Addressing the Protocols of Networking
Internet-connected appliances are starting to pop up everywhere. With leading appliance manufacturers such as GE making big plans for future growth in the security industry, it will only be a matter of time before Web connectivity will be everywhere. Technology and pricing barriers have been broken, making this a viable security option. This month, we are going to take a quick look at some network equipment connectivity tips, fundamentals and terminology.
Know the Basics of IP Cameras
Network-ready cameras connected to the Internet are located and controlled by way of an Internet protocol (IP) network address. These addresses are divided into classes A-E. Currently, IPv4 (version 4) is an IP network address number made up of four numerical groups separated by a period. A typical 32-bit IP address would look like 184.108.40.206, where each group represents an eight-bit binary number (28 or 0-255 decimal) called an octet.
You can quickly reference an IP address to its class by the beginning binary bits (0,1) or the address’ decimal value (0-255). Two addresses should not have the same number on the same network. The network part of the address identifies the network the device belongs to. The host or node part identifies the actual device.
New Protocol Will Soon Increase Internet Capacity
The Internet currently has the availability of 232—or around 4 billion—unique address locations. With the explosion of Internet devices in the past five years, this is not enough capacity.
The next protocol, version IPv6, now being rolled out worldwide, has 2128—or around 340 trillion trillion trillion—IP addresses. Due to its large address size, the new IPv6 address numbers can be represented as hexadecimal (16-bit groups) with colon delimiters.
For now, we must use a process called dynamic addressing (DHCP) to make a limited number of IP addresses go around. When you log onto a network server or ISP (Internet service provider), an IP address is selected for your device from a preassigned set of addresses. It is then temporarily assigned to your PC or IP camera. This saves addresses by assuming not all devices are logged on the network all the time.
Use Stationary Addresses for IP Cameras
So what does all this have to do with IP cameras? For reliably locating a device on the Web, such as a camera, you need to have an IP address that is not dynamic, but stationary. This is referred to as a static address.
To help with this problem, there are a few things that can be reviewed. A static address can be assigned, but this will cost you; some camera manufacturers (www.mobotix.com) can provide a dynamic DNS service (www.dyndns.org), which allows you to alias a dynamic IP address to a static host name. Another choice is installing a network router between your LAN and the Internet.
Routers Can Track Dynamic Addresses
A router is a device that allows communications between two networks; in our case, the LAN with our cameras and the Internet. The router examines each packet of data and then decides from an internal set of instructions what to do with it. Routers can be programmed with options that allow then to track changing dynamic addresses and report back to the ISP. Some CCTV manufacture have suggested routers such as the NetGear RT311 (www.netgear.com) and the Proxim Netline 4S (www.proxim.com). As always, check with your IP camera manufacturer or distributor to see what they recommend.
Here are some utilities that can make life easier when setting up and trouble-shooting network devices like your IP camera: Microsoft(r) Windows 98SE, and later with WINIPCFG, which will show your IP and MAC addresses; Tracert, to trace your Internet connections; and Telenet, to communicate with the network device. The Web site www.network-tools.com has some very handy online utilities. I also recommend checking the network training material at ATV’s (Advanced Technology Video) site at www.atvideo.com for more details on what has been discussed here.
Update on Last Month’s ‘pCAM’
Some of you have been asking where you can get the PDA CCTV lens calculator shareware program I mentioned in last month’s column. You can either download it from www.security sales.com or www.davideubank.com. It is free and the author asks to register it if you like it. Enjoy.
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