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Ask Slashdot: Updating a Difficult Campground Wi-Fi Design?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the streaming-for-the-airstream dept.

Networking 237

MahlonS writes "I am a retired network hack wintering in my RV in a campground in southern GA. 3 years ago I reconfigured the Wi-Fi system to a marginal working ability; It's now ready for a serious upgrade, prompted by a new cable net connection replacing a weak DSL. 5 dual-radio HP Curve access points connect to a 6th via single or double radio hops (effectively a Wireless Distribution System) in heavily wooded space. Unidirectional antennas at the APs (the APs are in water resistant enclosures) are placed on poles above the RVs, about 15 feet above ground. Primary hops are about 300 feet to 3 of the APs, secondary hops about the same. Signal measurements indicate that there is adequate RF between the access points. In 2008, average user count averaged about 30 users; newer devices (smart phones, etc) will likely increase that number (winter population total is about 80 RVs). While the old design worked OK when lightly loaded, I suspect that the single DSL line generated so many packet resends that the APs were flooded. This is a quasi-State Park, so money is always an issue, but there is enough squawk from the user community that a modest budget might be approved. The main AP connects to an old Cisco router. Burying wire is frowned upon, due to shallow utilities, and campfire rings that float around the campsites — sometimes melting TV cables. Since I'm not up on current Wi-Fi tech, are there solutions out there that would make this system work much better?"

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Typical RV park (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117372)

Ah, getting back to nature and disconnecting.

Re:Typical RV park (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117466)

Ah, getting back to nature and disconnecting.

This. No Shit.

Last such "campground" I saw had electricity, running water, and toilets. They might as well have thrown in wi-fi too. I saw all of this and thought "wow you guys are really roughin' it".

To enjoy nature and the peace and quiet and harmony She offers to anyone who listens ... to be rugged and learn how to make do with primitive techniques, to understand the value of foresight and preparation, to sleep under the stars as ancient man once did ... that's camping.

Wi-fi on a campground is for the pansies who are whining about how many bugs there are. The ones who don't really belong there because they are not mature enough to appreciate the experience (nothing to do with age). The ones who won't know and wouldn't appreciate the joy of quality time around the campfire that you built yourself because they never really learned how to relax and aren't comfortable enough with themselves to try.

Re:Typical RV park (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117604)

Fucking RV pansie motherfuckers. Real True Scotsmen do it like this! [financialjesus.com]

Re:Typical RV park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117888)

Hey! He's got a *chair*! Luxury!

Re:Typical RV park (5, Insightful)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117716)

I don't think "communing with nature" is the point. I think cheap accommodation is. People like to be able to travel around the country in a moving "house." I once met, for instance, a guy who drove around the US for a year with his wife, with a camper hitched to the back of a small pickup, in order to see the country and, among other things, decide where they'd want eventually to settle down. I get the impression that many retirees, likewise, buy campers and go touring. It seems like a reasonable enough thing to do. I'd be curious to know what would be cheaper: that, or traveling in a fuel-efficient sedan and staying at Motel 8s.

Re:Typical RV park (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117978)

A double room is $80-100 a night. I'm very certain there's a point (factoring in the cost of the RV) where you do way better. I mean, say an RV is $80,000 - that's 100 nights in a motel. People have certainly taken RV trips for much longer than 100 days. And even when you factor in the maintenance costs (cars, usually around $3 -$20 a day) and fuel, RVs will probably still come out on top in the long run.

Re:Typical RV park (1)

QuesarVII (904243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118032)

A double room is $80-100 a night. I'm very certain there's a point (factoring in the cost of the RV) where you do way better. I mean, say an RV is $80,000 - that's 100 nights in a motel. People have certainly taken RV trips for much longer than 100 days. And even when you factor in the maintenance costs (cars, usually around $3 -$20 a day) and fuel, RVs will probably still come out on top in the long run.

$80000 / $80 a night = 1000 nights, not 100 However, that number does drop when you factor in the resale value of the RV.

Re:Typical RV park (-1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118052)

Camping = no property taxes.

A great way for retired and otherwise unemployed people to sponge off the taxes paid by everyone else on their income and property.

Re:Typical RV park (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117810)

    Well, not all "campgrounds" are for roughing it.

    There are plenty of people who's second home has wheels. For those who aren't familiar with the word "snowbird", it's where people from the northern US and Canada head down to the southern US states and Mexico during the winters. If you have the luxury of leaving your house for half the year, it lets you live in the areas with nicer climates year round.

    I'd rather be in Florida all winter, where you'll never see a blizzard. For the summer, I'd rather be in a north where you'll never see triple-digit temperatures, or have states of emergencies declared because it's so hot you can die from heat stroke by taking a walk in the middle of the day.

    These "campgrounds" offer the full range of service, so people can take their house, and live where they'd like. It's more flexible than having a brick and mortar house to go to, that you may find in any condition when you get to it. Was your house vandalized over the last 6 months? Did a window break in a thunderstorm, and there's been standing water inside for the last 6 months? Have homeless people broken in, and have been using corners of various rooms as bathrooms?

    Most importantly, by living in an RV, "home" this winter can be somewhere different than last summer.

