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bburley

join:2010-04-30
Cold Lake, AB

[Equipment] 2.4 GHz Sector Equipment

I have been thinking about putting up some 2.4GHz Sectors to lighten the load on a 900MHz-only tower. It is in a heavily treed area, but I should be able to reach a portion of the clients. I have yet to do a coverage plot as I just started looking at the equipment.

I like MikroTik more than Ubiquiti, but the cost difference is making me think longer.

I thought about the Rocket Titanium series but I can't see the benefit unless there is something I am missing. The standard Rocket M2 and 15dBi 120 deg. sector antenna with RF Armor shields costs about 65% less than the Titanium setup. The sector weight is 80% of Titanium and the wind surface is 2.26 sq. ft. vs. 3.22 sq. ft. for the Titanium sector. Does anyone know any advantage of using Titanium?

Then there is the CPE's. I don't think I am interested in 1x1 Mimo or low gain so the PicoStation, Bullet, and AirGrid's are probably out.

The Rocket Dish appears to be the best but the cost is certainly higher. For easy paths, I should have some NanoStation and/or NanoBridge M2's although I am not sure if one is better than the other. I may even grab a couple of NanoStation Loco M2 to play with as they are cheap enough.

I would appreciate any comments about pros, cons, or performance issues with M2 CPE's.

jcremin

join:2009-12-22
Siren, WI
kudos:2
My honest opinion is that UBNT AirOS on the tower side sucks. I have a few AP's that are AirOS, and troubleshooting is a pain in the ass compared to the rest of my network which runs MT. Yeah, I set them up hoping that all the Airmax promises would make me a believer, but it just didn't happen. I'm planning on swapping them out for MT AP's in the near future. The UBNT logging sucks, changing simple settings that are immediate on MT take a reboot on UBNT, not being able to have multiple windows open at the same time sucks, no torch, no tx/rx signal strengths, no pps, etc.

UBNT for CPE's on the other hand has worked quite well for me. Pretty much all my 2.4ghz AP's are XR2's right now, with a mix of NS2, PS2, NSM2, and NBM2 for clients. Moving forward, I wouldn't waste any money on the old legacy NS2 and PS2 clients. The NSM2 works just as well if not better even in B/G mode and is ready for N and dual-pol upgrades. What sucks is that there is no good dual-pol replacement for the PS2. Sure, there's the Nanobridge, but their TX power sucks and you only get about a 3db improvement over the NS2 on the tower side.

That brings me to one of my complaints about UBNT CPE's connected to my MT towers. EVERY SINGLE tower shows very asymmetrical signal strengths. For instance, even if the NSM2 CPE reports -50 signal, when I log into the tower the signal will be somewhere between -60 and -70. Once in a great while the TX and RX are close but usually not. I don't know if the CPE's are lying and showing a stronger signal that they are really receiving, or if they are lying and not actually putting out the 28db TX power they claim.

I'm going to be experimenting with different CPE's soon. I tried one of the 20db High Power AirGrid's a few days ago, and the TX/RX were within 1 or 2 db of each other, which is promising, but it was only one test so far. I'm also going to be trying some of the MT SXT CPE's to see how they compare with the NSM2's. My plan is to switch one tower completely over to MT CPE's to see if Nstreme/NV2 works much better than AirMax did for me. But even then, there's no really good option for a higher power dual-pol CPE.

At this point, I would still consider single pol 2.4ghz a much better option than anything on 900mhz. Which means that I currently see more value in the AirGrid than the NanoBridge, even if I do have to give up the dual polarity.

TheHox

join:2012-05-31
reply to bburley
While I am no help, I myself have thought about those as well, and you have thought about every single factor, price, weight, wind load, performance. I would be very interested to hear others replies as well.

bburley

join:2010-04-30
Cold Lake, AB
reply to jcremin
I agree with you 100% about airOS, but I have learned to work with it in between four letter words. For me, I have airMAX working very well on a 900 MHz tower, but one of the things that makes it work is the dual-polarity yagi. Ubiquiti does not have a similar antenna for 2.4 GHz.

I am not sure if I want to mix MikroTik AP's with Ubiquiti CPE's. It may work but I am optimistic that I can get airMAX working on 2.4 GHz. I don't have a good reason to be optimistic, but it is better than being negative

Another problem with going MikroTik for AP's is the lack of easy sector shielding. I would prefer shielding as I am trying to get the best results in an area that is probably poor for 2.4 GHz.

I was on the UBNT website and didn't even see the legacy (non-M) products listed.

