Help me brainstorm a wireless solution

Phandalyon

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Here is the layout that I have right now for a place I help out on occasion.

wireless.jpg


Building 3 is where the internet connection comes in.

The red lines show wired connections
The blue lines show wireless
The blue circles are antannas
The green are streets

(Its a car dealership just in case anyone needs to know)

Anyway, the way it is hooked up right now is iffy at best. The antenna on the roof of building 3 is a Cisco wireless B router powered by PoE and stuck under a tupperware dish (I didn't do it).

What I would like to do is make the wireless system so it is right.

There is no undergroud conduit going to building 1 from building 2 or 3, so it has to be wireless. The same is true for buildings 5 and 6. The other problem is that large trucks frequently park between 5 and 6 to unload cars and this kills the wireless signal. You can't sell cars or work on them without access to the internet or network anymore.

There are large eaves all around building 4. I am thinking about placing a directional antenna there so that buildings 5 and 6 can make a shorter wireless run to it. And I am also thinking about running a shorter connection from building 1 to 2 when building 2 is finished (it is still under construction) since building 2 is connected to 3 by conduit and they are connecting it. Building 3 and 4 are connected by fiber and buildings 2 and 3 will be when construction is finished. I do not have the option to tear up the ground for this, but I need reliability. Are there any other options that I am not seeing? WHat is the best way to get a solid and reliable wireless signal for this? (I am pretty sure the answer is not a router on a stick with a tupperware dish over it)

I have done a lot of small scale wireless, but this is the first I have done with larger scale wireless applications. I want it to be done right and not slapped together. What hardware would work best for this. Price is a consideration, but not all that important. I can get pictures if they are needed. Building 6 does not have line of sight with the current tupperware setup because of a hill.

So to sum up:

This map shows the sucky situation I have to deal with
What hardware is good for long range reliability of wireless signals?

Right now the wireless system they have is flaky at best. The signal in building 5 is recieved from building 3 by a Cisco bridge and then outputs to another Linksys wireless G router to connect to building 6. I need a better solution.

I hope this made sense. I will refine it later if it did not.
 

Footer4321

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well my advice might not be wanted but it might be the cheaper thing to do.... run fiber between each building.... you might be able to get away w/ copper but keep in mind your 100m. Wireless will work if you use direction antennas on towers to clear those trucks.... but fiber might be cheaper... (its 1.50 a ft from anexter....) you will of course have to have it installed so break out your phone book and call your local telecom install company (call whoever installed the phone system in your office, they prob do fiber too)... wireless will work but its just not a reliable long term solution and might be more expensive then just doing it right the first time... if a solid connection is what your boss/owner/whoever wants he will be willing to spend the money to do it right and if he doesnt want to foot the bill tell him not to come crying to you every time the wireless goes down by lighning/line of sight/bluetooth device/various interfearance (remeber rule 15!) hope this helps and good luck!
 

Phandalyon

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I fully agree that wired is the better solution and we have run fiber wherever we can. The problem is that the conduit is packed solid between the buildings on the lower part of the map. And for building 1, there are 2 city streets blocking the way with no conduit.

Unfortunately, as I stated before, wired is not an option.
 

Footer4321

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run it through the air.... you going to have to put up ugly towers for the antennas.... or get out the concrete saw and put in another conduit but it that wont work do direction antenas on the roof of the 4 buldings and mount the antenns so they are at least 20' above the ground to avoid interfernacne and hope for the best... and use cisco and only cisco... oh and make a damn good acl....
 

dualblade

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sorry if i missed any of your requirements, but here's what i'd do

wireless.jpg


this puts all the wireless buildings only one hop from a wired connection. this is better for reliability. with your setup, 6 had to rely on 5's connection to 4 to get access. it also required more antennas and wiring. also, as far as physical proximity goes, it puts the wireless transmitters as close together as possible to hopefully cut down on interference. admittedly, it is a slightly less direct approach for 5 and 1, but the extra wired hops add basically no latency to the equation. with your setup, 6 would see a noticable lag because of the double wireless configuration
 

Footer4321

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dualblade said:
sorry if i missed any of your requirements, but here's what i'd do

wireless.jpg


this puts all the wireless buildings only one hop from a wired connection. this is better for reliability. with your setup, 6 had to rely on 5's connection to 4 to get access. it also required more antennas and wiring. also, as far as physical proximity goes, it puts the wireless transmitters as close together as possible to hopefully cut down on interference. admittedly, it is a slightly less direct approach for 5 and 1, but the extra wired hops add basically no latency to the equation. with your setup, 6 would see a noticable lag because of the double wireless configuration


Looks right to me... just use good stuff and get those antenas up....
 

