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Neolink

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Neolink is a small program that acts as a proxy between Reolink IP cameras and normal RTSP clients. Certain cameras, such as the Reolink B800, do not implement ONVIF or RTSP, but instead use a proprietary "Baichuan" protocol only compatible with their apps and NVRs (any camera that uses "port 9000" will likely be using this protocol). Neolink allows you to use NVR software such as Shinobi or Blue Iris to receive video from these cameras instead. The Reolink NVR is not required, and the cameras are unmodified. Your NVR software connects to Neolink, which forwards the video stream from the camera.

The Neolink project is not affiliated with Reolink in any way; everything it does has been reverse engineered.

Supported cameras

Neolink intends to support all Reolink cameras that do not provide native RTSP. Currently it has been tested on the following cameras:

  • B800/D800
  • B400/D400
  • E1
  • Lumus
  • 510A

Neolink does not support other cameras such as the RLC-420, since they already provide native RTSP.

Usage

  1. First, write a configuration yaml file describing your cameras. See the Configuration section below or the provided sample config.

  2. Launch Neolink:

neolink rtsp --config=your_config.yaml
  1. Then, connect your RTSP viewer to rtsp://127.0.0.1:8554/your_camera_name!

Additional commands

Neolink also has some additional command line tools for controlling the camera. They are all used through neolink subcommands like this:

neolink subcommand --config=...

The currently supported subcommands are

  • rtsp: The standard neolink rtsp bridge
  • status-light: Control the LED status light
  • reboot: Reboot a camera
  • talk: Enable talk back through either the microphone or by reading a sound file.

For a full list of commands use neolink help, or use neolink help <subcommand> for details on a subcommand of interest.

Download & Installation

In the future Neolink will be much easier to install. For now, follow these steps. Builds are provided for the following platforms:

Windows/Linux

  1. Install Gstreamer from the most recent MSI installer on Windows, or your package manager on Linux.

    On Ubuntu/Debian machines gstreamer can be installed with:

    sudo apt install \
      libgstrtspserver-1.0-0 \
      libgstreamer1.0-0 \
      libgstreamer-plugins-bad1.0-0 \
      gstreamer1.0-plugins-good \
      gstreamer1.0-plugins-bad
  2. If you are using Windows, add the following to your PATH environment variable:

    %GSTREAMER_1_0_ROOT_X86_64%\bin
    

    Note: If you use Chocolatey to install Gstreamer, it does this automatically.

  3. Download and unpack Neolink from the links above.

    1. Note: you can also click on this link to see all historical builds. You will need to be logged in to GitHub to download directly from the builds page (wget doesn't work)

    Ubuntu/Debian/Raspberry Pi OS example:

    unzip release-arm64-buster.zip
    sudo cp neolink /usr/local/bin/
    sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/neolink
  4. Write a configuration file for your cameras. See the section below.

  5. Launch Neolink from a shell, passing your configuration file:

    neolink rtsp --config my_config.toml
  6. Connect your NVR software to Neolink's RTSP server.

    The default URL is rtsp://127.0.0.1:8554/your_camera_name if you're running it on the same computer. If you run it on a different server, you may need to open firewall ports. See the "Viewing" section below for more troubleshooting.

Docker

A Docker image is also available containing Neolink and all its dependencies. The image is thirtythreeforty/neolink. Port 8554 is exposed, which is the default listen port. You must mount a configuration file (see below) into the container at /etc/neolink.toml.

Here is a sample launch commmand:

docker run \
  -p 8554:8554 \
  --restart=on-failure \
  --volume=$PWD/config.toml:/etc/neolink.toml \
  thirtythreeforty/neolink

Here is an example docker-compose:

---
version: "2"
services:
  neolink:
    image: thirtythreeforty/neolink
    container_name: neolink
    ports:
      - 8554:8554
    volumes:
      - $PWD/neolink.toml:/etc/neolink.toml
    restart: unless-stopped

The Docker image is "best effort" and intended for advanced users; questions about running Docker are outside the scope of Neolink.

If you use a battery-powered camera (or other UDP-only camera) you will need to either use --net=host or setup a macvlan for the docker image that supports UDP broadcast. This is because UDP requires that udp broadcast messages are transmitted across the docker network interface, however this is not possible in the default bridging mode

Configuration

Note: for a more comprehensive setup tutorial, refer to the Blue Iris setup walkthrough in docs/ (which is probably also helpful even with other NVR software).

