Straightforward out-of-the-box solution for extending WiFi range

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snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

Stop using them on ultra liberal idiots, and let the termites finish them off.
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On Wed, 25 Dec 2013 23:10:50 -0500, "Michael A. Terrell"

Nah, it's too hard to clean the routers after. The brains and guts are too small to be a problem but the blood gets everywhere.
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On 12/24/2013 11:41 AM, Michael A. Terrell wrote:

Or the dualism of routers. ^_^
TDD
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The Daring Dufas wrote:

That bytes! ;-)
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wrote:

If they aren't bridged, they're probably routed. Then, if each segment has a unique IP address space, it should just work. But if each segment has the same IP address space, the main problem won't be IP conflicts but rather IP routing issues. The IP stack will treat it as Layer 2 but it needs to be treated as Layer 3. I assume that's the "other problems" mentioned above.
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The issue is more that when a mobile device jumps from one access point to another (with the same SSID), it'll attempt to re-use it's existing IP and ARP the default gateway. If the default gateway has the expected MAC address it's assumed to be the same network and the device can proceed as though nothing changed.
If the APR test succeeds, the total network interruption time is that of one ARP lookup, which is probably on the order of 100ms-200ms, which is barely noticed by the user. Small networks will be even faster, obviously.
If the ARP fails, or returns a different MAC address, the device will silently drop it's IP and start a new DHCP request. This is fine, but it will cause a momentary interruption in traffic from the user's perspective, possibly lasting long enough to generate application level errors. In this case, using a different SSID is better because a smart device may track past DHCP allocations and use the quick-start process described above when returning to a SSID it recognizes, within it's original DHCP lifespan.
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On Wed, 25 Dec 2013 10:27:49 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

Hi Jeff, That's what we did. We used ch 1 & 6 so as not to overlap.
I'm really starting to like these access points, although, the "controller" software is a pain.
For example, we tried to set up a second access point at another site, and the first access point setup kept getting in the way.
Had we known, we would have just wiped out the controller software on our PC, before starting.
If they just put a web server on these Unify access points, it would make it easier for the consumer. But, other than the lousy controller software setup (which, in effect, is merely a login shell for the access point), these Ubiquiti Unify long-range access points are nice for consumer use.
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On Wed, 25 Dec 2013 10:27:49 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

This is interesting.
I haven't set this up at my own home, so, I'm only going off what the neighbors are saying, so, we'll keep this caveat in mind.
However ... just guessing ... it would seem to me that, if we use the same SSID, that the STRONGEST should win, and, if one disconnects, it *should* (logically anyway) switch seamlessly over to the stronger signal as the person roams the home.
I'll need more data from the neighbors to confirm or discount that theory though ...
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On Wed, 25 Dec 2013 20:51:35 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

Everything I write is interesting. Sometimes, it's even accurate.

<http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wlan/sb/cs-015906.htm Fat chance. That's the way it should work. Instead, what happens is that the client will remain connected to the initial access point, no matter how weak or disgusting a signal it offers. Even if turn off the client device, it will try to reconnect to the same initial access point, even if there's a stronger/better signal with the same SSID evailable. Even if you intentionally disconnect, the client will retain the MAC address of the initial access point. When you try to reconnect, it will try that MAC address first.
Intel seems to have gotten the clue and offers a setting as to how "aggressive" the client will act in retaining a connection: <http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wlan/sb/CS-030101.htm It's not a total solution, but does work rather well on my various laptops.
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On Wed, 25 Dec 2013 14:47:48 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

