In this article, I review an outdoor wireless camera transmitter and receiver for CCTV that allows us to send the video from IP cameras over long distances.
The equipment analyzed is the cnVision Client Mini manufactured by Cambium Networks, a company specialized in this type of professional solution.
I received three pieces of equipment in my laboratory in Miami for testing.
This is not a sponsored article, and therefore I do technical analysis and express my sincere opinion about the advantages and disadvantages of the product.
This article intends to help the reader understand more about professional wireless radios for CCTV for transmitting video from outdoor security cameras over long distances (about 6 km) in medium and large projects.
Cambium Networks has an extensive product line for various wireless transmission applications, including surveillance projects where radios are optimized and have special features for security cameras.
The image below shows an example of CCTV cameras installed in different points of a shopping center being transmitted via radio to a central location.
The market for CnVision is different from that where traditional low-cost equipment such as radio models from Ubiquiti are used.
Despite the application's similarity, a professional radio is better prepared to work in more extreme situations that require high service availability.
The CnVision Client Mini radios are recommended for projects with distances of up to 6 km with an aggregate throughput of 600 Mbps with several cameras.
It is possible to work with the equipment in client mode or hub mode, which provides versatility for practical applications.
What's in box?
When I opened the product box, I came across something simple: a compact radio that can be held with just one hand.
The antenna is integrated, which facilitates the handling and installation of the product.
Among the accessories for installation are a PoE power supply, a traditional power cable, a clamp, and a pole mount bracket.
The idea is to attach the bracket to the rear of the radio and use the clamp to fix it to a pole, connect the cables and work on the configuration.
Everything is straightforward; at the rear of the radio, there is a connection for the network cable for power via PoE, connect the other end of the cable to the source.
The power supply is a 30V/15W model specific to this product. There is no outlet available to power the cameras (it may be available in future versions).
There is an LED at the top of the power supply that indicates it is on, but there are no activity LEDs on the network cable (UTP) connection ports.
Installing the radios
The installation of this wireless radio is straightforward. I would say that any technician with minimal knowledge can get it up and running in minutes.
The configuration and use of more advanced resources must be done by a qualified and properly trained professional, however for quick installation, fix the equipment in its proper positions and connect the cables.
The radios can be installed with different configurations to work in point to point (PTP) or point to multipoint (PTMP), as shown below.
The diagram illustrates the data transmissions concept (audio and video) sent by the cameras to a central point where they can be recorded on the NVR.
The power supply is used to connect the camera and radio on one side and the switch on the other end. See a real example of this application.
I started the basic tests to see if it was easy to put everything into practice. In less than 10 minutes, I left everything assembled, as shown in the picture below.
This is an example of a point-to-point (PTP) installation with the use of only two radios, and just mount a second set like the one on the left, and we will have a multi-point (PTMP) system described earlier.
On the rear of the radio, LEDs are indicating the equipment status.
After finishing the physical installation, it is time for configuration.
Use the default IP 192.168.0.2 and username and password admin/admin to login to the radio. You need to place your PC or laptop in the same network range (192.168.0.x) or connect the radio to the router to obtain an automatic IP.
Open a browser like Google Chrome and type the address in the bar to access the main menu. See the following example.
In my initial test, I connected 3 IP cameras to a switch on the client radio.
This is the main status menu (click to enlarge) that shows the total bandwidth usage of 11 Mbps Upload, and only 156.50 Kbps Download, which makes sense since the video upload uses more bandwidth and the download is exclusively for data exchange.
Note in the image that there are the 3 IP cameras' identification and a symbol where you can read "video stream" that shows the image of the camera in real-time.
Yeah, my friend ... the information you just read is correct, the CnVision radio can display the video streaming from the camera as it is compatible with the ONVIF protocol.
This feature is awesome, that's why I said earlier that this line of equipment is optimized for video surveillance projects.
And by the way, let's now discuss the features of this product.
Features of CnVision Client Mini
There are many features on this wireless radio.
The list of features is long, and among my favorite features are integration with VMS, frequency spectrum analysis, and support for ONVIF and SNMP protocols.
Now let's look at some of the features in more detail ...
CnVision radios can operate in Bridge mode or NAT mode.
When selecting the bridge mode, the radio simply sends the packets from one point to another as if it were a switch. In this way, everything is transparent to the connected devices, as if it had a cable connected between the points.
This mode of operation allows packets to be routed based on header information with traditional TCP / IP protocol sources and destinations.
The radio has an interface with step-by-step instructions for initial configuration, just click on the buttons and follow the directions on the screen.
Download and upload status
Just open the cameras' images on the receiving side and start the traffic through the link that CnVision will automatically measure the download and upload.
This type of information is essential for the technician when configuring the system because, based on the band's use, the necessary adjustments can be made.
During the tests, I used the Samsung tool that shows the camera's bandwidth usage, which at the moment varied between 6 to 7 Mbps, as shown below.
I noticed that CnVision's measurement tool is very accurate, and the information is updated every approximately 30s.
Search the IP camera via ONVIF
The ONVIF protocol is essential for video surveillance projects as it allows compatibility between different brands. This is very common for cameras and recorders, and having this feature on a wireless radio is sensational.
On CnVision Client Mini radios, this protocol is used automatically to locate the cameras that are compatible and show the model and brand on the screen.
I tested the Samsung SNB-6004, SNB-8000 and Intelbras VIP1120B cameras.
