Sometimes working from home and home improvement don’t mix.
Last week I was getting new interior doors hung, which was creating a lot of noise in the house. I had to attend an important conference call where I needed to use my computer and my VOIP phone, which works through my iPad. I tried sitting in my truck in the driveway, but the wireless signal just wasn’t strong enough. My phone call was breaking up, and making me look unprofessional. I eventually gave up and used my cellphone, eating up a good chunk of my minutes for the month, perhaps sending me into overage territory.
This frustrating failure of technology gave me exactly the justification I needed to purchase some fancy gadgets. I purchased a Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M5 and a Nanostation Loco M2. They are both 802.11N outdoor wireless radio devices. The M2 operates under the 2.4Ghz B/G/N spectrum and the M5 operates under the 5ghz A/N spectrum.
These devices are really neat. They get their power over ethernet and are weather resistant. They are high power and have high-gain antennas built in. They also have a really nice configuration GUI.
Because my house has thick walls and aluminum siding, it’s difficult to find a location where the signal will be strong throughout the house and the yard. I decided that on the roof facing down would work well. The directional antennas shoot a nice cone-shaped beam that can penetrate the roof and ceiling. Outdoors, we would typically be outside the cone of the beam, but a clear line of sight should enable a strong signal anyway.
I used a mast I had bought from Radio Shack with a mounting kit that attaches to the sewer vent.
I fashioned a couple L adapters using 8 inch pieces of 1″ PVC pipe and some tees.
The Nanostations are secured to the PVC using zip-ties.
I left some slack ethernet cable on the roof so that I can easily lower the antenna if I need to. The wires are routed through a small hole I punched in the wall to the attic space. Since they are close to the plumbing stack, fishing the wires down to the basement where the modem and router is was no problem.
The results are impressive! I have an excellent signal throughout the house and property, even in the garage. I also have my iPad on the separate 5Ghz band so that my other devices won’t interfere with my VOIP calls.