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  1. #1

    Wink Extending an Existing Outdoor AP (TL-WA7210N)

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    Hi,

    At the beginning of this year, I set up an Outdoor AP at our local Model Town using a TL-WA7210N. The season has just ended and the consensus was that the network worked well except for one issue; due to the layout of the buildings on the site, the visitors have to walk some distance away from the entrance kiosk before they can 'see' the signal with their devices. What we would like to do is to extend the existing coverage (using the same SSID) so that they can login at the gate and then pick up the original signal as they get further down the path.

    Reading the manual, the 'Repeater and Universal Repeater' mode looks as if it might do the trick but I'm not sure because the diagram doesn't really match what I'm trying to do, so I have some questions:
    1. Can I use another TL-WA7210N to extend the coverage?
    2. If so, what configuration instructions in the manual should I follow?
    3. If not, can anyone suggest how this can be done?
    The Model Town operates as a registered charity, so cheap would be good.

  2. #2
    How many maximum clients will connect to TL-WA7210N?

    I would not use TL-WA7210N as a Repeater because of the limited performance. Since TL-WA7210N is equipped with a directional antenna, you can connect an external omni-directional antenna to cover more places. Or just add an EAP110-Outdoor which can cover 200m far and handle 25-30 clients.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Carat1 View Post
    How many maximum clients will connect to TL-WA7210N?
    We probably get up to 100 Visitors at the Model Town at any one time, but I suspect that quite a small proportion might be logging in while they are there (quite a lot are very small children). Of course, if we manage to get the Visitors logging in at the entrance, then quite a few more are likely to use the system. The big problem is that when they do try, they sometimes have problems getting access, but by then they are away from the kiosk where the staff are available to help them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carat1 View Post
    I would not use TL-WA7210N as a Repeater because of the limited performance. Since TL-WA7210N is equipped with a directional antenna, you can connect an external omni-directional antenna to cover more places. Or just add an EAP110-Outdoor which can cover 200m far and handle 25-30 clients.
    Thanks. Can an EAP act as a repeater? I've downloaded the manual and I can't see anything in there that would indicate that it can (however I might have missed it).

    To clarify my problem; the TL-WA7210N is mounted on a pole near the eastern end of the site and the entrance kiosk is at the northern end of the site. The distance isn't great and the signal at the southern end of the site is very good, at around 30-40 metres. The distance to the entrance is a bit less than that, but there are two buildings that mask the antenna and the direction is also off the centre axis. What I want is a device that can work as a WiFi Extender with an antenna that is high enough above the roof line of the entrance building to 'see' the TL-WA7210N and then re-transmit the signal with the same SSID. (We have one of these in our house and have used it in that mode, but it is not an outdoor device.) There is no possibility of running an Ethernet cable to the entrance building, so it has to be a WiFi repeater / extender (are they the same thing?)).

    So can the EAP110-Outdoor do that? If so, can it do it by receiving the signal from the TL-WA7210N or will it need another EAP device to do it? It appears to have the necessary antenna setup, but I can't see anything in the manual that would indicate that the internal electronics and firmware can achieve what I need.
    Last edited by TerryJC; 11-01-2017 at 15:05.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TerryJC View Post
    So can the EAP110-Outdoor do that?
    No, it can't work as a repeater. As Carat1 said, repeater mode should be avoided. Repeaters will repeat each Ethernet frame and while they do so, the WiFi channel can't be used by the main station. Therefore, repeaters will cut total bandwidth by factor 2^n, where n is the number of repeaters. In SOHO installations having one repeater is o.k., but in business-class installations I would never use repeaters (we did once and had a lot of problems with those setups even at places with very small number of visitors, but several repeaters).

    As for the distance of 30-40m or less the EAP110-Outdoor performs very well, but you would be still limited to max. 20-30 users per AP until throughput will go down dramatically (this is caused by the CSMA/CA protocol needed to avoid collisions of Ethernet frames if you want to know the reason for this limit).
    Last edited by R1D2; 11-01-2017 at 19:25.

