family 2  
IP route cache hash table entries: 1024 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)  
TCP established hash table entries: 2048 (order: 2, 16384 bytes)  
TCP bind hash table entries: 2048 (order: 1, 8192 bytes)  
TCP: Hash tables configured (established 2048 bind 2048)  
TCP reno registered  
UDP hash table entries: 256 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)  
UDP-Lite hash table entries: 256 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)  
NET: Registered protocol family 1  
RPC: Registered named UNIX socket transport module.  
RPC: Registered udp transport module.  
RPC: Registered tcp transport module.  
RPC: Registered tcp NFSv4.1 backchannel transport module.  
JFFS2 version 2.2. (NAND) © 2001-2006 Red Hat, Inc.  
fuse init (API version 7.16)  
msgmni has been set to 72  
io scheduler noop registered  
io scheduler deadline registered (default)  
io scheduler cfq registered  
Spi id table Version 1.22  
Spi(cs1) ID: 0xC2 0x20 0x18 0xC2 0x20 0x18  
SPI FLASH start_up_mode is 3 Bytes  
spi size: 16MB  
chip num: 1  
5 cmdlinepart partitions found on MTD device hi_sfc  
Creating 5 MTD partitions on "hi_sfc":  
0x000000000000-0x000000080000 : "boot"  
0x000000080000-0x000000380000 : "kernel"  
0x000000380000-0x000000980000 : "app"  
0x000000980000-0x000000f80000 : "app_ext"  
0x000000f80000-0x000001000000 : "para"  
Fixed MDIO Bus: probed  
himii: probed  
Invalid HW-MAC Address: 00:00:00:00:00:00  
Set Random MAC address: *redacted*  
ehci_hcd: USB 2.0 'Enhanced' Host Controller (EHCI) Driver  
hiusb-ehci hiusb-ehci.0: HIUSB EHCI  
hiusb-ehci hiusb-ehci.0: new USB bus registered, assigned bus number 1  
hiusb-ehci hiusb-ehci.0: irq 15, io mem 0x100b0000  
hiusb-ehci hiusb-ehci.0: USB 0.0 started, EHCI 1.00  
hub 1-0:1.0: USB hub found  
hub 1-0:1.0: 1 port detected  
ohci_hcd: USB 1.1 'Open' Host Controller (OHCI) Driver  
hiusb-ohci hiusb-ohci.0: HIUSB OHCI  
hiusb-ohci hiusb-ohci.0: new USB bus registered, assigned bus number 2  
hiusb-ohci hiusb-ohci.0: irq 16, io mem 0x100a0000  
hub 2-0:1.0: USB hub found  
hub 2-0:1.0: 1 port detected  
TCP cubic registered  
NET: Registered protocol family 17  
lib80211: common routines for IEEE802.11 drivers  
øFreeing init memory: 2476K

init started: BusyBox v1.21.1 (2015-01-07 16:46:55 CST)

starting pid 271, tty '': '/etc/init.d/rcS'  
mount: mounting tmpfs on /dev failed: Invalid argument

            _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
            \  _  _   _  _ _ ___
            / /__/ \ |_/
           / __   /  -  _ ___
          / /  / /  / /
  _ _ _ _/ /  /  \_/  \_ ______

[RCS]: /etc/init.d/S00devs
mknod: /dev/console: File exists  
mknod: /dev/ttyAMA0: File exists  
mknod: /dev/ttyAMA1: File exists  
mknod: /dev/ttyS000: File exists  

[RCS]: /etc/init.d/S01udev
udevd (304): /proc/304/oom_adj is deprecated, please use /proc/304/oom_score_adj instead.  

