Category: Wireless

Wireless 802.11, WiFi

Ubiquity nanostation loco m5 installation-FarmYardWiFI

Recently I had the opportunity to expand the wireless signal from a farm house to the entire yard and outbuildings using Ubiquity hardware. I had heard of the company, and saw many good reviews for the products. It seemed like Ubiquity was an enterprise level wireless solution, at a consumer price. After the install I was not disappointed.
The signal strength and coverage coming from the wireless AP’s and point to point links was more than I had expected.

Below is a aerial shot of the farm, and the methods I used to create the links. This solution would be great for any outdoor wireless needs. You could use it on a campus, lake home, backyard or for beaming wireless between buildings at the office. The devices are very easy to configure, and can be put in AP mode, repeater mode or station mode. If you are so inclined, you could create a mesh of several wireless devices and cover huge areas.

Map of farm yard wireless configuration

Link 1
From the house to the shed, I named the SSID ‘link1’ because I wanted to differentiate between wireless links to avoid confusion. On the house, we drilled a hole through the siding and into the crawl space, and ran an ethernet cable from the nanostation and into the network switch in the house. We mounted the nanostations with a couple mounting brackets (click for link to amazon)  , and mounting arms . This helped to make quick work of the wireless mounting, and the brackets help you to aim both sides of the point to point link very easily without having to adjust the entire arm.

On the shed side of link1, I used the included POE injector to power the radio, and installed a small linksys switch to the inside wall of the building. This gave me full network access to devices in the shed through the switch, and also allowed me to extend a network cable to the back of the shed to be plugged into the 2nd
nanostation that would be the access point for link2.

After a quick configuration using the built-in web on the devices,link 1 was up and running. To extend the wireless signal throughout the farm yard, a Ubuiquiti UniFI AP Outdoor 2×2 MIMO AP  was installed on a pole on the top of the shed. It was simply plugged into the linksys network switch using the included POE injector and mounted to the shed. Configuration is different for these devices, they require the included Ubiquity UniFI software to be installed on a computer somewhere in the network. The AP’s come up with a preconfigured IP address and you manually register them to the software. This helps to keep all the AP’s consistent as they all are centrally managed, and share the same SSID and security settings. The Outdoor MIMO and the nanostation loco m5 have survived some violent storms, rain, wind, and hail that destroyed nearby outbuildings, and they never need a reboot! They are very reliable.

Link 2

Link 2 went from the small shed at the end of link 1, to the large outbuilding in the photo.  We mounted the m5 on the far end of the building to avoid snow and ice falling from the slanted tin roof in the winter.  Inside the building we used another small switch.  From the switch we ran a Ubiquity access point to cover the inside of the building.  This building is double lines with tin and insulation, so we didn’t get any signal from the yard AP’s, unless you had the large doors open.  The single ap covers the inside very nicely, and since we used the same Ubiquity software to configure it, there is no need to have additional SSID’s.

Finally, we added another outdoor MIMO on the north end of the building for additional yard coverage.

You do need some technical ability to set up a system like this, but overall it was not a difficult project.  Just remember you are ‘bridging’ from your network and set everything up accordingly.  By not adding additional networks, you remove the complications of having multiple networks.

Here’s another similar project from modernfarmer.wordpress.com

 

I Can Haz WiFi on Plane Flight?

wifi on plane flightI will be the first to admit that I don’t always own the latest and greatest technology.  I was one of the last people on earth to get rid of my old tube TV, I am still living without surround sound (*gasp!), and my car is over 10 years old, has nearly 200,000 miles and is somewhat embarrassing to drive.    Years of lean living has led me to a place where I have learned to find the ‘sweet spot’ when making an investment of money.    You know, the place where economy meets practicality–where you  can feel good about saving money and still have all the benefits of living in the 21st century.

Now I feel like I’ve really splurged, and I am having  a tinge of guilt because of I took the bait and connected my tablet to WiFi on a recent two hour  Delta flight.   I realize now that this technology has been around a while, but as usual, I was probably one of the last to experience  in-flight WiFi.

I have to admit that the WiFi worked better than I thought it would, there were no noticeable drops or slowdowns even though my flight flew over some of the most desolate country in the U.S. (sorry if you are from Wyoming.  I mean no offense;  besides, I think you know exactly what I mean).