For NanoBridge vs. NanoStation, the NBM2 has only 23dBm but with 18dBi gain, while the NSM2 has 28dBm with only 11dBi gain. Reading specs are one thing, but real world tests are the final verdict. You seem to be saying that the NBM2 is 3dB better at the tower side but you don't seem that happy about it.

It seems normal to me that it is harder for the tower to hear the CPE's buried in obstructions than for the CPE's to hear the tower with its high unobstructed antenna.

In an ideal world I would have two test towers, more money, and too many helpers to easily compare options, but I may have to settle for reading more comments

Newbie

join:2011-04-18
Couple things:

Stay far far far far away from the Titaniums IMHO, they are exploding left and right for people (source added)
»forum.ubnt.com/showthread.php?t=64745

They have major kinks to work out with those, you may be lucky and get one that doesnt explode, but who wants to take the risk

I have maybe around 300 customers on 2.4 Airmax AP's with NBM2 clients and they work great as long as I use 10mhz CW.

I have not used Tik's from a wireless standpoint but I dont think you can go wrong here for the price of either manufacturer.

jcremin

join:2009-12-22
Siren, WI
kudos:2
reply to bburley
said by bburley:

I agree with you 100% about airOS, but I have learned to work with it in between four letter words. For me, I have airMAX working very well on a 900 MHz tower, but one of the things that makes it work is the dual-polarity yagi. Ubiquiti does not have a similar antenna for 2.4 GHz.

I've learned to work with it too, but when I'm on the road between jobs, I need to be able to drill into detail fast, and MT lets me do that. Also, I'm getting to the point that I'm not always available and someone answering the phone may need to be able to troubleshoot easily. Sure MT may have a bit more learning curve, but with my towers being 95% MT, it makes sense to abandon the 5% that I setup with UBNT to keep things standard. If your network is all UBNT, then sticking with UBNT might make sense. But all of my other complaints about UBNT still hold true, regardless.

said by bburley:

I am not sure if I want to mix MikroTik AP's with Ubiquiti CPE's. It may work but I am optimistic that I can get airMAX working on 2.4 GHz. I don't have a good reason to be optimistic, but it is better than being negative

And for me, it's been a no-brainer. Works fine. I don't have the option to run a polling protocol, but for just 802.11, there haven't been any major compatibility issues.

said by bburley:

Another problem with going MikroTik for AP's is the lack of easy sector shielding. I would prefer shielding as I am trying to get the best results in an area that is probably poor for 2.4 GHz.

You can hook any antenna up to your MT system. I'm using lots of UBNT antennas for backhaul and hooking them to MT routerboards (running DBii wireless cards).

said by bburley:

I was on the UBNT website and didn't even see the legacy (non-M) products listed.

I haven't checked the UBNT site, but I know Streakwave and most distributes are still selling the products. I just figure that it doesn't make sense to use them anymore since there's no real advantage that I can think of.

said by bburley:

For NanoBridge vs. NanoStation, the NBM2 has only 23dBm but with 18dBi gain, while the NSM2 has 28dBm with only 11dBi gain. Reading specs are one thing, but real world tests are the final verdict. You seem to be saying that the NBM2 is 3dB better at the tower side but you don't seem that happy about it.

My real world tests are that the Nanobridge barley adds any extra performance compared to the Nanostation. I made the mistake starting out that it was fine to set someone up with lower signal to the tower as long as their side of the link was good. That was fine until I started loading up the towers and the lower signals started accumulating and creating capactiy issues. I don't really see the point of the NB when it has such low output power and creates the asymmetric signals. If I needed the extra gain on the customer end, I'm going to want it on the tower side too. Now if you only have your tower running at 23 db tx power, then I guess it shouldn't make a difference.

said by bburley:

It seems normal to me that it is harder for the tower to hear the CPE's buried in obstructions than for the CPE's to hear the tower with its high unobstructed antenna.

Well, technically the RF has to use the same path in both directions, so obstructions and path loss should be the same. There are obviously some situations that make things perform differently in each direction (reflections, noise, etc) but on a clear LOS link, I shouldn't have a 20 db difference in signal when I have the same TX power at both sides of the link.

said by bburley:

In an ideal world I would have two test towers, more money, and too many helpers to easily compare options, but I may have to settle for reading more comments

I hear you. I don't really have the extra money or time to be experimenting, but I'm going to force myself to do a couple tests and compare all MT vs all UBNT vs a mixed environment. The results will help me make the best long term investment into my network. I'll try to share what I find on here, assuming I remember this thread by then. lol

bburley

join:2010-04-30
Cold Lake, AB
Thanks for all the input. I will continue to think about it while I do the coverage plots this week.