WiFi upgrades @ home

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by brentsg, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. brentsg

    brentsg [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    So as my kids get older my 4 year old WiFi setup is starting to show some cracks. I have essentially a 3 story house with the office (and therefore ISP feed) in a corner of the finished basement. Everything is finished and there's no good way to wire Ethernet. The last time I evaluated doing this it was just ugly.. maybe someday.

    I didn't do my usual planning, and knee-jerk grabbed a couple off the shelf products (Eero / Velop) to test b/c my wife called pissed about the network while I was shopping. The past week has been me testing all sorts of shit and being both impressed and disappointed. So far I have no clear winner. I've also thrown Amplifi into the mix.

    Honestly it seems that Orbi might be the best bet for my house, but all the stories about software issues and the recent disconnect problems has scared me off. Curious if anyone has direct experience with these.

    Details:

    -~3600 sq feet, 3 story house w/ basement included
    -Emphasis needs to be on hitting 3 home theater areas, the kids' PC, and upstairs bedrooms adequately
    -Have been testing with Tamosoft.. anything else good that's free or cheap?
    -I have zero interest in any of the router functions. I'll have this in bridge mode with a Sophos firewall making the big decisions.

    One of the things that have really boggled me so far is high UDP loss as the performance ramps up. I'm actually uncertain if this is a flaw in my testing, or some real phenomenon that I'm not understanding.

    Second thing really bugging me is the vast differences in performance between my iPad (current 12.9 Pro) and my Macbook. Those are really the main 2 devices I can test with. For example, I'll configure and test one product to see huge gains across the board on the iPad, while watching performance take a dive on the Macbook using the same tests in the same locations. Only thing I can think of is antenna differences.

    Thoughts appreciated.

    Adding some quality of life thoughts of my own:

    -I really wish Amplifi performed better b/c of the following:
    -They nailed the asthetic
    -The routers are loaded with Ethernet ports and can be used as AP's
    -The software reveals all sorts of details about connected clients even in bridge mode (where others do not)
    -The devices on-screen touch sensitive LCD is super helpful at times
    -The "Teleport" device makes for a quick and easy VPN while traveling, for purposes of no-fuss access and trickery when using Playstation VUE and the like. Sadly it requires the router functions to be on, so would be a double-NAT. Yeah I have a VPN with the Sophos, but this is sooo easy and family friendly.
    -The price is good

    All that being said, the performance is not great and the power cords are ludicrously short.

    -Velop wants me to use the app to tell it to scan for ideal channels. It's a mesh system, so shouldn't it be doing this on its own?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  2. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

    Messages:
    5,229
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    I don't mean to be that guy that provides the knee-jerk Unifi response, but:

    UAP-AC-M-PROs and a cloudkey are about the same price as the orbi setup and you get 3x3 MIMO. Normal UAPs can wireless uplink one layer deep (which is apparently what you get from orbi based upon my quick read; star pattern to the router), so if that works for you it saves a bit, but the UAP-mesh series can do n-depth uplink (line, tree, star, etc). You are also able to use any routing device you want.

    I have a wireless uplink running from three rooms apart (bomb-proof brick walls and asbestos/sealed celing, so not easy walls to get through) with very little signal loss (on UAP-AC-PROs), so the power is pretty good.

    Other things that would meet some of your quality of life concerns:
    - UAP-AC-PROs can vlan tag up to 3 networks, so you can just have a vpn location SSID set up habitually (my frau just connects to "I am in the US" if she wants target.com to stop behaving badly)
    - You can turn off all the lights on the APs / mount them anywhere so they fade away from consciousness
    - The Unifi mangement software (running on the cloudkey) gives you some good insight on connected devices
    - setup does channel surfing on its own

    This setup wouldn't help you with:
    - having wired ports on the APs around the house
    - having a touch sensitive LCD (but you can use your phone to get into the cloudkey manager and do whatever you want)
     
  3. trick0502

    trick0502 [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,937
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2006
    You just need to run some cat5/6 to a few closet to put aps in. It maybe messy if you did it, but I’d call in the pros. In the long run it will be worth it. Then just use three aps and be done. I like the UniFi setup myself, but just use whatever aps you’re comfortable with.
     