    I bought a transit bus (40'x8.5'x11') to convert into an RV because of exactly this. For the 8 years preceeding that, I did all of my work remotely. I didn't live near most of our datacenters. Rather than spending the money on a plane ticket, it could go towards fuel to get me from point A to point B, and eliminate the cost of renting a car, hotel, etc. "Camping" would be getting to a location where I could set up camp. Park the bus, put the levelers down, hook up to facilities, and stay there for months at a time, with all the creature comforts intact.

    Sadly, I was laid off shortly after buying the bus. It has been sitting in storage, waiting to be finished. I am now working in the same capacity at another company. I live 20 miles from one of our sites, and 1000 miles from the other. At our northern office, the low tonight will be 40F. Brrr.. At our southern office, the low tonight will be 65F. If I'm out late, I may need a light jacket. :)

    This summer (like, just a few months ago), the people at the northern office were describing it being "hot". That was, a feels-like temperature of about 80. Our feels like temperature at same time at the southern office was over 100.

    Nope, I like the idea of finishing up the RV, and following favorable climates. If for nothing else, so I don't sweat all summer, and freeze my nuts off all winter.

Re:Typical RV park (1)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117884)

What type of transit bus? New look?

Re:Typical RV park (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38118082)

Hey, faggot. It's the kind of bus you and the high school football team can load up into about 45 minutes before the paramedics are pumping the cum out of your stomach and asshole.

Re:Typical RV park (3, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118130)

    1982 GMC RTS-04 [goo.gl] .

    I picked it for a few reasons. The biggest was the additional interior space. The cabin is larger than the MCI's. It doesn't have subfloor storage, as built at the factory, but it does have dead space in each section that measures about 5'x8'x2'. It just needs a floor and supports fabricated, and exterior doors built.

    It's about 3' shorter vertically than the MCI's, which will help get down most streets without hitting tree limbs. Pretty much, if a school bus or UPS/FedEx truck can drive the road, so can I.

    I also wanted a vehicle with a strong diesel motor. These come with a few options. Mine has a DD 6v92TA (552ci, turbocharged and supercharged), with an Allison 3 speed automatic transmission. Most of the city buses come with gearing that doesn't allow for a top sped over 60mph. It cost a few bucks, but I had it regeared for highway use.

    Last time I moved it, I was driving down the interstate perfectly happily, with my car in tow on a flat trailer. (I had a trailer hitch welded on). I was perfectly happy cruising at 75mph in the right lane. Well, until one car decided the speed limit must be 45, and stayed parked in the right lane doing that. When I had a safe chance to pass, I did. The overall vehicle length was 65' because of the trailer, so I had to be very careful changing lanes. I passed 85mph when passing, and I could still accelerate. I only wanted to get around him, and back to my cruising at the speedlimit. Even with the car in tow, it felt like driving an average full size passenger van. Acceleration, braking, and handling were all there. Actually, I've driven full size vans that didn't handle as well. :)

    Knowing I *can* do over 85 is nice. I don't really *want* to go fast in it though. It's pretty much an aerodynamic brick. Slightly sexier curves, but that doesn't help much.

    At the moment, I have about $4,500 invested total. I bought it on eBay for cheap, did some mechanical things, and a bit of interior work. I have to finish the interior, and infrastructure work (power, water, sewer, LP). Some lifestyle things have changed, so I have to redraw the floorplan before continuing. I no longer have the wife, two kids, and two dogs. Now, I have a girlfriend, no kids, 4 cats, and the possibility of a half dozen or so friends wanting to go on weekend trips. :)

 

Typical Slashdot Snobbery (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117548)

Ah, getting back to nature and disconnecting.

Ah, posting on Slashdot instead of reading a book.

Re:Typical Slashdot Snobbery (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117916)

Game, set, and match to MobileTatsu-NJG

Re:Typical RV park (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117616)

Gives you something to do when it rains. Been there, done that. Not just directly, but indirectly, now a days you internet search for the closest stir fry place or whatever. Oh look we ran out of propane and the onsite general store sells one pound cans for $10 a piece and walmart 2 miles away sells them for $2 and we could pick up some more food at the community grocery store.. road trip!

Much as its nice to momentarily disconnect and go on a walk in a park, sometimes on vacation its nice to momentarily reconnect.

My parents mostly used it to upload pictures. "see, he caught a fish" that type of thing.

Read the summary (5, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117836)

I know this is slashdot, but can you at least read the summary?

He's not there to get back to nature and disconnect. He's WINTERING there. - a place that he's already configured once for WiFi three years ago and now he wants to upgrade everything.

Re:Typical RV park (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117898)

Why would you assume that's the point? For the people I know with RVs the point is to basically have a vacation home that can be set up in multiple locations. If they want to "camp" they will do so, but that's not what they want. Assuming they do isn't the witty jab you think it is but simply a broadcast of your own ignorance.

4g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117386)

Surely, any snowbird that can afford an RV can afford a 4G connection?

Re:4g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117412)

Surely, any snowbird that can afford an RV can afford a 4G connection?

I dunno about you, but there are a lot of wooden places where you aren't even going to get a signal let alone 4G. From my town I can drive about 250 miles to the next nearest big city and get no signal on my phone the entire time, on a fairly busy highway. Cell infrastructure isn't all that wonderful in America.