When I got back home I decided to do a little research to see how they do that, ’cause that’s what I do.    What I found was very interesting:

The service that Delta uses in flight is provided by a company called Gogo. Gogo is a company based in Itasca, Ill that has equipped over 6000 business aircraft, and over 2000 commercial with their in-air service at the time of this writing.   Gogo uses several different technologies to connect passengers connected while in air.

Air-To-Ground (ATG) Gogo’s ATG network is a cellular based network that has more than 160 towers in the continental U.S., Alaska and soon, Canada. The towers are cellphone towers that have been outfitted to point their signals at the sky rather than along the ground. The aircraft picks up the signal through a receiver installed on its underside. When it reaches the aircraft, the data signal is distributed throughout the cabin via a Wi-Fi system.

ATG-4 Gogo’s ATG-4 service has enhanced the existing network (ATG) and improves per aircraft capacity through the addition of Directional Antenna, Dual Modem and EV-DO Rev. B technologies. This new platform is backwards-compatible and allows for upgrades to existing ATG systems through low-cost retrofits. ATG-4 is expected to enhance Gogo’s existing ATG network and deliver peak speeds from current performances of up to 3.1 Mbit/s to up to 9.8 Mbit/s per aircraft.

Ka-band satellite Gogo was named a service provider for Inmarsat‘s Global Xpress satellite service in November, 2011. Inmarsat also selected Gogo’s business aviation subsidiary, Aircell as a distribution partner for the business and government aviation markets.

Ku-band satellite Gogo has satellite agreements in place with SES (for coverage over the U.S., Atlantic Ocean and Europe) and Intelsat (for coverage over portions of the Atlantic and northern Pacific oceans, as well as routes over South America, Asia, Africa and Australia). Gogo has also signed an agreement with Intelsat for Ku band satellite capacity specifically for coverage in the Atlantic and northern Pacific oceans, as well as routes over Central and South America, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa. Gogo announced in May 2012, that it will partner with satellite equipment provider, AeroSat, to bring a Ku-satellite solution to commercial airlines. A Ku-satellite solution will allow Gogo to offer airlines connectivity services that extend beyond the United States, including transoceanic routes, and will serve the needs of some of their airline partners in the near-term until Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka band-satellite becomes available.[7][8][9]

Gogo Ground to Orbit Gogo’s newest service is a proprietary hybrid technology that combines the best aspects of existing satellite technologies with Gogo’s Air to Ground network. This technology uses satellite for receive only and Gogo’s Air to Ground network for the return link to the ground. Gogo GTO offers peak speeds of 60 Mbit/s or more to aircraft flying throughout North America and will be available in 2014. This new service is expected to increase speeds by more than six times the current performance.Virgin America will be the launch partner of the new service.[10]

Technology for business aviation For the Business/corporate aviation market, Aircell, a Gogo company, offers three different inflight technologies: Iridium Satellite, Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (satellite) and Gogo Biz (ATG and ATG-4).

 

Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gogo_Inflight_Internet>

 

For those of you who just skimmed over that little blurb that I stole from Wikipedia,  let me summarize:

This is how it’s done:  Using  cell towers that are outfitted with antennas that point toward the sky,  and satellites.

 

Think of it as a simple mobile hotspot running traveling at 600mph at 30,000 feet.   All this,  and  just so you can browse to google or enjoy the latest cat memes.   I guess you could do real work too (if you really wanted to.)        Oh, and one last note, you can download coupons for Gogo from retailmenot or other coupon sites.  Have a few of them ready if you decide to rent some bandwidth while flying, it can save you some money (that’s for those of you who can relate to hitting that ‘sweet spot’ I mentioned earlier).    Just remember next time you fly, “Yes,  you can haz wifi”.

Cisco USB console driver for 5508 Wireless Lan Controller

cisco 5508I have been setting up several Cisco 2504 Wireless LAN controllers for branch sites lately, and just got in a Cisco 5508 WLC for a larger branch.  I had a little trouble finding the USB console driver for the 5508–Cisco’s website took me to a .inf file that does not work in Windows 7 64bit.   I found the correct USB driver and thought I’d post it here.

By the way, check out the 2504’s if you are interested in saving a few bucks (a few bucks in Cisco talk can add up to real money, about $3Grand per in our situation)  but having nearly the same versatility as the 5508’s.