Phandalyon

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That is kind of my plan. The only difference in what I was thinking is that 5 and 6 would connect to a single point on 4 instead of 2 separate. I am thinking that a couple of directional antennas and some other good hardware and I would be set.

Do you guys have any reccomendations for good hardware for this. Looking around, it seems that Trndnet has the most hardware available, but I am not sure of the quality. They are using a lot of Linksys now, and I would like to avoid that. I would at least like to go to the Netgear Powered by Cisco equipment.
 

Footer4321

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Do you know cisco IOS stuff or do you want web based programing?... like whats your networking experience....
 

Phandalyon

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I do not kno Cisco, but I know people who do, so I can hunt them down if I need to. Other than that, I have dealt with a lot of wired networking at a small-medium business level. I don't know much about enterprise level networking.
 

Phandalyon

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Let me ask this question.

There are a total of 4 users in buildings 5 and 6 put together. And 2 in building 1. Is Cisco a more reliable connection or is it just better for user numbers?

I understand that Cisco is the pinnacle of the industry, but it is not available locally to me, so if any of this equipment had problems I could not quicly replace it.

Right now they have mostly Linksys equipment which I am really not fond of. Is there a middle grade between cheap consumer equipment and Cisco? I always considered Netgear's Cisco Powered solutions to be a kind of middle grade, but I am not an expert.
 

Footer4321

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I have not ever used the netgear cisco stuff... i would say if you can get stuff that has directional antenans and has good grounds go for it... another option, which i havent ever used myself is powerline networking (newegg sells the stuff) but it will only work if all 3 building are the same power feed...
 

ktwebb

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DualBlades diagram is the most efficient most likely. Hard to say without actually doing a site survey but that looks like the correct implementation. Depend on your bandwidth requirements as to which would be a better solution whether or not you want to go point to point or point to multipoing from 4 to 5 and 6.

Cisco Aironet gear is the best affordable solution but certainly not the only one. If you want to stay standard 802.11g or whatever then Cisco is number one followed fairly closely by Proxim. Buffalo is also a very good alternatvie.

Nitpicking but you mentioned a cisco wireless router in your first post. They don't make wireless routers. APs, Bridges or workgroup bridges. routing would be done by a dedicated router if you go cisco wireless. I highly suggest you get someone to come in and do this for you rather than getting advice from a message board and tackling this yourself. I am biased, doing this type of deal for a living for several years but there are definite advantages to having someone knowledgable to do this project for you vs. taking the responsibility yourself. Your much more likely to kluge this. Just something to think about.
 

Phandalyon

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I just checked. Each building is on a separate power system. So the power solution will not work unfortunately.

I am thinking that the wireless is probably the best bet. But the whorter runs and more direct connections will help a lot.
 

Footer4321

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ya get a ccna in there to do this work if you are going to go cisco... you can get the stuff up and mounted and cabled but let the ccna do the programming because aironet stuff can be a lil tricky.... and IOS isnt something that you can just pick up a book and do... but in the long run go take some cisco classes at your local community college so you too can know how this stuff works... they offer a wireless cert. now....
 

Phandalyon

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ktwebb said:
DualBlades diagram is the most efficient most likely. Hard to say without actually doing a site survey but that looks like the correct implementation. Depend on your bandwidth requirements as to which would be a better solution whether or not you want to go point to point or point to multipoing from 4 to 5 and 6.

Cisco Aironet gear is the best affordable solution but certainly not the only one. If you want to stay standard 802.11g or whatever then Cisco is number one followed fairly closely by Proxim. Buffalo is also a very good alternatvie.

Nitpicking but you mentioned a cisco wireless router in your first post. They don't make wireless routers. APs, Bridges or workgroup bridges. routing would be done by a dedicated router if you go cisco wireless. I highly suggest you get someone to come in and do this for you rather than getting advice from a message board and tackling this yourself. I am biased, doing this type of deal for a living for several years but there are definite advantages to having someone knowledgable to do this project for you vs. taking the responsibility yourself. Your much more likely to kluge this. Just something to think about.