Note: more comprehensive setup details for linux based devices is provided in docs/unix_setup.md

Note: instructions for also setting up a (systemd based) service for linux based devices is provided in docs/unix_service.md

Copy and modify the sample_config.toml to specify the address, username, and password for each camera (if there is no password, you can omit that line). The default credentials for some cameras is username admin password 123456.

  • For a non battery powered camera you need to provide the address field with the ip and port (default 9000).

  • For a battery powered camera you need to provide the uid field with the camera's UID. In this case your network must support UDP. Battery cameras exclusively use this UDP mode so you must always use a UID.

Each [[cameras]] block creates a new camera; the name determines the RTSP path you should connect your client to.

By default, the HD stream is available at the RTSP path /name or /name/mainStream, and the SD stream is available at /name/subStream. You can use only the HD stream by adding stream = "mainStream" to the [[cameras]] config, or only the SD stream with stream = "subStream".

Note: The B400/D400 models only support a single stream at a time, so you must add this line to sections for those cameras.

By default Neolink serves on all IP addresses on port 8554. You can modify this by changing the bind and the bind_port parameter. You only need one bind/bind_port setting at the top of the config file.

You can enable rtsps (TLS) by adding a certificate = "/path/to/pem" to the top section of the config file. This PEM should contain the certificate and the key used for the server. If TLS is enabled all connections must use rtsps. You can also use client side TLS with the config option tls_client_auth = "none|request|require"; in this case the client should present a certificate signed by the server's CA.

TLS is disabled by default.

You can password-protect the Neolink server by adding [[users]] sections to the configuration file, but this is not secure without also using TLS:

[[users]]
name: someone
pass: somepass

you also need to add the allowed users into each camera by adding the following to [[cameras]].

permitted_users = ["someone", "someoneelse"]

Anywhere a username is accepted it can take any username or one of the following special values.

  • anyone means any user with a valid user/pass
  • anonymous means no user/pass required

The default permitted_users list is:

  • [ "anonymous"] if no [[users]] were given in the config meaning no authentication required to connect.

  • [ "anyone" ] if [[users]] were provided meaning any authourised users can connect.

You can change the Neolink log level by setting the RUST_LOG environment variable (not in the configuration file) to one of error, warn, info, debug, or trace:

  • On sh:
set RUST_LOG=debug
  • On Bash:
export RUST_LOG=debug

Viewing

Connect your RTSP client to the stream with the name you provided in the configuration file.

Again, the default URL is rtsp://127.0.0.1:8554/your_camera_name if you're running it on the same computer as the client. The smaller SD video is rtsp://127.0.0.1:8554/your_camera_name/subStream.

4K cameras send large video "key frames" once every few seconds and the client must have a receive buffer large enough to store the entire frame. If your client's buffer size is configurable (like Blue Iris), ensure it's set to 20MB, which should ensure plenty of headroom.

Stability

Neolink has had minimal testing, but it seems to be very reliable in multiple users' testing.

The formats of all configuration files and APIs is subject to change as required while it is pre-1.0.

Development

Neolink is written in Rust, and binds to Gstreamer to provide RTSP server functionality.

To compile, ensure you have the Rust compiler, Gstreamer, and gst-rtsp-server installed.

Then simply run:

cargo build

from this top directory.

Baichuan Protocol

The "port 9000" protocol used by Reolink and some Swann cameras is internally referred to as the Baichuan protocol; this is the company based in China that is known internationally as Reolink.

This protocol is a slightly convoluted header-data format, and appears to have been upgraded several times.

The modern variant uses obfuscated XML commands and sends ordinary H.265 or H.264 video streams encapsulated in a custom header.

More details of the on-the-wire protocol are provided in dissector/.

Baichuan dissector

A Wireshark dissector is available for the BC wire protocol in the dissector directory.

It dissects the BC header and also allows viewing the deobfuscated XML in command messages. (It cannot deobfuscate newer messages that use AES encryption.) To use it, copy or symlink it into your Wireshark plugin directory; typically this is ~/.local/lib/wireshark/plugins/ under Linux.

Currently the dissector does not attempt to decode the Baichuan "extension" messages except binaryData. This will change in the future as reverse engineering needs require.

License

Neolink is free software, released under the GNU Affero General Public License v3.

This means that if you incorporate it into a piece of software available over the network, you must offer that software's source code to your users.