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View Full Version : 5.4 GHz wifi setup and testing



miked@jamagination.com
03-13-08, 12:17 PM
quick backstory:
moved up to the mountains where DSL was not available a few year back,
a local company had a wifi offering using the Orinoco USB gold towers
connected via the fattest cable I've ever seen to a 5.4GHZ 26 dBi
Reflector Grid WLAN Directional Antenna mounted on my roof - looks
like a big bbq grill. Have line of site to a local tower, all worked
well but it was kinda pricey due to bandwidth constraints vs my
usage. I used it for 2-3 years and it worked great. When DSL became
available I made the switch over and stopped using the wifi but I
still have the old wifi equip.

We have a cabin even further out in the woods that I'd like to
redeploy this wifi equip over to so that I can get broadband in the
remote location and work in a much more pleasant setting and setup a
new account with the same local company. I have no prob removing the
equip and relocating it myself. A tech from the same company who
installed the equip at the house in town came out to the remote
property a few years back and setup a dish on a tripod and using some
sort of handheld running network monitoring software he confirmed that
I did have a small window for line of sight to a local tower and would
be able to install in the remote cabin location. I never ended up
installing there, but now I would like to. But I'd like to do some of
the setup in myself so that I can maybe take a few days/weeks and move
the reflector grid around to different locations to see what works
best. I'd rather not have an installer who is pressed for time take
the first location he finds that may have a marginal signal and
install there.

My prob is that I'd like to take down the equip on the house in town,
shuttle it to the remote cabin and play around with figuring out where
the best install location would be - but in order to do that I'd needs
some software to run on my laptop(windows) or my palm (OS5) that would
show me signal strength etc and help me confirm via actual testing
that I'm in a good install spot. This is where I am completely out of
my box, wifi at this level is new to me. I don't have an account with
the local company yet to be able to log on to the network, but
wondering - once I find the software - if I can bounce anon packets
off the repeater on the tower to show me metrics about what I think I
need to see to make a decision.

Thanks for taking the time to read thru all this, hoping for a few
software application suggestions and maybe a heads up or 2 on problems
that I am not considering.

mike

DTC
03-13-08, 03:19 PM
miked@jamagination.com wrote:
> I don't have an account with
> the local company yet to be able to log on to the network, but
> wondering - once I find the software - if I can bounce anon packets
> off the repeater on the tower to show me metrics about what I think I
> need to see to make a decision.

If you have "a small window for line of sight to a local tower" that
might be describing a "keyhole" path and it won't pass Fresnel clearance
adequately. Plot your path with something like Radio Mobile and see
what it looks like.

You could use a small low cost client radio to test the path also
at several elevations every two foot or so.

miked@jamagination.com
03-13-08, 05:41 PM
On Mar 13, 12:19 pm, DTC <m...@nothingtoseehere.zzx> wrote:

> If you have "a small window for line of sight to a local tower" that
> might be describing a "keyhole" path and it won't pass Fresnel clearance
> adequately. Plot your path with something like Radio Mobile and see
> what it looks like

cool program, never seen it before. I'll try to log some time with it
this week, thanks for the tip

> You could use a small low cost client radio to test the path also
> at several elevations every two foot or so.

not sure what a client radio is - have a link to some info you could
post back here?

do 5.4G repeaters need to be registered w/FCC? i.e. where could I
find an online list of towers in my area that this provider might have
repeaters on? is this public information?

thanks for the reply

DTC
03-13-08, 08:34 PM
miked@jamagination.com wrote:
> a local company had a wifi offering using the Orinoco USB gold towers
> connected via the fattest cable I've ever seen to a 5.4GHZ 26 dBi
> Reflector Grid WLAN Directional Antenna mounted on my roof - looks
> like a big bbq grill

That sounds like they are using a stand alone table top mounted client
radio that connects to your computer with USB. Not much good if you
want to set up a home network (of course you could network off a
computer that you leave running all the time).

It has to have a large BBQ dish antenna and very low loss cable to
connect to the radio. That's why most WISPs use a roof mounted
radio/antenna assembly that uses CAT5 cable down to the network.

>> You could use a small low cost client radio to test the path also
>> at several elevations every two foot or so.
>
> not sure what a client radio is - have a link to some info you could
> post back here?

Orthogon/Motorola. Redline, and Trango come to mind. But first, make
sure its a 5.4 GHz radio as that frequency is almost always limited to
backhauls and pricing around $8,000 for one radio. Most likely its a
5.8 GHz radio. Clients (the subscriber's radio) can be had for under
$250.

> do 5.4G repeaters need to be registered w/FCC? i.e. where could I
> find an online list of towers in my area that this provider might have
> repeaters on? is this public information?

I don't think that route will be productive.

There really isn't such a thing as repeaters in the sense that you
find with two-way radios.

Radio station licenses and tower locations are public data, but radios
operating in the unlicensed bands don't need to be listed.

Start with http://www.cellreception.com/towers While it says cellphone
towers, it shows all towers that are registered with the FAA. Towers
under 200 feet are not required to be registered (unless they pose an
aviation hazard).

You might see if there are other WISPs in your area, but if you're up
in the mountains...good luck.

seaweedsl
03-15-08, 04:11 PM
On Mar 13, 11:17 am, mi...@jamagination.com wrote:

> I'd needs
> some software to run on my laptop(windows) or my palm (OS5) that would
> show me signal strength etc and help me confirm via actual testing
> that I'm in a good install spot.


Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't this what you would use
NetStumbler for ? Of course it's a question as to whether it will
work with that radio adapter or not, but it's a free download and you
can see for yourself.

http://www.netstumbler.com/about/

Hint: once you install it, check the list of devices and try various
to see if it won't work in one mode or the other. Don't trust the "use
any availible adapter" as it does not work on mine, nor the named
(Atheros in my case) one but the "NDIS" does.