Need help with RV park system

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Need help with RV park system

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Need help with RV park system
Need help with RV park system
2019-08-30 17:15:51 - last edited 2019-09-01 11:14:48
Model: EAP225-Outdoor  
Hardware Version:
Firmware Version:

Hello all, first time poster. 

 

We own a small RV park campground, approx. 3 acres on the river. We have approx. 30 guests at any time. We have 150 Mbps service into the office currently. I'd like to update the current wifi system which was in place when we purchased the park, which consists of a cable modem in the office, ligowave antenna on the roof of the office, and a Netgear router approx. 300 feet away in the bathhouse. The Netgear router is inside the bathhouse, in the roof trusses. So we have our Office wifi, then an access point from the antenna on the roof, then there are two more access points off the Netgear router. Needless to say, it doesn't work so great, and the Netgear is testing out at somewhere around 4-6 Mbps and servicing maybe 20 clients. 

 

What I would like is faster, more stable connection for those in the back of the park especially. I don't need very sophisticated controls, just the ability to change the password occasionally, like once a month, and check on the system  in the event someone calls to report an outage. I was looking at the EAP 225 Outdoor for this build, and was planning to place one on the roof, and the other on the roof of the bathhouse. I figure just that should improve things. They are approx. 300 feet apart, and line of sight with minimal to no trees between. 

 

So can the one on the office be made to act as an access point while also sending wifi to the second one? And would I need any other equpment to make this work? To be clear, only the one at the office would be capable of being plugged into ethernet for internet, the second one would be power only. 

 

Thanks in advance, I'm still learning...

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Re:Re: Need help with RV park system-Solution
2019-08-31 18:39:09 - last edited 2019-09-01 11:14:48

Wow, that is fantastic information! I have learned more in the last day I think than in a month. FYI there is no building between the office and the bathhouse, that is a camper that was there when the sat pic was taken. There is a small well house but it is almost to the bathhouse, but could possibly used as an intermediate AP. 

 

I agree about the campers being small Faraday Cages, that's one of my challenges is educating  our guests. Some of them just don't understand why they can't stream Netflix inside their steel framed cage. 

 

I use Speed Test and AR Signal Master for testing on an iPhone. 

 

With your help, I think I have decided on a pair of 225's both mounted outdoors. The one on the office will be at the corner of the roof, which is approx. 20' above ground, the bathhouse will be approx. 15' above ground. There are no obstructions between them, maybe a small tree branch or two but they can be trimmed. I'll try the Omada Controler for initial deployment, then if I need the dedicated OC200 I can add that later, likewise the 510's if needed. 

 

I honestly feel that anything I do will be an improvement at this point, as long as it turns on...

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Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-30 19:20:30 - last edited 2019-08-30 20:12:53

RiversideCamp wrote

So can the one on the office be made to act as an access point while also sending wifi to the second one?

 

Yes. The EAP225-Outdoor can be configured to create a meshed network, which consist of one or more wired root APs feeding several nodes without wired connections (except for power supply).

 

In the past my company used EAP110-Outdoor APs in combination with Pharos wireless broadband devices (CPE510) to build a wirelessly linked network in RV parks. It utilized the 5 GHz band to create a wireless backbone between the APs and 2.4 GHz band of EAP110-Outdoor for local delivery of the public WLAN. With EAP225-Outdoor this can be done using a meshed network. It not only has the advantage of reducing two separate devices into only one, but it also utilizes the 5 GHz band for the local WLAN supply in addition to the mesh backbone, thus allowing more bandwidth for clients compared with our traditional solution.

 

As for the typical bandwidth here is an example of real-life figures from one of our existing EAP110-Outdoor systems (but note that a) it shows the WiFi rate negotiated between client devices and the AP, so depending on WiFi mode - b/g/n - the effective data throughput is about 50% to 70% of the WiFi rate shown in the 4th column and b) the Internet link is only ~25 Mbps, thus limiting available bandwidth for all clients):

 

 

Regarding the question of how many APs you would need: this depends of many environmental parameters, but the nice thing about meshing is that you can start with two APs and if more coverage is needed due to possible blind spots, you just need to add another AP which will become meshed with its nearest neighbor.

 

And would I need any other equpment to make this work?

 

Beside an Internet router and probably a switch you will need Omada Controller for remote management of the APs, either the (free) software running on a server 24/7 or the OC200 hardware controller. A controller allows you to easily change passwords or other parameters and to monitor performance of the installed APs from everywhere over the Internet. The Omada app for iOS or Android smartphones allows access even over mobile data connections.

 

For the main house I would recommend a separate indoor EAP225. If the outdoor AP is mounted on the roof, coverage directly beneath it could be somewhat low (depends on the height of your roof/mounting pole for the EAP).