Cisco 881W LWAPP problem

Cisco 881Got a new Cisco 881 router and I wanted to set up the internal 801Access Point to boot to  LWAPP on a newly purchased Cisco C881W.  LWAPP is Cisco’s propietary lightweight access point protocol, it requires a WLC (Cisco Wireless LAN Controller) to operate it.  Since we have many AP’s running this way at my place of business, it made sense to set it to run from the controller as opposed to autonomous mode.

So I entered the command

“service-module wlan-ap 0 boot image unified”

however, the router would not take it.

 

I searched Cisco’s site trying to find out what I missed.  I did a quick ‘show ver’ from the command line,  I realized that this router was running the ‘Advanced Security’ code.    (Look for the “License Level: advsecurity” toward the bottom of the ‘sh ver’ results.)   As it turns out, Advanced Security code does not support running the built in AP in LWAPP mode, you need the Advanced IP Services code to do that. 

After some research, I found that you can upgrade this license fairly inexpensively.   Also, Cisco allows you to demo the Advanced IP Services code for 60 days by running the command

 “license boot module c800 level advipservices”.

 

This will allow you to run the AP in LWAPP mode immediately, and apply the license within 60 days.

After running the command, verify it by running another ‘sh ver’  you should get something like this:

 

License Information for ‘c800’

License Level: advsecurity   Type: Permanent

Next reboot license Level: advipservices

 

Now reboot, run  the command “service-module wlan-ap 0 boot image unified” and enjoy your new LWAPP enabled 881!

_____________________

Here are the SKU’s for upgrading the Cisco 881, 881W, 887V, 888, or IAD 881 from advanced security to advanced IP Services:

 SL-880-AIS=    Mailed PAK

L-880-AIS=     Electronically Delivered PAK

 

 

Here are a few links to help you find what you need:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/routers/ps380/qa_c67_459785.html

http://glazenbakje.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/how-to-activate-demo-license-on-a-cisco-router-880-series/>

How to find your Android’s IP address

os monitor
Every once in a while, you actually care what private IP address your Android phone picked up on your wireless network.  Why?  Well, you may be capturing packets at the network edge, troubleshooting some obscure problem, or testing network connectivity.  If you use an iphone, you most likely don’t need to know this because you don’t have network or connectivity problems…and even if you did, you’d most likely get an Android user to fix it….uh…ouch. I went there… (inject hint of sarcasm here).

Your private IP address differs from your public IP address.  Your public IP address can easily be found using www.ipweasel.com, or the similar site www.ipchicken.com.   Your public IP address is the address you look like to a website you are visiting on the internet.

Your Private IP address is used locally, it is one of three networks which were defined by RFC-1918, 10.x.x.x, 172.16.x.x/20, and 192.168.x.x.  These addresses can not be routed on the internet, and so mere mortals get to use them for private networks. If you want to browse the internet, your Private IP address has to be NAT’ed to a Public IP address….but I digress.    If you really want to read more Network Address Translation… google it

So anyways…I recently needed to find my ip address, and instead of searching through the menus, I decided to do it the hard way and downloaded an App from the Play Store.   It’s called OS Monitor , and not only does it show you your IP address, it also shows you every TCP connection and state, every process that is running, cpu usage, battery usage, voltage, temperature, and everything else you could possibly want.

osmonitor3

You can also do the easy thing and go to ‘settings’….click ‘WiFi’ then hit the menu button and choose ‘advanced’, but this is way more fun, and we’re all about having fun here.

While I was there, I also tried a couple other network tools, and found some really great Android network scanners. (Wow, I can still remember when you needed an install of NMAP to get network scans like that, now it’s a 10 second free download!).

So in the end, I was able to solve my network problem using my android and a network sniffer, and found some really cool tools in the process!  Hope this helps you out and puts your Android to work too.

