David Szpunar: Owner, Servant 42 and Servant Voice

David's Church Information Technology

July 24th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

I Can Play The Merakis!

The install and test was a success! Four Meraki Mini access points are up and running at the campgrounds, providing internet access through the satellite connection (which was the weak link during our testing, being slow or down most of the time, but it was working better before we arrived so we have higher hopes). We even made it back to Lakeview before 5 pm, which was our goal!

There’s not even that much to tell. The setup was the easiest part: unpack, plug in to power. Place near window for best signal. Plug internet line into the one next to the satellite modem. And that part had been done for us! We primarily tested the existing network using VisiWave to document signal strength, and moved the fourth access point around to various locations to make sure when we order four more, they will cover what we want them to (they will). The VisiWave mapping was the most time-consuming part of the trip (besides waiting for the slow/disconnected internet), but I haven’t had time to pull useful reports out of that data yet.

The Meraki Dashboard is the truly novel and useful tool. You can place your nodes on a map, view how they are interconnected, monitor bandwidth usage and speeds by node and by user, block or whitelist users, set up a splash page, security, and quite a few other nice tweaks that I wouldn’t have thought of but make perfect sense when you see them!

I took a couple of screenshots of the node map overview, using standard and satellite maps:

Meraki at Campgrounds, Standard Map Overview Meraki at Campgrounds, Satellite Hybrid Overview

If you hold your mouse over a node (in the real Dashboard, not these pictures of course! But you knew that…), the route to the internet turns green (one of the gray lines between nodes in the standard map), and some external text shows some additional status information. The number on a node is the number of users in the last 24 hours. These pictures just scratch the surface of the control interface, which is well thought out and feature rich. But that’s all I have time for, so you’ll have to grab some of your own Minis and mess around!

Oh yeah…sorry for the joke in the title. I do love my bad puns…

UPDATE: On Feb. 21st, 2012, after a new comment and response below, I wrote a post that’s a bit of a followup to this one, over at my current (though still infrequently-updated) blog: Ubiquity UniFi vs. Open Mesh.

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    I’m thinking about starting a mesh in our area using Minis. I haven’t had a chance to play with one yet. It seems that Meraki doesn’t answer all of my questions on their site. I’m sure you guys are using the “Legacy” edition from Meraki. Have you added more nodes yet? Did you have to change to a “Standard” or “Pro” edition when (if) you did?

    Matthew Irvine on January 6th, 2008
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    Yes, we are using the legacy edition, the only one at the time :-) I haven’t added more nodes; in fact doing so before the end of the year (when they said they were going to stop selling them) was on my to-do list but it slipped my mind, unfortunately. I have not upgraded yet to Standard or Pro. What questions do you have? Anything I can answer while using Legacy? The four-node network I have is still running but it’s a couple-hour drive away so I don’t do much with it…it just works!

    David Szpunar on January 6th, 2008