This is going to turn into a rant, I just know it.
The Pelco Net350s are complete and utter crap. They seem to be incapable of any kind of buffering and if you lose a single packet there is the chance that the device will lock up on you.
First off, the transmitters and receivers use telnet to communicate with each other. Yes, you read that correctly. TELNET.
Second, the Net350 are not capable of dealing with more than one telnet connection at a time. So… if you, for example, wanted to telnet in and make some configuration settings on the Net350, and at the same time, the transmitter tries to connect to the receiver, one of 4 things can happen:
- You get kicked out of your telnet session
- The Net350 completely stops responding and requires a physical reboot (unplug the power and plug it back in)
- The Net350 kicks you out of telnet, but still responds to web requests on port 80, however, the only thing displayed on the webpage is a request to upgrade the firmware (see figure 1)
- You get a bunch of Memory allocation errors and then theNet350 locks up and requires a hard reboot
So basically, if you need to telnet into these devices, they will crash. Also, if you use some kind of network scanning software that polls devices on the network for services and creates a map, be prepared for these devices to crash as well. Most network scanning software probes for a telnet service by attempting to establish a telnet connection to the target. As we established above, that may crash the device.
We called our local Pelco Authorized Distributor and asked the rep about this behavior and he insisted that the Net350 does not have “the feature you described”. He believed us after we sent him screen shots of the device showing the not-a-feature.
Also, the only way to soft reset these things is either via telnet (which by now we have figured is a no-no), or to initiate a reboot via the web interface using the following url:
Which brings me to another issue. The web interface.
It is written entirely in Java and if you want to be able to view live video, you need to download a special ActiveX control from Pelco’s website and install that onto your computer. Nevermind that the video is MPEG4 so you should be able to use any embedded media player to view it, but alas, no. More vendor lock in.
Oh, and don’t even think of trying to use that ActiveX control with IE7. It would be faster to shoot yourself and be done with it. No Firefox or Opera support either. Loading the java applets is an exercise in patience, and at times the java applets simply never finish loading. It is best to refresh the page after each applet loads in order to get them all to appear. Did I mention that each page has up to 5 separate java applets on it?
These things also do not support PTZ over the coax. You have to wire a serial cable into the terminal block on the front of the Net350 if you want to PTZ. Read Part I of this for more details.
Finally, the NetManager software. The Net350 ships with a CD and a sparse manual. Basically, the manual tells you how to install and use the NetManager software to configure your shiny new Net350s. My suggestion? Don’t install it. It is crap. It doesn’t seem to be able to tell transmitters from receivers, and failing to do that renders it useless. Worse than useless since you might spend time trying to get it to work properly. Don’t waste your time. Just do the initial configuration via telnet and then do the rest from the web interface once you have an IP address assigned to it.
In closing, a few words of caution if you plan on using Pelco Net350s on your network:
- Don’t perform network scans or, if you must, disable scans for the telnet service (port 22)
- Don’t attempt to configure it with telnet
- Only use Internet Explorer 6 when attempting to use the web interface
- Under no circumstanses should you install or use the NetManager software provided to configure a Net350
- Use some other device if you need to convert coax to ethernet
Good luck out there and learn from my mistakes.