Video Conferencing: H323

Users can connect from a Microsoft Windows desktop in their office or lab using either a Polycom ViaVideo camera with associated software (ViaVideo 5.1.1, which is free), or a USB web camara and a copy of Polycom PVX software (which needs a license key).

H323 in room 450

The configuration of the PVX software is stored within each users profile. A user should therefore only have to proceed through the initial configuration steps once.

The station is accredited to more than one H.323 gatekeeper facility, as well as being used for point-to-point without a gatekeeper. Use with a gatekeeper requires appropriate configuration, which is quite fiddly if done manually, and for this reason a number of startup scripts have been provided, which will set the station's gatekeeper-related parameters correctly and then start-up the main application (PVX). These scripts are on the desktop as well as in the Start menu.

Additional requirements for ESnet or for the Glasgow gatekeeper are covered below.

Initial setup (one-off setup per user)

  • Start PVX via clicking on Start->Programs->Polycom PVX->Polycom PVX. This will cause a POLYCOM and camera control windows to appear. Any user that has not logged into the system before is presented with a Language Selection window. If this is the case:
    • Select British English and click on Next.
    • Select No, do not use GMS and click on Next.
    • Enter your name, email address, leave the H.323 Extension (E.164) value at the default setting, leave the Auto-start Application... un-ticked and click on Next.
    • Leave all the Register with... options un-ticked and click on Next.
    • Click on Next.
    • Choose the speaker volume setting and click on Next.
    • Select Video Input Device as Logitech ~QuickCam PTZ, select Audio Input Device as AK4571, select Audio Output Device as AK4571 and click on Next.
    • Leave Use the PC's Local IP Address selcted and click on Next.
    • Click on Finish

  • Just below the picture within the POLYCOM window there is a text field of the form My IP. If the IP given there is not of the form 194.36.1... then the network settings will have to be corrected. To change the settings:
    • Open the Setup window by clicking on the spanner symbol at the top of the POLYCOM window.
    • Click on the Network tab.
    • Un-tick Use Windows default adapter and then select Broadcom NetXtreme....
    • Click on OK at the bottom of the Setup Window.

Point to Point

Once the PVX software has been started, other H323 users can be contacted by using their IP address or your IP address.

  • To connect to another H323 station, enter the remote IP within the Enter address and.. text field at the top of the POLYCOM window and then click on the phone symbol above Call.
  • A remote station can try to call you by using your IP in the same manner. Your IP is given just below the pciture in the POLYCOM window, to the right of My IP.

For repeat calls to the same address, it is convenient to use the "Directory" (= address book) to store the call details, and to initiate the calls from there.

Esnet (ECS) H.323

This section describes the use of the group videoconferencing station in room 450, with ESnet (that is, the ESnet ECS, http://www.ecs.es.net). It is assumed that your requirements conform with the Acceptable Use rules for ESnet http://www.ecs.es.net/aup.htm.

If you have not previously used the system, please first follow the initial user H323 configuration advice above to get the PVX software basically configured for your purposes. Then return here for the additional details.

Configuration startup script

In order to set the gatekeeper configuration appropriately for ESnet, it is recommend to use the appropriate startup script (from the desktop or Start menu) which has been prepared for the purpose. Manual configuration of the gatekeeper parameters in the PVX software is fiddly and not especially recommended, but for reference it can be done (or at least verified) as follows...

Manual configuration/verification, if required

  • After opening the PVX application, click on the spanner button at the upper left of the window frame to open the Setup menus.
  • In the Setup menu: on the General tab, enter into the User Name field the ESnet-registered name of this station, which is GLA-PPE.
  • Then go to the H.323 tab. In the field denoted H.323 Extension (E.164), enter the ESnet-registered E.164 address for this station, which is 201291 .
  • In the Gatekeeper IP address, enter the hostname gk1.es.net (or if that is not possible, the IP 198.129.252.168 - however this is not robust)
  • From the buttons Off/Specify/Auto, select Specify. You may need to use the Apply button. Verify that the panel shows the message Gatekeeper registration was successful...

If GK registration is unsuccessful, re-check the above settings and if necessary, seek advice. Try putting the gatekeeper button to Off and back to Specify and use the Apply button. Beware: this software misleadingly uses the error report The gatekeeper has rejected the system's attempt at registration for various kinds of gatekeeper registration failure, including the failure to receive any kind of response from the gatekeeper. If you get this error report immediately, it might indeed be a gatekeeper rejection (check the relevant settings), but if you get it only after some delay, it is more likely that in fact no response was received.

If all was well, you should now be able to close the settings and call your ESnet conference address. If you regularly use the same conference, use the Directory (address book) to keep a note of it for convenient re-use.