The radio found the cameras quickly after proper network setup.
The names for Hanwha / Samsung cameras were displayed correctly. The Intelbras model showed the name NVT (Network Video Transmitter), which is the standard for devices with the ONVIF protocol that are not renamed.
Note the icons on the left side that when clicked load the camera image, all three cameras worked correctly during my tests.
See below the image of the camera displayed in the CnVision interface.
This feature is very interesting and practical to help solve problems during installation as it allows you to make a diagnosis by the radio.
Operation mode (Hub/Client)
This feature is excellent as it allows the radio to operate connected to the camera for image transmission or to the receiver side connected to the surveillance center.
The selection is made with a simple click, as shown in the image below.
This feature is interesting for situations where it is necessary to change the network topology and change the radio function. It simplifies the project using a single model of equipment that can be configured as needed.
Data Traffic adjustment
In surveillance video projects, the upload rate is super important as the images are sent from the camera to a central storage.
This feature of controlling the percentage of download and upload is very interesting for the practical application. It allows the necessary design adaptations to be carried out during the implementation phase.
I came across this type of feature some 15 years ago on the Motorola Canopy radio that is the predecessor of CnVision, and I confess that I liked to see that this function is still available, as shown in the following image.
Note that in this case, the use of 30/70 makes sense for the application in question.
MAC address filter
The MAC address filter is very common on network devices. I found it interesting to see it available on this radio as the feature increases security by allowing only selected equipment to connect to the system.
Connection of up to 32 clients
With this number of connected customers, it is possible to meet the needs of most projects for which this equipment is intended. It is necessary to evaluate the conditions of angle, distance, band, interference, etc.
Security is essential for any network project. In this case, CnVision has the WPA2 standard for encryption, HTTPs for secure connection via web browser and radio power control that limits the range of operation.
Remote access tools
Imagine a situation where a technician needs to have remote access to the device for some quick setup. For some reason, he cannot do this via a web browser because the internal web service has stopped, for example. What is the solution?
Experienced technicians know the good old SSH and Telnet that allow access to devices via the command line for administration tasks.
OK, I'm afraid I have to disagree with the use of Telnet because it is a technology that stopped being used decades ago when SSH appeared that allows a secure and encrypted connection. Still, the function exists and can be enabled only if you want.
Note that the secure service (SSH) is enabled by default, but Telnet does not, which is very interesting because at first, it does not leave the radio with this service vulnerable.
See the image below with an example of a test that I performed connecting to the device via SSH. I used the tool to check the speed of the link that returned me the value of 107.84 Kbps upload and 42,086 Kbps download.
The use of commands via SSH is intuitive and straightforward for those with experience in the area.
Upon logging on to the radio, I figured I could use the default username and password (admin/admin) to access the equipment. When typing "?" an options menu is shown on the screen and then just use it to execute the desired commands.
Those in the technical area certainly admire features such as NTP (Network Time Protocol) that allow automatic time synchronization of the device and other technologies such as the spanning tree that prevents unwanted loops.
I have seen this feature avoid tragedies when there are errors in the network topology because of the wrong connection of cables between switches or incorrect radio links.
System logs are also essential for diagnostics, and by allowing the use of Syslog, CnVision gains an extra point in terms of compatibility.
The radio is also prepared for the IPV6 protocol, which is used by professional technicians mainly in projects of large universities.
Other important tools
The radio has tools that display package statistics, control of registered customers, watchdog, link testing, alignment, and spectrum analysis.
The image below shows the antenna alignment tool. During my tests I could see the variation of the signal on the screen to aid in perfect alignment.
The integration with VMS is another feature that I believe is super interesting as it allows real-time monitoring of the system status.
The image below shows an integration test with Wisenet Wave that displays the link status and bandwidth usage of the Samsung and Intelbras camera group.
Of course, it is possible to use other resources such as SNMP for this type of application. The direct integration with the VMS avoids adding other extra monitoring servers since it uses the existing console (client).
The Cambium Networks team informed me that integration with other popular VMSs like Digifort, Hikvision, and Dahua is in the company's plans. In some cases, they are already in the process of development.
If the VMS of your choice is not yet available, you can count on the SNMP to monitor the network resources of your surveillance project.
Pros and cons
Overall the equipment has excellent features, but any devices have advantages and disadvantages, let's go to them ...
Where to buy the cnVision radios
The use of professional equipment is essential to ensure the overall quality of the project. I believe it is crucial to make the right choice when offering a solution to your customer.
For residential and small projects, I do not see the need to use CnVision radios as there are other solutions with better cost/benefit.
However, for more professional projects requiring the use of robust equipment and certified by experienced manufacturers, I believe that the CnVision equipment can provide an adequate solution.
The company's long journey in developing solutions for wireless communication far surpasses the experience of companies operating in several sectors simultaneously.
I would like to remind you that I do not have any ties to Cambium Networks, I am not part of the technical team and I do not represent their products.
I received the CnVision Client Mini products for testing. I will create more articles and videos about this the equipment, but always expressing my sincere opinion about the advantages and possible disadvantages of the product.
Leave your comments and questions below, what would you like to know in the next articles and videos about this product?
Claudemir Martins is a former Samsung Engineer with 16+ experience in the surveillance industry. He has been traveling around 17 different countries to teach people how to design, and install CCTV systems.