 

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Re:Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-30 20:41:47

Re the software running 24/7 or the seperate controller, can you help me figure out why I need this, and which would be the better option? The way it is set up now, I log into the LigoWave controller if I need to check stats or change the password, but otherwise I don't have anything running on a seperate computer or controller that I'm aware of, unless it's built into the Ligo box on the roof. I will need to change passwords occassionally and possibly monitor remotely (if I'm out of town for example and there's a problem) so I don't need to be in there all the time. So would I need to have my desktop computer running 24/7? If so I'd probably rather opt for the seperate controller. Or if I can log in via iphone/ipad that works too. 

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Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-30 20:51:23 - last edited 2019-08-30 20:58:55

RiversideCamp wrote

Re the software running 24/7 or the seperate controller, can you help me figure out why I need this, and which would be the better option?

 

The meshing protocol needs a controller running 24/7. Cloud access to the controller also needs a running controller. Your Internet router and switch need to run 24/7 as do the EAPs. An OC200 hardware controller requires just ~3.5 watts, so I would recommend this over a server.

 

Why do you think that running the controller 24/7 is a problem?

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Re:Re:Re:Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-30 20:54:04
Not a problem I guess, just needed clarification. As it is now, nothing is running 24/7 but the Modem, router and etc. My computer is shut off when I leave the office at night. I just wanted to make sure I understood that there was a requirement to have a computer running the controller software running at all times. As I said, I don't have much experience with this stuff...
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Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-30 20:56:48

Ah, ok. Check out OC200. It's a small device, looks like a small switch or router.

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Re:Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-30 21:43:05
Yes I saw that, just wasn't sure what it's function was or if I needed it, since I don't have one on my current system.
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Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-31 00:32:57 - last edited 2019-08-31 00:48:38

RiversideCamp wrote

Yes I saw that, just wasn't sure what it's function was or if I needed it, since I don't have one on my current system.

 

Your current system probably allows connecting an AP at the bathhouse to the AP at the office wirelessly, right?

 

EAPs don't offer such »traditional« wireless links (repeater or wireless bridge modes). They offer mesh networks for wireless links, though.

 

In contrast, Pharos CPEs offer all kinds of wireless connections between APs (client, repeater or bridge modes), but they are specially designed for long-range links and therefore have directional antennas, which are not well suited for 360º WLAN distribution. That's why we combine both devices in RV parks - CPE510 for directional links and EAP110-Outdoor wired to the CPE for local WLANs:

 

 

For me, it's very convenient to administrate the EAPs with a controller even with such a topology, but the controller would not be needed at all for just password authentication on EAPs, which works even without a controller. Changing the password could be done through the web UI of the two EAPs.

 

In contrast, a mesh network uses at least two, but most often more EAP225-Outdoor connected in such a way:

 

 

A controller would only be needed to setup the mesh once; the config is then saved in the EAPs. But if Node 1-2 goes down for whatever reason, Node 2-1 will become off-line, too. In order to have Node 2-1 connect with the root AP, the controller needs to re-organize the mesh. That's what the FAQ says and this is the reason why TP-Link recommends to run the controller all the time if mesh networks are being used.

 

If you only need two EAP225-Outdoor and have configured the mesh once using the controller, there should be no re-organization of the mesh required if one of the two EAPs goes down. As soon as it comes up again, the »mini mesh« should be established using the config settings saved in the EAP. But I have not tested this, since we always use the controller for central management in every installation, no matter whether one, two or twenty EAPs are deployed.

 

So you need to define your requirements to decide whether to use a controller at all or just sometimes for initial configuration/password changes or all the time for the full functionality offered by the Omada system.

 

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Re:Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-31 14:30:59 - last edited 2019-08-31 14:33:26

Ok I'll be honest, I understand about 2/3 of what you have explained...hopefully what I have configured is going to be correct. Let me see if I can attach a photo of our layout for clarification 

This was done by a company that was supposed to provide a quote to me for a new system, but they never did. I've had way too many problems trying to get someone to design this so I thought I'd try to learn enough to do it myself. So in summary, the Office is at the bottom of the property, I don't need any coverage below this point. I need a wireless AP in the office, to run my office equpment (currently provided by my cable companies' modem/router, a Technicolor device), then another AP to cover the area outside the office, up to about halfway to the bathhouse, then the second to cover the area around the bathhouse. Distances are roughly 300 feet from the office to the bathhouse, and approx. 100' radius around the bathhouse will cover everything else. 

 

So if I understand you correctly, would two of the 225 outdoor do this without a controller?  Or would I be better off doing something like in your first illustration, combining the 225's with the CPE 510? My main focus is on increasing bandwidth and stability, as I'm only getting 4-6 Mbps on the far end of the park now. I don't need anything fancy, like special landing pages or auto logout of users. We charge $25 a month for the wifi and want to provide better service to our customers. Thanks again for all the assistance and guidance!

