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2.4 ghz mesh with 5ghz back-haul....

 
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sailor_ca
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:23 am    Post subject: 2.4 ghz mesh with 5ghz back-haul.... Reply with quote

Hi guys,

This is my first post so I hope I don't violate any forum rules.

I have an opportunity to set up a mesh network in a small town. The town itself is quite flat and in a valley so I would like to provide backbone access to the 2.4mhz nodes via 5ghz rooftop ptp wireless. I originally looked at Open-Mesh's MR500 (dual radio) option but it seems to require the mesh on the 5ghz side with the 2.4 interface simply as a drop for client access.

In my case I would like the 2.4 interface to operate the mesh and client access and use the 5ghz interface as a back-haul to a high-speed point to point network configured across a number of roofs.

The advantage of this is I don't need physical connections to the nodes to provide internet access.

I looked at providing a 5ghz bridge from a 2.4ghz mesh router but the configuration is price prohibitive on a node to node bases (~75 nodes).

Does anyone know of a solution using this model? Is there a hardware and software package or company to do it?

Hope all is well,
Donald

edit:03/28/2012:typo in title
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codyc1515
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are not breaking any rules but the closed nature of the MR500 device means that it cannot be supported by robin.

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sronan
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I looked at providing a 5ghz bridge from a 2.4ghz mesh router but the configuration is price prohibitive on a node to node bases (~75 nodes).


I don't understand what you are saying here. Could you explain further. Are you thinking in terms of 75 2.4 Ghz nodes?

If so, could you think in terms of a 5 Ghz Ubiquiti device in access point mode connected to a wired connection communicating with five other Ubiquiti devices in station mode, each of those with a 2.4 GHz openmesh/ROBMIN device plugged into it acting as a gateway for about 7 or 8 additional openmesh/ROBIN devices. And a second similar set of equipment with the Ubiquiti devices operating on a different 5 Ghz channel while the openmesh/ROBIN devices are all part of the same mesh as the first set, operating on the same 2.4 GHz channel?

That would be a pretty normal wll-tested method, I would think.

If you were looking at something perhaps a bit more complicated with increased reliability, remote management of the backbone, VPNs and such, and have any budget for consultation, there's an outfit in Boston called NetBlazr.com that might be able to help but is pretty exclusively focused locally for the moment.
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sailor_ca
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi guys,

Thanks for your replies. I should have been more specific. Let me add some terms because I am likely screwing up the terminology for mesh network.

For me:

mesh node: the device in the network providing mesh routing and client access.

gateway: the device in the mesh also providing access to the WAN (internet) (i.e. a mesh node is also a GW if it has access to the WAN without routing traffic to another mesh node)

back-bone: non-mesh access to WAN (in my case 5ghz wireless point to point or star network)

I know the above may not be the correct use of these terms but I hope it makes it easier to understand my note.

What I want to do is provide a 2.4ghz mesh (street level) covering the entire town. In my case that seems to be about 75nodes. This part is fairly straight forward. The town is a grid with very few buildings over 3 stories.

The harder part for me is providing internet access to enough mesh nodes in the network to reduce bandwidth degradation (1 hop to a gateway kinda thing). I don't have enough physical access to the node locations to run an adsl or some other line to the mesh + gateway node.

My idea is to provide a second 5ghz network that the mesh nodes can connect to for backbone access. This town is flat and in a valley. This is why I was looking at the 2.4+5ghz nodes from open-mesh. However, their product is designed to operate the mesh on the 5ghz side with the 2.4 side just providing client access (non-mesh)....which is not what I want.

I hope this is easier to understand. I want a 2.4ghz mesh network with a 5ghz non-mesh network providing WAN access to however many of the mesh nodes can see it. In order to do this I need node devices that have both a 2.4ghz and 5ghz interface. The 2.4ghz interface being configured with mesh protocols and the 5ghz interface simple used to connect to a 5ghz backbone. I would be very happy to use Robin I can find a device with a compatible chip and configurable as above.

Thanks for your time and I apologize for not being clearer.

Donald

p.s. All questions or suggestions welcome!
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sailor_ca
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just checking out Ubiquiti products you suggested and see the prices are quite reasonable. I may be able to pair two Bullets to achieve the a 2.4ghz and 5ghz interface and stay within budget.

Also guys, it is not my intention to just milk you guys for info. If you can point me in a direction that would be great. I am reading up on Robin now.
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sronan
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In pricing it out, be sure to account for the PoE device and antenna as well as the radio. I think (though not 100% sure) that the Nanostation5 and maybe Locostation5 normally come with a PoE device included as well as an integrated antenna, while the bullets include neither PoE or antenna...

In my ruminations above, I was tending to think in terms of two Nanostation5s, ten Locostation5s and 75 open-mesh devices, but whether that makes sense depends on factors such as the location of the wired backhaul relative to the places that need service.... what kind of antenna might the Ubiquiti access point need to communicate best with about 5 of the devices in station/bridge mode?

But the bullets are especially convenient for locations where you're needing a particular type antenna that doesn't come stock with the other devices.

If you do decide to use some bullet2s (or any 2.4 GHz Ubiquiti equipment) on the 2.4 Ghz mesh, be sure to check out the recent thread in the bullet2 section of these forums regarding something you need to do regarding country codes after flashing the nodes with the current version of ROBIN.
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robgmann
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might also consider that the Nanostation M5 (your 5Ghz backbone) has 2 LAN ports on the device and allows POE passthrough.
In my network, I feed the NanoM5 from a 24V 1Amp POE and hang the robin-mesh (2.4Ghz device) off the POE passthrough/LAN port. Some have called this a "Supernode". Essentially, with 1 POE and 1 wire to the roof, you create a new robin-mesh gateway node backhauled with the 5Ghz Ubiquiti device.

Ubiquiti's AirOS and AirControl (free) are fantastic at managing a high throughput backhaul.

One tip: connect the POE to NanoM5 on LAN2 and hang your robin-mesh node on LAN 1. Within the Ubiquiti firmware, leave "POE Passthrough" unchecked. This may not make sense now, but when you go to research it, or go to implement you'll be glad you took this advice.
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sailor_ca
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys for the information.

robgmann: Thanks for the "supernode" PoE configuration info. You right, turning on PoE pass-through would have been my guess, but I'll fight the urge to click the box when I'm configuring the device:)

sronan: 'Thanks, I hadn't considered the antenna and PoE adapter may not be included with the Bullet. In any case, it looks like I am still reasonable close to budget with the NanoStations/LocoStations.

Just wanted to make sure I understand correctly which gear is where in your comments. For the 2.4ghz mesh nodes I could use a LocoStationM2 paired with LocoStationM5's as needed for access to the 5ghz backbone generated by point to multipoint NanoStationM5's.

The only difference I see between the NanoStations and the LocoStations is form factor, transmit power and small differences in antenna characteristics. So I assume you could use any of these products from Ubiquiti (including flashing Robin) assuming the frequency is appropriate?

The beamwidth for the Loco/NanoStationM2 seems to pose a problem if being used as a mesh node in that it is only 120 degrees. Does this mean to provide a mesh point on a wall you need two (180)? Why not use PicoStations (360)?

I have a bit of an awkward question regarding Robin-Mesh. I have been reading around the forms that the project has a number of development paths including a commercial one lead by one of the main Robin developers. What do you judge as the risk Robin-Mesh (free) will become an orphaned project? My concern is having to take down the live network to upgrade to a different software load / product / hardware or significant unforeseen subscription costs. I apologize if this is an unfair question.

FYI, I'm happy to donate to the Robin project to help with survival with portion of revenue generated from the projects work. Maybe a few of the commercial nets using Robin could pool some cash from revenue to sponsor bug fixes and continued development? In many cases this is a legit business expense from a tax burden perspective.

Enjoy your weekend!
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sronan
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Just wanted to make sure I understand correctly which gear is where in your comments. For the 2.4ghz mesh nodes I could use a LocoStationM2 paired with LocoStationM5's as needed for access to the 5ghz backbone generated by point to multipoint NanoStationM5's


I was thinking in terms of two 5 Ghz Nanostations connected to wired backhaul, each communicating with five 5 Ghz LocoStations. Each of those Locostations would have an open-mesh device plugged into it and acting as a gateway mesh node communicating with some of the other 65 or so open-mesh devices. It may very well be the case that it would make most sense to create two meshes, using two widely separated 2.4 GHz channels. Perhaps not.

Quote:
The beamwidth for the Loco/NanoStationM2 seems to pose a problem if being used as a mesh node in that it is only 120 degrees.


We weren't suggesting they be used as mesh nodes but just used for point to point links using the native Ubiquiti software. Whether the integrated panel antenna of the Nanostation will work of course depends on where they will be positioned relative to the set of LocoStations they'd be communicating with.

I can't give serious advice as to what would work best in your situation; I have very little sense of what the coverage area looks like. It is possible that if I knew more I would be generally pessimistic about your accomplishing your goals, e.g., if buildings were widely separated, of very variable height, constructed with lots of brick and concrete, and with residents using plenty of other 2.4 GHz devices (phones, routers, etc), and having other reasonably decent options for Internet.

My experience has been limited to networks in situations where there is a need for better-than-nothing service so long as it's free.

I have only used older model 5GHz Nanostations and LocoStations that have just one Ethernet port and I would defer to Robgmann in regard to which models are best to use these days.

Quote:
I have a bit of an awkward question regarding Robin-Mesh. I have been reading around the forms that the project has a number of development paths including a commercial one lead by one of the main Robin developers. What do you judge as the risk Robin-Mesh (free) will become an orphaned project? My concern is having to take down the live network to upgrade to a different software load / product / hardware or significant unforeseen subscription costs. I apologize if this is an unfair question.


I think there'd be general agreement that that's a perfectly reasonable question to be asking. And I will be interested to see others' responses. My own suggestion would be that, if you really need/want to get up and running pretty soon, purchase 3 OM1Ps, reflash them with ROBIN MESH r3842 and 3 OM2Ps updated to firmware-ng r376

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Spend some time comparing them in typical environments that you'll encounter (and let us know what you think). You may find that some crucial links work better with the OM2Ps higher power, which could be a reason to include those in your mix and use Open-mesh software. If you have a version of ROBIN/OLSR or Open-mesh/BATMAN that you become confident will work well in your environment turn off updates so that it stays on that version until you are really sure that another substantially better version is available that you can reliably upgrade to over the air.

Start with the Cloudtrax dashboard and see whether it meets your needs; if not start looking at the other options, including hosting your own version of Robin-dash. My own only experience has been with Cloudtrax, but I don't try anything fancier than a click-through splash page.

I'd keep in mind that within the next year better hardware and firmware may be available via MeshRoot and others... and if you aren't in a big rush it may make sense to hold off deployment for six months or more (not that I have any inside info that hasn't been found in this forum).
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