Heh heh ... :)
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wrote:
~ >However ... just guessing ... it would seem to me ~ >that, if we use the same SSID, that the STRONGEST ~ >should win, and, if one disconnects, it *should* ~ >(logically anyway) switch seamlessly over to the ~ >stronger signal as the person roams the home. ~ ~ <http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wlan/sb/cs-015906.htm ~ Fat chance. That's the way it should work. Instead, what happens is ~ that the client will remain connected to the initial access point, no ~ matter how weak or disgusting a signal it offers. Even if turn off ~ the client device, it will try to reconnect to the same initial access ~ point, even if there's a stronger/better signal with the same SSID ~ evailable. Even if you intentionally disconnect, the client will ~ retain the MAC address of the initial access point. When you try to ~ reconnect, it will try that MAC address first. ~ ~ Intel seems to have gotten the clue and offers a setting as to how ~ "aggressive" the client will act in retaining a connection: ~ <http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wlan/sb/CS-030101.htm ~ It's not a total solution, but does work rather well on my various ~ laptops.
I think you're being overly pessimistic, Jeff. The scenario where you have multiple APs advertising the same SSID on different non-overlapping channels (where all BSSIDs are bridged to the same L2 broadcast domain), actually works pretty well with most clients nowadays.
Our large customers often have buildings or campuses with dozens or even hundreds or thousands of APs all offering the same SSID, and most modern clients can roam throughout these coverage areas without losing more than one or two seconds of data connectivity at roam time.
Most clients do offchannel scans for other APs will associated, so they know what all other APs are out there (although the freshness of that information will vary.) They are apt to decide to roam based upon one or more factors like these:
* currently associated BSSID has dropped below a given RSSI threshold (e.g. below -80 dBm) * there exists a better BSSID whose RSSI is more than threshold k stronger than the current one, so let's roam to it (e.g. k, so if the current BSSID's RSSI is -74 dBm and another AP is at -57, let's go there) * n consecutive 802.11 retransmissions to the current BSSID have failed (e.g. where n2) * n consective beacons from the current BSSID have been missed (e.g. where n, i.e. ~1 second)
To be sure, in networks that are very large and/or have very stringent performance requirements (hospitals), exotic roaming schemes involving L3 tunneling, 802.11r, CCKM, WPA2 PMKID caching etc. can be called for. But for home/small organization networks, basic WPA2/PSK roaming across APs within a given SSID will work just fine (again, assuming that all of these BSSIDs are bridged to the same broadcast domain.)
Cheers,
Aaron
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On Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:25:36 -0800, Amanda Riphnykhazova wrote:

Heh heh ... I *wish* I worked for Ubiquiti! But, if I did, I'd probably know what I was doing! :)

Yes. And no. Depends on what you mean by "mobility".
I've tried the classic USB WiFi range extenders, for example, and their advantage is small size (some are dongles, which don't even need AC power while others are small boxes about the size of a pack of playing cards which also need 120VAC).
The problem I had with these classic range extenders is that they were miserable to set up on Linux. Absolutely horrid support for the Linux drivers. The reason is that they're consumer equipment; and the consumer is on Windows or Mac, for the most part.
So, *for you*, these $100 solutions (give or take $25) *should* work fine to extend the range of your laptop for a few hundred feet.
On the other hand, the solution I tested out, costs the same (roughly), as that consumer gear, but, the Nanobridge feed horn solution has far more gain (both in the transmitter and in the antenna) than the puny consumer gear.
The beauty of the Ubiquiti equipment is that it costs the same as the consumer gear (give or take a few). But, it's far more powerful.
Personally, I think we're all idiots for buying the consumer gear, mostly because it's too expensive for too little gain, so everyone has to extend the range with even more crappy consumer gear.
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On Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:25:36 -0800, Amanda Riphnykhazova wrote:

Yes. You are correct. My results depend on reasonable aiming.
Here is a picture of my ubiquiti feed horn and wires:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3667/11475987315_36aa12eba3_o.jpg
That is a 23dBM radio with a 3dBi antenna, which, if you find that kind of gain in consumer equipment at any price, I'll be amazed.
That's 26dBm of gain, which is 400 milliwatts of power (EIRP).
Now look at these four screenshots, taken during my testing:
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2826/11419588365_0209969676_o.png
Notice the signal strength with the tail pointed toward the router was a whopping -38dBm! (that's huge!)
When I tested it, at my house, connected to my laptop ethernet port, I pointed the tail end of this Nanobridge M2 at the home broadband router from one floor away, and got fantastic signal strength, which you can also read on the unit itself by user-settable LEDs:
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5527/11476001384_10e72406a8_o.jpg
When I pointed the tail *away* from my router, it still had a connection strength of -61dBm, and, as I twisted the nanobridge feedhorn around, I obtained values in between.
Now, let's compare that to the Lenovo laptop, which has a high end Intel Centrino N-spec WiFi card: $ lspci SHOWS: Intel Corporation Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (rev 35)
$ iwconfig SHOWS the NIC has 15dBm transmit power. At 2.4GHz, that gets me a respectable -54dBm as shown by the results below:
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7295/11476342923_bda89983fe_o.jpg
Let's summarize:
1. The business-class laptop has a 15dBm NIC with probably about 1/2 dBi to (at most) 1dBi integral antenna, for a gain of about 16dBm; it garnered a signal strength of -54dBm.
2. Turning off that WiFi NIC, and attaching the 23dBM + 3dBi Nanobridge M2 feedhorn to the laptop Ethernet port, I get a signal strength of -38dBm when the antenna is aimed correctly - which is a stupendous 16dBm more signal than with the internal laptop card. Since every 3dB is a doubling of power, that's 2x2x2x2x22 times more signal strength!
3. However, with the feedhorn tail purposefully pointed AWAY from the router, I still get a respectable signal strength of -61dBM, but, that signal strength is four times less than what I had at the laptop without the feedhorn.
So, yes. You are correct. The signal strength *does* depend on aiming; but, when it's aimed right, you can easily get thirty times the signal strength than your (high end) laptop has alone.
And, best of all, there is absolutely no need for *any* drivers! This is more important for folks like me who are on Linux, than it is for Windows or Mac users - but - it's still nice to know that there are absolutely no drivers needed - since the interface is via the standard Ethernet port of your laptop and the web interface to the radio.
YMMV
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On Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:25:36 -0800, Amanda Riphnykhazova wrote:

