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hAP ac lite hardware quirks

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AE6XE
AE6XE's picture
hAP ac lite hardware quirks

N2MH and I have both observed odd behavior with the hAP ac lite when using a 12v battery power supply.   Specifically, it has been observed at times, if using the device on 5MHz channels and with a  12v Power Supply, it  does not make a link.    However, swapping to a 24v power supply it it is linking to other 2GHz mesh devices on 5MHz channel.    Keep an eye out for any any weirdness and if you are using a 12v supply, swap to a 24v to see if any change of behavior.   

Further experience with this device may help isolate any specific issues.  Maybe this is only a few devices during a specific manufacture period?   

Please post any examples here and what you have learned in the process.  

Joe AE6XE

N2MH
N2MH's picture
Github Issue 301 Opened

Last night I opened Github issue 301 to cover this.
 

MikroTik hAP Lite fails to network over RF


https://github.com/aredn/aredn_ar71xx/issues/301
 

AE6XE
AE6XE's picture
To clarify the specifics of

To clarify the specifics of the symptoms:

the MikroTik hAP ac lite is not working (at times) when the Mesh RF is set to a 5MHz channel.   This symptom has not be observed on 10MHz and 20MHz channels.

This device has a mesh RF range in the meters not kilometers range given the low gain internal antenna and packaging for being in the shack.  Generally the mesh RF node it is connecting to would be in cat5 distance.  Thus 2 considerations:

1) use DtDLink to reduce contention for the channel (and better overall performance)
2) It's close enough it might have higher thoughput using 10 or 20MHz channels.   If the link  is to the device pointing to the tower or cell site, it may be locked to 5MHz for that link (refer to #1 :) ). 

Joe AE6XE

KD1HA
KD1HA's picture
Build #536

I have to say that build #536 is checking all the boxes on my end. All the quirks have disappeared, at least for me. This includes 12v operation with the AirRouter connected to the pass though on 12v and also using the 24v PoE and the original power supply.
Denis 

K9CQB
K9CQB's picture
hAP AC Lite improvements

I really love the hAP AC Lite (​RB952Ui-5ac2nD) but its range was designed for indoor use with it's redonkulous internal antennas and anemic 22dB power output. The 2.4GHz radio is 2x2 MIMO and has 2 meandering ladder inverted F antennas set perpendicular on the far left corner of the PCB. The SISO 5GHz antenna is a pretty good PIFA (planar inverted F array) on the right side of the PCB. 
So, this device would be perfect, hardware-wise, if it had 2 external 2.4 GHz antennas and an external 5GHz antenna. So that's what I did.
Now I know I can add a MIMO (V-Pol/H-Pol)  panel antenna to the 2.4GHz ports and point it at an AREDN node 5 miles away. Or if I want to hit a  node 16 miles away I can throw an 2x2 MIMO 1W (30dBm TX, and+17dB RX) bi-directional amplifier in line ($85 on ebay). The 5Ghz radio really doesn't need an external antenna, as most of us will just use it as a bridge to connect normal WiFi devices to it (tablets, phones, laptops), but I added an external omnidirectional anyway just to have more flexibility.
How did I do this? See the attached photos. Each internal antenna has a test point connector connected to it. I removed the TP connector and scratched the footprint to expose the copper a tad bit more to better fit the ufl connectors I bought. I soldered those ufl connectors on, drilled 8mm holes in the case of the hP lite, and added 'bulkhead RP-SMA to ufl pigtails to it (see photos). I even have one of the photos with the MIMO bi-directional amp.
With the PoE passthrough, VLAN and tunnel capability, WiFi to AREDN bridge capability, I now think this is the perfect 'first device' to buy if you're going to only buy 1 device to see if you like AREDN. (we gotta get that USB port up and running, though. I need to host a storage drive for MeshChat).
 

Image Attachments: 
K9CQB
K9CQB's picture
Parts links for the hAP-ac-lite external antennas

A few folks asked me (outside the AREDN forum) for tips and links to the parts that I used to add external antennas to the hAP-ac-lite. So here we go:

Here’s the parts for converting the hAP to a device with external antennas. When you pry off the floor plate and pull the board out I used a tiny pair of sharps diag-cutters to remove the 3 test point connectors. Then I desoldered the leftover bits, and I scraped off the green enamel a bit to expose more of the test-point connector pad to fit the ufl connectors a little bit better. Then I soldered the 3 ufl connectors in place and drilled three 1/4” holes into the plastic hAP enclosure. Then I screwed the 2.4GHz RP-SMA connectors into the opposing left and right sides and the single 5GHz RP-SMA connector into the center of the rear of the enclosure. Then I connected the ufl connectors to the board and shoved the board into the enclosure while it was upside down, then slapped on the floor-plate.
Keep in mind that you do not really need to provide an external antenna for the 5GHz radio as you may mostly use it as a local WiFi access point where you will be located close to the hAP-ac-lite. Although I modified mine for more flexibility, the internal antenna for the 5GHz antenna is actually pretty good and will work well up to 50-60ft away - or while mounted in a waterproof plastic box high up on an antenna mast. However, the 2.4GHz antennas suck and you should take advantage of the 2x2 MIMO capability to provide a 'H-Pol=Ch0/V-Pol=Ch1' antenna capability to link to the rest of the AREDN network. Unless I’m connecting to a 2x2 MIMO H/V directional panel, I use small 5dBi omni antennas for (one horizontal, one vertical) to connect to other nodes. Even at only 22 dBm of power (without an external MIMO Amp), I get great links to other nodes. I love this thing.

