Broad IP camera support, a Raymarine advantage

When I outfitted Have Another Day to begin cruising I wanted better visibility of several areas of the boat. IP cameras are the natural way to tackle this but once I realized I wanted five or more cams the cost of MFD manufacturer branded models quickly became prohibitive. Fortunately I’d already decided to go with Raymarine MFDs and some digging revealed strong support for a commonly used IP video standard.

The back of an 8617 with ample network ports as well as CVBS (analog video) input

MFDs have support for a varying mix of IP and analogue cameras. Most MFDs don’t support networking analog inputs — the only exception I know of is Garmin’s 8600 series which can encode analog onto the network Edit 10/23 – Raymarine supports the same feature within their Axiom Pro and Axiom XL MFDs — so if you have multiple helms and want to view them at each location you would need to split the signal and run cables to both helms. Plus, MFDs typically support one or two analog inputs so if you want more you would need an external switch box of some sort. IP cameras on the other hand only need to be connected to the network to be viewed at each connected display.

Raymarine, Garmin, and Navico each offer small, high resolution, low light sensitive cameras but all carry list prices around $500 or more. But, Navico’s camera is an analog model and to my knowledge there’s still not IP cam support in their software. Regardless, five cameras at $500 each was a larger investment than I was hoping to make.

I completed the first installs in early 2016 when LightHouse II (LHII) was the current operating system for Raymarine’s MFDs. Some posts on the old Raymarine forum (which is no longer available) gave me hope that the LHII MFDs would support generic cameras with ONVIF (a standard developed for security cameras to make interoperability simpler) support.

A $50 IP camera keeping watch over Have Another Day’s stern

I purchased several different models of IP cameras from Amazon expecting some struggle. I selected different models hoping I would be able to figure out how to make one work and could then purchase enough to meet my needs. To my pleasant surprise each of the different models worked with nearly no fuss. I made sure that ONVIF support was enabled in the firmware and that no passwords were set, but they all came from the factory properly set. Once the cameras were connected to my Raymarine network they were quickly discovered and available to view on all the MFDs connected to the network. The models I bought for experimenting are no longer available but a quick search of 2 megapixel ONVIF certified IP cameras reveals plenty still available, including this one for $40.

With five cameras installed, one watches the cockpit, two look aft to port and starboard, and two mind the engine room — one aimed down the walkway between the two engines and the other focused on the Seakeeper. Physical installation was pretty easy, with a single 1 1/2 inch hole required for the power and Ethernet connections and then four small holes for the screws holding a each in place. Most use small Allen screws to adjust the aim; I’ve found these to be especially problematic in a marine environment, though many marine models use similar aiming mechanisms.



The Ethernet network supporting the Raymarine MFDs utilizes their SeaTalk HS connectors — like the round connector on the right in the photo above. While I could have located another Raymarine HS5 (actually it would have taken two since I have five cams and need one of the five ports on the HS5 for an uplink) in the engine room I instead decided to use an inexpensive 8-port standard Ethernet switch, but I made sure it was powered with 12v DC so I could power it off the DC panel. The switch supporting them is connected to one of the HS5s via a SeaTalk HS to RJ45 cable like the one above right.

The cameras I bought support POE so I’d been hoping to find a POE Ethernet switch to power them but was unable to find one that would run on 12 volts. So, instead I went with the passive POE power injectors pictured above left. These allow 12v to be supplied at the source and then run along the length of CAT5/6 cable and then split back out at the other end and inserted into the camera’s power connector. The last piece of the wiring puzzle, power pigtails, were found at Monoprice for $0.29 a piece.

When I made the move from LightHouse II based e-series MFDs to LightHouse III based Axioms I was very happy to find my already installed cameras worked as soon as the new MFDs were connected to the network. In fact, a few features I could never get working in LHII, like quad views have worked flawlessly since day one on LHIII. And, those cameras have worked reliably alongside the Raymarine CAM210 I installed for ClearCruise AR as well as the FLIR M232 thermal unit. It’s worth noting that Raymarine’s ClearCruise AR overlays do require a Raymarine branded camera for support — which makes sense given the sensor and lens specific information they need to have to stitch together the image and information overlays.

