Monday, November 07, 2005

Adding Wifi to the WRAP

I've been running WRAP style routers with the Mikrotik RouterOS software for a while now and I have always been interested to see how the built in wireless functionality worked. Up until now we have been using separate Cisco AP352 access points connected via ethernet.

When it came time to order another set of WRAP bits from Yawarra I got a Senao NL-2511MP PLUS miniPCI wireless card. These tiny adaptors pump out 200mW of power, makes it easier to deploy a wireless access point as you run the antenna cable longer or use a smaller (cheaper) antenna. The Cisco's we use are 100mW for comparison. I also got the correct tail from them as I couldn't be bothered working out how to make my own, but now that I've seen one, it doesn't seem that difficult - might need a special crimping tool for the I-PEX connector though.

Now the case that houses the WRAP board doesn't have any holes for the RP-SMA bulkhead connector. Easily fixed with my trusty cordless drill and a few bits - use a small bit to drill a pilot hole, the right sized bit for the actual hole and then a huge bit to tidy the edges of the newly drilled hole (removes dags and unsharpened the edges). Then simply secure the connector using its nut and washer - I stuck the washer on the inside.

Mind you that I did all the drilling with the board removed and replaced the board before mounting the tail.

Once that was all in place I flashed a CF card with RouterOS 2.8.28 and went through the usual install process. Once I had applied the Marinanet configuration I bridged the hotspot ethernet and wireless interfaces and modified the configuration to suit. The wireless interface is set to AP Bridge mode and I left the rest at their defaults for the purpose of testing.

So far it all seems to be working fine. I did a bit of signal strength testing using various antennas and it would appear that I need to go a bit further than 5m to test it properly :P. The management interface for the wireless is quite good, has everything a purebred AP would have.

Some piccies as expected:

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