Testing: Ubiquiti Wireless IP Video (NanoStation)

Author: Benros Emata, Published on Dec 18, 2010

While the increasing maturity of IP cameras makes using IP wireless networks easier, the lack of inexpensive IP wireless transmission products is a barrier to expanding wireless IP video surveillance. Many offerings cost a $1,000 or more per link (see our test results of AvaLAN for an example).

In the midst of this, a 'cult' favorite among installers is growing from a manufacturer named Ubiqiuti. At least in the surveillance industry, Ubiquiti has zero marketing and about as low name recognition (consider them the anti-Firetide). However, they offer incredibly cheap wireless products designed for use with IP surveillance cameras.

We are always interested in learning about and sharing information on products that are less expensive and less known. To that end, we purchased a pair of Ubiquiti's NanoStation M5s to see for ourselves. We did a series of tests using up to 3 megapixel cameras simultaneously in both MJPEG and H.264 code connecting to a VMS system.

We think Ubiquiti is well worth considering but that key limitations should be kept in mind. Inside the PRO section, we break down our findings and concerns.

Recommendations

Ubiquiti Nanostation M5 is an attractive low cost solution for wireless IP video surveillance applications. Ubiqiuti can deliver multi-megapixel video transmission for about $200 per link compared to many offerings that are up to $1,000 per link.

We recommend Ubiquiti be used in less demanding commercial security projects (e.g., retail, hospitality, condo etc.) with fairly simple wireless topologies (LoS, short distances, Point to Point, and minimal bandwidth). These use cases will not require costly path-loss studies.

Higher security environments tend to demand a more reliable 'carrier class' solution, which will involve path-loss studies to determine reliability and other low-level details (azimuth, tilt, antenna selection/height, EIRP, etc.). These professional services can add considerable cost to the project.

Finally, we never were able to speak with a human being at Ubiquiti despite trying numerous times over multiple months. If support is important (and it should be for all the factors that impact wireless) and you are not absolutely confident (or brave) in going it alone, factor this in carefully for your decision to use Ubiquiti.

Key Findings

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Here are key findings from our test and review of the product

  • Under 'ideal' conditions the units provided strong performance with multiple megapixel cameras streaming across link
  • We could never reach technical support by phone, only forum support seems available
  • Unit requires special adapter to accept PoE power
  • Built-in Ethernet port will not power an 802.3af IP camera
  • Unit not IP66 rated
  • Unit is UV protected for outdoor installations, but sealant should be used around cable glands
  • Highly competitive price-point (under $200 a link) to connect IP cameras to LANs wirelessly

Product Overview

The Ubiquiti Nanostation M5 (online $85) radios use two techniques to increase bandwidth:

  • Increased channel width - Uses 40MHz wide instead of 20MHz wide frequency channel
  • 2x2 MIMO (Multiple-Input/Multiple-Output) - Doubles the number of receive and transmit antennas

The Ubiquiti M5 family of radios include these 5GHz models:

  • Rocket M5 - (online $90) Provides antenna connectors for flexible topologies
  • Nanostation Loco M5 - (online $80) Compact version with slightly lower gain antenna and transmitter power
  • Bullet M5 - (online $80) A small form-factor non-MIMO for lower bandwidth applications and non-integrated antenna

The M5 series of 5GHz radios all feature the same basic chipset and AirOS operating system/interface. These radios interoperate to provide topology flexibility such as in PtP and PtMP deployments - from basic to more advanced topologies.

The Nanostation M5 interoperates with other Ubiquiti M5 radios such as the Bullet M5, Nanostation Loco M5 and Rocket M5. (All M5 radios priced similarly ~$85 online). The Bullet M5 and Rocket M5 allow for external antennas. As such they can be deployed indoors while the antenna can be mounted outdoors. The trade-off to this design is the attenuation entailed by the additional length of RF cable used between radio unit and antenna. The Nanostation M5 and Nanostation M5 Loco can be deployed outdoors, but like most integrated antenna/radio units on the market, they should be weather-sealed at the network/RF cable connectors.

Physical Overview

The Nanostation M5 radios require a proprietary PoE injector. An adapter called, Instant 802.3af (MSRP $19) is available to allow the radio to accept 802.3af PoE power. The unit also provides a built-in Ethernet port so that a device can plug directly into the radio (e.g., an IP camera). The port can also be enbaled to allow PoE passthrough, but it is not 802.3af compliant and supports only a limited number of IP cameras. For outdoor deployments, the unit is UV protected (sun exposure), but cable entry area should be sealed to protect against rain/splash etc.