Using the Cameras

Both cameras are looking at the same dockbox, but it’s on opposite sides because the top camera is in mirror mode

Have Another Day came from the factory with a Voyager analog camera system with an engine room and stern docking camera. The stern camera is in mirror mode which flips the image horizontally so it appears as it would if you’re looking in a mirror. This is important if you’re going to use the camera for docking as it means that when you look at the display (which is mounted on the dash and hence forward-facing) port is port and starboard is starboard, rather than being flipped as they otherwise would be with a forward-facing display and aft-facing camera. To preserve this same functionality I’ve enabled mirror mode on the two aft-facing cams– but not the cockpit view shown in the bottom of the above image.

Although the cameras have been very reliable, this one’s finish hasn’t been

The cameras have been very reliable over the nearly four years they’ve been on the boat, but one of them is showing its age (and perhaps price) with a finish that is peeling off. It’s unsightly but so far hasn’t affected functionality at all. But there are other options; for example, Iris’ line of marine IP cameras all support ONVIF and offer a broad range of cameras in housings designed for the marine environment. Iris even offers several through-hull cameras for a view of what’s under the boat.

Recording the cameras

The only thing lacking from Raymarine’s IP camera support is surveillance recording. In fairness to Raymarine MFDs are not security devices and they’ve never claimed they were. But, there’s peace of mind knowing that activity is recorded and if necessary I could refer back to the recordings. I’ve long used a $60 software package called Blue Iris at home to serve as a network video recorder (NVR). I couldn’t see any reason this wouldn’t work for recording the output of my cameras so I connected a network interface on my Intel NUC to the Raymarine network and fired up Blue Iris. Within a few minutes I had all the cameras configured, including the CAM210 installed forward looking for ClearCruise AR.

With Blue Iris running on the PC on the boat I’ve configured nGrok for remote access to the Blue Iris web interface (shown above) or their mobile app to checkup on the boat. Blue Iris’ clip storage is limited only by the amount of hard drive capacity available on the computer. I’m able to store about 30 days of activity in about 200gb and that can be reduced by adjusting the size and frame rates of the recordings.

My total investment in the cameras, cabling, switch and adapters is around $400 the total climbs some if I factor in the expense of Blue Iris and the PC doing the recording but those were components I had on hand. For a relatively small cost (especially by boat standards) I have much better visibility around the boat and the confidence that it’s all being recorded and archived.



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Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, completed the Great Loop in 2017.

15 Responses

  1. Gordon Lewandowski says:

    Are there any wireless IP cameras that would work? It’s a lot easier to get a 12v tap in various places on our Bayliner 4788 than it is to pull CAT5 cable.

    Thanks for all that you guys do – very informative and your articles have driven a few purchase directions . . .

  2. I just came across these: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/litmor-battery-cam-ultra-affordable-security-cam

    They’re wifi cameras at a very reasonable price. Using and old iPad mounted in the pilot house is what I’m aiming for using about 4 of them. No wires. Just plug them into a USB port when off the boat. Remount into click min tings when back on board.

  3. Gordon Lewandowski says:

    Extremely reasonable pricing and good design. The few reviews on the Apple App Store for their security light are scathing. But at $100 for two cameras it’s not a huge gamble. I’m waiting to hear back on availability and also on the apps support for video input from multiple cameras. Would be cool if the worked on the Axiom I have installed!

    • Randy Repass Jr says:

      Hi Gordon, what you comment directed at my comment on the indiegogo cameras? I think so. Anyway, they’ve just prolonged their campaign there to ship in late November early December, which is very common for these campaigns. The app on the App Store has an odd rating, as the camera is not yet available. So I’m not sure how they could even test it.