Ah. Alignment, while problematic with consumer equipment, is absolutely beautiful with this professional equipment!
Let me count the ways ...
Notice I'm *not* using the dish that comes with the Nanobridge M2 radio. I'm just using this feedhorn and the POE power supply and an Ethernet cord connected to the laptop, so, my antenna is 3dBi (which isn't all that directional) as opposed to 18dBi with the dish (which is still not all that directional):
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3667/11475987315_36aa12eba3_o.jpg
Even so, notice that the feedhorn has a set of LEDs (which the user can configure) which tell you instantly what the signal strength is at any one moment:
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5527/11476001384_10e72406a8_o.jpg
Also bear in mind, that antenna installers are often in precarious situations on top of poles and trees and the like, so, there is, in addition, a visual signal strength meter, as shown here:
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2826/11419588365_0209969676_o.png
And, notice the unchecked box in that last screenshot: "Alignment Beep" which beeps like Sputnik telling you the signal strength even if you had your eyes closed.
Lastly, notice that the main page of the web interface to the radio also shows you the signal strength and quality metrics:
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7448/11475595375_740ac269e1_o.png
Point is, when you're connecting to an access point that you can barely see with $3,000 Steiner binoculars, alignment is everything.
So, rest assured, you'll *know* exactly where the access point is in any situation that you're in. So, it won't be hard to point the feedhorn at the AP, although it might require holding it there to keep it pointed.
I would think, at a distance of, oh, say, 300 to 500 feet from a typical Starbucks-style access point, that you would just need to be pointed generally in the same direction; but I would need to test this on the road (with an inverter in my car) to be sure.
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On Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:25:36 -0800, Amanda Riphnykhazova wrote:

We're getting ten times the gain here ... and, bear in mind, we're *not* using the 18dBi dish that came with the Nanobridge M2.
I'm just using the 3dBi feedhorn alone, without that dish. Why? Because the dish would be too big to carry in my laptop bag! Plus it would be too big to set up on a Starbucks coffee table!
Given that we're just using the feedhorn, let's compare the specs of my Lenovo laptop against that of the Nanobridge M2 feedhorn.
Looking up the specs for the antenna gain on my Lenovo W510 laptop, I cant' find a spec on the antenna gain, but I see that they list all their laptops at no more than 3dBi (I suspect it's about 1/2 dBi to 1dBi, like most laptops - but I don't know): http://download.lenovo.com/ibmdl/pub/pc/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/63y0530_4.pdf
The antenna gain on the Nanobridge M2 feedhorn isn't published either, but the Nanobridge web server itself reports it as 3dBi:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3733/11399100445_af45bef4c0_o.png
The iwconfig command tells me that the laptop NIC is transmitting at 15dBm of power:
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7295/11476342923_bda89983fe_o.jpg
While, we know from the specs, that the Nanobridge feedhorn transmits at 23dBm maximum power.
Given that, and assuming the antenna gain figures above, we are comparing:
LAPTOP = 15dBm + 1dBi = 16dBm (40 milliwatts) FEEDHORN = 23dBm + 3dBi = 26dBm (400 milliwatts)
Notice the feedhorn is ten times more powerful than the laptop alone. Now, let's compare that with my real-world test results:
LAPTOP gets -55dBm (0.003 microwatts)
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7295/11476342923_bda89983fe_o.jpg
FEEDHORN gets -39dBm (0.1 microwatts)
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3746/11399676383_5ca5354629_o.png
This is two orders of magnitude more power, in my real-world test! For the same cost as consumer equipment, which isn't as powerful.
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On Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:25:36 -0800, Amanda Riphnykhazova wrote:

I'm not sure I understand. I'm not using the 15dBi dish. I'm just using the 23dBm feedhorn and it's integrated 3dBi antenna.
I connect just the feed horn to the laptop Ethernet port and turn off the laptop's internal WiFi card.
The feedhorn has no problem pointing at the access point, as I described in another post, because the feedhorn is designed, from the start, to be easily aligned to an antenna that is 20 miles way.
So, aligning the feedhorn to an access point inside a coffee shop that is only, say, a half mile away, is trivial.
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On Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:33:12 -0800, Amanda Riphnykhazova wrote:

Hi Amanda,
It's not so much that I'm disappointed with the antenna on my laptop (which probably has a gain of about 1/2 to 1dBi), that I'm wanting to get my laptop to connect to an access point that is as far as a mile or two away.
In that case, there's no hope that the laptop can connect. It's just not designed to connect more than a few hundred feet.
However, the Nanobridge M2 is designed to connect to an access point that is as far as ten to twenty miles away.
So, with just the feedhorn, it seems I should be able to extend the laptop's range at least to a half mile, to maybe a mile.
I have to test this though - but it seems clear that the feedhorn would easily allow the laptop range to be extended to a few hundred feet (at the very least).
PS: I don't know how much you can change the power of the Linksys WRE54G with DD-WRT. I suspect the router default is around 18dBm (like most consumer routers) with a default antenna of something like 5dBi - so the range would depend on how much DD-WRT allows you to change the transmit power - and whether or not you replace the default antenna with a more directional antenna.
QUESTION: Do you know the dBm & dBi specs for that router and what DD-WRT can change with respect to the dBm and whether the antenna is easily removed and replaced?
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On Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:43:07 -0800, William Sommerwerck wrote:

Hi Dave,
I disagree.
My contention is that the pro radios I'm using are just about the same price as a high-end consumer router - yet - their power is tremendously higher in the pro equipment (which is designed to be cheap & powerful).
To make matters worse, it's actually pretty hard to walk into Fryes to pick out a home broadband router, and to find the antenna and transmitter gain listed on the box. I've tried, It's damn near impossible.
You know why?
I don't; but, I suspect it's because they're all very weak (probably around 15 to 18dBm with something like 3 to 6 dBi antennas).
So, I agree with you that, to get higher-gain consumer routers, you're going to pay through the nose, simply because it's really hard to shop intelligently.
Luckily, the gain figures are all published for the pro equipment, since gain is almost everything when your access point is twenty miles away.
So, my key contention, which is not intuitive, is that the pro equipment is actually just about the same price as the consumer equipment, but, it's vastly more powerful.
Take, for example, this $70 MIMO 802.11n access point which you wire to your modem (or to your router or to a switch): http://www.wlanparts.com/product/UAP/?gclid=CMib1ZmHwbsCFeZ7Qgod3k4Aew
It will knock the pants off anything I can find at Fryes at the same price. :)
Here's the datasheet: http://dl.ubnt.com/datasheets/unifi/UniFi-AP-DS.pdf
I challenge someone to find a more powerful consumer radio in the same price range! Note: The UAP-LR is 27dBm + 3dBi = 30dBm (1 Watt)
PS: No, I don't work for Ubiquiti - although I wish I did. :)
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On Sat, 21 Dec 2013 10:04:13 +0000 (UTC), Danny D'Amico

Everyone seems to have different definitions of what constitutes "carrier class" or "professional" wireless hardware. For me, it's quite simple. Will it do SNMP and can it be monitored and managed with 3rd party tools? <http://wiki.ubnt.com/SNMP_and_MRTG_Monitoring I think you'll find that SNMP support will make a good dividing line between consumer and pro. The average home user doesn't need SNMP even if it's provided. I need it to keep a mess of access points and routers alive and provide reports and pretty graphs to keep the customer happy. ISP's need SNMP to allow a diverse collection of dissimilar hardware to be monitored and managed with a single software tool: <http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-free-network-monitoring-tools/
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On Wed, 25 Dec 2013 10:11:28 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

Interesting. I've got SNMP on all the Ubiquit radios, and, I've never used it.
Although, that was precisely your point!
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