Re:4g (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117724)

That's amazing because when I used to travel I spent a lot of time in the western half of the US and I can't remember a single place not having service with Verizon. And that was over 2 years ago.

Re:4g (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117924)

I live in the western US and I know of plenty of places without even vz coverage.

Re:4g (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117524)

You could drive 50 miles in any direction from my house and not find 4G. We just got 3G six months ago and only on AT&T.

Re:4g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117692)

Some people take their retirement money and buy an RV and live cheaply and travel around in their old age.

Re:4g (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118070)

Some people take their retirement money and buy an RV and live cheaply and travel around in their old age.

There's nothing CHEAP about an RV.

Re:4g (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118134)

Surely, any snowbird that can afford an RV can afford a 4G connection?

I don't think the OP's question was "how can I encourage everybody at the RV park to get a 4G connection for $80/month each." It was "how can I upgrade the RV park's WiFi network to improve the coverage everybody already gets in the park."

I got a solution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117392)

Tell them all to put down the electronics and go enjoy nature.

Re:I got a solution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117530)

Tell them all to put down the electronics and go enjoy nature.

Eh you can mod it down because he didn't go along with the premise and you just can't stand that ... but it's the fucking truth. Whoever modded this down is a pansy girlie-man with no functional testicles as evidenced by his inability to deal with a contrary opinion. It was apparently an editor, too. Maybe the site would have higher quality if they spend less time enforcing their brand of censorship and more time running a spell-checker.

Sometimes when you encounter difficulty and feel a need to bring in outside expertise (via Ask Slashdot in this case), it's because you are doing something novel and interesting and just need some help. Other times, it's because what you are doing makes no sense and THAT'S why it's so difficult. This is the latter. If you wanted to teach them how to use computers and networks a wi-fi question makes perfect sense. But this is a campground.

Putting wi-fi in a campground is contrary to its purpose. I don't care if the asker and the editors failed to notice this. I don't care if that rains on someone's little parade. It's a dumb idea. Whatever you're doing there, it isn't camping. It's using the Internet outside. That's my genuine opinion, and not only is it as valid as the asker's, it's more valid because it's more consistent with what a campground is for. Some ball-less soul-less sack of shit will mod me down anyway because he hasn't the guts to argue against me, but that's okay.

Re:I got a solution (3, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117566)

Your opinion is valid. It's also subjective and irrelevant. And GP's post was rightly modded down for the same reason.

Re:I got a solution (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117662)

Your opinion is valid. It's also subjective and irrelevant. And GP's post was rightly modded down for the same reason.

Opinions don't deserve to be modded down just because they are opinions. If that is the standard, your opinion on opinions deserves to be modded down.

As for wifi in RV parks -- I'm not an RVer, nor do I desire to become one. However, people who go to RV parks aren't likely trying to connect with nature. They are more likely trying to "get away" much like people who use hotels do, except they have to do their own dishes and make their own beds. Some people are into that and some people are into sleeping in a tent, though some might whine about the latter group too -- seriously, people using sleeping bags? Shouldn't they be weaving temporary blankets out of bark strips?

Re:I got a solution (5, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117600)

Putting wi-fi in a campground is contrary to its purpose. I don't care if the asker and the editors failed to notice this. I don't care if that rains on someone's little parade. It's a dumb idea. Whatever you're doing there, it isn't camping. It's using the Internet outside. That's my genuine opinion, and not only is it as valid as the asker's, it's more valid because it's more consistent with what a campground is for. Some ball-less soul-less sack of shit will mod me down anyway because he hasn't the guts to argue against me, but that's okay.

Except that a lot of people in RVs full time. That means their RV is their primary, and only, home. As such, they need access to their bank accounts, friends, relatives, news. For most people who full time, a campground with wifi is essential, at least once in a while.

My sister lives aboard a sailboat. Full time, all over the world. Wifi is huge for her. Without wifi, we do't know if she's alive or not. We have an RV; we don't fulltime but after 9 days it's nice to do laundry and catch up on world news.

We also backpack and spend a lot of time in the wilderness, so I'll stack my "camping creds" against yours any day. When was the last time you were in the wilderness, with a 2 day hike-out to the nearest trailhead? Are you spending your thanksgiving next to your computer, or in the high desert 20 miles from the nearest town?

Re:I got a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117666)

Except that a lot of people in RVs full time. That means their RV is their primary, and only, home.

Then they aren't camping, are they Sparky? They're in a mobile home. What I said wouldn't apply to them.

My sister lives aboard a sailboat. Full time, all over the world. Wifi is huge for her. Without wifi, we do't know if she's alive or not. We have an RV; we don't fulltime but after 9 days it's nice to do laundry and catch up on world news.

Another special case. Notice how the post didn't mention sailboats? Did you happen to see that? I could come up with irrelevant special cases too. I just wouldn't pretend that it negates a point that does pertain to the post. Magic, I tell you.

For most people who full time, a campground with wifi is essential, at least once in a while.

There's this technology that's been around for years called cellphone tethering. Many people who couldn't afford an RV can afford this. I know I'd have a good data plan instead of depending on random strangers who happen to be campground caretakers to meet my essential needs for me, but again that falls under preparedness doesn't it?

