Looking for suggestions as to the best low cost repurposed openwrt hardware for a small scale mesh project. Needs 6-10 nodes. Was initially thinking of powering them using POE from powerline adaptors all going back to a managed switch. Ideally dual+ radio devices 2.4 and 5Ghz.
I liked the look of the cisco meraki devices (small, unobtrusive, stylish) and it seems some progress has been made on the MR33 devices which are around for sub £100 each.
Has anyone built a small scale mesh using openwrt and the cisco's.
Any help and guidance appreciated.
Really no advice on the best low cost mesh capable AP's ?
Why are you doing mesh if they all connect back to a switch?
because we want seamless roaming across all AP's. Also the powerline idea may not work or be cost effective so we need dual/? radios with one providing AP access and another as the wan link in client mode to another AP to get backhaul.
IS there a better solution?
Backhaul and roaming are separate issues. The marketing of commercial "mesh" systems confuses that. In OpenWrt, a mesh is a backhaul method. There aren't many open-source solutions to roaming other than 802.11r, which requires a compatible client. Most clients in the consumer market do not implement 802.11r.
You don't need anything fancy for roaming as long as you are using something fast and simple for security (like WPA2). As long as your SSIDs are the same, subnet is the same, and security is the same, your clients will go from one AP to another transparently.
If you use fancy security like captive portals, LDAP, or Radius, that may not hold true.
BTW, Cisco 2702 APs can be had for a song ($30-$50) on ebay. They look nice (at least the internal antenna versions do), and they support 802.11r by making one of them an authentication master.
The down side is that they will almost certainly get to you with lightweight firmware meant for use with a Cisco wireless LAN controller. Obtaining an autonomous image is doable. Converting from lightweight to autonomous isn't rocket surgery, but it isn't trivial, either.
Configuring a Cisco AP in autonomous mode isn't for the faint of heart. Even a simple config is fairly complex (Cisco does really good at making even simple things mind-numbingly complicated)
Yeah no thanks on the IOS nightmare!
Our original plan was to use Cisco Meraki units like the MR33 as they are quite powerful units and have great radios in them it seems but the only units that work are the unicorn units that cisco has not managed to auto firmware upgrade to the latest firmware that means they are not flashable without bricking them. In a stack of 10 units not a single one had the required 'older' firmware and we along with many others are stuck until the development wizards can find a way around this issue.
They look great though and would have been perfect for this community project but at almost 1K GBP a year in licensing costs to cisco they are a non starter until the openwrt flash works on the later firmware.
The other 'commercial' units we are looking at are the TP-Link EAP245V3 units. They look the part and seem very capable but still expensive compared to the cost of shipping for the 10 MR33's!
Thanks for the info.
Thank you for the note.