 

 

Cisco Aironet wireless access point LED light not lit

cisco 3500eTypically the LED on Cisco Aironet wireless access points glows a soothing blue color if a client is associated, or a steady green if it is patiently waiting for someone to join it’s network and share its amazing WLANs.  Today I ran across an interesting problem that I hadn’t seen before.  One Cisco Aironet 3502e access point had an LED was not lit. Typically, this happens when an access point is not getting power.  It is usually caused when the AP is unplugged or has a power supply that is bad.  In this case, the access point was powered by power over ethernet (POE), and I could tell that it was getting power (the command ‘show power inline’ on a Cisco switch will tell you which switchport is supplying power and how many watts are being consumed). The switch also showed it’s status was ‘connected’ so I knew it had a valid ethernet link.  Hmmm..strange.   The Cisco Wireless Lan Controller (WLC) also showed the access point as booted up, connected and generally happy.   Why no LED?  Weird…. Then I shamefully fell into the old windows method of troubleshooting: “When all else fails, reboot!”  I disrupted the power to this remote access point by shutting down the switch interface and brought it back up, but it still had no LED light, not even during the reboot.  (At that point I may have uttered an obscenity under my breath, but don’t tell anyone.)  Since this access point was around 1000 miles away and over 20 feet off the ground, I didn’t really want to tell the end user to get on a lift and swap it out, and I didn’t want to tell them it was working fine as it obviously wasn’t from their perspective.    I did a little research and found there is a bug in Cisco’s access point code that causes the LED light to disable itself.  Nice.  Luckily the fix is easy, and it doesn’t require a software upgrade.  Just run the following command from the CLI of the Wireless Lan Controller (WLC).

wlc>config ap led-state enable all

That fixed it for me.  Happy blue and green lights for the end-user, another satisfied customer for me.    Hopefully you can get similar results if you run across the same problem in your wireless networking troubleshooting adventures!

 

 

Wireless Network Problems? Try these easy steps to improve signal!

OpenClips / Pixabay

Wireless network problems? Here are a few easy tips to make sure your wireless network is running great.

1.)  Is it really your WiFi?

Maybe the most difficult part of troubleshooting any technology problem is finding the root of the problem.  Is it really your WiFi or is it your broadband connection?  We can find out pretty easily if you have a device you can plug into your network router or cable/dsl modem.  First, find a laptop or desktop computer with a network cable, and plug the network cable into your modem or router (pick the device closest to your broadband device. Most of the time this device is provided by your ISP).   If you have trouble finding where to plug in to test, call your ISP and go through some troubleshooting with them, they are there to help and for things like this they are actually pretty well equipped to answer your questions! Once plugged in, point your browser to http://www.speedtest.net  to check your network upload  and download speed.  It should be reasonably close to what your ISP promised you when signing up for service.   If not, call the ISP and see if they can resolve the issue. If it is pretty close, try it from your wireless device and note the difference.  If it is slow, let’s check for wireless issues!  Read ON!

2.) Check your wireless channels

Wireless networks in the U.S. run on three primary, non-overlapping channels. 1, 6 and 11. WiFi ChannelsYou will see that you can choose other channels, but be aware that you will still potentially see interference from nearby channels. As you can see from the diagram, you want your wireless router to configured either on 1, 6 or 11, and you will want to know what wireless network channels are being used in your area so that you have a clean, solid signal. How do you know which channels are used? It’s easy. Have a smartphone? Check this out in Google Play or the app store: WiFiExplorer Download it and install. Here is a picture of the screen you will see. As you can see, my network “starbucks” is all alone on channel 6, and the neighbor’s is all along on channel 11. If another neighbor were on channel 9, you would see that it would overlap with both 6 and 11, an obvious bad choice. WifiExplorer is very easy to use, the higher the graph the stronger the signal.WiFiExplorer Try it out in the neighborhood and check out all the bad wireless choices (and unfortunate ssids name choices too…). If if the SSID is hidden, or someone nearby has a wireless device (video camera, etc) that doesn’t have an ssid and you are still having problems, you would need a full wifi network spectrum analyzer to get a good look into why it is happening, but this quick tip should be enough for the average home user.

 

3.) Check your WiFi coverage

Do you notice slowness or dropped signal in certain parts of your house or office? Probably the most common and overlooked wifi problem is the easiest to solve! Make sure your access point or wireless router is in a centralized location. Many people have their wireless router in a corner office somewhere in the basement, then try to connect to the wireless from the upstairs bedroom, usually the furthest possible place from the router! See if there is a way to extend your router to a centralized location. You may need to run a network cable or dsl line through a wall, the rafters, under a carpet or beside the baseboard. Sometimes you don’t have a choice where your wireless router is located. in cases like this, you can buy a [easyazon_link asin=”B004NBL9WK” locale=”US” new_window=”default” tag=”nrdos-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”yes”]wireless repeater[/easyazon_link] or some [easyazon_link asin=”B0034CQSKW” locale=”US” new_window=”default” tag=”nrdos-20″ add_to_cart=”no” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”yes”]high gain antennas[/easyazon_link]. Either way, you should get a better signal and your Ipad will thank you.
Nerd Alert: When checking your signal with WiFiExplorer, make sure your signal is as close to -40dbm as you can get! Use WiFiExplorer and check the signal in all areas. Again, the larger the number the worse the signal– anything over 75-80dbm is getting too weak. If you really want to nerd-out and impress your friends, download a copy of Ekahau Heatmapper (free software!), get an electronic copy of your floorplans (draw a rough copy and try the smartphone app camscanner to scan it in easily), and make a heatmap of your wireless network.wifi-heatmap I won’t guarantee your friends or family won’t check you in to a facility, but then they can use your awesome wireless signal in your home network to Skype you while you are spending quality time in your padded room.

4.) Upgrade your WiFi driver

A common problem on laptops is old wifi drivers.  Old drivers can cause lock-ups, weak signal, and other less-than-ideal wifi issues.  Update your driver by going to the device manufacturer website and look up your specific model, download and install.  Unfortunately, this is not quite as easy on tablets.

5.) I’m giving ‘er all she’s got, captain!

Some routers allow you to turn up the power on the wireless router.  If you are using DD-WRT (really awesome open source wireless router software), just turn it up!   Please be aware that cranking up the power on your router can decrease it’s life, and will void your warranty–but that’s how we roll at nerdosaur.com!

6.) Admit defeat

Yes, sometimes you have to cut your losses and just realize that technological devices need to be replaced every few years.  That router from 2003 may not be your best option for your brand new tablet that supports all the new wireless protocols.  Don’t be afraid to replace it with something a little newer, and while you are at it you might want to get rid of that 486sx beige bomber in your closet too.

 

Linksys (Cisco) e2500 or n600 external antenna mod

THE PROBLEM

linksys e2500Recently, I acquired a new linksys (Cisco)  e2500 (a.k.a n600) wireless router.  I wanted to use it to replace or mesh to an older D-link that I had in the basement of our four-level split.  I was having some issues with a weak signal from the dlink and wanted to fix that.  Also, I knew the E2500 was fully supported by DD-WRT, the open source, very flexible wireless software.

The first thing I tried was flashing ddwrt to the new wireless router, and setting it up as a bridged repeater.  That mode will associate to the current wireless ssid from the dlink, and broadcast its own ssid;  essentially extending the current network.   It was pretty easy to set up using instructions on the ddwrt site. Now I had two ssids I could use in my house,  one in the basement and one in the upstairs rooms.   Although it worked, I wasn’t happy with the performance.  The link between the two routers was pretty sketchy, and I would get occasional drops.

Linksys e2500

The Linksys e2500- great router for the money, but it has a fairly weak signal

So on to Plan B: Use the Linksys n600 (Cisco) E2500 in the basement and get better coverage around the house.

This plan also proved a total failure.  I needed something a little more powerful–even through with DD-WRT I could turn up the transmit power, the Linksys still did not give good enough coverage throughout the house.

THE SOLUTION:

Add four external antennas to the Linksys e2500!  There are kits available on ebay that will get you everything you need to crank the wireless coverage and satisfy your need for nerdification!

I bought a kit on ebay for about $24 that includes two 6db, two 7db and four pigtail connectors for this project.  It requires some soldering, and will allow you to extend your 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands.  If you are not nerdy enough to solder, order the two-antenna version (but it only will increase the 5GHz signal (A-band), not the 2.4 (b/g band).  So older wireless cards and older laptops may not benefit at all.

Opening the Linksys E2500

linksys e2500 warning

Yes, that’s right–I void warrantees. If you want to keep your warranty, don’t do this, or stop here and buy a $300 wireless router with better coverage.

 

 

1.) There are three screws on the bottom of the unit, flip it over.   The screws are located under the three rubber feet.  Remove all three screws and set them aside.

 

 

 

436435 

 

2.  Use a plastic wedge to pry the cover off.  I used a guitar pick, which really worked well.  I also had a small plastic ipod tool that came in handy as well.  Be careful not to damage anything, this is where patience and nerdyness meet.

inside of Linksys e2500

Ahh, finally, a look inside the linksys e2500.  Notice the fine tablecloth I am careful not to damage.

(CLICK PAGE 2 BELOW TO READ ON!)