Boomgate failed! NanoStation I call you!

Ramblings of an IT Guy in Education

Boomgate failed! NanoStation I call you!

May 22, 2020 Infrastructure Ubiquiti UBNT Infrastructure 0

As an ICT Professional, you are constantly making decisions based on what is best for the business and the users and the technology. Just because something is best practice does not mean that is the best way for you. A couple of years ago I had a cable start to play up and a link to one of my boom gates at work fail.

NOTE: I actually wrote the draft for this 3 years, ago… but only now got to finish and post it.

It is funny how something can be in place on your network for years and you have no idea how it works. This is something I haved 3 years ago, our top carpark had a section to one end where staff were allowed to park. It was guarded by a trusty boomgate.

So when it started failing I had to look into it. I did want any good tech would do… what has changed? Well, that was easy… I had just replaced out our entire network from HP Procurve to Ubiquiti EdgeMax. Okay. Let’s check out the switching.

First thing I did was trace the network… which wasn’t easy. We are talking a run that went between multiple buildings and no one knew the direction it took anymore. Nevertheless, I soon found it in our Administration building, the port was up but no traffic. It was on auto-detect the speed so I dropped it to 100 Mbps. No change.

I then dropped it to 10 Mbps Full Duplex… no change.

I then dropped it to 10 Mbps Half Duplex… and success, kind of.

At 10 Mbps Half Duplex, the port would light up for 5 seconds and then go down again. I at first thought it was a dodgy cable so I had the cable checked, and this is where it goes interesting.

The pins were fine, however, its distance was 250+ metres long.

We have an excessively long cable run!
Longest possible route! This is a rough trace of the direction it went.

That was never going to work. I have found this in so many schools since I started working, it was like schools were cabled both those who thought the rules didn’t apply to them. And even idiotic solutions like, instead of running through the roof, we are going to go up and down along the building make the run even longer.

So I looked at my options,

  1. Rip up hundreds of metres of road/garden to re-run the cable… this was never going to happen since the run was so stupidly long!
  2. Rip up fifteen meters of concrete road and footpath and garden… this would still cost thousands.
  3. NanoStations!

As you can see below, the path to the nearest building and network cabinet in that building was at max 37 metres. This was a perfect solution for the NanoStations NS‑5AC.

Now here is where some people are going to get cranky, the part of the NanoStation on at the boom gate, I should technically add a large pole to it with the NanoStation on the top… a nice clean run with perfect line of sight. I decided against that for two reasons, first I wanted to do this as cheap as possible. And secondly, I didn’t need more than 10Mbps bandwidth to achieve my goal.

So yes, the NanoStation was dumped in the boom gate box. And has been there for 3 years now. And still works.

I know… I know… this belongs on IT Nightmares!

The other end of the wireless bridge was done A LOT better! it has been neatly mounted on the wall facing the boom gate.

It’s a lot neater on the other side of the bridge!

And right now I get between 30-50 Mbps on the wireless bridge, and since the boomgate needs less than 10 Mbps that is more than enough. In fact it really only does 2 things on the network.

A couple of times a day it sends an update on what security cards can open the gate. And Reception has the ability to raise it from their desktop, the traffic on these is in the Kbps.

Wireless Bridge!

I know I have most likely set up the NanoStation wrong… and if you have good advice on how best to configure it please let me know. Though or my purposes it is working well.

In fact, it worked so well that we brought another set of NanoStations that live in my office… no their not doing the worlds smallest wireless bridge. I have them there in case any fibre between buildings is ever cut. We seem to have constant building work going on, and whether potential damage to existing fibres at least if this happens I can get a low-speed bridge for a building up while the fibre is repaired.

Our spare NanoStations NS‑5AC watched over by Groot!

The wireless bridge has been in place now since 2017, and other than someone accidentally unplugging the uplink once it has been rock solid. Total cost was around less than $200 AUD… vs potentially tens of thousands ripping up a road and footpath for 1 cable.

To help fund this blog, I have decided to start linking to Amazon Affiliated Links to the products I used.

Used for the Boomgate – NanoStation AC Loco
https://amzn.to/2WQabMd

My Spare Bridge – Ubiquiti NanoStation AC
https://amzn.to/2LPRhid

 

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