  4. ND40oz

    ND40oz [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    11,385
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    I have 3 Orbi's for my 2800 sq. ft. house. It's 4 levels, all concrete, with in floor heating (water) on every level and wifi signals come here to die basically. I have the main orbi router (RBK50) setup as an access point on the second floor, first floor has satellite AP (RBS50) and the four floor has the other (RBS50). I have them all basically near the staircase that runs top to bottom to keep the signal as unencumbered as possible. The satellites still connect back to the main unit with a poor backhaul connection (5G, doesn't drop to the 2.4G) but everything works fine.

    I initially set them up in the star topology because that's all the supported, but with the 2.x firmware they now support daisy-chain. After spending a few weeks in the forums, it seems like your best bet is to use them as APs only and keep beamforming, MU-MIMO and fast routing off. They recently released an outdoor unit, so I may buy one for my terrace and try out the daisy-chain setting.
     
  5. brentsg

    brentsg [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Thanks for the suggestions. I think I went into this with my expectations too high, based on some feedback from friends who had installed some gear a few years newer than mine. And while I'm seeing vast improvements in some areas, it seems to be balanced by some issues in others.

    That I only need 3 Ethernet drops is a good point. When I investigated before, I was trying to wire just about all the key areas of the home and it was going to be pretty destructive.

    If the Unifi devices can support a single uplink wirelessly, maybe I'll grab a few and setup something temporary for now. I have some remodeling overdue, and while it isn't necessarily where I want the AP's, I'll have a couple walls open and it might help me fish some cables.

    I can certainly live without LCDs on the devices, though it was pretty useful. I'm sure we'd never look at it past a week or two of novelty.
     
  6. Vengance_01

    Vengance_01 [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    5,326
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2001
    Yes the unifi APs can support a single uplink and then use this to extend coverage to other APs.
     
  7. SticKx911

    SticKx911 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,798
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    I use power line adapters to bridge 4 ddwrt routers throughout my house. Gives each room dedicated ethernet connections as well as its own AP. Not ideal, but I spent maybe $200 on it total. Maybe a little more if everything was bought new.

    I have anywhere from 25 to 30 devices going including wifi cameras so it’s pretty stable and consistent throughout the house.
     
  8. brentsg

    brentsg [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    I can help myself a lot by removing some convenient but stupid wireless links in my network. I currently have an HDHomerun device pulling HD MPEG2 video from a rooftop antenna and wirelessly sending it to my Plex server and NAS. That and a couple other things can put a significant and unnecessary load on some radios, Naturally I don't have a wired link anywhere near the ingress for the antenna feed, which was originally in place to feed a TV during the early HD days.

    I've had decent luck with latency when it comes to Powerline, but not so much with bandwidth. I don't know if it is my old wiring or the gear I was using. I haven't tinkered with it in a few years. I think the only thing I've used it for was Steam streaming.

    The silver lining in all this is that I now have WiFi advertisements following me around the internet. It's a nice change of pace from ComiXology that had been pursuing me everywhere I went.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    SticKx911 likes this.
  9. Vengance_01

    Vengance_01 [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    5,326
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2001
    Powerline is very hit and miss depending on house wiring and how close or far they are away and the circuit
     
  10. brentsg

    brentsg [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Just ordered a couple Powerline adapters to try it. Mine are really old, and while they worked ok, I think bandwidth should be considerably improved.

    Worst case they just replace the wireless link for the HDHomerun device device.

    Edit: Good grief, you can't dim the Velop's blue LED. People have been asking for the better part of a year and Linksys doesn't care.

    People putting dimes on top to block the LED and still have the ability to move it when needed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  11. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

    Messages:
    5,229
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    Does sophos not have a pfblockerng-like functionality? :p
     
  12. brentsg

    brentsg [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Ha, probably so.. I need to spend some more time with that. It's orders of magnitude more secure than what I was rolling with before, but I got busy and had to back a few of the fancy features off because I was annoying the hell out of my family.

    I set it up rather quickly because I work from home and had to quickly spin up a second WAN connection when my primary ISP began having connectivity issues to some of my customers. Sometimes I'd be away from the house and need to VPN in and hop to a customer site, so I wasn't there to swap a cable. It was overkill but I had been meaning to add a decent firewall anyways.

    What I really need to do is put the family on their own network when I have some time.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  13. SamirD

    SamirD Gawd

    Messages:
    525
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2015
    I think you've got a fairly easily solution since you've got only 3 areas that really need wired. If you've got any wires in those areas at all--power, coax, or even phone wire--there are ways to get ethernet to them. Then with 3 wired connections, you could try re-deploying the mesh and see how well it does. Or just return it and get some ubnt units wired into your now wired backhaul and pretty much be done with it.