Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Case Study: WiFi Surveillance Cameras on Wireless Mesh

I have been waiting for a FREE weekend for a long time to install Surveillance Cameras in our  Apartment complex.After many "working' weekends, I have got FREE weekend in last week. Having known the differences between Analog and IP Cameras, I definitely want to install IP Cameras. But it involves a lot of wiring and again as a WiFi guy, I explored  WiFi Cameras. We did a site-survey and finally concluded that we need 8 cameras.


Personally I love to install  networking devices at customer's places. Fortunately I have got multiple chances right from college days where I tested my master's thesis on a live long-distance WiFi Link testbed in Kanpur and also got an opportunity to do a site-survey and install a relatively big Outdoor-WiFi testbed in Detroit, USA.  Now its time to install Wireless Cameras.

Cameras

On some research on Internet, we have got this wonderful Wireless Surveillance  System from Zmodo.  It is a set of 8 WiFi cameras (4 Indoor and 4 Outdoor)  and NVR (which includes hard-disk too). It is available on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/Zmodo-Channel-Wireless-Security-Available/dp/B01N5Y7UI5/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1509528326&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=Zmodo+8+Channel+1080p+HDMI&psc=1 . One of my friends, Kiran Reddy shipped this product to me from USA.





Range Issues and Mesh Network 

Given the area of the premises, I know, one Router cannot cover the entire premises.  But again, I don't want to use any Cables. So, an alternative is to use a Mesh Network as backhaul to which all the WiFi cameras will connect to. Fortunately it is not an issue for me. I have developed multiple mesh solutions in the past and BANA is the most economical solution. So, BANA is a trivial choice.  Please check: http://www.nearhop.com

 Here is the cute little Router sleeping like lizard on the ceiling.





RF-Survey

We have already decided on placement of Cameras. We have to decide on the placement of Routers. I thought to use 3 Routers to cover the entire premises. But after a little effort on Site-Survey, I find that two Routers could cover the entire premises. One Root device and one Repeater are sufficient. We have connected the NVR to the Root. The distance between Root and Repeater is around 25 meters with a big cement wall 

Powering the Cameras and Routers

You can't avoid one thing, whether your surveillance system is wired or wireless. That is Power supply. So we have added some plug points and it needs some wiring. But it is very little and not a big issue. 

So, now we have the power supply, Cameras  and Routers. All set. I have configured the Routers and Cameras before installing them. 

All the cameras are live in the first attempt itself. Four cameras have connected to Root and the other four connected with the Repeater.

 I have waited for 4 days to see if things are stable. The system seems to be running smoothly and quality is good. I will try to post some snapshots in some other post.

Quality

As per Zmodo, each camera needs a bandwidth of 1Mbps. So for 8 cameras we need 8Mbps of effective throughput in the Mesh network. 8Mbps of throughput in a mesh network is not a big deal for this mesh network.This Mesh network easily pulls-off this and quality is really good.  I will try to post the videos very soon.

Hardware and Softwae

The mesh network in this case is running on very ordinary Routers with a single 2.4Ghz Radio configured in 20Mhz (Do we really get 40Mhz channels in 2.4Ghz). It has 64MB of RAM and runs on MediaTek's processor MT7620N. Firmware is based on heavily modified OpenWRT and uses a proprietary Mesh Network protocol.

Learning

Point#1, To deploy  WiFi cameras on large scale, one needs to do an RF-survey. Point#2, you don't need a high-end expensive mesh products even for bandwidth sensitive applications like video streaming.


Friday, 3 March 2017

WiFi Router vs WiFi Range Extender vs WiFi System

WiFi Access is one thing that people can't live without. Traditionally you need something called WiFi Router through which you can access Internet.

WiFi Routers have a range of around 30 meters. In case you need to access beyond this range, you need something called WiFi Repeater / WiFi Range Extender. 

WiFi Repeaters have some limitations though.  Some of them are enumerated below.

  • WiFi Repeaters are not that easy to configure
  • Sometimes they create a new Network
  • There might be some compatibility issues between multiple vendors


WiFi Systems address the above limitations. They are easy to configure. There will be exactly one WiFi network with a typical WiFi System and there will be smooth roaming for clients between Routers.