Hmm let's see... take care of your own needs when the means to do so are ridiculously available, affordable, well-known, and easy to arrange... or depend on random strangers to take care of them for you. Hmm... wow that's a toughie. I think that's what is wrong with this nation. No one can handle their own needs anymore or otherwise carry their own weight and they resent the suggestion that they should. If you can afford to live full-time in an RV you're not exactly dirt-poor. This isn't at all like expecting those who wonder where their next meal will come from to purchase a yacht.

Re:I got a solution (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117698)

Then they aren't camping, are they Sparky? They're in a mobile home. What I said wouldn't apply to them.

OK, if you say so. Last time I checked, a mobile home and an RV are two different things, but I guess not. Hmmmm.

As for the cell phone tethering, that might work for some but not for others. Last I checked, cell phone coverage wasn't universal; it certainly isn't for me. And I pay for a campground so I'm not exactly "depending on random strangers"; I'm paying for a service.

Re:I got a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117872)

Then they aren't camping, are they Sparky?

Irrelevant. They're still in the campground.

Re:I got a solution (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117840)

Putting wi-fi in a campground is contrary to its purpose. I don't care if the asker and the editors failed to notice this. I don't care if that rains on someone's little parade. It's a dumb idea. Whatever you're doing there, it isn't camping. It's using the Internet outside.

Not everybody at a camp ground is trying to disconnect. Some do it because it's cheaper than a hotel.

Some ball-less soul-less sack of shit will mod me down anyway because he hasn't the guts to argue against me, but that's okay.

Don't take it personally, he could just as easily be modding your post down because you're wrong.

Re:I got a solution (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117982)

Eh you can mod it down because he didn't go along with the premise and you just can't stand that ... but it's the fucking truth. Whoever modded this down is a pansy girlie-man with no functional testicles as evidenced by his inability to deal with a contrary opinion.

Evidently you can't stand the moderator's opinion that the parent is off-topic (personally I think it got off lightly). Is your resultant rant irony or rank hypocrisy?

Putting wi-fi in a campground is contrary to its purpose.

You mean providing network access where wires are expensive or otherwise inconvenient? Wi-fi sounds ideal.

Some ball-less soul-less sack of shit will mod me down anyway because he hasn't the guts to argue against me, but that's okay.

You got a -1, stop whinging and deal with it like everyone else.

Re:I got a solution (2)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117748)

You're not enjoying nature until you do it like this guy. [amazonaws.com]

Wireless N would help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117420)

This immediately comes to mind, though admittedly I'm not good with wireless. My concern with this idea is will it fit your budget.

May also want to swap out the router, depending on how old it is.

Re:Wireless N would help (5, Informative)

Adriax (746043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117688)

http://www.open-mesh.com/ [open-mesh.com]
The single band series is .11G mesh, $60 for a router and another $20 for the outdoor enclosure.
The dual band does N, $100 for a router and $40 for the enclosure.

Either way you get mesh networking that's really damn simple to configure and has a public and a private network. Public can be open or encrypted, supports individual bandwidth limits, and has a splash page feature for logins or selling airtime. Private network is encrypted and unrestricted.

Love mesh networking. No cables, network topography isn't set in stone, you just toss another router into the mix wherever needed and you can cover wherever you want.

Re:Wireless N would help (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117960)

While this appears to be spam, the idea is valid: One of the choices besides roll your own, is to buy a system. After all the farting around and buying parts etc. sometimes it is in the same pricing ball park to buy a system ready made to do what you want. Especially if you take into account the time you spend. If that is not an issue, at least examine the price points. I don't know a thing about mesh, but I would assume it isn't the only off the shelf option out there either.

Re:Wireless N would help (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118030)

This immediately comes to mind, though admittedly I'm not good with wireless. My concern with this idea is will it fit your budget.

>

Depending on tree cover, 802.11n may not buy him much. 5Ghz gets attenuated by tree cover more than 2.4Ghz, and staying 2.4hz bonded channels reduces bandwidth for his backhauls.

May also want to swap out the router, depending on how old it is.

He said his ethernet conncetion is DSL -- it would have to be a seriously old router that can't keep up with typical DSL speeds. I've got a 12 year old Cisco 2514 that would be fine for DSL routing.

Cables. (1, Redundant)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117422)

Cables are the best choice, if you can accomodate them. You say you can't run them underground, so how about from tree to tree, suspended from a guide wire? I'd say that weatherproof cable attached to a wire is resistant enough. It's also cheaper than most radio-based alternatives and works a lot better than Wi-Fi.

Re:Cables. (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117552)

Use the perimeter fence with directional antennae pointed in. If your facility is so huge that the perimeter can't reach the center no matter how fancy the AP and antennae, that's why you have fiber runs to the usually centrally located main buildings. The pool has a fence ringed with antennae pointing outward. The stereotypical bar/restaurant/general store at the center is ringed with antennae pointed out. The stereotypical office / front gate at the entrance is ringed with antennae.

In summary, if its a fence, its got a directional antenna pointed toward the customers. If its got a roof, its got antennas pointed outward.

My parents did quite a bit of RVing... population density is more "urban" than "suburban" its an unusual park where you have to walk more than 500 feet to find a "structure" of some sort or a border fence.

