Wireless Open Hot Spot Hardware Requirements

I've been asked to set-up an open (free Hot Spot) wireless access point at our community pool area.  Currently they just have a cable modem providing internet access to a single PC.  No router, no wireless, just directly into PC where they use a software firewall.  The reason for using Open-Mesh is to offer a splash screen with disclaimers.  

As the first test, I was wondering if I could simply go from the ISP modem, to a switch that would offer access to the PC and the wireless access point.  I am planning on using a EOC-2610 Engenius Access point flashed with Open-Mesh.  From what I have read, you simply add the MAC address to their dashboard.

ISP Internet-----Cable Modem---------4 port switch--------PC
                                                                   |
                                                                   |------------Access Point

Will this work or do I need to purchase a wireless router then flash it with Open-Mesh along with the Access Point.  Although I have set-up standard internal networks before, this is the first Hot Spot so any information on setting this up is greatly appreciated.  I've tested the Access Point on a network which has a router and I can connect, but Open-Mesh does not see the Access Point.  I am assuming that is because it is behind the firewall which I guess brings up another question.  If I do not have a router, will I run into a problem that I have multiple devices without a router which normally provides the DHCP server or does the cable modem also offer that service?
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liguruCommented:
If your Access Point is not also a Router, then yes, you need a Router if more than one pc is going to connect.  You would connect the Modem to the Router and then the PC and Access point into to the Router as well.  No need for the Switch.
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
Thanks.  The firewall portion of my question.  Within Open-Mesh, you list the MAC addresses of your access points so that it can monitor the status of those locations.  I am assuming that a OEM Router's firewall would block that type of communication from an outside server.  That would mean that I would need to reflash the router with their firmware.  Right?
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
As I am digging into this further.  It appears that I am trying to make this more difficult than it needs to be.  The primary function that I am trying to achieve is a splash screen each time someone first uses the Access Point.  I found a product that is called a DNS redirector but not sure that is what I really need so I will ask the experts for some input.

Thanks in advance. I will need to split a few of the points up because liquru was a valid answer.
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liguruCommented:
You say you are using Open Mesh---I've never used those but isn't that your Router?  What is the exact name of the Open Mesh piece of hardware?
And Open Mesh has a Splash Screen, you just need to configure it.  See here, it's under "Edit your Network Configuration:

http://www.open-mesh.com/activekb/questions/3/Using+the+Dashboard
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
Open-Mesh seems to use the term router because it is part of a mesh network which routes your signal from access point to access point until it goes to a single access point that has a single port attached to your internet modem.  It is not anything like a normal router which might give you network access via wireless and ethernet.  They seem to be limited to a single wireless access point which bridges or meshes multiple access points.  

I do not have a router yet.  I have the Access Point which is the EOC-2610 and the cable modem which has no routing capability.  I am starting to think that I need something like DNS Redirector or a router that would route everyone first getting an IP address to a specific web page.  As you can tell I am struggling here and hopefully this makes sense.  

Steps: User connects to network, splash screen, click OK then let them onto the internet.  
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liguruCommented:
I'm confused.  If you have an EnGenius Access Point where does Open Mesh enter in?

It seems Open Mesh can be purchased as a Router and then it will have the Dashboard that I talked about in my earlier post.  In that Dashboard is the Splash screen you are looking for.

 It really seems to be that simple.  Just get the Open Mesh Router, attach to the modem, attach the pc into the Open Mesh Router (if it has extra ports on the back) and then you should be good to go.  Sit at the pc that is connected to the Open Mesh, get into the Dashboard and configure it to your liking by following the instructions on the previous post.

Here is the Open Mesh router purchase page:
https://www.open-mesh.com/store/products.php?product=Professional-Mini-Router

And then here is their planning guide:
http://www.open-mesh.com/activekb/questions/2/Mesh+Network+Planning
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
I wish it was that simple.  I looked into the Mesh router and the only port they have is an ethernet port to plug into a modem.  The problem is that the EOC-2610 then becomes either a repeater or no use at all.  I will post how www.dnsredictor.com product works out.
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liguruCommented:
Oh, I see.  That's what I was afraid of.
Other Choices if you don't want to use dnsredirector:
      Purchase a Wired Router with  4 ports and then all would be able to connect.
      Get a wireless adapter for the PC and then you don't need to worry about wires.
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
Sometimes I get too focused on what I am trying to achieve.  I did not think about the desktop wireless solution.  Good suggestion and may fall back on that one if dnsredirector does not work out.
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jtruCommented:
You do not need an open-mesh solution for this application.  You simply need an access point and the EOC-2610 will do nicely.  You can flash it to DD-WRT if you wish, but you do not need any of the mesh features, and I would not bother with it.  Keep in mind this device has moderately directional antenna pattern, "The internal antenna is a 10dbi panel antenna with -3db down points at 70 degrees horizontal and 35 degrees vertical."  -3dB means half the power, so you might want to point it downward toward the pool area slightly, but there may be dead spots in the rest of the pattern.