You are right. I meant wireless AP.

I just talked with the owner of the place I will be helping out and he has decided he now wants to work on a budget. The solution I have come up with is using point to multipoint from the service building using netgear equipment including AP and bridges and 18dbi directional antennas. Everything will be powered by PoE. It seems like the best I can come up with for a budget solution given the limitations that I have.

Currently each of the buildings is running internal wireless as well. I will be switching those to wired and just using bridging to connect the buildings.

If I find a way to talk him into Cisco equipment I will definitely get a friend who is a CCNA to help. I would not even attempt that.

I have considered CCNA training, but in my area there is very little call for it. If I were to ever move somewhere else I would definitely do it, but right now I live in a fairly small tosn (~40k people) and there are no extremely large scale networks here.

The network connection is going to be used by 1 person in building 5 and 3 people in building 6 right now. The maxumim number of people that will ever use the connections are 4 in each building (5 and 6) and 2 people in building 1. So we are not talking high bandwidth usage, mainly it is stability that is needed.
 

dualblade

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i made my diagram based on my own guess at what's best, not on any actual enterprise experience. i do have a question though - why is the cisco stuff pushed so much? what's the gain over getting a few linksys wrt54g boxes and making your own directional antenna? unless i'm greatly misinterpreting scale in the diagrams, it doesn't seem like a distance that would stress a directional antenna setup, even on a consumer box like the linksys. sometimes it seems like everyone recommends cisco because everyone recommends cisco, y'know? especially for a wireless network that will see a maximum load of 10 people....

if it was me, i think i'd try getting a few wrt54g's, configuring them as wireless bridges, and putting them in position just to see what kind of signal strength you're getting.
 

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dualblade said:
i made my diagram based on my own guess at what's best, not on any actual enterprise experience. i do have a question though - why is the cisco stuff pushed so much? what's the gain over getting a few linksys wrt54g boxes and making your own directional antenna? unless i'm greatly misinterpreting scale in the diagrams, it doesn't seem like a distance that would stress a directional antenna setup, even on a consumer box like the linksys. sometimes it seems like everyone recommends cisco because everyone recommends cisco, y'know? especially for a wireless network that will see a maximum load of 10 people....

if it was me, i think i'd try getting a few wrt54g's, configuring them as wireless bridges, and putting them in position just to see what kind of signal strength you're getting.

If you buy cisco stuff you only have to buy it once... you can put a piece of cisco equip. in and not have to touch it untill you need to change the topology of the network... i have seen 1900 switches that have ran without a shutdown for years... there is a reason that the stuff cost as much as it does... also for wireless cisco makes a ton of dif antennas that is specificly made for your application... so you dont have to build cofee can antennas... it might cost more to start with but you will never have to worry about it again
 

sandmanx

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Just to throw it out there, would 802.11a work better? I know the signals don't go through solid objects as well, but you eliminate a lot of interference going to 5.8GHz instead of the 'everyone and their grandma' 2.4GHz spectrum.

I think I'd try to talk them into Cisco equipment. If they don't go for that, and they can live with some outages, the WRT54G is dirt cheap, and you could keep a few spares on site, where you just have to dump the right config file to it, and it's replaced. If you do a google search, you can find several WRT's that have been modded for outdoor use.
 

dualblade

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Footer4321 said:
If you buy cisco stuff you only have to buy it once... you can put a piece of cisco equip. in and not have to touch it untill you need to change the topology of the network... i have seen 1900 switches that have ran without a shutdown for years... there is a reason that the stuff cost as much as it does... also for wireless cisco makes a ton of dif antennas that is specificly made for your application... so you dont have to build cofee can antennas... it might cost more to start with but you will never have to worry about it again

as far as building antennas, aren't there publicly available (for purchase) antennas that use the universal antenna connecter on a linksys box? also, does wire length for the antenna matter? is that wire very succeptable to interference and signal loss? was just curious if it made more sense to put the wireless box in the building's server room and run a cable to the roof for antennas vs. making a weatherproof box for the access point. if inside is an option, it does make maintenance much easier i'm sure
 

Phandalyon

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We are using a lot of Linksys equipment right now and it just plain sucks to tell you the truth. The Cisco AP and Bridge we have right now have been very reliable, but becuase of the crappy way they are set up they will no longer work. We needed shorter runs and a stronger signal. I would rather overkill on signal strength.