[RCS]: /etc/init.d/S80network

[RCS]: /etc/init.d/S90init

local mac: *redacted*  
broadcast ioctl error![99-Cannot assign requested address]  
Can not find broadcast client!  
[exit_main.26]:exit app[99.Cannot assign requested address].
can't find /dev/mmcblk0p1  
sd card vfat32 system don't need fix.  
/mnt/para/etc/sm_cn_private.pem exist !
/mnt/para/etc/RT2870AP.dat exist !
/mnt/para/etc/udhcpd.conf exist !
/mnt/para/etc/logo.argb4444 exist !
/mnt/para/etc/logo_vga.argb4444 exist !
can't find /mnt/para/config/Rom.dat.  
ln -sf /mnt/para/etc/Rom.dat /mnt/para/config/Rom.dat  
---- Your model name is C1 SENSOR=7 WIFI=2 LANGUAGE=2 MODELVERSION=52----
---- Your input model name is C1 ----
Hisilicon Media Memory Zone Manager  
hi3518_base: module license 'Proprietary' taints kernel.  
Disabling lock debugging due to kernel taint  
Hisilicon UMAP device driver interface: v3.00  
pa:82b00000, va:c31c0000  
load sys.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
load viu.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
ISP Mod init!  
load vpss.ko ....OK!  
load venc.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
load group.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
load chnl.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
load h264e.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
load jpege.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
load rc.ko for Hi3518...OK!  
load region.ko ....OK!  
load vda.ko ....OK!  
hi_i2c init is ok!  
insmod: can't insert 'extdrv/gpioi2c_ex.ko': No such file or directory  
initialized adc driver success  
---- Your input Sensor type is 7 ----
*** Board tools : ver0.0.1_20120501  *** 

[debug]: {source/utils/cmdshell.c:166}cmdstr:himm
0x20030030: 0x00000000 --> 0x00000001  
Kernel: ssp initial ok!  
acodec inited!  
insert audio  
---- Your input Wifi type is 2 ----
rtusb init rtusbSTA --->  
usbcore: registered new interface driver rtusbSTA  
ptz_init start ptz_state[1],HorPos[0],VerPos[0]  
setup ptz gpio success  
setup zoom gpio success  
ptz_init end ptz_state[1],HorPos[-1],VerPos[-1],flag[0]  
Hisilicon Watchdog Timer: 0.01 initialized. default_margin=5 sec (nowayout= 0, nodeamon= 0)  
set rtc time to system time

starting pid 831, tty '': '/sbin/getty -L ttyS000 115200 vt100 -n root -I "Auto login as root ..."'  
Auto login as root ...  
(none) login: killall: devMng: no process killed
killall: codec: no process killed  
killall: UDTMediaServer: no process killed  
killall: webService: no process killed  
killall: storage: no process killed  
killall: FirmwareUpgrade: no process killed  
killall: OnvifAgent: no process killed  
set time  
second:11 Unknown host  
mkdir: can't create directory '/usr/local/pureftpd': File exists  
mkdir: can't create directory '/usr/local/pureftpd/etc': File exists  
Changing password for ftpuser1  
New password:  
Retype password:  
Password for ftpuser1 changed by root  
Enter it again:  
usb 1-1: new high speed USB device number 2 using hiusb-ehci  
killall: CGIProxy.fcgi: no process killed  
killall: lighttpd: no process killed

--= pAd = c3691000, size = 860440 --=

<-- RTMPAllocTxRxRingMemory, Status=0
<-- RTMPAllocAdapterBlock, Status=0
Endpoint(8) is for In-band Command  
Endpoint(4) is for WMM0 AC0  
Endpoint(5) is for WMM0 AC1  
Endpoint(6) is for WMM0 AC2  
Endpoint(7) is for WMM0 AC3  
Endpoint(9) is for WMM1 AC0  
Endpoint(84) is for Data-In  
Endpoint(85) is for Command Rsp