Administration/Configuration

The units feature the AirOS operating system, which can be accessed using a web-browser. In this video, we demonstrate the key configuration items, and some basic monitoring capabilities within the AirOS web application. We show how we configure the two radios to form a secure WPA2-PSK point-to-point link. In the next section we'll load the link with some IP cameras and examine the performance in terms of video quality and reliability.

Practical Test for IP Video

We connected the following megapixel cameras at one end of the link:

  • 1 Axis P1347 (5MP)
  • 1 Axis Q1755 (720p)
  • 1 Sony SNC-CH140 (720p)

At the other end of the link we used Exaqc's VMS to simulate a 'real-life' deployment with live viewing, and other management functionality. Also, we used the most bandwidth intensive compression type (MJPEG) to get a better sense of the load the link would be able to handle. Note that the radios are in close proximity and have LoS to each other in a well controlled lab setting.

In this video, we discover that 50+ mbps produces no detectable video quality issues. We then change from MJPEG to H.264, and observe an 80% to 90% reduction in bandwidth utilization. Again, there are no detectable performance issues or video quality degradation.

 

 

1 report cite this report:

IPVM Top Reports and Reader Stats for 2010 on Dec 21, 2010
In this report, we review the top read reports for the year and provide an overview of who is reading IP Video Market.Let's start with the top 5...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
Amazon Ring Spotlight Cam Tested on Sep 17, 2018
Amazon's Ring has released their latest camera entry, the Spotlight Cam, which we bought and tested in our Consumer IP Camera Analytics...
October 2018 Camera Course on Sep 13, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 on the October 2018 Camera Course, register now. This is the only independent surveillance camera course,...
VMS Export Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone on Sep 13, 2018
When crimes, accidents or problems occur, exporting video from one's video surveillance system is critical to proving incidents. But who does it...
Exit Devices For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 28, 2018
Exit Devices, also called 'Panic Bars' or 'Crash Bars' are required by safety codes the world over, and become integral parts of electronic access...
Ligowave Wireless Profile - Ubiquiti Competitor on Aug 27, 2018
Ubiquiti has become the most common choice for wireless in video surveillance (see Favorite Wireless Manufacturers) but not without controversy and...
Backup Power for Large Security Systems Tutorial on Aug 24, 2018
Choosing the right backup power system depends on system size. While small and medium systems greatly benefit from using UPS battery backup...
Assa Aperio Wireless Access Reader R100 Tested on Aug 23, 2018
Wireless access control is frequently promoted by manufacturers as a way to cut installation costs. Perhaps the biggest proponent of this is mega...
SNMP / Network Monitoring For Surveillance 2018 on Aug 21, 2018
Surveillance systems typically rely on the the VMS to report issues, but this most often just means knowing a camera is "down" with no warning or...
Axis First IR PTZ Tested (Q6125-LE) on Aug 21, 2018
Axis is very late in releasing IR PTZs. While competitors such as Hikvision and Dahua have offered them for years, Axis has just released their...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Alexa Guard Expands Amazon's Security Offerings, Boosts ADT's Stock on Sep 21, 2018
Amazon is expanding their security offerings yet again, this time with Alexa Guard that delivers security audio analytics and a virtual "Fake...
UTC, Owner of Lenel, Acquires S2 on Sep 20, 2018
UTC now owns two of the biggest access control providers, one of integrator's most hated access control platforms, Lenel, and one of their...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
Avigilon Announces AI-Powered H5 Camera Development on Sep 19, 2018
Avigilon will be showcasing "next-generation AI" at next week's ASIS GSX. In an atypical move, the company is not actually releasing these...
Favorite Request-to-Exit (RTE) Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 19, 2018
Request To Exit devices like motion sensors and lock releasing push-buttons are a part of almost every access install, but who makes the equipment...
25% China Tariffs Finalized For 2019, 10% Start Now, Includes Select Video Surveillance on Sep 18, 2018
A surprise move: In July, when the most recent tariff round was first announced, the tariffs were only scheduled for 10%. However, now, the US...
Central Stations Face Off Against NFPA On Fire Monitoring on Sep 18, 2018
Central stations are facing off against the NFPA over what they call anti-competitive language in NFPA 72, the standard that covers fire alarms....
Hikvision USA Starts Layoffs on Sep 18, 2018
Hikvision USA has started layoffs, just weeks after the US government ban was passed into law. Inside this note, we examine: The important...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact