Mesh Systems for the Shack – Ubiquiti’s AMPLIFI in the new K9ZW Shack

The new QTH has long had a wireless internet problem. The build quality, heavy surrounding woods, size and some inconveniently places steel reinforced stonework had made it difficult to cover the house itself with WiFi. The remote workshop was considered pretty much WiFi and cell signal immune.

There was a sort of WiFi route down the spine of the main house built from Netgear wireless routers. It’s throughput reduced awful internet to a trickle.

Initially rather than address the distribution I put a bandage on it by adding several more Netgear net-extenders which did cover the whole house with the same dismal internet trickle.

After an extremely annoying month of waiting for Frontier to upgrade our aDSL to barely acceptable standards, only to be told that they never even installed the main office gear in the nearby central office as a cost savings exercise. Not only are they advertising and try to sell the service having promised the community then upgrade, but they apparently have zero intention of do the upgrade. Their ads lie, their sales people are trying to up-sell based on the same lies, and they can’t deliver. Frontier was able to do a limited amount of line conditioning to bring us up to something usable in throughput, but way below what remote station operation or video conferencing like FaceTime would really require.

So we added internet from the local cable option, Comcast. Comcast is able to offer us seomthing that works, but again with a bunch of lies. The package selected was advertised with unlimited 150 Mbps both ways. That’s Comcast lies for a monthly capped asymmetrical actually delivery. So we’ve entered up with about 110/6 Mbps for speed capped. Spending time on the phone they admitted the delivery at the modem was never going to be 150 Mbps with an actual target of 125 and that despite the promoted specs they only provision the outbound at 6 Mbps. Oh that unlimited part was “within reason” with only Comcast knowing what this secret limit would be until by their count you exceeded it at which point they would roll out fees they never told you about. To Comcast’s credit the have an efficient phone operation and I will see if the cap and asymmetrical limits will be lifted after I go see their local manager.

BTW I bought my own cable modem to gain as much throughput as I could milk out of what was delivered.

Now that we have something usable the Netgear extended wireless had to go. Only a tenth of the new 100 Mbps service was making it through the consumer grade Netgear equipment. Not good.

Time for lots of research. And quotes from contractors to wire the house for internet. And more research.

Wiring the house looks to be expensive mainly to do with the costs to open up walls where other access isn’t possible.

Looked into various mesh systems including the equipment we use at my work. Ubiquiti gear usually uses a hardwire to each mess node, so that looked like the wiring cost issue looming again.

Ubiquiti created a sub-brand AMPLIFI aimed at using a wirelsss backbone to provide mesh in a home, and had recently introduced a high throughput low latency “Gamers Edition” that looks to be just what I needed.

The AMPLIFI Gamers Edition is very easy to install and the two mesh points easily covered the house with effective wireless.

 

K9ZW Modem Router Shelf. AMPLIFI Gamers Edition is the small cube.

I did learn some downsides to the specific Gamers Edition are additional mesh points are not available. You can add more to the standard version, but you need a more expensive standard AMPLIFI main router to add to the Gamers Edition. Ubiquiti wasn’t sure if Gamers Edition mesh points would be offered later.

AMPLIFI Gamers Edition Mesh Point (LED is configured Off)

I did learn that if you buy a standard AMPLIFI router, set it up as a mesh point wireless configuring it by doing the set up where the main Gamers Edition is the strongest AMPLIFI signal, that not only will that router work as a wireless mesh point, but you can wire it as an Ethernet backbone mesh extender.

I bought one and have it wirelessly operating in the remote workshop. It will get reasonable signal strength when its now snowing or raining, but the distance is pretty far away to expect wireless to be solid. The issue will resolve when wired internet is brought out when the weather changes. There is an empty conduit that will get a new phone wire to replace the damaged original one, and either CAT6e or Fiber.

You can find AMPLIFI on Amazon, and expect to use a smartphone or tablet to help set your system up. I like the gear enough that it will be replacing the Netgear/TPLink setup at the Washington Island QTH on my next trip there.

73

Steve
K9ZW

2 thoughts on “Mesh Systems for the Shack – Ubiquiti’s AMPLIFI in the new K9ZW Shack

  1. Peter Joel Knepper says:

    Nice I might be able to use a setup like that!! What are you using the nas for? Thanks Pete Kc9rlp

    • k9zw says:

      Hi Peter KC9RLP

      The drobo is my music server. Thousands of my old LPs and tapes, plus the CDs I’ve acquired, which play through a house wide Sonos system. I had a Buffalo NAS which went flaky and moved to the drobo, but in hindsight I would reconsider anything proprietary in favor of a traditional RAID type set up. The drobo makes life simple, but is proned to marking even brand new drives as bad making them useless in the drobo, and the drobo macOS application isn’t stable.

      I have another high-survivability NAS by ioSafe that serves as a backup to my computer. Also the music has also been copied for storage in a secure fire safe.

      73

      Steve
      K9ZW

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