Lighttpd Server BUILD:May  5 2015 15:12:46

2015-09-01 22:16:12: (network.c.724) --1--srv->config_storage[ 0 ]= 0  
2015-09-01 22:16:12: (network.c.724) --1--srv->config_storage[ 1 ]= 1  
WARNING: can't open config file: /usr/local/openssl/ssl/openssl.cnf  
2015-09-01 22:16:12: (network.c.985) --2--srv->config_storage[ 1 ]= 1  
2015-09-01 22:16:12: (network.c.456) --------=s->ssl_enabled= 0  
2015-09-01 22:16:12: (network.c.456) --------=s->ssl_enabled= 1  
2015-09-01 22:16:12: (log.c.164) server started  
killall: pure-ftpd: no process killed  
SMT DEBUG : ERROR : Adapter is NULLdriver: ircut_switch.low:250,ircut_switch.high:580  
netstat: /proc/net/tcp6: No such file or directory  
driver: close IR_LED  
1. LDO_CTR0(6c) = a64799, PMU_OCLEVEL c  
2. LDO_CTR0(6c) = a6478d, PMU_OCLEVEL 6  
FW Version:0.1.00 Build:7640  
Build Time:201308222153____  
ILM Length = 47000(bytes)  
DLM Length = 0(bytes)  
Loading FW....  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c371192c!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3711944!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c371195c!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3711914!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c37118cc!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c37118e4!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c36a6764!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c36931e0!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c36931fc!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c36a67bc!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695cf0!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c36953a0!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695cd4!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695f14!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695d0c!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695d28!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695d44!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c36a6734!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c36a67a4!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695f44!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695f5c!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695f74!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj c3695f8c!  
wmode\_band\_equal(): Band Equal!  
Key1Str is Invalid key length(0) or Type(0)  
Key2Str is Invalid key length(0) or Type(0)  
Key3Str is Invalid key length(0) or Type(0)  
Key4Str is Invalid key length(0) or Type(0)  
1. Phy Mode = 14  
2. Phy Mode = 14  
NVM is Efuse and its size =1d[1e0-1fc]  
3. Phy Mode = 14  
AntCfgInit: primary/secondary ant 0/1  
---> InitFrequencyCalibration
InitFrequencyCalibrationMode:Unknow mode = 3  
InitFrequencyCalibration: frequency offset in the EEPROM = 108(0x6c)  
<--- InitFrequencyCalibration
RTMPSetPhyMode: channel is out of range, use first channel=1  
MCS Set = ff 00 00 00 01  
<---- rt28xx_init, Status=0
0x1300 = 00064300  
RTMPDrvOpen(1):Check if PDMA is idle!  
RTMPDrvOpen(2):Check if PDMA is idle!  
RTMP_TimerListAdd: add timer obj bf362748!  
SMT_DEBUG: _pfsm_rst:0,0  
SMT DEBUG smtcn_flag: 1  

Login timed out  
process '/sbin/getty -L ttyS000 115200 vt100 -n root -I "Auto login as root ..."' (pid 831) exited. Scheduling for restart.

starting pid 1092, tty '': '/sbin/getty -L ttyS000 115200 vt100 -n root -I "Auto login as root ..."'  
Auto login as root ...  
(none) login: smtcn_channel_switch_timeout

If anyone has any idea how to log into root on this thing please let me know, I'd love to get access to the software.

Speaking of software

Typically I loathe the software (i.e. web interface) that comes with these things but the web interface on this C1 is actually not so bad.

It streams the HD feed quickly with low latency, has an interface for viewing recorded videos from the microSD and, maybe most impressively, it can link up to other cameras on the network to provide a grid view without having a central server.

The only problem? You have to install a browser plugin. Between that and a couple of usability issues I think I'll be rolling my own viewer interface.

I'm still working on that part, but I've at least found how to request a static JPEG:

Get a single JPEG from the C1


Just note that the user has to be administrator level.

I was really hoping there would be a way to get an MJPEG stream from this camera but from what I've seen it seems not possible.

Is it any good?


It's small, seems well designed, the price is right, and the interface isn't even that bad. I think I'll replace all of my IP cams with the C1.

Check Amazon for the latest Foscam C1 pricing. Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any questions! 📹🔥

Thomas Renck

I make things. Sometimes I un-make things. Most of the time I write code and teach on intentionality in design.