People started moving towards WiFi Systems from traditional WiFi Routers / WiFi Repeaters and next few years belong to WiFi Systems. 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Data Usage History with BANA

Reaching FUP limit is a nightmare :). But you can plan and use your bandwidth effectively if you know the  amount of data  that you (and other devices in your Network) consume every day / week / month.  Using BANA's UI you can know how much data is consumed everyday / week / month. You also can know which device eats up  data. 

Copying a screenshot of the data usage. 

Check our website, http://www.nearhop.com or read more posts on this blog to explore more features. Or shoot an email to us, contact@nearhop.com




Connected Clients and their Bandwidth on BANA Router

Using BANA's Android app, you can see the list of Connected Clients in your Network. You can see the list from anywhere. Say if you are in office and want to see who all are connected to your home Network...

Copying a screenshot below


Port Scanning with BANA

Open Ports   make the clients  (Laptop, Mobile etc) devices vulnerable to cyber attacks. It would be good to know the opened ports and take appropriate action like killing an application or removing an app etc. 

BANA helps you to find the open ports on your Laptops, Tablets and Mobile Phones using an easy to use interface. Copying the screenshot below. . There are a maximum of 65536 ports that a system can have. You can choose the number of ports to scan using BANA's UI.







Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Parental Control With BANA WiFi Router / WiFi System

Everyone wants  control over their Internet connection, either it is permanently blocking a client (Laptops, Mobiles, Tablets etc) from accessing Internet or limiting access to kids. Especially with WiFi Routers we always should be very careful on who gets access to the Internet from your Network.  For eg. You have found an unwanted client device in your Network and you want to block access to it completely. Or Everday from 6PM to 7PM you want your kids to complete their homework and hence might want to block Internet Access during that period for selective clients or block Internet Access at dinner time. 

Unfortunately most of the WiFi Routers does n't let you to control the access. There are few WiFi Routers that let you to control the access. But they are very expensive. A WiFi system similar to BANA is priced around $400. You will get a BANA WiFi Rotuer for $40 and 3-BANA Router pack for $105. 

With BANA,  you will have full control over your network, including the following. 

  • Block / Unblock Internet Access for a selected client device
  • Schedule Internet Access for your kids (Say 6PM to 7PM on weekdays and 8PM to 9PM on weekends)
  • Block / Unblock Internet  Access for everyone (Say at dinner time)

You can control the above using a simple to use Web UI or through our Android App. You can also control the bandwidth consumption for each client in your Network. I will write about this in another post.  I am copying below the configuration screenshots from my BANA Routers.  You can see that with a single click you can block access to a client device.

We will start selling the Routers very soon. Share you email id  here, http://www.nearhop.com/#mc_embed_signup  to get your BANA. 







Sunday, 29 January 2017

Complete WiFi Picture with BANA

So, one can remotely monitor premises using BANA Routers and simple Webcams. BANA can also be used to add WiFi capabilities to Printers. What about core WiFi features? BANA supports almost every feature that you expect from your WiFi Router including Bandwidth Report (and Control), Data Usage Report,Parental Control and Port Scanning. Along with this BANA supports some other features that you might not have seen on other WiFi Routers or Systems. I will write more about each feature in coming days.  This post focuses on complete picture of your WiFi Network.

As I wrote in one of my earlier posts, a WiFi System is a combination of multiple co-operating WiFi Routers to cover larger areas that generally a single WiFi Router cannot do. Your clients (Laptops, Mobile Phones, Tablets etc) can connect to any of these Routers. You might want to know how the BANA devices are connected with each other. You would be curious to know how all your client devices are connected? We call this as Complete WiFi Picture. BANA UI presents this complete information in an easy to understand form. I have captured a screenshot of
my network (Copied below).

The Blue nodes are BANA devices and the green nodes are Client devices. 

Off-topic, our website is up, http://www.nearhop.com/. We will start selling the Routers very soon. Share you email id  here, http://www.nearhop.com/#mc_embed_signup  to get your BANA.