Re:Cables. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38118086)

These TV cables that are getting melted, are they running through the entire campground? Running Ethernet over coax to the WAPs could eliminate your double hop.

Re:Cables. (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118172)

He mentioned this. He says there are already TV cables strung tree-to-tree, and the problem is that they occasionally get melted by heat from the various fire pits around the property. It seems to me he could still investigate using cables as much as possible, though...

Openmesh (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117432)

I'd look into some of the fairly inexpensive openmesh routers...they're great for extending networks (or running jasager).

http://www.open-mesh.com/ [open-mesh.com]

Too high (5, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117442)

Lower your transmitters a little. Signals propagate horizontally (perpendicular from the antenna), this is why you need to have an AP on each floor in a house to get good signal. Not because you're on different floors so much as the signals just aren't going in the right directions.

I know you're trying to broadcast over the RVs, but going over them also means no signal is getting to them in this case.

Re:Too high (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117516)

Re:Too high (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117562)

I expected funny. The funny was delivered.

Re:Too high (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117532)

Take a look at your options there and learn how to read antenna spec sheets: compare, for example, this directional antenna [arubanetworks.com] with this traditional one [arubanetworks.com] . The first one can go on a high mount somewhere and point down at all the clients in a cone (roughly) and will mostly ignore things behind it (okay if it's on the ceiling). The second one throws out most of the signal in a pancake perpendicular to its long axis. This is great, if you're in that plane, and if there aren't a lot of walls in that plane between you and it. (The first one is an indoor antenna, though; I just use it as an example.)

Too many outdoor deployments are radiating out their best coverage over everyone's heads. (You can also tilt the antenna a bit, but then you're essentially just painting stripes of coverage on the ground, which isn't ideal either.)

Fiber (1, Interesting)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117448)

It sounds like you're broadcasting from one access point to another, instead of from a wired connection to each access point.

Just run fiber to the access points. It's cheaper than you think, and forms a guaranteed, secure connection. Good for a mile, and it doesn't care about EM interference of any sort.

Re:Fiber (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117500)

wow, i realize most /.'s don't read articles, but damn at least read the summary.
"Burying wire is frowned upon, due to shallow utilities, and campfire rings that float around the campsites — sometimes melting TV cables"

maybe your local community college has a reading comprehension 101?

Re:Fiber (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117502)

Why fiber and not cooper? It's not like it's going to be any more resistant. RF interference should be minimal in this environment.

300 feet is close to the limit for ethernet cable runs, but it should work well enough.

Re:Fiber (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117514)

Why fiber and not cooper?

Lightning. Za Pow!

Never run a piece of copper from one building to another if you can at all avoid it.

Re:Fiber (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117554)

True, didn't think of that. Anyone know what the price diffference is between something like Cat. 6 and fiber?

Re:Fiber (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117752)

True, didn't think of that. Anyone know what the price diffference is between something like Cat. 6 and fiber?

Darn near zero. Seriously. $1 to $3 foot indoors for both, outdoors is usually strictly quote basis.

Again your experience may vary but the other difference is cat5/6 usually is terminated for "free" as part of the deal and fiber is usually terminated for like $25 per connector (in other words $50 flat fee added cost for one complete working cable). Also some CPE needs weird connectors, so many contractors will pull the fiber and let you figure out your bizarre escon-fiber or whatever, if you aren't using something standard that they can terminate.

Some fiber places want to charge extra to OTDR verify, some even try to charge extra to give the results to you.

Get a couple bids.

Stereotypes: Electricians do a great job of grounding aerial leader line and pull so hard they damage both fiber and cat5 (cat5 isn't exactly the 0000 gauge entrance facility they're used to). Also electricians have no comprehension of EMI/RFI and will run cat5 wrapped around the dirtiest industrial power line and light units. Electricians are also stereotypically poor at terminating. Geniuses at pulling cable and fishing and whats best described as "stupid conduit tricks", not so good at termination.. The "LAN/WAN/server" guys generally cannot waterproof outdoors to save their life, assume it'll leak if they get involved. The vertical market cable contractors who do one thing and one thing only are not terribly mentally flexible and freak out if you want to do anything other than bog standard cubicle wiring. All stereotypes have an element of truth and might be useful to recall when negotiating your contracts.

Re:Fiber (5, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117908)

    Fiber can be purchased rather cheaply. It's really worth it for outside runs. As someone else said, lightning strikes.. Even the extra equipment required (transceivers, fiber ready switches, etc) can be purchased fairly cheaply on eBay.

    I did it to replace a mess of copper and wireless between offices in a complex once. If I remember right, it was something like 600' of fiber for about $200. I did it in segments, so if someone were to damage one segment, it could be easily replaced. For their end points, I picked up a lot of 6 Cisco Catalyst 2924's with 4-port 100baseFX cards. I think the total price on switches was $300, and that let me replace all kinds of consumer-grade crap switches.

    His problem with fire pits and the like can be reduced by laying the fiber along the edge of the roads, and burying at a sufficient depth. Hell, they run power and water to each campsite already. Parallel runs to existing infrastructure would be fine. Fiber doesn't have that nasty tendency to pick up inductive signals.

