Infrastructure Test: Siklu EtherHaul 600TX
As the delivery of video as an enabling tool in security and safety applications grows at a significant pace, so the ability to transmit streams across a wide range of sites becomes more important. Advances in wireless communications mean that the days of limited bit rates and unstable links are well and truly over. It is into the arena of wireless connectivity that Siklu has pitched its EtherHaul 600TX transmission products, claimed to be suited to use by security installers and system integrators.
It has to be said that when marketing a product, any claims that installation is complex and requires in-depth knowledge and specialist skills might not go down to well with potential customers. This is why the vast majority of products launched into the security market carry the claim that they’re easy to install. However, who does that claim address?
Rocket science is pretty simple and straightforward … for rocket scientists. Surgery is also not too taxing for a trained and qualified surgeon. Would any installers or integrators be capable of taking on either task? Probably not!
Many engineers might be similarly cautious when looking at Siklu’s EtherHaul 600TX products. These devices are used by some of the largest telecommunications companies for a variety of tasks including city-centre wifi backhaul, last mile broadband delivery and gigabit-to-the-home connectivity. They can also provide wireless video links, but surely that would be akin to cracking a nut with a sledgehammer, wouldn’t it?
Before looking at the installation and configuration process, let’s look more closely at what the EtherHaul 600TX offers. The unit makes use of the 60GHz unlicensed band. This uses narrow beams, which eliminates issues with cross-talk. That said, the narrowness of the beams does not create alignment issues. The EtherHaul 600TX is capable of providing TDD duplexed 1Gb links.
The devices have a small footprint, making them more discreet than many other wireless video transmission products available in the security market. It measures a mere 168 x 168 x 110mm excluding the mounting bracket. The IP67-rated unit includes an integral antenna and Gigabit Ethernet switch. AES 128-bit and 256-bit encryption are supported.
Power input is PoE+, and the unit also has two PoE outputs. This allows flexibility with regard to topologies, but most security links will be point-to-point.
The final thing to consider is range. The EtherHaul 600TX is not designed to offer extremely long distances, like some other wireless links. The 60GHz spectrum delivers shorter ranges but less issues with regard to interference. Ideal for bridging problem spaces on a secure site, ranges of up to 500 metres are possible. Obviously a field test would be recommended.
Siklu makes a rather bold claim regarding the EtherHaul 600TX; depending upon what document you read, installation time is quoted as either 15 or 30 minutes for an untrained engineer. On initial set-up we’d be inclined to look towards the latter figure as a guide.
We can confirm that the EtherHaul 600TX is suitable for installation by security engineers and system integrators, even if they have no telecoms training. The tools required for the physical installation are little more than some sockets or spanners for the mounting bracket, screwdrivers and a basic digital voltmeter.
It must be stressed that careful alignment is necessary for optimum operation, but the process is no more taxing than aligning photoelectric sensors!
The mounting bracket is suitable for poles of up to 12 inches and is pretty much preassembled. The fitting method is straightforward and suited for working at heights, as the unit effectively ‘hangs’ on the bolts which are then simply tightened.
Initial visual alignment makes use a simple sighting device. Again, if you’ve installed photoelectric beams from one of the decent detector manufacturers you’ll be well aware of how these work. The sighting device is provided, as are weatherproof RJ45 covers and an earthing cable.
Once mounted, the EtherHaul units can be fine-tuned making use of a voltmeter. An adaptor is used for this, which is supplied with the radio unit. This shows a negative DC reading equivalent to the RSSI (received signal strength indication) in dBm. The aim is to get the reading as close to zero as possible. This can be done in normal operating mode, but there is also an alignment mode should it be needed.
Once the link is aligned and powered up, configuration can be carried out. To do this, you simply log in to the unit using a default static IP address. We did get a warning about the unit’s certificate; in an age when users are nervous about cyber security this should be addressed by Siklu.
Obviously, both units have the same static IP address but as they won’t be physically linked it’s not a problem. Up to four IP addresses can be applied to each unit, but these need to be on a different subnet to the defaults. It’s best for your sanity to give the local and remote devices different addresses!
There is a quick configuration wizard. This sets unit names, time and date, bandwidth, operational mode and asymmetry. For the latter, video applications will benefit from a 75TX/25RX split as data will predominantly stream from cameras to the VMS or server. Finally the ports can be configured as can network settings.
If Siklu could do one thing better it would be to offer a more comprehensive manual for the configuration aimed at security engineers.
The EtherHaul 600TX is one of the products that either works or it doesn’t. During testing it performed as expected and delivered consistently. We only saw the link dropped once and that during initial set-up. This may have been caused by the GUI timing out, but we couldn’t replicate the issue.
The link is currently being used as a part of a Benchmark long term test, so we’ll be able to feedback more performance based information over the longer term. However, it is sufficient to say that video streams deployed on the link were pretty much identical to those viewed over the hard-wired LAN, and that’s all you can ask for.
While a surveillance-biased manual would be nice, installation and configuration is relatively straightforward. Data flow is consistent, and as such the EtherHaul 600TX is a solid choice for wireless video transmission and is recommended.