Verizon Wireless Data Tests From Florida

As I was returning the Storm after a little test run (I talked about it in the previous post), I decided instead of ditching Verizon altogether to try out their data plan. I got UM175 USB wireless modem and Verizon’s “unlimited” 5GB data plan for $59.99. But testing all that from the middle of New York City isn’t as much fun as taking the set to vacation.

So here I am, in one of Orlando, FL resorts, checking the quality of the service. There’s no problem with connectivity, my question is – just how good the internet connection is for an advanced user like me. All tests were conducted through, so that you can enjoy the pretty graphic fonts instead of boring tables.

The most important criteria to look at are latency (how fast the signal travels from point A to point B and back) and upload speed. Big latency is what will kill your IP phone conversation, your online meeting or your live webcast. Download speeds are usually more than adequate, but when you’re trying to upload a bunch of pictures from vacation, a huge Excel spreadsheet or heavy PDF, the podcast or videoblog post – that’s when little upload speed is starting to hurt. Besides, slow upload speeds will also have their say in making your online meeting or IP phone conversation useless.


Home Surveillance System (Part 2)

Panasonic BB-HGW700A Network Camera Router (Home Surveillance System – Part 1)

The good thing about Linksys router is that it still shows all the reserved IPs, even without the actual name of the device. So with only two unnamed devices (somehow iPhone didn’t get a name on the connected devices list) it was pretty easy to figure out what is what. Overall process of setting up three cameras for camera portal was pretty easy, but I stumbled on getting to view cameras from Internet. The default setting that is being picked up by the camera is that of the network you are setting the whole system up. Which basically means – your local network. So whenever I was trying to access the camera from outside I was still being thrown to 192.168.1.something address.

With some additional tweaking (your settings could be different, so I am not posting mine here) I was able to get everything to work together. Because of firewall restrictions at work I was not able to utilize Camera Portal to its full extent. Instead, I keep accessing all three cameras individually, at the same address with different port numbers. Initially, the ActiveX component wasn’t favoring Internet Explorer 7 (no problems with IE 6 though, strange), but it seem to be working alright lately. For Firefox/Opera browsers the Java applet used instead. I had mixed results with it as it could work and fail on a same computer at different times.

So the whole set up is now consists of:

Cameras transmit video in up to 640×480 resolution, but 320×240 is preferred. Camera’s also have built-in microphone, so mind the bandwidth if you go with higher quality settings for both video and audio. The quality is on par with or a little below regular cell phone camera, but you didn’t expect to make movies with these cameras, didn’t you?

Two of the cameras are set up on the tabletop tripod with mini ball head – I got the cheapest they had. Just make sure the camera stands firmly on it. Third camera doesn’t have any stand and just sits on the shelf. Thanks to the large dip in the back, wires don’t get in a way.

Overall I am very happy with my system. There are some glitches, though. Sometimes the video just freezes completely, although sound is coming though. Panning or zoom don’t work altogether, so you have to reload the page to get video right.

Panasonic also has a recording software that works with their cameras, but since I didn’t really need it yet – I can’t justify the cost of buying it.


Home Surveillance System (Part 1)

Panasonic BL-C131A Couple of months after moving into new apartment I realized I need a better view of the inside when I’m at work. Maybe I am a little paranoid, but it never hurts to watch your house when you’re not there. So after some research I got a single Panasonic wireless camera (Panasonic BL-C131A Network Camera Wireless 802.11 if you want it from Amazon).

Camera easily hooked up to my existing wireless connection with WEP, successfully restarted into wireless mode in another room and was overall fun to use. Especially when I told my girlfriend I was going to watch her working in my office because she wasn’t familiar with my model of printer. Aside from this being total fun and all, the camera provided to be a really valuable tool in remote management and teaching. I could see all the controls pretty clear and could pinpoint controls that needed attention. Accessing a single camera from the web was not an issue as well. I opened single port on my router and that was about all I needed to do.

After having all this enjoyment I went back to Amazon. They had the lowest price on this equipment at the moment – and I think they still do. Next stop – I purchased one more of BL-C131A Wireless camera, one Panasonic BL-C111A Network Camera Wired and Panasonic BB-HGW700A Network Camera Router. The reason for latter was that I wanted to tie all cameras into the single router that was wired into my brand new Linksys 802.11n router with WPA.

After meticulous updating all three units firmware, connecting and setting up cameras with the Panasonic router there were still some kinks to work out. The preferred way of connecting camera router to base router is via UPnP. The problem is that the Linksys router doesn’t tell you which IP address is being used by UPnP device.

(Part 2)