You'll usually hear us recommend opting for a wired system over wireless. Most of this stuff is all about speed, and hard wiring your system is just always going to be faster. What happens when running cable isn't an option? Whether it be structurally impossible, or can't work without creating an eyesore, sometimes wireless is the only solution. In a day and age where tying your DVR into your network for local and remote viewing is a must, one of the bigger complications people will run into is how to connect their DVR/NVR/Hybrid to that network.
Wired vs. Wireless
A good number of people we interact with everyday tell us that they hear wireless is much more popular than hardwired systems these days. Let's get this out of the way right now. Thinking about installing a wireless system is extraordinarily popular, but actually going through with it is another thing entirely. In the spirit of being as honest as we can, wireless is inferior in every way it can be right out of the box. If you want to put together a reliable wireless system that's up to par with any hardwired system, count on spending a good deal more for it. Wireless works and when set up the right way, it works very well. Understand that this is more specialized equipment and it's going to take some extra time and effort to install properly.
In past articles, we've been finding that giving examples of some scenarios makes it a little easier to visualize the real world application.
On many home and business installations, most will find that the easiest method for mounting cameras is to an overhang and running cable from the cameras to a video recorder at the top of the structure. This reduces the length of cable runs, the amount of cable needed, and generally makes for a very easy installation overall. Attics and crawl spaces are very common and grant easy access to the cable coming from your cameras.
Your issue here comes next. Your video recorder and cameras are close together, but what about tying it into your network. If access to your network is on the floor below you, you won't see much of a problem here. For those of you who only have direct access to your network multiple floors away, the problem is very obvious.
This list isn't as long as some of our others, so don't run away just yet. In fact, the only pieces of hardware that you'll need that you don't already have is possibly a wireless router and an access point.
For those of you who already have a router, don't go out and buy an access point just yet. While you may have a router, there's a few things that you'll need to figure out first. The first is the brand. Life will be made much simpler if you match the brand of your router with the access point that you purchase. Next is the frequency the router is running on. If you don't select an access point on the same frequency, the devices won't be able to communicate.
As far as the access point is concerned, we just mentioned needing to match brand and frequency. You'll also need to pay close attention to the transmitting power. If it's not powerful enough to reach the router, then it's really just a paperweight. If you're not sure, just ask. Companies will be more than happy to answer questions for you if it means you handing them your money.
Step 1: Information Gathering
You'll first need to find some information on your network. More specifically, you'll need to know the IP addresses of your Subnet Mask and Gateway. These are easy enough to find using the Command Prompt tool (Terminal on Mac). Use the search feature on your computer if you don't know where it is. After you've opened the program, type in the command "ipconfig" and press enter (Mac users will use "ifconfig"). This will spit out a whole bunch of data. The information you'll need will be in the very first section.
Think of an IP address as a sequence of four numbers. As you can see here, out Gateway IP is [192.168.0.1]; four separate numbers. The subnet mask has a different address, but it's still a four number sequence.
The next part of this step is identifying an IP address in your network that isn't already being used. Every device connected to your network (i.e. - computers, tablets, etc...) will have it's own IP address. It's important not to double up.
This is also accomplished through the Command Prompt tool. Before you enter a command, you'll need to select an address to test. The IP address that you select needs to correspond with the Gateway address; specifically the first 3 sets of numbers. If our Gateway is [192.168.0.1], the address you test will need to be [192.168.0.X]. In this case, "X" is a number you believe is available or just one you've chosen at random (it must be between 2 and 254).
You'll also need to find an available IP address on your network. We'll get to why in the next step. This is also done with the Command Prompt tool. The command that you be using here is "ping" followed by a space and the IP address you want to test.
The keywords we're looking for here are "unreachable" and/or "timed out". This means that we tried to reach an IP address that doesn't exist and that's exactly what we want.
Here's what you don't want:
What you're seeing here is a response time. The response time being from another device associated with that IP address already. This mean's that the address is not able to be used for our purposes.
Step 2: Access Point Configuration
As we said, the access point you end up purchasing will come with instructions and software. That being said, this step may vary slightly, but the concepts will all be the same.
The first part of this is to install and then open the software. This software is going to be a search tool to help you find the access point once you connected it to your network. When we say connect it to you network, we mean wire it to your router. From this point, your screen should look something like this:
After hitting the search/find button, you can see that our access point has showed up on our list. If you haven't noticed the problem yet, it's that our IP address isn't the one that we tested and found to be available. At this point, you'll need to use the software to edit the settings. There may be a button to press or it may be as simple as double clicking; consult your instruction manual.
You'll then be taken to a new screen:
From here, it's as simple as using your mouse and keyboard to make changes:
More than likely, you won't end up needing to change your subnet mask. Either way, you should already know for sure since that was part of information gathering in step one.
Step 3: Connecting Your Access Point to Your DVR
This is the last step in the process. Once you've correctly connected your access point to your DVR, the process should be done. We say should be because you're only finished is everything else was done correctly. Fortunately, this step just involves looking at a few pictures. Just ensure that the network port you're using on the back of the DVR is actually intended to be a network port and not a PoE port for IP cameras.
Congratulations! You're now the proud owner of a wireless video recorder.