2019-02-15

Outside WiFi

Whilst we have excellent WiFi in the house, due to three access points, the garden was not as well covered. A brick wall and conservatory in the way, etc. The WiFi was OK in the garden but I thought I should really try out an actual proper outdoor WiFi access point.

I now have one of these, an Aruba AP-375, and yes, they do cost over £1,000, which is silly, I agree. But it works with the WiFi we have (all one controller), and is clearly robust and weather proof.

We now have excellent WiFi in our garden, and the gardens of several neighbours!

The garden really is not big enough to justify the cost, and if it was not more of an experiment to see how well it works, I doubt I would have got it.

As with the others it is run of PoE, so a simple network cable in to the loft to a PoE switch. I got proper external grade cat5e cable - from Amazon (here).

With solid core network cable you have to get the right plugs that work with solid cable. I actually got some cat6 plugs for solid cable from Amazon (here) which "just work".

I had to also order the wall bracket. Do not be fooled by pictures in the Internet, there is an "H" and "V" version for the surface on to which it is mounted being horizontal or vertical. There are sites selling one with a picture of the other! I fitted with some wall anchors, which, you guessed it, I got from Amazon (here) and drill bit (here).

I walked around the block, and even found a spot on the main road where our WiFi is just visible (through a few houses /gardens). It goes quite a way in open air from high up.

Walking around, it is amazing how many WiFi signals you see. It was nice to see, amongst the VM and BT names, at least one aa.net.uk signal from someone in the next street :-)

Obviously, where these access points make more sense is when you do have a large open space, not just a simple residential garden like mine. We have done WiFi at a beer festival a few times, and if we do that again I can see us putting a few of these in.

17 comments:

  1. We're just about to put around 14 of these series into a campus park using powered fibre - they're a lot nicer than the AP-275 that we used to install.

    They're not going to be as well disguised as the AP-375 that Cambridge put into a lamppost though (presentation at UKNOF34). :-)

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    1. 𓂺 (Cockburn - pronounced "Coburn")Tuesday, 19 February 2019 at 13:08:00 GMT

      Students do love their wifi, hehe. Whether it's posting selfies on Instragram, organising protests on Twitter, or just building their reputation via WhatsApp, students do love their wifi. He he. Also for submitting work to professors and suchlike.

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  2. Does this represent any kind of problem with licensing if your signal is intentionally setup to broadcast outside (beyond your private property), thus escaping the leakage that gets allowed for the license exempt indoor usage?

    The rules tend to vary a bit between 2.4GHz and 5GHz, with power levels being a key consideration. I think you can use up to 100mW to be license free on 2.4GHz, but with 5GHz I think the license free range is 200mW to 1Watt.

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    1. Interesting question - to be honest I have not looked at the licensing in detail - I would hope the devices are designed to work within the licensing requirements. I also cannot see any way anyone could be expected to ensure it stays within their property - walking around the block I picked up literally hundreds of SSIDs from the public highway. I would hope that if outdoor units need an extra licence, they would say on the product / info clearly. Even so, these are clearly designed to find clear channels and "play nice".

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    2. You have to use DFS channels for outdoor use in the UK - ie channels 52 through to 165 and there's associated power limits/radar detection algorithms depending on whether its band A, B or C.

      Using 5GHz wifi (not PtP) equipment outdoors without DFS is illegal & if you interfere with radar (airports/aircraft/shipping) the fines are pretty much unlimited.

      Depending on the circumstances you could also find yourself in jail - there's various bits of legislation which cover this, including terrorism legislation. Depends who you piss off really.

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    3. Yes, it is properly configured as an outdoor unit and has DFS :-)

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    4. Hopefully it falls back to another DFS channel if radar is detected - Unifi UAPs didn't do that until the last 6 months.

      UBNT got told about it enough but took fuck all notice until someone reported them to a European regulator who threatened to decertify ALL of their UAPs for outdoor or DFS use.

      Then they did something ;)

      Unfortunately that's the way with UBNT - they still don't support the full ETSI 5GHz spectrum nearly 2 years after it changed. Despite being told officially that they didn't need to recertify the units for "band c" they still claim they do. They're pretty clueless about regulations outside yankland and their "compliance officer" is a waste of space.

      Good radios though :)

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  3. And I thought I had gone overkill by spending £175 on a unifi mesh pro AC for the garden!!

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    1. You did :)

      The UAP-AC-M (the "rabbit ears" one) is much better suited to small garden use & linitx sell them for £90 inc vat.

      Both the UAP-AC-M and UAP-AC-M-PRO are best installed at around 2-3m above the level of the area they're intended to serve (see RF plots on UBNT site).


      What people tend not to remember is you only get high PHY rates on 5GHz with diversity - ie you need to have something physical which reflects or attenuates the chains. Otherwise you can have the best signal in the world but if you're in the middle of a field you're only going to achieve single stream rates.

      As an aside https://youtu.be/HRhZniqyey8 is a decent watch - "Understanding WLAN capacity limits" from a seminar a couple of years back. This is a video all of you reading this blog will understand :) The guy did OK given his co-presenter crapped out on him with 5 minutes notice.

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    2. Also note with UAP-AC-M the antennas should be at 90 degrees to each other (\/ or |_, not ||).

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    3. 𓂺 (Cockburn - pronounced "Coburn")Tuesday, 19 February 2019 at 13:05:00 GMT

      Handy tip about the antennas, thank you.

      Or should it be "antennae"?

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  4. In terms of "networks/SSIDs" in range I see 72 2.4GHz networks on an hourly basis but only three 5GHz beacons.

    These are "Insights" on the Unifi SDN.

    My daughter used to live in the centre of Leicester and her stats were stupid - over 500 2.4GHz SSIDs per hour, pretty much all cars* & buses. If you got under 50% channel occupancy on C1/6/11 then it was the middle of the night.

    *as an aside you can all feel free to view Audi drivers as even more of an arsehole/prick/whatever suits because they use 40MHz wide 2.4GHz channels which haven't been viable in a decade. Oh and they screw everyone up because ACI is MUCH worse than CCI with wifi :)

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    1. 𓂺 (Cockburn - pronounced "Coburn")Wednesday, 20 February 2019 at 16:51:00 GMT

      Does the Audi's wide band give it better reception? If so, that's so anti-social

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    2. 𓂺 (Cockburn - pronounced "Coburn")Wednesday, 20 February 2019 at 17:05:00 GMT

      Pioneering excellence in hogging the airwaves. "Vorsprung Durch Technik" lol

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  5. 𓂺 (Cockburn - pronounced "Coburn")Wednesday, 20 February 2019 at 16:50:00 GMT

    Thinking about wifi has gotten me thinking: can anyone recommend a good (but inexpensive) option for a 4G modem ideally with an external antenna (for good reception)? Can be USB or ethernet. Thank you!

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  6. Take a look at https://mikrotik.com/products
    Pop LTE into the filter/search box for a quick review.

    To avoid confusion they do some gear labelled LTE and some identical gear labelled as 4G.
    The LTE gear can do 2G, 3G & 4G.
    The 4G gear ONLY does 4G with no fallback.

    Just check the LTE bands covered against your chosen mobile provider.

    All these can be ordered from https://msdist.co.uk or https://linitx.com
    If not listed on their websites just drop them a mail or give them a call for price and ordering.

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