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Remote weather station and webcam out on a dock

Hey everyone,


Recently I was tasked with getting internet down to a community dock without running a new ISP line. I saw a video a few months ago that got me really interested in Ubiquiti's products, and I was really excited to give them a try. So naturally, this was my first choice for tackling this project.


We opted for the less intrusive looking NanoBeam and- despite my many concerns after reading about the difficulty of non-line-of-sight links- a 27 mbps connection was achieved.


Mounted on a piling disconnected from the main dock is an Ambient Weather WS-1401-IP weather station atop one of their pole-mounts meant for the side of a building. On that pole is the NanoBeam and one of Ubiquiti's UVC G3 cameras. The gel-filled cat 5 cable runs from the NanoBeam, down the piling about 15 feet to the bottom of the bay, and back up to a waterproof box on the main dock. There, a switch connects to the weather station's wireless reciever and another cable running back out to the camera.


Everything works great (with exceptions... see below). The weather station uploads every minute to Weather Underground and the camera connects seamlessly to the UniFi Video server. That server then outputs the RTSP stream to another virtual server to do the following:


  • FFMPEG captures an image every 15 seconds. At midnight, it compiles every image into a timelapse and deletes all of the raw images to make room for the next day.
  • FFMPEG captures an image every minute and uploads it to Weather Underground's webcam service
  • FFMPEG streams audio and video to YouTube live for streaming
  • CVLC creates an OGG stream for viewing on local monitors
  • Each of the above has a small overlay in the bottom-right that shows the current temperature and wind conditions using Node.JS

I do have a few questions that someone might be able to answer for me...


  • I read that rain storms don't really impact a 5ghz connection, and the other day we had about 0.7in of rain and there was no problem. But tonight we've had a light sprinkling, totalling to 0.02in of rain, and the connection is having a lot of trouble. The "airMax Quality" hovers around 25%, but the "capacity" is 1-5%. I read that this could have to do with wet leaves, but the leaves must have been just as wet the other day, right?
  • Any suggestions on how to improve the overall connection? It's only about 700 meters and the NanoBeam's aren't aligned at all right now, so I'm hopeful that it'll improve. But, the connection has to travel through the top of a house, a few trees, and some earth. I've included a screenshot of the AirLink simulator below. A relay isn't an option.
  • Through UniFi Video, what configuration would you use to make it easier to see greater distances?


Overall I'm really happy (and almost obsessed) with how this turned out and the functionality it gives. The ability to grab weather conditions from out in the bay is something that people love. I already have friends lining up so we can set this up at their house, so I plan to setup a lot more of these in the future.





AirLink PTP SimulatorAirLink PTP Simulator  

NanoBeam M5 16, UVC G3, and Ambient Weather WS-1401-IP from belowNanoBeam M5 16, UVC G3, and Ambient Weather WS-1401-IP from below


NanoBeam M5 16, UVC G3, and Ambient Weather WS-1401-IP from the sideNanoBeam M5 16, UVC G3, and Ambient Weather WS-1401-IP from the side


NanoBeam M5 16 mounted on the houseNanoBeam M5 16 mounted on the house



on ‎10-12-2017 02:31 AM

That is fantastic. One of the best stories I have seen this year. I think I would have run low voltage to it and used an EdgePoint on the piling to power the devices and add a PicoStation for the weather station Wi-Fi.


on ‎10-12-2017 04:43 AM

Unfortunately, 5GHz doesn't perform predictably when there are obstructions.


You need a clear path for reliability.

on ‎10-12-2017 06:57 AM

Cool install! How are you getting the power to that pile in the water?

on ‎10-12-2017 06:59 AM

Any chance of raising both ends a couple meters?  The AirLink simulation obviously doesn't take into account the houses and trees.

on ‎10-12-2017 07:22 AM

In a storm rain, the wind knocks a lot of water off the leaves. In a gentle sprinkling the leaves can hold a lot of water on them too. It's probably a big part of your issue. Alignment isn't super critical for these; eyeballing it is usually sufficient.


You should be able to extend off the pole a great deal. The hardware store probably has U shaped pieces for fastening conduits to walls/beams. A step up from that is items made for the wireless industry that are heavily galvanized. Many people needs such things to mount pipes to poles so they can mount antennas, etc.. In my WISP job, we mounted galvanized pipes on poles regularly.  I'd put 3' of the pipe to the pole, and the remainder of it go upward for additional height.

‎10-12-2017 08:35 AM - edited ‎10-12-2017 08:36 AM

Very nice I am trying to get this setup as well.

on ‎10-12-2017 09:29 AM

If you're that close to going through dirt, and there's houses and other issues on top of that, you're going to have connectivity issues.  Height is your best bet for improving the connection.

‎10-12-2017 12:14 PM - edited ‎10-12-2017 12:17 PM

@hyjack Thank you for saying that! I hadn't heard about the EdgePoint, but after taking a look at it that seems like a much smarter option than running one cable per device. If I end up attatching more devices, I'll probably end up getting one of those.


@JEITS Thanks! Both the camera and the NanoBeam use PoE, so the ethernet cables run underwater to the main dock, into a waterproof box, and to the included Ubiquiti PoE injectors. The weather station runs on solar and 3xAAA batteries, but when they run out, it'll be quite a task to go out and replace them.


@Aaarrrgggh The AP on the house can't be raised sadly, but as jp pointed out, I think I'll try and get an extender for the pole on the piling.


@jp498 Wow, I can't belive I didn't think of that. The other day when it rained and the connection was fine, it was somewhat windy too. Today there's been hardly any wind and the rain just sits on the leaves in the way- so you're exactly right. I'd try to extend the pole, but it's already nearly impossible for me to reach the weather station from my dinghy during high tide. Do you have any experience working high up on pilings or anything like that? It'd be really difficult to get a ladder out there and stable enough to be safe.


@Bebobo Thanks, are you setting it up on the water as well? If so, good luck. It's a real PITA. If you need any of the scripts that I use for the camera, let me know.

on ‎10-12-2017 12:17 PM

@torreyleonard  im going to be setting one up on our tower would I need scripts for that? 

on ‎10-12-2017 12:20 PM

@Bebobo Well if you're setting up a webcam and want to create timelapses, stream to YouTube Live, embed the stream in a browser, or add weather conditions to the video feed, the only way I know of is using FFMPEG scripts running on a server local to your UniFi Video server. For uploading weather information to Weather Underground, your weather station should have that compatibility built in- the one I'm using does, and I highly recommend it.