  4. Gordon says:

    Reviews posted about another Litmor product. A motion sensing security camera with floodlights. Not the same product. Just learned that the app doesn’t support spilt screen for multiple cameras. Yet. But they are apparently working on it.

  5. Brian says:

    You can use a 12VDC to 48VDC converter to allow you to use a standard PoE switch on a 12V DC system (eg: https://i.imgur.com/1iLQt6w.jpg )

    Blue Iris is OK, but it can be kind of a resource hog and a bit clunky. I’d look at the free version of Milestone, unless you have more than 8 cameras.

  6. Neziak says:

    Ben, thank you for a great article. I have to expand my network in order to add cameras and I wondered if a Raymarine HS5 is really necessary for networking Raymarine HS components (radar, Axiom, RMK10, etc) or can it be simply substituted by a cheaper unmanaged switch similar to the one that you have for your cameras? All the components would need to be connected using Raynet to RJ45 cables or an equivalent adapter.
    If this solution works, what is the advantage of the HS5 switch over a generic switch?

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I’ve done just that with success previously. Raymarine will tell you the fully supported configuration uses their switch. I think this is mostly because they don’t want to introduce the variability of unknown switches into the network. But, I don’t believe there’s anything special from an Ethernet switching perspective happening within the hs5.

      One thing to consider is a regular Ethernet switch will need to be mounted in a dry location. RJ-45 connectors are very far from weatherproof.

  7. Alex says:

    Hi,
    I was just trying to connect a 3rd Party IP camera (exactly DAHUA HFW1230SP) to my Raymarine Axiom 9″ and it does not work. This camera it’s ONVIF compatible, RTSP, H.264, etc. You said ONVIF must be enabled but in the Raymarine Forum says ONVIF should be disabled: http://forum.raymarine.com/showthread.php?tid=31

    My Axiom recognizes the IP Camera and I can see it’s exact name, but I can’t see the video, only a black screen. It´s configured with anonymous login, H.264 Video Compression, Dynamic IP Adress, etc.
    Looking back into the Raymarine Forum I found a person with the same problem as me but he says that at a previous software version was working just fine: http://forum.raymarine.com/showthread.php?tid=9194&highlight=H.264+camera

    Can you tell me exactly which software version are you using? And which are the models of the Amazon cameras you bought?

    The only thing it worked for me was with an Axis M7011 Encoder (Factory configuration) and an analog camera.

    I’ll be very grateful with your response, and maybe it’s someone with the same problem as me that can tell me his experience.

    Thanks,
    Alex.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Hi Alex,

      That link doesn’t say that ONVIF must be disabled, it says “(ONVIF User Authentication MUST BE DISABLED)”. If you’ve disabled ONVIF it definitely won’t work as that’s how the Axiom is negotiating with the camera. Please turn ONVIF back on but turn user authentication off and let us know if that worked any better.

      -Ben S.

      • Alex says:

        Hi Ben,
        Thanks for your response.
        Sorry, it was my confusion then.
        That’s right, what i’m disabling in my camera is ONVIF User Authentication and it’s not working.
        The strange thing is that the Axiom detects the camera but no image comes out.

        Alex.

        • Brian says:

          You might also want to confirm it is set for 1920×1080 max resolution, and try different (lower) bitrates and framerates. Also try different H.264 encoding options, if possible (I’d recommend Base encoding, not High).

          FWIW, I have found that some cameras just do not work, even though they are ONVIF compliant, support unauthorized streams, etc.

          • Alex says:

            Yes, I’ve tried every configuration you say and it does not work.
            I think it could be some authentication problem with that camera or something. But the strange thing is that I can see the video in the Web Browser without any user or password, just like the Axis Encoder does.

            So, I would be grateful if you tell me some Brand or some Amazon link of any camera that you are sure that works with the Axiom.

  1. October 23, 2019

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