I have already started receiving questions such as “How did you get video in the barn?” In this section of the website I will go over the methods I chose to get this and other things done.
We chose Ubiquiti products for both the network and IP camera equipment. There are other options out there but, in my opinion, you can do no better than Ubiquiti. As I do network and server administration for my daytime job, I do not want to be required to come home and troubleshoot more networking issues. Running on Ubiquiti products at home allows me to not have to worry about sudden “wireless problems” and it just makes for a nicer “me.” I will make a list of products I chose, along with links on Amazon, at the bottom of this page.
First of all, we had to get network out to the barn. We chose to use the Ubiquiti Nanostation M5 as a wireless bridge instead of taking a chance with weak wireless access point signals out at the barn or taking the time and effort to run ethernet. It’s quite a bit overkill, but like I said above, I did NOT want to deal with wireless issues. As these guys can send my signal 9+ miles away, I do not have to worry about weak network signal. It did cause me to consider network security VERY carefully though, as that’s quite a ways to be sending a signal. I also chose to turn that signal down quite a bit (there is a setting you can change in the GUI for that). A picture of my remote NanoStation is below (along with the UniFi G3 camera mounted below it).
Then we had to choose how we wanted to connect the camera. As we started out with only one camera, and since the Nanostation M5 has a POE network passthrough port, we were able to just purchase a single Ubiquiti POE injector.
Next we had to decide which cameras to use. The first camera, over the “lambing pens” was sure to stay out of the weather but there were other issues to consider such as dust. Due to this, we decided to go with the Ubiquiti Unifi Video Camera G3. This is an indoor/outdoor, all-weather camera. This was a really good choice as this camera has amazing clarity. Even more so when you remember to remove the tiny lens protection film, which I figured out about 5 weeks into using the camera (I had removed the larger piece of film but overlooked the smaller piece that went directly over the lens). Even with the film on the lens, the view through the camera was pretty good. I have color vision issues and just attributed the slightly degraded image to my eyes instead of realizing that there was a protective film over the lens. Once that film was removed the image quality was greatly improved.
At this point we had a decision to make. Purchase a hardware NVR, or use a network server as an NVR. Since I do this for a living and have the hardware to build a server on-hand, it was an easy choice. I installed VMware Fusion on an old Mac Pro and I decided to run an Ubuntu virtual server as the NVR. The physical server was already online and stays online all the time, and it only took me about 25 minutes to install a virtual server and get the software installed on it.
And then came the babies…
One day after she gave birth, Violet really (REALLY) wanted to be outside. She was head-butting her feed bucket and just being quite emphatic about wanting out of the lambing pen. This was a Sunday so it was not a big deal. Amy and I stood outside with her and her baby for a while. I then realized it would soon be Monday we had no way of watching outside the barn. I had taken the next day off of work in case I needed to be around. On Monday morning, I called around to one of the computer/network hardware stores I like to use (Altex) and checked to see what they had available for G3 cameras. They had plenty on-hand so I took a quick trip over there to pick some up. I decided on 3 additional cameras to provide coverage most of the side yard where we plan to let the mothers and babies graze for the near future. Adding this many cameras though, meant I would want to get a POE switch out there. I chose a Ubiquiti 8-port POE switch and picked up a Ubiquiti wireless access point (because I don’t want to run cables to my laptop out in the barn and…well, you must be connected, mustn’t you)?
We now have one camera in the barn over the lambing pen, 3 cameras mounted on the outside of the barn to give us very good coverage of that area, and the cameras and wireless access point are all connected to the POE switch. The network traffic goes from the cameras and/or access point, through the Nanostation M5 outside the barn, to the Nanostation M5 at the house, which is connected to our home network.
Sound complicated? It’s not really. I tend to be long winded about this stuff because I figure, if you’re reading this, you probably want as much information as you can get.
From on top of the ladder it looked like my cables runs might make sense and look decent. After I got down on the ground I realized they looked horrible so I will be re-doing this soon.
Shopping list time!
Of course, cable ties straps, etc are all necessary so plan to pick up some of those while you’re out.
And finally, in case you’re wondering, this is what setting up a “high tech” network connection to the barn at night looks like.
This was prior to my installation of the wireless access point in the barn. The signal from our access point in the house was not strong enough to make it out to the barn (and through the metal siding). This is why I’m in the middle of our side yard working on a stack of straw bales.
Here are a couple “in progress” shots of the setup (it looks much cooler at night, but I hadn’t gotten the cables strung up neat and tidy at this point). The last photo is taken from behind the NanoStation at the barn, pointing at the back of the house where the other NanoStation is located.
Anyhow… This is how we did it. It’s not the cheapest but, then again, I wanted quality and peace of mind that my stuff “just works.” If you’ve read this far and feel that I didn’t answer a question well enough, feel free to send me an email by using the email form on the contact page. I will be glad to help if I can.