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uk.telecom.broadband (UK broadband) (uk.telecom.broadband) Discussion of broadband services, technology and equipment as provided in the UK. Discussions of specific services based on ADSL, cable modems or other broadband technology are also on-topic. Advertising is not allowed.

Any comparable alternatives to TP-Link TL-WA5210G or TL-WA7210N?



 
 
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  #1  
Old March 15th 14, 11:57 AM posted to uk.telecom.broadband
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 83
Default Any comparable alternatives to TP-Link TL-WA5210G or TL-WA7210N?

I have a TP-Link TL-WA5210 which I am using in 'WISP Client' mode to
connect to public WiFi hotsposts like BTWifi (was Openzone and FON).

I now need a second one for a similar application and I was wondering
if there are any obvious alternatives that I might be missing as,
although the TP-Link one is OK, it does have a few little quirks that
other similar devices might avoid.

The facilities I need a-

Ability to work in WISP Client mode, i.e. can 'pass on' the
connection from a WiFi hotspot to a local system which either
doesn't have WiFi itself or (more likely) doesn't have the
required range.

Some sort of means for checking/maximising signal strength, using
directional aerial or whatever.


The things that could be improved on the TL-WA5210G (and presumably
the TL-WA7210N which is very similar but does 11N as well as 11G) a-

Make it easier to select which WiFi hotspot to connect to, the
TL-WA5210G's 'survey' just presents one with a list of every WiFi
signal it can see with no way of sorting or filtering. In one
place I'm using it there are well over 100 signals and it's very
difficult to sort out the best of, say, the BT signals.

The TL-WA5210G has only one ethernet port (i.e. it doesn't have an
internal switch) so one needs either a switch or a router attached
to it if it's to be used with more than one system. (The
TL-WA5210G can operate in a different mode where it is both a WISP
Client *and* a WiFi router itself but since this involves time
multiplexing the two modes it's not ideal)

The signal/aerial checking ability of the TL-WA5210G is fairly
rudimentary, in particular it only works once the TL-WA5210G has
actually connected to the SSID being used. With a weak signal
this is a bit of a catch 22 situation because you can't use the
tools to improve the weak signal.

--
Chris Green

  #5  
Old March 15th 14, 06:56 PM posted to uk.telecom.broadband
DaverN
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 15
Default Any comparable alternatives to TP-Link TL-WA5210G or TL-WA7210N?

On 15/03/2014 17:13, wrote:
wrote:
alexd wrote:
(for it is he) wrote:

I was wondering if there are any obvious alternatives that I might be
missing

Mikrotik Routerboard RB951-2N. 5x ethernet ports, 2 internal antennas. No
external antenna [although I could have sworn it did]. CLI, GUI and web
interface. More wireless configurability than you can shake a stick at.


+1

I just searched for this expecting a silly price but it's actually
cheaper than the TP-Link ones. I'll dig some further, thank you!

However, even though the Mikrotik devices look interesting there are
some fundamental bits missing for my application:-

As far as I can see it doesn't seem to be able to function as a
client to another AP, at least I couldn't find anything about
using it like this in the documentation.

There appear to be no facilities for scanning for wireless APs in
range, nor for aligning aerials etc.


You've just found out Mikrotik's major weakness: documentation.

Anyway, AIUI the wireless routers are capable of satisfying both of your
requirements. One main advantage I looked for specifically was that the
output power on 2.4Ghz band by my 951G-2HnD model is the maximum
permitted at 30dBm, and it shows when connecting in my domestic
environment. If you want to use a router in a wireless client mode,
however, that is probably of limited appeal. As you can see, they offer
a large variety of equipment depending upon the specific intended
deployment.

I bought mine through LinITX. If applicable to your choice of hardware,
they offer models with a substituted UK power adaptor. There are other
suppliers in the UK but I am unable to comment on their stock levels or
whether they also offer a UK power supply as a small convenience.

The easiest way to research any configuration issue, I've found, is
simply to Google your query using a little foreknowledge. Therefore
look up:-

1) "routeros wireless station mode" - this is the client mode but there
are many other modes for the wireless functions.

2) "routeros wireless scanning" - The Routeros software includes
spectrum scanning and graphing. Given the internal antennae at
right-angles to each other, aligning them is not an issue I've needed to
address in my circumstances. MikroTik also offer a variety of different
external antennae, but the consumer-grade routers don't now appear to
have accessible RF connectors; check out the commercial-grade equipment
and daughter boards.

