David Szpunar: Owner, Servant 42 and Servant Voice

David's Church Information Technology

July 23rd, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Bye Meraki, Hello Open-Mesh: Revisiting the Campground WiFi!

Two years ago, almost to the day (which I just noticed!), I went up to the Indiana District Assemblies of God campground in Hartford City, ย IN. Purpose? Set up and test four Meraki Mini mesh routers with their satellite internet connection. You can read about my initial escapade here and here (corny play on words and all :-)

Here’s what’s changed in two years: Meraki has since redefined their entire business and offers much more expensive solutions, and no Meraki Minis. Also, the campground can now get DSL and not just satellite internet, which is awesome. And although Meraki is for my purposes defunct, Open-Mesh has taken over where Meraki left off and has a similar device at the same price, with better accessories and more power!

This time, we’re covering more ground as well. So I just ordered nine Open-Mesh OM1P Professional Mini Routers. And six 7 dbi antennas, plus three Indoor Wallplug Enclosures. This time I’m going to be covering more area, and I’m hoping that using some larger antennas as well as the reports I’ve heard that the Open-Mesh devices have better range than the Meraki units out of the box mean that we’ll have a very successful network this time! We’ll also have two or three DSL lines to serve as injection gateways, which should be a major improvement over the horrendous satellite connection we had before (if you could call it a connection half of the time when it wasn’t, you know, connected :-)

I plan on taking some pictures and documenting the setup more than last time, and if I find the time I might even blog some of it!

Did I mention my whole order including shipping was under $550? That’s cool.

  • 1

    Sounds sweet! How is the throughput? Could you have multiple “gateways” if you were on a wired network? Anyone using it for an enterprise solution?

    Jeremy Good on July 27th, 2009
  • 2

    Would like to hear more about your Open-Mesh installation.

    John C. on February 23rd, 2010
  • 3

    Open mesh went well overall, adding more nodes and adding a public network at the Indianapolis office as well. The three additional nodes for the original network appear to have a firmware issue that prevents them from checking in, but I haven’t had time to troubleshoot them yet (I’ll be doing so soon). It’s certainly not “enterprise-grade” if you really need that, but for what we’re using it for, it’s great. For enterprise grade, I’m looking at Ruckus Wireless now, which looks excellent (haven’t used it yet, may very soon).

    David Szpunar on May 12th, 2010
  • 4

    Now 2 more years later, how does/did the Open-Mesh gear hold up? I’m looking at it as we speak and it seems to fit our bill for a campground in shallow mountain valley.

    PLEASE contact me with your observations and thoughts.
    Thank you.

    Matt Krapf on February 20th, 2012
  • 5

    Hi Matt,

    I haven’t been thrilled with the Enterprise version of Open Mesh, but the basic Open Mesh units are still…functioning. In a situation where you really need mesh, I’d probably look at them again. Only for limited internet access though, not really for robust LAN networking. They fill a need, but anywhere I can I’m using Ubiquity’s UniFi APs instead of Open Mesh. They do have wireless uplinks that are OK (not true mesh, you control each uplink) but if you can wire all or more access points, they’re a much better solution that’s more flexible and powerful, and reliable. At around the same price; less if you consider they include their PoE (proprietary, not standard PoE) adapter and the Open Mesh adapters cost an extra $20. For a single building where I can get wires to switches and APs, I’d do UniFi all day long (I’ve done several small deployments plus one 8-AP and one 20-AP deployment of UniFi and they’re all working great).

    There are also some other Ubiquity products such as the NanoStations and NanoBridges that can do directional point-to-point connections, and PicoStations that are omnidirectional but use the same software as the Nano devices instead of the centralized “Enterprise wifi” controller of the UniFi solution. It might cost a little more, but I’d actually prefer a solution using all Ubiquity gear over the Open Mesh stuff. For example, I’d have a central building with a PicoStation AP with each remote building using a NanoStation or NanoBridge directional unit pointed at the PicoStation and running a cable to a UniFi AP that would serve clients at each location. Preferably the central location would also be directional but if they’re close enough, a PicoStation (or possibly even a UniFi AP) placed centrally with directionals pointing in toward it would probably work well enough. If you can do all the backhaul on 5GHz (not possible with UniFi AP as central since it only does 2.4GHz but PicoStation comes in 5GHz flavors) and then use UniFi on 2.4GHz for clients you’ll be even better off, if you can get line-of-sight for 5GHz. Nice thing is for larger buildings you could still put a switch in and put multiple UniFi APs off of it around the building.

    I’d need a lot more detail about the physical structures to make any more specific recommendations. However, I’m just “mostly satisfied” with Open Mesh and not really thrilled or excited about it. It still works where I put it in, but I probably wouldn’t do it that way again.


    David Szpunar on February 20th, 2012