Available Esnet ECS H.323 facilities are shown at http://www-staff.es.net/~mikep/adhoc/adhocuse.html

Glasgow Gatekeeper

The PPE video station is authorised to use the Glasgow H.323 gatekeeper. (In practice, at present, PPE users rarely need this, but the present page serves as reference documentation for using it.) If you have not previously used the system, please first follow the initial H323 configuration advice above to get the PVX software basically configured for your purposes. Then return here.

Configuration startup script

In order to set the gatekeeper configuration appropriately for the Glasgow campus gatekeeper, the recommendation is to use the appropriate startup script (desktop or Start menu) which has been prepared for the purpose. Manual configuration of the gatekeeper parameters in the PVX software is fiddly and not especially recommended, but for reference it can be done (or at least verified) as follows...

Manual configuration/verification, if required

  • After opening the PVX application, click on the spanner button at the upper left of the window frame to open the Setup menus.
  • On the General tab, enter as the User Name the registered name of this station for this gatekeeper, namely phy-ppe@gla.ac.uk
  • On the H.323 tab, in the H.323 Extension (E.164) field, enter the registered E.164 address of this station for this gatekeeper, which is 004401158215454
  • In the Gatekeeper address field, enter 130.209.3.2
  • From the buttons Off/Specify/Auto, select Specify. You may need to use the Apply button. Verify that the relevant status reads Gatekeeper registration was successful....

If GK registration is unsuccessful, re-check the above settings, and if necessary seek advice. Try putting the gatekeeper button to Off and back to Specify and use the Apply button. Beware: this software misleadingly uses the error report The gatekeeper has rejected the system's attempt at registration for various kinds of gatekeeper registration failure, including the failure to receive any kind of response from the gatekeeper. If you get this error report immediately, it might indeed be a gatekeeper rejection (check the relevant settings), but if you get it only after some delay, it is more likely that in fact no response was received.

When successful, the station can then use the Glasgow gatekeeper's facilities, as well as participating in the global H.323 dialling initiative (GDS, see e.g http://www.wvn.ac.uk/support/h323address.htm)

JANET videoconferencing services

The station can certainly be used with the JVCS OnDemand conference facility http://www.jvcs.ja.net/ondemand/, most conveniently by using its IP address. The station is NOT registered or approved to use the JVCS Booking Service.

Global Dialling Scheme (GDS) note

It may be noted that the ESnet facilities are also reachable via global dialling numbers (GDS), as mentioned on http://www-staff.es.net/~mikep/adhoc/adhocuse.html, and this would be a possible route to ESnet while registered to the Glasgow gatekeeper; however, we recommend registering to the ESnet gatekeeper instead, using the instructions above. The Esnet ECS AUP applies in either case.

H323/ISDN/phone gateway

While configured to the Glasgow gatekeeper, the station also has access to/from an ISDN gateway, which makes it technically feasible to access to/from ISDN(H.320) videoconferencing, as well as the ordinary telephone network. This facility should be regarded as being in pilot status, so, if users have a requirement for a prolonged session or an important meeting, they should make themselves known so that we can liaise with the appropriate campus staff. OUTGOING CALLS ARE CHARGEABLE at university telephone rates.

Incoming calls: use extension 8950 (0141-330-8950 or international +44-141-330-8950) and respond to the voice prompt with the last 6 digits of our station address i.e 215454, followed by the "#" key. ISDN users may be able to append the station address as 215454 to the called number.

Outgoing calls: if you wish to use this facility, contact one of the ITManagement in the first instance. Keep in mind that external calls are chargeable, and any significant costs accrued would be charged to the computing service and billed-back to us: there is no proper procedure in place for this, so we need to liaise with their staff if this feature is needed. Internal calls can normally be dialled by 9xxxx where xxxx is the internal extension number (extensions beginning with 0 cannot be reached this way).

General Notes

Running the Polycom PVX software in full screen mode is not recommended. This produces jerky video. Instead of running in full screen mode, resize the window by dragging at the bottom right corner of the POLYCOM window to the required size.

If you wish/need to restart the PVX application, note that although the application window closes almost immediately, the software takes up to around 10 seconds to shut down, and restarting it before it has properly shut down will cause unpredictable problems.

ESnet And Natting

There are known issues with using the ESnet H.323 facility from behind a NAT router. With sufficient commitment, it may be possible to find a way around these in a particular case, although this cannot be guaranteed.

In brief:

  • The departmental wireless network will not work.
  • The PPE "trusted hosts" NAT network may work. Whether it does or not is a matter of chance, and trying again (and again) might get it to eventually work, but if you want to use H.323 routinely and reliably, you would do better to ask for a fixed public IP address assignment.
  • Home routers (ADSL, cable etc.) may be usable.

-- AndrewPickford - 27 Feb 2009

Topic revision: r2 - 2016-04-14 - GordonStewart
 
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