E-Town WiFi Network
Edelweiss Community in Winzama Washington, 98833

 

Re-thinking Community WiFi
June 27, 2006

I recently attempted to put a WiFi node at the New Edelweiss pool...after several hundred dollars in new equipment, I was unable to connect to the existing WiFi network due to distance, trees and foliage.  I have not been able to find a resident closer to the pool who is willing to share a 10th of their bandwidth for this project.

But the exercise provided some insight to Community WiFi and providing it.  Since 2009, I've shared my DSL connection.  For one year, I added a second DSL line to augment what we had at home and when the bill hit $133 a month, I dropped the second DSL line. 

So, now 7 years later, I think most people have access to cellular data, especially now that Verizon has a 3/4g LTE tower at Mazama Junction.  It is more evident that folks are simply using this free bandwidth to save their monthly data allocation.  The original premise was to provide WiFi for those who needed a connection rather than supplement their capability.

So, now, I've chosen to drop the speeds of the WiFi on the open access points (Homestead and E-Town-Open) to make it more painful to supplement.  Those who still have no data will suffer but consider it better than none at all, while my household will have better access.  During the busy peak weekends, I've had up to 33 users supported by my poor and slow DSL and it has impacted our own use at times.

Sorry folks, but rather than taking down the community WiFi completely, I've chosen to still provide the service to the community....albeit, slower.

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Ubiquiti UniFi 2.4 and 5.7 Ghz WiFi System

Since September 7, 2013, we have been experimenting with Ubiquiti's "UniFi" series of 2.4/5.7 Ghz (802.11agn) WiFi Access points (AP's) and they are now deployed.  Details are below...

 
E-Town Quick Links
Methow.US E-Town Weather Station
Methow Valley Area Webcams Edelweiss Community
Older Edelweiss WiFi Network by Meraki

 

 

LEGACY INFORMATION

LATEST INFORMATION and DETAILS

This is a new 2 and 5 Ghz network and it should out-perform the existing Meraki network which has been in place since 2008.

If the new UniFi network is successful, the 4 year old Meraki Mesh network will be relegated to secondary position (or ultimately retired).  We are hopeful that the 1 AP and it's commercial grade 13 dBi omni directional antenna will substantially reduce or eliminate the need for what is now 3 remotely located AP/Repeaters and 5 on-site AP's operating in "Mesh Mode".  Early indications show that substantial gains in distance are possible with this combination of new hardware.

SSID Speeds Notes
E-Town-Open 300k down / 40k up 3G speeds; slower but open
E-Town 2 meg to 4 meg down
200k to 400k uplink
Moderate DSL speeds
requires password
E-Town-Closed   Admin and Internal Use Only
NOTE: These are nominal speeds.  During peak holiday periods, up to 20 users may be active and full speeds are not available due to WiFi demands and typical residential use on a 5 meg DSL account.  Email if you have questions or need more access, especially if you wish to become a frequent flyer. 

Our first "Point of Presence" began testing with a single outdoor access point (Ubiquiti UniFi AP-Outdoor 2.4g), a 13dB gain 2.4gig antenna (KP Performance) and high-grade shielded Ethernet cabling at a cost in excess of $460.  After our initial round of successful testing, most of the Meraki's have been decommissioned.


We have had good connections out past 1 mile (LoS) with 2x2 MIMO devices at the far end by using the Ubiquiti Loco M2 at the user's location.  Over 1,500 feet though light brush/trees  has been confirmed also.  While the new network is not a mesh network, it does allow for multiple single hop wireless AP's to be deployed and this can extend the coverage out 150% of the distance with the outdoor unit and 300-500 feet with an indoor unit (both are optional for an end user).  This will enable additional coverage if needed and if determined affordable by us or our users.  The links below are suggestions to get you started. 

It is also possible that a user may wish (or need to) to deploy their own "Client Bridge" device in some homes so that the outdoor signal will be strong indoors.  This will save you the inconvenience of positioning your tablets, phones or computers near a window facing the best signal strength.  An ideal solution would be a Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M2 ($60 Amazon)  and point it at our access point and optionally add a cheap wireless router (router 1, router 2) and you have Ethernet and WiFi in your home that will have the strongest WiFi connections over greater distances to reach our AP.  I recommend the Loco M2 (possibly the Loco M5 (Amazon $67) if you can hear the 5 GHz signal) but basic networking knowledge is needed to set up client premise equipment.

5 Ghz coverage may in fact provide better coverage as there is almost no AP's in our coverage area and this means far less interference overall.  Late model Apple devices support 5 Ghz and prefer to connect to 5 Ghz access points if available.

A simpler but less robust solution is an inexpensive 2.4 Ghz "WiFi Range Extender" (WD My Net, Amazon, $25).  Place it in a location that gets a strong signal from the AP.  This device is only a suggestion as it has not been used by us, so consider it a jumping off point for a range extender.

The very old 802.11b standard may or may not be supported.  It has a negative impact on throughput and very few user devices still support this old standard.  More information on what 2.4 and 5 Ghz and their standards are here.

If you are interested in the technical side of this system, then check out:  http://www.ubnt.com/unifi

It is not likely that we will purchase a second unit to extend coverage, so the burden for more convenient WiFi inside your home will fall those who benefit from this service.  If you use this WiFi service and you wish support our investment in the hardware used in this community network, then donations can be made via PayPal to: E-Town Community WiFi Project .

If you have questions email us at: E-TownWiFiNet@methow.us

Revised: 06/30/2016 E-Town WiFi  

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