Re:Fiber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38118190)

If lightning strikes your trailer park, damage to buried communication cables is the least of your worries. Putting of fires in the hit trailers and doing CPR on victims will keep you busy for a while.

Re:Fiber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117586)

The AP's need power and that is via copper? ^^

However he could use Ethernet over Power if he want's better network preformance between his AP's and the router.
I would use these guys: http://www.ubnt.com/nanostation combined with a monowall
That would provide captive portal, QoS, and other services.

Doesn't matter if you have copper for power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117792)

As long as you run the network and power lines *together*. The more worried you are, the tighter you should couple them. The ideal would be a coaxial-style ground shield around everything, but twisting them together works well, too.

WiMAX is what you need! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117456)

WiMAX is what you need!
Just ask CLEAR.

our setup (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117462)

we've got 5 outdoor ruckus ap's spread across our park. (fairly cheap too)
http://www.ruckuswireless.com

they'll mesh with indoor wifi ap's if you don't want to run ethernet to each one individually.

the "smart antenna" design is actually pretty good. it supports dynamic beamforming, multiple signal paths etc. basically it just takes the path of least resistance, which helps a lot when dealing with a lot of walls/trees etc.

you can give them a call w/ any questions you might have.

Re:our setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117964)

roughly, what does "fairly cheap" mean ?

Layers (3, Informative)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117486)

I would run two networks, a backbone at say channel 6, and alternate APs at 1 and 11. Get highly directional antennas for the backbone, and either corner-directional antennas or omnidirectional antennas for the access points. Run the backbones up high, and the APs 12 feet or so.

Try to eliminate any double hops via short cable runs and/or smarter backbone placement.

Re:Layers (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117998)

I agree with the separate networks, i would go further and use different freq band to go to the netework.

If you can get get line of sight to the aps you could use a 5.8 signal to go from point a to b. ubiquity seems to have some cheap direction radio+antenna combinations.

Re:Layers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38118036)

Another idea on top of this is to get use 5ghz radios for the backbone rather than a different 2.4ghz channel. Would provide more flexibility in channel design and the backbone would at least be free of 2.4ghz interference...especially microwaves in the RVs.

In a few years it might be possible to look at 5ghz for the entire grounds, but until 5ghz is used in all the new mobile devices that unfortunately won't be possible.

Just replace the radios (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117494)

replace the radios with Ubiquiti NanoStations and problem solved, we just did one down here in Florida, same scenerio, longer distances though

Wire or overlay (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117496)

From what I got your primary AP (1) connects to 3 secondaries (abc) and 2 more connect those (23). They are dual band are you repeating only over the 5ghz segment on a different ssid? Routing rather than bridging as people tend to just directly connect to these so limiting your broadcast domain is a must. 3 wires out to a b and c should do wonders, you might want to try power line networking for those wired connections since you will reuse your existing AC wiring, keep the 5ghz as a backup.

Re:Wire or overlay (2)

Aczlan (636310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117860)

you might want to try power line networking for those wired connections since you will reuse your existing AC wiring, keep the 5ghz as a backup.

If power to the wireless access points all ends up at the same breakerbox, powerline networking would be the way to go in my book. Aaron Z

Two suggestions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117510)

Get a half-decent firewall. If you need to do it cheaply, get a small industrial PC, put OpenBSD on it, and use pf. This will allow you to set up packet queueing, which will allow you to prioritize acks over everything else, which will save you mountains of bandwidth in iffy RF conditions like that. (If you do wind up using pf, note that if you assign two queues to a rule, the second queue listed will get all the acks... this makes it very easy to get all the acks in their own queue(s). ) You can also clamp down on bandwidth hogs and set up QOS prioritization, both of which would help in that situation.

If you really want to fix it, firewall it AND wire it. Fiber would be best, but I don't know if you will be able to trench across the required areas- but if you have power at all these locations, someone probably already DID trench there. :)

Ubiquiti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117550)

Ubiquiti UniFi. Cheap, powerful, easy.

Marketing / Security (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117576)

This is a quasi-State Park, so money is always an issue, but there is enough squawk from the user community that a modest budget might be approved.

because they can pull money from the marketing budget first as a lure to get people to come as a checkbox feature, secondly because you can install $100 wifi webcams at the "cool places" (pool, lakeshore, whatever) so visitors from the UK feel comfortably spied upon and the promotional web page can have "click here to see the scenic lakeshore live!" buttons.

also they can pull a little money from the security budget, because the webcams can monitor boring yet important locations like the bar's cash register, the general store cash register, the service entrance, the equipment shed (the $20K nuclear propelled lawnmower, tanks of gas for the mower, etc)

Southern Georgia Campground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117590)

Jekyll Island?

What's the equipment? (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117598)

You think your APs are falling over due to packet volume? Are you just hooking up cheap Linksys stuff to these antennas or what? There's a reason that real enterprise-grade stuff costs more: you can throw 30 users at an access point and it doesn't crawl over into a corner and die. I favor Aruba gear, since I used to work there; Cisco stuff is also decent (but even more expensive). But they're not dirt cheap.