Parts list:

20x IPEX IPX UFL SMD SMT Solder for PCB Mount Socket Jack Female RF Connector JB ($2)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/20x-IPEX-IPX-UFL-SMD-SMT-Solder-for-PCB-Mount-S...

5PCS Extension Cord UFL to RP SMA Connector Antenna WiFi Pigtail Cable LE ($3)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/5PCS-Extension-Cord-UFL-to-RP-SMA-Connector-Ant...

-Damon K9CQB
 

K9CQB
K9CQB's picture
I'm just doing 2 external antennas on the hAP-ac-lite, not 3.

I just wanted to post that I'm no longer putting a ufl-IPEX connector on the 5GHz antenna, only the two 2.4GHz antennas. The stock 5GHz WiFi antenna has been good enough for any of the stuff I'm doing and gets very little benefit from the 5 minutes it takes me to re-solder a ufl connector in place of the test point connector. I DO re-solder the connectors on the two 2.4GHz antenna traces (see instructions above). There is a huge difference in having external antennas for the 2x2 MIMO 2.4GHz AREDN radio. So now I only have to drill 2 holes in the cases of my hAP-ac-lites for the RP-SMA connectors.

-Damon  K9CQB

KM4DC
KM4DC's picture
Thanks for all the detail on adding antennas to hAP

Damon,
I followed the info you provided and it works great. Thank you.
I would like to change the trend where part size seems to be inversely proportional to my age.
Also may be time to invest in a new soldering iron.
My 1982 (Dart Drug) Weller just doesn't seem to do it; even after I sharpened the tip.
R/Don KM4DC
 

w6bi
w6bi's picture
Hardware tweak

Sweet!  Thanks for posting
73
Orv W6BI

K6AH
K6AH's picture
Amplifiers

I've never been keen on adding amplifiers to nodes.  It seems they always introduce QRM (interference) on the channel.  I'd be interested in hearing your experiences with the $85 bi-directional amplifier.

Andre, K6AH

K9CQB
K9CQB's picture
Andre, you truly are a wise

Andre, you truly are a wise man.
You have good reason to be reluctant to add amps to these nodes. They are a serious pain in the rear. I've had ups and down with most bi-directional amplifiers that I've used in SISO applications (mostly because the RX is overdriven and require attenuation).
This is my first 2x2 MIMO amp, where the 2T/2R is sync'ed, and it's only 1W. This $85 version is Sunhans 2.4GHz (link: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sunhans-Dual-Antenna-1000mW-2-4-GHz-2T2R-802-11...). Just my opinion, I think it's great for the anemic MikroTik 'hAP ac lite' I posted on before as it gives you the same RF power as the BaseBox 2. I've been quite surprised by how well it works for the price, however it still can be a nightmare setting up a node, looking at SNR, looking at iperfspeed, adding/removing attenuators, rinse and repeat.
Which, BTW, can we please add iperfspeed into the base firmware of all AREDN nodes? I can't image who would set up and run a network without regularly running iperfspeed.
Getting back to the amps, I don't recommend using one unless you really know what you're doing and can iperfspeed the network to ensure you're not degrading anything. I also recommend only using it with a directional antenna for point-to-point/point-to-multipoint, otherwise you might pick up too much noise from the rest of the network on that channel. Oh, and only use it if you can't hit a link at all - it won't really help increase your throughput.

K3MMB
part numbers/source for pigtails used, pls

Looks like a good thing to try around here.

I would like to kick the tires.

best regards
mike
 

AC8YE
AC8YE's picture
No RFoutput on channel -2 if 5 MHz bandwidth is set.

I'm a retired embedded software engineer andthe designated firmware installer for the Delaware County (OH) mesh group.  The hAP AC lite I've installed AREDN firmware on has no RF output on channel -2 if the bandwidth is set to 5 MHz.  I'm powering the device with the supplied 24 V 1.2 A wall wart.  It's a US version with a SN 9240...  It doesn't matter if the output is reduced from 22 dBm to as low as 10 dBm, there's no output.  I'm monitoring Mesh Status with my GL-iNet USB-150 Microuter plugged into the same host as the hAP AC lite.  I initially tried aredn-1022-412a1e5-mikrotik-rb-nor-flash-16M-ac-sysupgrade.bin from Nightly Builds, then the stable 3.19.3.0 version, but neither had an output if the bandwidth was 5 MHz.  I've attached support files for both bandwidth settings.

AE6XE
AE6XE's picture
AC8YE,   The current thinking

AC8YE,   The current thinking is this is hardware related and nothing we can do in firmware.   See more testing results here:

https://github.com/aredn/aredn_ar71xx/issues/301

Joe AE6XE

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