There is a WRT forum, http://www.openwrt.org, but I see no reason their standard AP software would not work.  

If your purpose for the splash screen is simply to require a password for login, why not just use WPA-2 encryption?  You could simply keep the passphrase at the pool office or post it as needed.  The EnGenius products have a neat management software program that you put on a workstation on the network, if you need to periodically change the pass phrase.

You will need a router to connect to the cable modem, since the provider will normally issue only one IP address per subscriber.  If you want to somewhat isolate your pool office pc from the AP, you should create a DMZ on the router that just feeds the AP, and set the WAN port on the AP to that IP address.  Both should be within a "private" address range, like the 192.168 subnet.  In this instance, you must ensure that the AP generates DHCP addresses for the wireless client.

ISP Internet-----Cable Modem----(DHCP-Client)NAT ROUTER(DHCP-Server)--192.168.1---PC
                                                                                          |
                                                                                    DMZ to 192.168.1.150
                                                                                          |
                                                                                Access Point (WAN=static 192.168.1.150)
                                                                                          v
                                                                       Wireless Clients (on a different subnet, 192.168.2)

So, the wireless client will pick up a 192.168.2.x address from the AP, which will route it over the DMZ port (192.168.1.150) to the NAT Router, which then routes it to the Internet over the cable modem.  The client PC's cannot see the office PC, nor can it see them.

EnGenius has a nice feature for "wireless client security" that prevents a wireless laptop from hacking into another wireless user's computer.  Definitely turn that on and of course ALWAYS change the default passwords on the router and AP.

Good Luck.
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
I think we there is a lot of good information here and we are 90% there.  The only issue that is unknown right now is how to create a simple splash screen.  The splash screen will simply state, "Welcome to the ............. free hot spot.  Be responsible so on and so forth." or maybe route them to our hosted web page.  I thought dnsredirector was going to fit the bill but found out that you need a server or a PC to run the Web Server IIS.  The PC version will only allow 10 concurrent users, which should not be a problem, but stated it was somewhat unstable running on a PC.  Most other services seem to charge and we are trying to offer this as a free service and thus do not want ongoing monthly fees.  Any suggestions?  I would have thought that some router manufacturer would have thought of this and offered it within their firmware.  

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jtruCommented:
D-Link used to have a "wireless controller" box that would do what you want, the DSA-3100 AirSpot Public/Private Gateway.  It basically went between your wireless (or wired) devices and the Internet connection.  However, they actually private-labeled it from a co in the Far East and they discontinued it several years ago.  You might be able to get a used one.  There was also a DSA-5100 that could handle a lot more users.  Their model was for a wireless user to pay at the bar or restaurant and get a ticket with a code that would unlock Internet access.  But, you could also just use a fixed code and present a custom splash screen.  I don't think the splash was stored in the DSA, and you might need a server or connection for it to send to.

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jtruCommented:
One site is advertising the EnGenius WSR-3800 for exactly this function of a wireless hotspot with login and dns redirection.  However, this product has been discontinued, too.

SMC and ZyXel also have stand alone products,

http://www.smc.com/index.cfm?event=viewSubCategory&localeCode=EN_USA&cid=94&scid=102
http://www.zyxel.com/web/product_family_detail.php?PC1indexflag=20040520161256&display=8064&CategoryGroupNo=4E14C850-478D-4204-8C85-2994C9552426

This product from ZyXel may be just what you are looking for, as you could still use the outdoor EnGenius AP,
   http://www.zyxel.com/web/product_family_detail.php?PC1indexflag=20040520161256&display=8064&CategoryGroupNo=97844F93-3D2C-4306-BFAF-29DAAEBACF17

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MrGDAuthor Commented:
Still trying to get this to work on server.  I will get back with answers and awarding points in a couple of days.
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
OK somewhat figured out what was going on.  The supplier flashed the product with the incorrect software.  I will award points as soon as I have this working.  Thanks for the help so far.
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MrGDAuthor Commented:
Although this solution will not offer the splash page that I am after.  It is definitely informative.  What I found is the supplier did not flash the correct software, thus it would not work.  I will attempt to re-flash or will send unit back.
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