On the other hand, if you think the DSL router's doing crazy stuff, maybe you should focus on making it not do that crazy stuff.

uBiquity (3, Informative)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117648)

I don't think one vendor will supply everything that you need, but you definitely need to take a look at uBiquity. We've used their NanoBridges in studio-to-transmitter links several times and have been pleasantly surprised. The stuff is ridiculously cheap -- so cheap that we honestly wondered what could be wrong with it until we tried it. (Less than $160 for a pair of NanoBridges!)

Ubiquity's Website [ubnt.com]

Re:uBiquity (1)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117664)

Ubiquiti, with an "i", not a "y." Sorry.

OpenMesh and Ubiquity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117652)

https://www.open-mesh.com/

Sounds like the obvious choice. Cheap, simple to manage. If the default openmesh hardware doesnt' quite fit the bill, check out Ubiquiti

http://www.ubnt.com for their hardware.

Extremely affrodable, high output. You'd likely be looking at the Pico/nanostation hardware.

http://store.netgate.com/Bullet-PicoStation-NanoStation-C157.aspx
.

ruckus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117690)

Ruckus wireless. Boom. Done.

Check out Ubiquiti... (3, Informative)

Above (100351) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117694)

Ubiquiti [ubnt.com] has some very cool products and customer support, you might want to look into their gear.

If you can get line of site from the remote sites back to the central site you should use 5Ghz for the backhaul, and 2.4Ghz for the client side radio. This will reduce your interference. Also, the backhaul should use _very_ directional antennas since the two endpoints are known. This will also prevent interference. It doesn't sound like any of your distances are enough to require a multi-wireless hop, although your sight lines may require it. Avoiding a double hop will increase performance.

You'll also want some intelligent QoS on both the WiFi and cable modem side. You don't want one user to be able to make the experience really bad for all the other users. For instance, if you had a 20Mbps cable modem you might want to limit any one IP/MAC to 5Mbps, or so. WRED or similar can also be your friend. Make sure there is a good local DNS server, as well

Re:Check out Ubiquiti... (1)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117794)

If you can get line of site from the remote sites back to the central site you should use 5Ghz for the backhaul.

At the risk of posting essentially a dupe - Not in dense tree coverage, he doesn't.

5GHz works great in opens spaces, but degrades horribly without line of sight. In this case, lower frequency will work much, much better.

I'll second Ubiquiti (no, I don't work for them, but they have good cheap gear), but go with their 900MHz gear for the backhaul.

Re:Check out Ubiquiti... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38118028)

I do disaster networking where we set up on the fly networks in very bad conditions. I have used the Ubiquiti equipment in the configuration above and it works very well. The 5 Gig helps keep people off of you backhaul. These things are so cheep you could actually probably create 2 networks one for computers and one for cell phones. From what I gathered from your currently described configuration you could probably do the whole thing for well under 2 grand.

A good wireless network? Expect the CG to pay... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117712)

First and foremost, how good do you want the wireless network to be? The CG's upstream is the key thing. If you can't get at least a fast cable or DSL line, having a good connection will be impossible.

If you just want one subnet and have some application throttle everyone, that is one thing. However, a serious Wi-Fi network in a campground will require multiple subnets, repeaters, IDS/IPS systems (because there are those who will be running nmap and other tools looking for an other target), pr0n blockers (so the CG doesn't get sued because Jane Ativan's daughter accidently found a shock site, but allows Joe Sixpack to browse his stash), traffic shaping (so one guy doing P2P doesn't completely saturate a shared network), etc. Don't forget to block BitTorrent so users have to use a VPN for their warez/moviez/tunez fixes. This way, you don't get a knock on the door from some copyright "enforcement group" or a pack of lawyers. In the US, if it comes from your IP, you are criminally and civilly responsible unless you can 100% prove otherwise, so locking out pr0n/warez/etc. and telling users to use VPNs out if they want that is the best policy.

I was asked to do a similar contract, but turned it down as I didn't have the time. The CG had a basic Wi-Fi system, but during a holiday weekend, the system got trashed where antennas were all destroyed/stolen. After the insurance claim got paid [1], the CG owner wanted to upgrade to a top tier Wi-Fi system. For one that had enough bandwidth for everyone in the CG, it would have to have to have a good upstream, multiple subnets, and a large routing infrastructure.

Of course, a campground can use a WISP like Tengo and let them handle everything, but you are then dependent on them on service, and it is yet another party to deal with that might force long contracts. A number of good CG owners avoid WISPs, because some actively add ads into Web browsing (think Phorm), and demand pretty stiff fees.

Just make sure, for the CG, how good do you want the Wi-Fi to be? There is a BIG difference between hanging a consumer level AP in the office versus even site-wide coverage with decent bandwidth for everyone even when the campground is full.

[1]: The CG now charges extra on holiday weekends, and has tow trucks and off-duty police on site. If someone is causing trouble and when asked to leave, says they are too drunk to move their rig, they will be arrested for public intoxication, and their RV impounded. This way, trouble is dealt with quickly.

Test, and isolate. (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117736)

It sounds like you don't exactly know where your problems are, so how can you solve them?

My advice would be to do some serious analysis of what's going on in your network. Hook up an ethernet sniffer to your internet connection and see what's going wrong. You suspect it's a lot of retransmissions do to the DSL, well find out if that's true. Consider buying a cheap spectrum analyzer (wi-spy can be had for under $100). Track when you get problems, and where. Throwing money and equipment at the problem is more likely to waste money and equipment than solve the problem. Since you're retired, it sounds like you're more short on money and equipment than you are on time to analyse and diagnose the problem.

