Monday, November 26, 2018

Option C: ethernet over power lines

Original post 11/26/2018:
Been awhile since I tried one of these (and was very disappointed back then) but given the fun keeping cams down at the creek has been I thought I'd try it again. I bought one of the TP-Link AV1300 / AC1350 Gigabit Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter Kit | HomePlug AV2 Technology w/Beamforming | Plug, Pair, and Play (TL-WPA8630 KIT V2) because it had 3 ports plus WiFi AP built in. I should mention this is in a heavily wooded area outside my fenced in area. The cams are also close to the creek and I've had a couple cams near the creek stolen and wires cut. I was getting OK reliability  with a serious outdoor AP. A Unifi Outdoor+ with Ubiquiti Airmax Omni AMO-2G10 10Dbi 2.4 GHz Rocket Kit which could cover an acre without all the trees. I also tried putting an Unifi Outdoor+ down in the trees but since it was mounted in a tree the connection was flaky plus I was not happy with the idea vandals could get to a cable wired directly into my network and could fry some hardware. With the power line option they might destroy equipment outside the fence but not inside. So far it is working great which is kind of surprising on a couple levels. First from my previous disappointing experience. Then there is the whole AC noise issue that made me move from X10 to Z-wave a few years back. And I did not make it easy. The connections goes from the switch, to the inside adapter, to a 75 foot extension cord with neon power indicators in it (it was in place already), to and outside plug, through a Z-wave power switch, down a line about 55 feet to a breaker box, down another line to and outdoor outlet about 60 feet from the breaker and then lastly another 50 foot extension cord to a waterproof box where the receiver and POE injectors are. Despite that AP being in a box on the ground the WiFi seems to work pretty good too. This comes in real handy for adjusting the cams out there where getting between the tablet and the AP can be enough to lose a large percent of frames if not the connection.

Note I had bought a couple CelerCable CAT7 Slim Flat Ethernet Patch Cable with Snagless RJ45 Connectors, 50 Feet - Black with the thought they might be harder to see laying flat against the trucks of the trees but be warned these cables got hot running 12 volt POE through them. Using the Huacam HCP05 Passive PoE Injector/Splitters of course. The resistance in the cable was so bad the Amcrest IP4M-1026 would drop offline when the IR LEDs kicked on. I ended up routing the power through the old power cables till I receive replacement cables.

Update 7/25/2019:

The install down by the creek has been working well so I started thinking of doing similar out by the gate. This involved running about 300 feet of armored 120 VAC cable through the trees from the house breaker box and putting the home end on a different circuit, though on the same phase on the main. This would seem to be well beyond the specs but it appears to be working fine at an average of 230 kB/s. Note the price might be a bit daunting though. By the time you add in the cable, breaker, connectors, GFI outlet, boxes and such it came out to almost a $1/foot. With the Ethernet of Power being the first $100 of that. But it is handling 30fps of 720p just fine across the built in WiFi which is much better than the 1-3 I was getting before and should let me upgrade to cams with better data rates without worrying about how well their WiFi is.

So far the only downside seems to be that I'm not getting traffic status in the network monitor anymore since a Unifi port or AP is not the first contact point for the clients. Though I can get the traffic stats on the Unifi port the home end to plugged into.

Next I want to swap out that old Foscam FI9804P 720P Outdoor HD Wireless IP Camera with a Wyze cam with sensor hub in an outdoor case. And probably another wide angle cam to watch the street. I'll have to see how it handles the load.
The Wyze cam was a bust.
Ended up with a Reolink 5MP centered on the mailbox so I can zoom in on if needed.

Update: 1/20/2020 some gotchas.
I bought a third unit to use as a spare and had the bright idea of naming them so I more easily tell which was which. This seems to not do anything but cause the units to unpair.
TP-link device setting screen.
Also I plugged a Etekcity smart plug into the outlet that joined the 250 foot run from the gate to the 50 foot run to the house so I could control some low voltage lighting I added. This totally messed with the signal reducing it to the point I was averaging 1318 ms pings. Adding a surge protector between the line and the plug seems to have brought things back to the normal average for that line of 155 ms ping times. Note the original run to the creek area is averaging 7 ms pings.

Update 1/31/2020: The ping times started getting bad again. The issue appears to have been the Stanley power strip I plugged the indoor end into was causing noise on the line. Moving the indoor end back to the wall outlet got the ping times back to averaging under 70 ms. 

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