Mikrotik's products are aimed mostly at WISPs and SMEs, and they seem to
have addressed most conceivable technical needs by their large range of
hardware combined with their generic software packages.

I would recommend reading their forums, as well as searching through
their documentation and wiki, for a deeper understanding of their
capabilities and their limitations.

--
DaverN

  #6  
Old March 15th 14, 07:31 PM posted to uk.telecom.broadband
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 83
Default Any comparable alternatives to TP-Link TL-WA5210G or TL-WA7210N?

DaverN wrote:
On 15/03/2014 17:13, wrote:
wrote:
alexd wrote:
(for it is he) wrote:

I was wondering if there are any obvious alternatives that I might be
missing

Mikrotik Routerboard RB951-2N. 5x ethernet ports, 2 internal antennas. No
external antenna [although I could have sworn it did]. CLI, GUI and web
interface. More wireless configurability than you can shake a stick at.


+1

I just searched for this expecting a silly price but it's actually
cheaper than the TP-Link ones. I'll dig some further, thank you!

However, even though the Mikrotik devices look interesting there are
some fundamental bits missing for my application:-

As far as I can see it doesn't seem to be able to function as a
client to another AP, at least I couldn't find anything about
using it like this in the documentation.

There appear to be no facilities for scanning for wireless APs in
range, nor for aligning aerials etc.


You've just found out Mikrotik's major weakness: documentation.

Yes, I did find it a little 'quirky' shall we say. I wasn't
absolutely sure it couldn't be a Wireless Client but the section that
talked about "Wireless Client" seemed to be all about setting up
clients to use the Mikrotik.


Anyway, AIUI the wireless routers are capable of satisfying both of your
requirements. One main advantage I looked for specifically was that the
output power on 2.4Ghz band by my 951G-2HnD model is the maximum
permitted at 30dBm, and it shows when connecting in my domestic
environment. If you want to use a router in a wireless client mode,
however, that is probably of limited appeal. As you can see, they offer
a large variety of equipment depending upon the specific intended
deployment.

I bought mine through LinITX. If applicable to your choice of hardware,
they offer models with a substituted UK power adaptor. There are other
suppliers in the UK but I am unable to comment on their stock levels or
whether they also offer a UK power supply as a small convenience.

The easiest way to research any configuration issue, I've found, is
simply to Google your query using a little foreknowledge. Therefore
look up:-

1) "routeros wireless station mode" - this is the client mode but there
are many other modes for the wireless functions.

OK, I've looked at that page and while it seems to confirm that the
Mikrotik router can do what I want it doesn't tell me much about it
does it! :-)

The Network Scan doesn't offer any more than the TP-Link one. This is
one of my very specific problems, how to sort out a hotspot to use
when there are well over 100 available.


2) "routeros wireless scanning" - The Routeros software includes
spectrum scanning and graphing. Given the internal antennae at
right-angles to each other, aligning them is not an issue I've needed to
address in my circumstances. MikroTik also offer a variety of different
external antennae, but the consumer-grade routers don't now appear to
have accessible RF connectors; check out the commercial-grade equipment
and daughter boards.

I couldn't see how the spectrum scanning would really help, though it
might I suppose. A directional antenna *is* very useful though
because it can help minimise unwanted signals as well as improve the
wanted ones.

Mikrotik's products are aimed mostly at WISPs and SMEs, and they seem to
have addressed most conceivable technical needs by their large range of
hardware combined with their generic software packages.

Not always a good approach (generic software packages), I'd be much
happier with something that did one job well - the original Unix
philosophy. Part of the problem with the Microtik software is simply
that it's a single program trying to do everything possible.


I would recommend reading their forums, as well as searching through
their documentation and wiki, for a deeper understanding of their
capabilities and their limitations.

I may well do so, thanks.

--
Chris Green

  #7  
Old March 16th 14, 10:13 AM posted to uk.telecom.broadband
alexd
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,765
Default Any comparable alternatives to TP-Link TL-WA5210G or TL-WA7210N?

