Minneapolis, Minnesota

3G/4G Cabin Project


This project has been ongoing, but is mostly completed.  I consider this cabin my test site for extreme remote connectivity simply due to the fact that if anything were to glitch up, it will cost me about seven hours in travel to resolve.  For this reason, every item was carefully evaluated and tested before installation.


There is a cabin that lies somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin’s beautiful outdoor landscape.  Miles away from conventional internet access, the difficult task of finding appropriate wireless coverage consumed most of the time spent on the task of installing an advanced security system. I eventually had to work with AT&T to point part of a distant tower to transmit a slice of 4G service.  The tower was 8 miles away.

Hardware Equipment list:

  • Hikvision — DS-2CD3332-I 2.8mm — $120.00
  • Dahua — HDB4300C 2.8mm — $75.00
  • Empire — ESC IPC1 4mm — $60
  • Dell Laptop — i5 2300  — $200
  • Zyxel POE Switch– ES1100-8P — $40
  • AT&T Unite — $28
  • TP-Link Nano Router — $18

Initial tests were conducted on AT&T and associated software to determine exact idle data usage.

The installation itself was a headache due to AT&T’s poor reception.  I initially added an account with another carrier but went with only 1GB/mo due to cost. This meant that every byte had to be accounted for.

Entrance cam

Porch cam

To get everything to initially fit inside 1GB/mo, a considerable about of adjustments to motion sensing had to be made.

The laptop has three modes of remote entry.
1.) VPN server mode via proxy
2.) VPN client via laptop (initiated after reboot or command via Hamachi)
3.) Hamachi

15 minute update photo examples scaled down from 2MP:

I used the IR from the entrance cam to light up the screen door entrance as seen here:

Entrance camera:

The final camera was installed at a later date.  A 110 foot trench from the cabin to the shed hid the conduit containing one CAT5e cable.

The dome camera is installed just above the door:

A closer look at the water irrigation conduit:

The run up to the house:

Including setup and remote adjustments via RDP more than a dozen times, I still only used 345MB of data per month.

Still image from the shed:
shed32

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One of the more difficult variables to still account for is the temperature swings.  The laptop and associated hardware faced temperatures as low as -25F for several days.  Eventually the spinning 5400RPM hard drive showed wear and had to be replaced with an SSD. 
s5e5hed

So far no intruders.  Unless you count these:
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