To put this into perspective, Right now we have a WRT54G in building 5 with an upgraded antenna. There is a space of about 50 feet between building 5 and 6. We had to put a signal booster in Building 6 just to allow the PCs in that building to have a reasonable connection. It still drops fairly consistently when there is a car parked between the buildings though.

As far as the cabling. The antenna cables are expensive is the biggest problem. I will show you guys the route I planned out.

I am going to use this device for AP and Bridges (total of 5 of these)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16833122064

This is the antenna (total of 5)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16833122046
It is supposed to be good for 10 mile range. We aren't going nearly that far, but over short distances I am hoping it should provide superb signal strength.

These so I don't have to worry about the proximity of electricity (5 sets)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16833122048

Plus 16ft antenna cables for each run.
http://direct.mwave.com/mwave/viewspec.hmx?scriteria=1559866

Then we are going to convert from wireless to wired inside of the buildings. Should provide a much better configuration than we have right now.
 

Footer4321

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looks like good stuff... i would buy 1 or two spare to keep in the server room though... and keep your antenna runs as short as possible and try to to bend them to much (pretend its fiber) also RTV the shit out of that connection outside after you get it hooked up to your antenna... hope it works out for ya!.... oh and lock that shit down like no tomarow... 128bit encryption baby!
 

ktwebb

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Footer4321 said:
ya get a ccna in there to do this work if you are going to go cisco... you can get the stuff up and mounted and cabled but let the ccna do the programming because aironet stuff can be a lil tricky.... and IOS isnt something that you can just pick up a book and do... but in the long run go take some cisco classes at your local community college so you too can know how this stuff works... they offer a wireless cert. now....

While I don't disagree completely it's not actually necessary to get a CCNA to install Aironet gear. I actually was required to get my CCNA when I was installing it but that was to become a partner we had to have one. I installed it for two years before that. Now, once they went cisco centric with the console interface it did get a bit trickier but not so outrageous it was impossible to figure out. Plus, you can always use the web based interface. Never really have to touch the console unless you need to do some involved troubleshooting.

"Just to throw it out there, would 802.11a work better? I know the signals don't go through solid objects as well, but you eliminate a lot of interference going to 5.8GHz instead of the 'everyone and their grandma' 2.4GHz spectrum"

It would work. Hard to say if it would be a better choice. Depends on the environment around you. You can eliminate alot of band noise with the directional antennas you use anyway.

I'd suggest not using the patches you have linked to. 60 degree beamwidth is not a number I would use on a point to point. Now if your going to do point to multipoing it might not be a bad idea. With 18dB it probably won't matter but I'd not use patches myself.

I'd REALLY like to see more information on the coax your going to use. The guage specifically. hard to tell from the picture and they don't specify but for a 16 foot run you need at least something equivalent to Times Microwave LMR240. I would go LMR400 for a run of that length. Also, if these are going to be mounted above roof line you'll be using lightening arrestors and grounding them as well. That is if you want to keep this equipment functional.
 

Phandalyon

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Footer4321 said:
looks like good stuff... i would buy 1 or two spare to keep in the server room though... and keep your antenna runs as short as possible and try to to bend them to much (pretend its fiber) also RTV the shit out of that connection outside after you get it hooked up to your antenna... hope it works out for ya!.... oh and lock that shit down like no tomarow... 128bit encryption baby!

Yeah, I will probably grab a coulple extras. We are trying to make everything easier to get to than it is now as well. The antennas and cable should be no maintenance, so it will only be the AP/Bridges that we have to worry about, and those are relatively cheap so its not a big issue. I have slowly switched this place over Netgear equipment and they have been much happoer than with the Linksys. I am always screwing around with their Linksys Routers and APs, but I have never had to go back and take a second look at the Netgear stuff I have put in. Much better equipment. We have thrown away 4 or 5 Linksys routers or APs arlready and switched for use inside the buildings. The signals are stronger and the system is more reliable.

I guess we will see how this goes. I think they are going to go for it, so I will post the results when it happens.
 

Phandalyon

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ktwebb said:
I'd suggest not using the patches you have linked to. 60 degree beamwidth is not a number I would use on a point to point. Now if your going to do point to multipoing it might not be a bad idea. With 18dB it probably won't matter but I'd not use patches myself.