(for it is he) wrote:

I wasn't absolutely sure it couldn't be a Wireless Client but the section
that talked about "Wireless Client" seemed to be all about setting up
clients to use the Mikrotik.


http://wiki.mikrotik.com/wiki/Connec...reless_Network

This is one of my very specific problems, how to sort out a hotspot to use
when there are well over 100 available.


What parameter are you hoping to see? Mine shows MAC, SSID, channel width,
frequency, SNR, noise floor, signal strength. One thing it doesn't say,
which may be applicable to your use case, is which APs are running with
encryption; you have to click on the AP to see this.

I couldn't see how the spectrum scanning would really help, though it
might I suppose.


More useful if you want to run an AP rather than connect to one - helps to
choose a quiet channel. Although it does give you a tree with each AP it can
hear and the MACs of all its clients.

A directional antenna *is* very useful though because it can help minimise
unwanted signals as well as improve the wanted ones.


If you absolutely need to add an external antenna you can built your own
router by selecting a board, a case and a wireless card if any of the pre-
built ones don't do what you want.

Something else you might want to consider is the Ubiquiti AirRouter HP. This
is only about 60 and runs Ubiquiti AirOS, which is pretty much the same
deal as Mikrotik RouterOS, but with fewer knobs to tweak.

https://community.ubnt.com/t5/airRou...de/td-p/155199

Not always a good approach (generic software packages), I'd be much
happier with something that did one job well - the original Unix
philosophy. Part of the problem with the Microtik software is simply
that it's a single program trying to do everything possible.


The 'program' here is the Linux kernel. What Mikrotik add is a proprietary
UI [web/GUI/CLI], some userspace tools and some proprietary wireless drivers
to do stuff like TDMA in license-free bands [not relevant in your case as
you're wanting to connect to public hotspots]. If you don't want to run it
on x86 hardware, they'll sell you reasonably priced hardware to run it on
too.

Note that this is pretty much TP-Link's business model too, except TP-Link's
UI will expose far fewer of the capabilities of the kernel to the user, and
good luck getting any support for it.

If the sheer range of features it has offends you, you can uninstall the
packages you don't want, or click 'Design Skin' in the web interface, and
un-tick all the features you don't want to see :-P

--
http://ale.cx/ (AIM:troffasky) )
08:51:57 up 73 days, 11:30, 10 users, load average: 0.69, 0.60, 0.51
"If being trapped in a tropical swamp with Anthony Worral-Thompson and
Christine Hamilton is reality then I say, pass the mind-altering drugs"
-- Humphrey Lyttleton

  #8  
Old March 16th 14, 03:56 PM posted to uk.telecom.broadband
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 83
Default Any comparable alternatives to TP-Link TL-WA5210G or TL-WA7210N?

alexd wrote:
(for it is he) wrote:

I wasn't absolutely sure it couldn't be a Wireless Client but the section
that talked about "Wireless Client" seemed to be all about setting up
clients to use the Mikrotik.


http://wiki.mikrotik.com/wiki/Connec...reless_Network

This is one of my very specific problems, how to sort out a hotspot to use
when there are well over 100 available.


What parameter are you hoping to see? Mine shows MAC, SSID, channel width,
frequency, SNR, noise floor, signal strength. One thing it doesn't say,
which may be applicable to your use case, is which APs are running with
encryption; you have to click on the AP to see this.

As I said in my original posting what I need isn't more parameters but
a way to filter what is shown. What would be ideal would be ways to:-

* filter out all the signals below a certain level
* select specific SSIDs (preferably using an RE)
* select only unencrypted/open SSIDs

A directional antenna *is* very useful though because it can help minimise
unwanted signals as well as improve the wanted ones.


If you absolutely need to add an external antenna you can built your own
router by selecting a board, a case and a wireless card if any of the pre-
built ones don't do what you want.

Directional External. The TP-Link (and other similar) external APs
are weatherproof with a directional aerial inside the housing. Stick
on a pole and rotate the pole to point it in the required direction.


Not always a good approach (generic software packages), I'd be much
happier with something that did one job well - the original Unix
philosophy. Part of the problem with the Microtik software is simply
that it's a single program trying to do everything possible.


The 'program' here is the Linux kernel. What Mikrotik add is a proprietary


Nearly all routers (and similar) devices now use a Linux kernel, that
doesn't mean what the user sees has to be complex.

--
Chris Green

 




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