 

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Re: Need help with RV park system
2019-08-31 17:10:04 - last edited 2019-08-31 17:31:27

RiversideCamp wrote

So if I understand you correctly, would two of the 225 outdoor do this without a controller?  Or would I be better off doing something like in your first illustration, combining the 225's with the CPE 510?

 

It's always difficult to plan final deployments in theory only. Deploying a good WLAN goes like this: 1) planning, 2) measuring/testing, 3) adjusting, works reliably? If no -> back to 1), if yes -> 4) final deployment.

 

There are just too many environmental parameters such as interferences not being thought of while planning. So be prepared to test the installation and probably adjust prior plans if things don't work out as expected (you already do experience this with your current solution, don't you?).

 

This is how I would proceed:

 

Plan A

I would start with 2x EAP225-Outdoor, one at the office, the other outside the bathhouse, either on the roof or mounted on a wall. Ensure that there is a free line of sight (or more precisely: fresnel zone clearance) between the bathhouse and the office. Free LoS between the EAPs is absolutely necessary for a good connection. If those conditions are met, a mesh link between EAP #1 at the office (the wired node) and EAP #2 should be possible over ~100m / 300ft.

 

You need at least the software controller on your desktop PC to configure the mesh network, but you can turn it off thereafter (according to the TP-Link FAQ, I never did test a mesh w/o controller).

 

Plan B

If the mesh link fails or performs badly, consider adding two CPE510 at the office and bathhouse to deploy a directional link as shown in my first illustration above. You can still use the two EAP225-Outdoor for local WLAN distribution in combination with CPEs - just replace the mesh link by a directional link. This directional link does not require a controller at all and it will work over 300ft for sure. But I would try Plan A before buying CPEs.

 

Plan C

Did you consider the fact that smartphones, tablets, laptops have much worser antennas compared to an EAP? 

 

For the clients being able to send/receive data over a stable link at high speeds requires same conditions as for the EAPs, but in practice the clients often don't have a free LoS to the EAP. There is some obstacle in-between, be it a tree, a wall or at least too much air (meaning too large distance to the EAP; air is an obstacle for RF, too). For example, a RV park vehicle made of aluminum is a Faraday cage, which doesn't let microwaves pass very well. Be prepared that consumer devices have a reduced range of about 20 to 40m (60 to 120ft).

 

Thus, you probably might need a third EAP225-Outdoor at the house in-between the office and bathhouse. There is another house according to the map, isn't it? For linking EAP #3 (see map below) with EAP #1 you could use a mesh link according to plan A - this should work well enough over a short distance of 50m (150ft); but if not, see plan B.

 

 

 

Some more tips

  • Always install outdoor EAPs outside the building, either on the roof (not attic) or on a wall / corner of the house.
  • Before deciding the final mounting location run tests with EAPs mounted temporarily using a cable tie or something. Find the best location, then mount it permanently.
  • For testing, there are many helper tools available such as Netspot or Ekahau WiFi heat mappers.
  • Alternatively you could test the WLAN by just surfing the web on a smartphone to see whether acceptable speeds can be achieved.
  • Test from every location in your RV park you want to supply with WLAN.
  • When cabling the outdoor EAPs, remember that you need to ground the devices to protect them from atmospheric discharges during lightning strikes.
  • The cable also needs to be UV-resistant. Standard patch cables don't fit. A good outdoor cable with an extra ground wire is UBNT ToughCable.
  • Use a reliable speed test website when doing measurements of the bandwidth. See dslreports.com for a sophisticated and precise speed test.

 

Hope this helps.

 

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Re:Re: Need help with RV park system-Solution
2019-08-31 18:39:09 - last edited 2019-09-01 11:14:48

Wow, that is fantastic information! I have learned more in the last day I think than in a month. FYI there is no building between the office and the bathhouse, that is a camper that was there when the sat pic was taken. There is a small well house but it is almost to the bathhouse, but could possibly used as an intermediate AP. 

 

I agree about the campers being small Faraday Cages, that's one of my challenges is educating  our guests. Some of them just don't understand why they can't stream Netflix inside their steel framed cage. 

 

I use Speed Test and AR Signal Master for testing on an iPhone. 

 

With your help, I think I have decided on a pair of 225's both mounted outdoors. The one on the office will be at the corner of the roof, which is approx. 20' above ground, the bathhouse will be approx. 15' above ground. There are no obstructions between them, maybe a small tree branch or two but they can be trimmed. I'll try the Omada Controler for initial deployment, then if I need the dedicated OC200 I can add that later, likewise the 510's if needed. 

 

I honestly feel that anything I do will be an improvement at this point, as long as it turns on...

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