Personal Computing Technology

UniFi Updates

A new switch, cloud key, and updated network video recorder joined the Dismal Manor UniFi stable this October. The Moocher checked firmware to discover that updating the core POE switch to the latest firmware required updating UniFi Controller. At that time, UniFi controller ran in a FreeNAS jail. So, the cheap intrepid Moocher tried to update UniFi controller in the jail. He quickly discovered he was in dependency hell. Find out how he got out after the jump.



Cloud Key Happenings

Dropping by the Ubiquity website you couldn’t miss the fact that big things had happened to UniFi Video. There were new cameras, new UniFi Protect NVR, and a new Cloud Key G2 Plus to run it on and a new Cloud Key G2. It was obviously time to move UniFi controller to a Cloud Key. And one that could do NVR duties was only $20 more than the regular network management only version. Should I consolidate the two functions on new iron? Was that a no-brainer? It was.

UniFi Controller Update Issues

UniFi Video had been running without incident on UniFi hardware (the little black NVR) for a year and a half. The UniFi controller had been running in a FreeNAS Jail for about that long but the update procedures were less than clear. In fact, there were dependency issues with MongoDB in the latest Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Debian/UniFi MongoDB was a newer revision than that needed by the controller and NVR. Both specified upper bounds on MongoDB revision that the Debian world had blown past. Resolving them would require downgrading MongoDB on Ubuntu, something I did not want to do because Ubiquity was developing to a tailored Debian Linux distributed in a form loadable by their hardware as an update.

The way out

So, the Moocher decided to move the controller to an environment totally maintained by Ubiquity, that is, a Cloud Key. The little ones were basically a headless Raspberry Pi (well no PIO either). The NVR was a small Intel Atom server running a complete system from Ubiquity. The dependency issue to move the UniFi Controller to join the UniFi NVR on the NVR hardware were unknown.

The New Cloud Key

Meanwhile, Ubiquity product announcements indicated that they had done just that with the new Cloud Key G2 Plus. UniFi controller and the new UniFi Protect application could coexist on the new controller and UniFi Controller has intrusion detection in the works.

Getting Started

The new Cloud Key is an 802.11ac POE device so it needed a power supply. The Moocher ordered a Switch-8-60W to power the new Cloud Key. This device supplies up to 60 Watts of POE but only 802.11AC. Twenty-four volt passive POE is not supported (won’t work with legacy cameras). So the first step was to install the switch and adopt it. This goes smoothly in UniFi controller.

Bringing up the New Cloud Key

The new Cloud Key G2 has a little postage stamp sized LCD display that shows useful information like the device IP address and status. Browse to the address shown.  You’ll be greeted by a switchboard allowing you to setup the Cloud Key, setup UniFi SDN, or setup Unifi Protect. Initially it will go straight into Cloud Keys setup. There  you can

  • Set a new admin password
  • Add additional admins
  • Update the firmware
  • Change the name
  • And setup your single single signal account. This account allows off-site management of the network.

Be careful to work this to the end. Ubiquity support can support you much more easily if your account is setup.

Bringing up the New UniFi Controller

The best way to bring up the new controller is to have the outgoing controller save a configuration backup.

  1. Launch UniFi SDN
  2. Visiting the legacy controller, save the UniFi controller configuration to downloads
  3. Have the legacy controller forget the devices
  4. Load the just saved configuration in the new controller
  5. Adopt the devices.
  6. As each is adopted, the controller will configure it.
  7. Apply firmware updates to each device.

Bringing up UniFi Protect

The process is much the same.

  1. Save the UniFi Video configuration to downloads
  2. Launch UniFi Protect
  3. Do the initial configuration including setup of your UniFi single sign on account.
  4. On UniFi Video, tell it to forget the cameras
  5. On UniFi Protect, tell it to load the saved configuration 
  6. Check the cameras and let them sort out. 

If things don’t load

For a small home network like that at Dismal Manor, there is little to configure. We have no WiFi access points and no user policies and only 3 video cameras. If it goes wrong, reset the Cloud Key and start from scratch systematically working through the initial configuration wizards for the Cloud Key, UniFi SDN, and UniFi Protect.

Resetting the Switch-8-150

The one sticky bit that gave the Moocher some grief and stumped Ubiquity Support was that the Moocher had reset the core switch powering the cameras. Resetting the switch reset the port POE to 802.11ac from 24 Volt passive. This caused the cameras to go dark as they lacked the extra stuff to wake up and ask for the proper flavor of POE. This is the sort of hobbyist mistake that would not occur to support working with installers. They didn’t ask and I didn’t tell so they got stuck and moved on.

I thought I might have a dead camera as we had had some strum und drang from Hurricane Michael. A broken 13.2 KV line up by the airport put on quite a show and freaked the AFCI breakers in my panel. So I decided to check one of the cameras. I connected it to the new Switch-8-60W and reset it. Nothing. So I found the POE injector that came with it. The camera powered up, started, and reset. So, the Moocher checked the fine print and reset the port POE and put the camera back up. Voila, video.

The UniFi Protect application can reset the cameras from the ground. No need for a ladder to sort the other two.

What’s New in UniFi Protect

UniFi Protect has a simplified camera management interface and a time line. The camera is continuously recorded with motion events tagged in a time line. A blue dot marks each minor motion event. A freeze frame marks each major event. It is easy to scrub through by sliding a cursor to the point of interest. This works really nicely. The first night it rained and we were thrilled to 2 hours of watching a rain drop blow around on the lens shield. It looked very much like something dropping by to visit The Doctor.

By davehamby

A modern Merlin, hell bent for glory, he shot the works and nothing worked.