How to Connect a Webcam to Wireless Ethernet

by Jeff Grundy

Using your webcams with services such as Google Talk, Skype, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger works well when you're using the computer connected to the webcam, but other users on the network cannot utilize the camera in most cases. If you only have one webcam, and you have a Wi-Fi router with a USB port, you can connect the camera so that all users on the network can access and use it.

Connect and Share the Webcam

Plug the mini-plug adapter end of the USB data cable into the port on the webcam, then connect the larger, flat end into the USB port on the rear of the router labeled "Connect USB," "ReadyShare," "SharePort" "USB" or something similar.

Open your Web browser, enter the control-panel IP address for the router into the address bar and press the "Enter" key. Enter the router administrator username and password, and click "Login." Refer to the user guide for your router if you do not know the default IP address, username or password for the device.

Click the tab for configuring the USB port on the main control panel page. Depending on the model of your USB-enabled router, the tab might be labeled "USB Devices" or something similar, or the USB port settings may be on the "Advanced" or "Advanced Settings" page. However, a few router control panels label the USB port tab with the manufacturer name for the connection, such as "SharePort," "ReadyShare," "USBConnect" or the like.

Locate the device name of the webcam in the list of connected USB devices to verify that the router detected it successfully. If the webcam does not appear in the list, you may need to restart the router before it can detect the camera. On most routers, you can find the "Reboot" or "Restart" menu option on the "Advanced" or "Advanced Settings" tab. Once you restart the router, it should detect the connected USB webcam automatically and display its device name on the USB port tab of the control panel.

Click the "Create Share," "Share this Device" or other similarly named button next to the webcam device name. The Wi-Fi router creates a network share for the USB webcam and displays an IP address for it. Click the "Save" or "Save Settings" button to save the configuration changes and reboot the router if you are prompted to do so.

Access the Shared Webcam

Go to one of the computers from which you want to access and use the USB webcam that you connected to the wireless router. Ensure that the computer network link to the Wi-Fi router is active and the machine can browse the Internet over the wireless connection.

Insert the installation disc for the wireless router into the optical drive of the computer. After the setup wizard appears, click the "Setup," "Install USB Connect Software" or other similar link. Follow the onscreen instructions and prompts to install the software on your PC, then restart the computer when you are prompted to do so.

Launch the router connection software on the computer. Log in to the application with the router username and password if prompted to do so.

Click the "Shared Devices" or "Shared USB Devices" button link in the application. Select the device name of the webcam and click "Enable," "Install Driver," "Install Windows Driver" or other similarly named option. Wait a few seconds for the application to install the driver and create a virtual webcam device for the PC. Minimize the router connection application to the taskbar.

Click the Start button, then "Devices and Printers." Verify that the device name of the virtual webcam appears in the list of hardware devices, and then close the "Devices and Printers" window.

Open your preferred webcam application. Click the "Preferences" or "Settings" link on the menu bar, then "Video" or "Webcam."

Select the "USB Webcam" or "Virtual USB Webcam" device name as the camera device for the chat application. Click the "View" or "Preview" to view the stream from the webcam in the application viewer window.

Tips

  • If you don’t have the installation disc for your router, you can download the connection software for the network device from the manufacturer's support website.
  • You can use the shared USB webcam with most chat applications, but you may have to purchase a longer USB data cable if you want to move the camera near the computer from which you want to chat.

Warnings

  • If your webcam requires a special Windows driver to function, you cannot share it with the router. Windows includes drivers for most popular webcams, but a few require separate third-party drivers. If your webcam requires a third-party driver, you must connect the camera directly to a computer to use it.
  • If the webcam requires a separate manufacturer driver for Windows, it will not appear in the list of detected camera devices in a video-chat application when it's connected to the router.

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images