Everything Instant On

First install in the real world...

  • 1.  First install in the real world...

    Posted 07-31-2020 12:43 PM

    Finally got an opportunity to play with this outside my home lab and install it in the real world for a friend moving into a new rental house. Here are my thoughts on the process:

    Ease of use is pretty straightforward. My friend who is not a wireless networking geek was impressed by how simple it was. The team has done a great job with this. We did run into a snag early on when we had provisioned the first AP and were trying to provision the second one wirelessly - It just wasn't coming up. We eventually realized that we'd inadvertently put the first AP into bridge mode instead of NAT - and the process to change that is a little unclear. We ended up nuking the whole site and starting over, and then it went much smoother. By that point we had moved the second AP into the riim with the first one and wired it in. This seemed to work much better, as the inventory that's currently shipping is still on the 1.x firmware, and it seems the 1.x may have a hard time meshing up with a 2.x AP on initial boot. That process takes a really long time, BTW. Two full boot cycles, and it's about 20 minutes before you can start discovery/configuration. 

    I'm a little unclear on the process of bringing a second AP on via mesh - is it doing a bluetooth discovery process to find nearby APs and get an internet connection in order to phone into the cloud? It would also be nice if the initial setup via the app could be done via bluetooth instead of requiring an internet connection on the AP itself - sometimes the internet access in a new environment isn't up and running yet. I would imagine that in case of no internet, the APs could/should be able to talk to the app and maybe even get updated firmware images by proxying through the mobile device's internet connection if it has one. 

    Minor annoyance: having the internet connection forced to E0/PT, which is the only PoE input port on this AP. If you want to use PoE to power that AP, that will almost always come from the LAN. The ability to choose the WAN port would be nice (including E3, which would allow you to use the PoE to power a modem or other CPE. (I have this same annoyance with the defaults in the 7005 controller, so it's not just InstantON)

    Once the second and subsequent APs are provisioned, meshing is completely transparent, which is really cool. No screwing around with mesh settings. I noticed that the ethernet ports on the AP11D show a tagged VLAN 3960 (or something like that, I don't recall the exact number) - what's going on under the hood here? are other APs actually setting up a GRE tunnel back to the main AP's virtual controller? That's some pretty impressive functionality for something in this market. 

    Adding more devices is really easy. Again with PoE annoyances, would be really nice if the 8-port switch (non-PoE) could at least be powered via PoE on port 1 the way Ubiquiti's US-8 switch is, as well as the older ProCurve 1810-8G switches. The power draw on the 8-port switch is easily within the range of what can be supplied via 802.3af from the AP11D, and it simplifies getting power to it. 

    While we're on the topic of power: The AP11D power supply comes with a 3-prong C13 cord, but the power supply itself does not use the grounding - This came into play in a house with limited outlets, half of which were still old ungrounded 2-prong outlets. If the brick doesn't use a ground, why does the cord? 

    Because this house is older, there's a lot of plaster and lath walls, which make for a lot more attenuation than regular gypsum board, so meshing was really going to be a last resort. We made an attempt at using the existing TV cabling that was point to point, and a couple of MoCA adapters, which turned out to be a total bust. The wireless mesh was significantly faster than anything we could squeeze out of these adapters that claimed to be "gigabit" (reality: more like 30Mbps, comparable to powerline ethernet extenders). We eventually found a way to get an ethernet cable run without running afoul of the landlord. Proving the notion that nothing beats a wire, and mesh is a last resort (although it's still better than MoCA or PLE)

    On the app side, there are a few things we wished it would do - even as a non-networking guy (but technical - he's a developer), my friend wanted to see more usage stats in the app. From my standpoint, I wanted a lot more information about what was going on when the APs lit up solid orange... The documentation says this indicates a "problem" but there's really not much more information to be had in that scenario. Being able to see what's actually happening in the app (maybe it can query the APs via bluetooth if the connection to the cloud is down) would make troubleshooting a lot easier, without having to just reboot the entire stack and pray it resolves itself, which takes quite a while. 

    On the whole, I really like where this product line is going. Keep up the good work!