I'd REALLY like to see more information on the coax your going to use. The guage specifically. hard to tell from the picture and they don't specify but for a 16 foot run you need at least something equivalent to Times Microwave LMR240. I would go LMR400 for a run of that length. Also, if these are going to be mounted above roof line you'll be using lightening arrestors and grounding them as well. That is if you want to keep this equipment functional.

Here is the info on the cables from Netgear's site. I am using what they reccomended, I can not tell you anymore beyond that. I hope it is decent.
http://www.netgear.com/products/details/Antenna_Cables.php

As far as the patches go, would you go narrower or wider? I saw another one that was 70horiz and 70vert I believe, but it was not netgear and I would have needed an adapter. I decided that the fewer connections the better.

The distance between building4 and buildings 5 and 6 is about 50 yards. I am hoping that this setup will provide enough power and enough spread for a point to multipoint between bldg 4 and bldgs 5 and 6. It will be point to point between 1 and 2.
 

Footer4321

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those antenna cables should be ok if they are recomended by netgear... just dont chop and end off when you pull it and try to solder somehting back on.... also ground those AP's since they are going outside... you will get more loss in more adapters then in better cable as long as the cable isnt insainly long... if netgear says use these i would use those then bitch at support later
 

Phandalyon

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Footer4321 said:
those antenna cables should be ok if they are recomended by netgear... just dont chop and end off when you pull it and try to solder somehting back on.... also ground those AP's since they are going outside... you will get more loss in more adapters then in better cable as long as the cable isnt insainly long... if netgear says use these i would use those then bitch at support later

LOL. Will do. The Patches come with grouding equipment as well and you can rest assured that it will be used. I don't screw around with electricity.
 

sandmanx

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Phandalyon said:
We are using a lot of Linksys equipment right now and it just plain sucks to tell you the truth. The Cisco AP and Bridge we have right now have been very reliable, but becuase of the crappy way they are set up they will no longer work. We needed shorter runs and a stronger signal. I would rather overkill on signal strength.

To put this into perspective, Right now we have a WRT54G in building 5 with an upgraded antenna. There is a space of about 50 feet between building 5 and 6. We had to put a signal booster in Building 6 just to allow the PCs in that building to have a reasonable connection. It still drops fairly consistently when there is a car parked between the buildings though.

As far as the cabling. The antenna cables are expensive is the biggest problem. I will show you guys the route I planned out.

I am going to use this device for AP and Bridges (total of 5 of these)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16833122064

This is the antenna (total of 5)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16833122046
It is supposed to be good for 10 mile range. We aren't going nearly that far, but over short distances I am hoping it should provide superb signal strength.

These so I don't have to worry about the proximity of electricity (5 sets)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16833122048

Plus 16ft antenna cables for each run.
http://direct.mwave.com/mwave/viewspec.hmx?scriteria=1559866

Then we are going to convert from wireless to wired inside of the buildings. Should provide a much better configuration than we have right now.


For antennas, I'd take a look here:

http://www.hyperlinktech.com

The panels are about a third of the price of the netgear ones. I've got one of their 24dbi parabolic antennas, and it works great for a super focused narrow beam signal.
 

ktwebb

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"As far as the patches go, would you go narrower or wider? I saw another one that was 70horiz and 70vert I believe, but it was not netgear and I would have needed an adapter. I decided that the fewer connections the better."

You want a narrow beamwidth. The reason I wouldn't use those antennas is because the beamwidth is so wide. At 50 yards you'll be fine but it's alot of wasted signal. You'll be broadcasting to a wide fan pattern. As far as the cable. Netgear is not in the business of point to point link hardware but it might be ok. You just have to understand the loss from bridge to Antenna is about 90% in the cable and connectors. Mostly the cable for a run of any length. I would just break the shipping seal on a couple of cables and try your first link, using the longest link first as a bench. My concern was simply that is hard to guess the guage from the picture provided AND they didn't give any information on them. Not a good sign if I was making the purchase but then again, if I was doing it, I would be buying cable from TimesMircrowave or Belden, not netgear. But you'll probably be good to go.
 

Phandalyon

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I do like the prices on Antennas there. I will definitely keep it in mind if I need to rework some stuff.

I am kind of holding my breath going into this, I will keep the advice of everyone who has posted in mind.

A definitely will start with a single run and get it set before I start a second. Just to be ont he safe side.

Thanks for the replies giys, I will bump this with results if I get the OK and I will post again if things have to change.
 
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