  5. #5
    Drawing a pic helps us better understand the environment. According to your description, I got this in my mind. Correct me as much as you can.
    Attached Images  

  6. #6
    Carat1,

    Your diagram is functionally right, but not quite accurate geographically. You can see the layout at https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/...94!4d-1.990416. Assuming that your diagram portrays North at the top, the 'Entrance Kiosk' is actually inside the the northernmost building on the side furthest from the TL-WA7210N (under the canopy, which also doesn't help). The TL-WA7210N is mounted on a pole attached to the top right-hand corner of the ridged roofed building next to the white Marquee at the southernmost part of the site. (This building houses a Raspberry Pi which is the webserver for the attraction and provides a site map, an Audio Guide and a Kiddies Quiz so far). That building was chosen because it has a small store at the back of it with mains so that we could protect and power the electronics. The TL-WA7210N points slightly north of east and the Gazebo is at the eastern end of the site, (you can just make it out in the far corner).

    The location for the TL-WA7210N wasn't our first choice, but the management and Trustees were concerned about aesthetics and possible complaints from the neighbours. The most ideal spot of course would have been at the Entrance Building itself, but that is right next to the main road and many houses. The next ideal spot would be the Gazebo or somewhere in the hedge at the bottom of the site. However the availability of mains and a dry location pretty much precluded that.

    So we have what we have and if a better solution than the one we have could be offered, we would be very pleased to hear it.
    Last edited by TerryJC; 11-02-2017 at 08:04. Reason: corrct speller

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by R1D2 View Post
    Repeaters will repeat each Ethernet frame and while they do so, the WiFi channel can't be used by the main station. Therefore, repeaters will cut total bandwidth by factor 2^n, where n is the number of repeaters. In SOHO installations having one repeater is o.k., but in business-class installations I would never use repeaters (we did once and had a lot of problems with those setups even at places with very small number of visitors, but several repeaters).
    R1D2,

    A repeater and an extender are the same thing right?

    If I understand you correctly, the repeater re-transmits everything on the same channel as the main AP, so the visitor simply logs on to an SSID in one location and doesn't have to log in again as he moves into the area covered by the main AP? If that is correct, then I think that what you are saying is that the traffic through the repeater has to also go through the main AP, so that bandwidth is unavailable to users trying to use that device. Have I got it right?

    My problem is that, at the moment, I can't see an alternative, unless we can move the TL-WA7210N.
    Last edited by TerryJC; 11-02-2017 at 07:35. Reason: Small addition

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TerryJC View Post
    A repeater and an extender are the same thing right?
    A repeater is a range extender, but not every range extender works in repeater mode. There are other modes, too, but none of those are supported by EAP access points.

    If I understand you correctly, the repeater re-transmits everything on the same channel as the main AP, so the visitor simply logs on to an SSID in one location and doesn't have to log in again as he moves into the area covered by the main AP?
    Yes. A repeater usually not only uses the same SSID, but has to use the same WiFi channel as the master device and repeats every Ethernet frame (that's the reason it's cutting the bandwidth).

    If that is correct, then I think that what you are saying is that the traffic through the repeater has to also go through the main AP, so that bandwidth is unavailable to users trying to use that device. Have I got it right?
    Yes. You could also see it this way: a repeater will cut possible number of clients to half the number of the WiFi cell if bandwidth remains constant.

    but the management and Trustees were concerned about aesthetics and possible complaints from the neighbours.
    Neither aesthetics nor complaints from neighbors are a proper decision base for technical aspects. With an EAP110-Outdoor placed in the center of the area, you could easily cover the whole area up to 50-70m radius around the EAP's 360 omnidirectional antennas. The TL-WA7210 is well suited for directional, long-range links and it features a directional antenna with a 60 beam width meaning radio energy is focussed in this area at the price of more or less blind spots outside this angle.

    If your manager would be my boss, I would buy an EAP110-Outdoor, place a sticker on it reading "TL-WA7210" and mount it in the center of the area.
    Last edited by R1D2; 11-02-2017 at 08:30.

  9. #9
    Hi Terry,

    The layout helps a lot to understand. I still need to know more details to get close to a better idea.