Once you actually know what the problem is, then you can go out to the wireless community and ask for a solution. K You're seeing a lot of very, very different solutions here because people are guessing what the underlying problem is, largely based on what's worked for them. Obviously you can't follow all of them, but which one should you try? Knowledge is power, and ignorance is folly.

Time slicing backhaul (1)

lucifuge31337 (529072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117750)

Ignore the haters. They don't understand that camping in an RV park is not the "camping" they are thinking of. It's more like a portable cabin, and it's a great way to get out for an inexpensive and hassle-free vacation especially when you have little ones. And you still have the option of remote camping with the same rig if you really want to disconnect. Or using it as a base camp to take tent camping excursions.

Sounds like what you really need here is to separate your "backhaul" form the APs. Since you can't reasonably use cables, you'll want to look into bridges that use time slicing, preferably on a different band than your access points. This lowers contention and retransmissions from the many stations you have that can see the AP they have associated with but not each other (so they both talk at the same time). The more clients you add and the more traffic they send, the worse this problem gets. Time slicing radios were designed to solve this exact problem, and are getting less expensive these days.

900MHz FTW. (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117760)

With line of sight problems and lots of water-containing organic obstacles (aka "trees"), lower frequency means much much better signal quality. Use a 900MHz WDS and many of your problems will vanish. I know Ubiquiti offers 900MHz kit, can't say for HP.

Re:900MHz FTW. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38118158)

Well, 900MHz should work fine, until the camper whose idea of "roughing it" is wireless freaking internet, decides to crank up the microwave oven (just like the covered wagon travelers of old, don't you know).

Then do it right. (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117766)

Stop being lazy and run freaking wire between the locations. you already have power there so you can run wire. you can use phone wire which is cheap and use ADSL modems for the links, again cheap.

Honestly there is no magical wireless setup that will handle the load, you have to run wire if you want to avoid performance issues.

Meraki Cloud Network is nothing short of amazing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117772)

Meraki cloud based network is a great value over a 5 year ROI. More importantly you will no longer have to really maintain the network, but rather you will be able spend more time strategically expanding the operating scope of the network as reliability will shoot up.

My non-profit is evaluating the architecture of it, but I'm sold.

Re:Meraki Cloud Network is nothing short of amazin (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118160)

Does Meraki's equipment work installed outside, in a campsite? Or would it have to be installed inside the trailers? How about booster mesh points between trailers too distant for a single hop to work?

options (1)

ToBeDecided (2426750) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117780)

First of all, you have provided very little information about the terrain. One option is that you should find a spot where you have a clear line of sight to all the other access points and put a 5 ghz omni in there. Then, at the local base stations, you install one 5ghz directional panel and a 2.4ghz omni for the clients. Another option is to install four 2.4ghz sectors in one spot (assuming you need to cover a 360 degree area around it). But without some additional info about obstacles it's impossible to say what would work better.

Re:options (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118148)

First of all, you have provided very little information about the terrain.

RV camping in GA == WalMart parking lot.

It isn't really camping unless one of your neighbors gets dragged out of his tent by a grizzly occasionally.

stronger signals may mean fewer hops (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117816)

You might try outdoor grade signal boosters. I've had some decent luck with them. There's no substitute for power. That might reduce the number of hops, improving latency and cutting down on retries.

Re:stronger signals may mean fewer hops (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118170)

improving latency and cutting down on retries

I first read that as "cutting down on retirees". Chainsaw campsite fantasy, back down in your hole!

ethernet over powerlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117832)

Since you already ran power to the APs, why not use Ethernet over powerlines for the backhaul ?

You're camping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117870)

What's the point of the internet when you're camping? A smartphone for emergency alerts can be practical, but why the full-blown setup?

Because every "Ask Slashdot" has to contain at least one comment thread that misses the point entirely, asking "why bother?"

ethernet over power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38117902)

You have power to the APs. Use Ethernet over powerlines and be done with it.

Power Over Ethernet (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118126)

Combine that with Power Over Ethernet to run the APs, and the whole shebang is totally wireless!

Split into two networks... (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38117920)

One for distrobution of service, the other for devices connecting.

I.E. each "point" will have 2 AP's, one which consumers directly connect to, the other which just communicates with other AP's on the site....

Quasi State Park? (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118026)

What's a "quasi-State Park"? Obligatory "Georgia is a quasi-state" joke.

What is that area really? Does Georgia allow people to live on public lands, even allow/provide utilities (however shallowly buried the wires) including cable TV and now wireless Internet? Do they make you move somewhere else to summer, after you winter in S Georgia? How often do you have to move? Do they charge you anything, like property taxes? Do you receive US Mail to your local address?

The setup sounds wonderful. Or maybe we're talking about the (maybe not so) ex Communist country Georgia.

Snark aside, my questions are serious. And it does sound wonderful.

Mobile Home or Trailer? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38118112)

OK, so Slashdot is answering your WiFi questions. How about telling us whether you get a better home out of a mobile home (integrated motor and driving seats, etc) or out of a trailer that you rent a car to haul the few times a year you actually move.

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