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Planning outdoor wireless network

Posted on 2011-03-16
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Last Modified: 2013-12-09
Hello, I am doing preliminary research into a portable wireless network for a music festival I've been involved with. The network is for staff only and let's assume they are using a locally-hosted web application with no internet access involved, and ignore all security-related issues; this is just a topology question really.

Wireless Park
My attached silly graphic should explain it pretty well. (I'm not suggesting we actually mount a magnetic CB antenna to a Dell rack server.) Let's say we've got a home server with wireless access points distributed around the green, each standing by itself, powered by it's own little generator and cannot be linked to anything via wired network. (This is a hypothetical simplification.)

My question is probably "What should these wireless access mini-towers consist of, and how does it connect home?" For example, could I take a regular old Linksys Router, uplink it to some kind of repeater with a directional antenna and point it at the next tower? Can I simply get a bunch of something like a Hawking HOW2R1, put each one on a pole, and be done?

I've got some ideas but this is probably a common application these days and I'm really looking for the Best Practice in this case. Specific brands/models would help me with a starting point but I'm not expecting a shopping list.

Ideas? Thank you in advance for any insight! More than happy to grant partial answers for additional options.
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Question by:adamells
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by:nappy_d
nappy_d earned 250 total points
ID: 35155318
You may want to consider these ultra small, super high range outdoor units instead.

http://www.ubnt.com/nanostationloco

Pricing http://www.pcbay.net/ubnepr.html
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by:meverest
ID: 35161862
Hi,

best advice I can offer is do NOT even THINK about using qany kind of domestic grade AP hardware! ;-)

Forget linksys, and look for something that supports automatic dynamic WDS mesh.  I don't know if ubiquiti products do it, but there are a variety of options around including the workd famous Mikrotik range:  www.routerboard.com

With a mesh solution, you can build your network in a very ad-hoc manner - just deply the master, attached to the LAN, and then deploy others so that they have a line of sight back to one or more other units.  Simple as that! :-)

Cheers,  Mike.
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by:nappy_d
ID: 35161880
Ubiquiti his a commercial grade hardware used by some ISPs around the world. The ubiquiti devices can broadcast as far as 10 or more miles
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by:meverest
ID: 35161930
G'day,

yes, that is true about Ubiquiti, but I don't now how good their mesh support is - or even if they support that! ;-)

Mikrotik, on the other hand, does support mesh, and is also used by mainly wireless ISPs around the world!  And, for that matter, the same can be said about many other brands of equipment including canopy and skypilot and ruckus and all ;)

Cheers!
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by:nappy_d
ID: 35161943
Their mesh support is done through DD-WRT firmware which which works pretty good.
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by:adamells
ID: 35161996
Thanks for advice so far.

I have been told by our app vendor not to use mesh technology. The users will not be "mobile" which is nice, so we can lock them to the nearest router and leave it to help manage distribution of clients.

The Ubiquiti stuff looks pretty good but their site seems to have a dearth of useful information (like application notes, etc. Even a manual would be nice but I'm not finding one easily other than a basic data sheet.)
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by:meverest
ID: 35162105
Hi,

I don't know why they would tell you not to use a mesh - it makes thinks a lot easier to set up, and a lot more stable in event of one unit failing! ;-)

In the end, a client device will not know the difference between mesh or none.

Like most vendors, Ubiquiti sell equipment through distributors and resellers - you need to contact one of those for further assistance :)

Cheers!
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by:nappy_d
ID: 35162205
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by:adamells
ID: 35185986
Thanks for all the seeds, been reading a lot the past few days.

Final thought before I close the question:A dual-radio device such as the EnGenius EOR7550 with a directional antenna pointed straight at the "central office" might be the way to go? I do not care if each area is a different SSID since the connected devices do not move around.

Thanks!
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by:
meverest earned 250 total points
ID: 35188297
Hi!

Having a separated backhaul and customer network is always a good idea if your project budget can afford it! :-)

There are lots of options for this sort of thing - some are way more expensive than others ;-)

Cheers!
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by:nappy_d
ID: 35188552
I can't say that a dual antenna would necessary improve anything or add redundancy. If the unit itself fails, all signal in it's range is lost.
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by:adamells
ID: 35211196
Nappy_d - The purpose of the dual-radio would actually be to have a high-gain wireless "backhaul" link to an upstream provider on one radio (not just one "antenna") and then the 2nd radio serves 802.11b/g to the clients. You're right that it doesn't provide redundancy.

Thanks again guys for your thoughts. Not sure what I'll do yet but we're still early enough in planning phase.
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by:adamells
ID: 35211222
Looks like I'm not too crazy for proceeding. If I am able to hardwire some/all access points I'm looking seriously at the Ubiquiti stuff.
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