    As the attached pic shows,

    1. Is 7210 located in the middle building(let's say building B)?
    2. How far between Building A and B,between B and C?
    3. What's the height difference between Building A and B, between B and C? If it's not much, you can deploy an EAP100-Outdoor(should be connected via Ethernet cable instead of WiFi from your main router) on the roof of Building B. You can keep 7210(configure the same SSID on 7210 and EAP110) or just replace it with EAP110 if there are no more than 40 clients.
    Make sure the difference height between the clients and EAP110 would be no more than 3 meters or the signal on the ground would be bad.

    Right now, i can only think about EAP110-Outdoor or CAP330-Outdoor (both have omni-directional antenna covering 360 degrees) for this site. So, you can simply go to a local store to borrow an EAP110-Outdoor or buy it from Amazon (can be returned within 30 days of receipt of shipment in most cases if EAP110-Outdoor is not that good for you).
    Attached Images  

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by R1D2 View Post
    Neither aesthetics nor complaints from neighbors are a proper decision base for technical aspects. With an EAP110-Outdoor placed in the center of the area, you could easily cover the whole area up to 50-70m radius around the EAP's 360 omnidirectional antennas. The TL-WA7210 is well suited for directional, long-range links and it features a directional antenna with a 60 beam width meaning radio energy is focussed in this area at the price of more or less blind spots outside this angle.
    Unfortunately, like everything else in life, this has to be a compromise. Complaints from neighbours could lead to problems with the local authority and a subsequent order to remove the Wireless AP completely. From an aesthetics point of view a Wireless AP antenna in the middle of the site is the last thing that we want. The Model Town is a replica of the real town (across the road) as it was in 1951 when it was originally constructed. It would be quite difficult to convince the visitors that the TL-WA7210 is anything other than what it is; hence the location away from the models.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Carat1 View Post
    1. Is 7210 located in the middle building(let's say building B)? .
    No.. It is on the bottom right-hand corner of Building C.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carat1 View Post
    2. How far between Building A and B,between B and C?.
    About 5-6 m between A and B, 3 m between B and C.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carat1 View Post
    3. What's the height difference between Building A and B, between B and C?
    They are all roughly the same height.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carat1 View Post
    If it's not much, you can deploy an EAP100-Outdoor(should be connected via Ethernet cable instead of WiFi from your main router) on the roof of Building B. You can keep 7210(configure the same SSID on 7210 and EAP110) or just replace it with EAP110 if there are no more than 40 clients.
    Make sure the difference height between the clients and EAP110 would be no more than 3 meters or the signal on the ground would be bad.

    Right now, i can only think about EAP110-Outdoor or CAP330-Outdoor (both have omni-directional antenna covering 360 degrees) for this site. So, you can simply go to a local store to borrow an EAP110-Outdoor or buy it from Amazon (can be returned within 30 days of receipt of shipment in most cases if EAP110-Outdoor is not that good for you).
    So what I think you are saying is that an EAP110-Outdoor or CAP330-Outdoor would provide much better coverage because they are more powerful and have an omni-directional antenna, even though the bulk of Building A would still be between the antenna and the Visitor. Are these devices really that good?

    Working with the TL-WA7210 and the internal WiFi Router in the Office (for staff use only) we have found that the walls of these buildings are quite good at attenuating the signals. We came to the conclusion that the construction method of the walls includes a metal mesh embedded in the concrete and so they act like a Faraday Cage.

    However, picking up on your suggestion, I realise that there might be another way:
    • We mount a EAP110-Outdoor or CAP330-Outdoor on the wall of Building A, high enough to see over the local shrubs, but not so high that it will be too visible from the road or neighbour's houses.
    • We route the Ethernet from the current webserver location in Building C to Building A using Powerline Adaptors (assuming that both buildings are connected to the same phase at the Consumer Unit in Building A.
    • We leave the TL-WA7210 where it is and set both APs to the same SSID as you suggest.
    There are still some ifs here; will the Trustees agree to a second AP near the entrance and will Powerline Adaptors work. However, if the technical aspects are OK then I could probably sell this to them as the solution that they want.
    Last edited by TerryJC; 11-03-2017 at 10:43.


 

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