[hackerspaces] What's your WiFi setup?

Rubin Abdi rubin at starset.net
Mon Oct 22 22:20:25 CEST 2012

If over the air security isn't a concern (and I really hope it isn't), I
would highly recommend acquiring some sort of enterprise level 802.11a
access point. Why use something so dated? First off they're cheap to get
if you browse ebay for a few days. Secondly 802.11a runs in the 5gHz
range, which is way less polluted than the more known 2.4gHz range that
802.11bg run off of.

I have yet to enter a hack space where about 50% of the laptops in use
at any given time are a mix of MacBooks and ThinkPads. All MacBooks and
most ThinkPads ship with wifi cards that can hop onto 5gHz wifi. I've
been able to max out 802.11a at somewhere between 0.5 - 1 mbyt/s, which
in all honesty is more than enough for everyday hacker space usage.

Basically if you can get half off the devices generating noise off of
the 2.4 gHz range, you help both groups to some extent. Generally at
Noisebridge when people state the fairly unhelpful words of "The
internet is down", I run a quick mtr while on our 802.11a network, see
that I have no problems. I ask the person if they're on wifi and if so
which network, pretty much every time it's our 2.4gHz network. At that
point I let them know I'm not having problems, and ask them to either
swap out to eithernet or see if their laptop can hit the 5gHz network,
either of which tends to fix their problems.

All that being said, if you've got that cash, go for 802.11n running at
5gHz. You can run it at 2.4gHz but there's really no point as the access
point you'll be using most likely will also offer 802.11g at the same
frequency, and the moment someone hits the access point with a machine
that doesn't support 802.11n, everyone will be dropped down to g.

At Noisebridge we run a pair of Cisco 1100 for our 802.11bg/2.4gHz
network, and a Ubiquiti PowerStation 5 running 802.11a/5gHz. The Ciscos
are problematic and really need to be replaced, and we've never had any
problems with the PowerStation.

Ubiquiti gear is rock solid, and pending funds, we'll eventually get
some UniFi Pro devices, which have radios to run 2.4 and 5 ghz at the
same time. A set of 3 is about $600 - $700 on ebay.

If we were strapping for cash (which we typically are), and I had time
to actually work on this shit, I would use several NanoStation Locos in
the space.

rubin at starset.net

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