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Infrastructure Test: Veracity Highwire Powerstar Quad

by Benchmark

Many believe that the best balance of security and performance can be achieved by implementing a network-based security solution but utilising a dedicated network for this. This alleviates conflict with an IT department charged with managing the corporate LAN, but also allows the manifold benefits of the technology to be realised. Dedicated security networks can be made more cost-effective by leveraging existing cabling, and Veracity’s Highwire Powerstar Quad can help maximise the impact of such an approach.

veracityhighwirequad_ratingWhen it comes to network-based deployments, one of the most common debates is whether the best approach is to utilise the corporate LAN or to create a dedicated network for the security solution. Both approaches have pros and cons, and invariably the decision will be impacted by a number of variables. Important criteria include the size and type of application, its current data processing and handling capabilities, the condition and scale of legacy infrastructure and – more often than not – the attitude of the IT department.

Whilst it may seem somewhat humorous, this latter point is one that has caused issues for many installers and integrators. Unless an IT manager is tasked with helping the implementation of a security system, and has been given the resources to do so, their main aim will usually be to minimise the impact of any additional system.

As a result, many consider the installation of a dedicated security network, and often the costs for this are not prohibitive. In fact, in many circumstances, the implementation of such a network is extremely cost-effective.

Many security devices – cameras, encoders, VMS appliances, etc., have integral web servers. Additionally, the use of existing legacy coax as a network transmission medium can enhance the flexibility on offer whilst also saving time and money at the installation stage.

In order to simplify the use of legacy coax, Veracity offers its Highwire Powerstar series of products, and the Quad version supports up to four cameras, managing video streams and PoE.

Specification

The Highwire Powerstar Quad is a four channel ethernet and PoE over coax device. It supports up to four IP-enabled devices via 10/100 Base ethernet RJ45 ports. Each has status LEDs for link and PoE. The unit also has a single coax output.

The Highwire Powerstar Quad is either powered from the Highwire Base unit using PoE, or it can be locally powered via a 57V DC PSU, which is available as an optional extra. The latter configuration is recommended if the application has advanced power needs.

If the unit is powered by a PoE switch via the Base unit, then the Quad has a total power budget of 10W. This rises to 20W if a PoE+ switch is used.

There are two optional PSUs available: the VPSU-57V-800 and VPSU-57V-1500. If the PSU is used at the base unit, the total power budget increases to 25W. However, if a PSU is included locally to the Highwire Powerstar Quad, the total power budget is 40W (VPSU-57V-800) or 78W (VPSU-57V-1500).

The Quad unit also includes two banks of status LEDs. The first is for the coax link, and indicates Power, Network and Link. The second bank of LEDs indicates the PoE power budget. The values for these are 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25W and upwards.

The unit measures approximately 113 x 75 x 22mm, which makes it relatively simple to install in a secure location.
Range for the Highwire Powerstar Quad is quoted as up to 300 metres with RG59, up to 350 metres with RG6 and up to 500 metres where RG11 cable is deployed. Bit-rate is quoted as 200Mbps.

The Highwire Powerstar Quad is used with a Highwire Powerstar Base unit. The Base unit includes a single RJ45 Ethernet 10/100 Base connection for LAN and PoE. There is also a 57V DC power input for traditional PSUs; this is an optional item. The unit also has a single BNC coaxial connection.

As with the Quad device, the Base unit includes status LEDs to indicate the PoE budget with designations for 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25W. There are also indicators for PoE over coax, PoE to camera, coax link and ethernet link.

Installation

With no settings, DIP switches or other configurations, and no need for software or installer/integrator interaction, the process of getting the Highwire Powerstar Quad up and running is very straightforward. With the devices in place, it is as simple as connecting the edge devices via network cables, adding the coax link, and if supplementary power is needed, adding the relevant PSU.

The process is then repeated at the Base unit, connecting it to the network and the coax. It is then powered either via a PoE switch of a PSU, and the process is complete.

The Base unit can be rack-mounted via an optional bracket.

The Quad unit is supplied with a printed Quick Start Guide, which is mainly diagramtic. The Base unit includes a ‘manual’ which is a folded A4 sheet; again, it’s enough. In truth, we’d be very surprised if you needed either. Both devices also include plug-in connections for a PSU, and the Quad includes mountings for a rack.

Performance

With the various devices connected and power applied, the Highwire Powerstar Quad does exactly what you’d expect it to do. If there were any issues it’d be a problem because the installer or integrator can’t make any adjustments anyway! If there are power issues, then the status LEDs on both devices will highlight this.

The Quad does all of its work in the background, and to all intents and purposes it’s invisible to the user, which is what you want from an infrastructure product. Even with four devices connected, there’s no visible degradation with regards to image quality or colour fidelity. We didn’t spot any dropped frames, and motion remained clean. Latency was not increased, nor was there any additional artefacting.

The usual provisos for any coax-based convertor exist: ultimately, the one variable which could affect performance is the quality of the legacy cable! This is important if the technology is implemented on a site where you don’t know the history of the infrastructure.

The video performance of the Highwire Powerstar Quad was tested using RG6 and RG59 coax with a number of third party cameras including high resolution models, and all devices performed in very much the same way as they did over Ethernet links.

Verdict

Using networked infrastructure delivers a host of additional benefits, but on some sites implementing a dedicated set-up can be a fine balance between performance and financial viability. However, repurposing legacy coax can significantly drive costs down without impacting on video performance.

The Highwire Powerstar Quad is effective, reliable and a consistent performer, and is very bit as good as a dedicated Ethernet connection. As such, it is recommended.

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