Recently discovered OpenWrt, currently planning a medium/large outdoor network and hoping for recommendations on efficiency

We have a bunch of people living a bit spread out on a piece of land and are trying to economically get basic internet to everyone -- we're not highbandwidth users, many don't use much internet at all, we just need reliable basic connectivity. We have a few routers and two decent antennas already, which we have tried to use to get decent coverage but minimal luck. I'm looking at using OpenWrt on the full network but still unsure as I'm new to the system, but if that requires more expensive devices that would be a large downside for us.

Here is a picture with the distance details and some other labels, our gateway is circled. Any kind of help, advice, or recommendations are very welcome! Thanks!

Those distances won't be possible without good outdoor devices and directional antennas - and the 45m link crossing a brick building won't work at all (needs APs on either side). For wlan everything within the fresnel zone would be a major obstacle (yes, including the leaves of trees and bushes), you need more or less direct line of sight to cover those distances, (external) walls are fatal.

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Sorry I should have mentioned that the gateway has access to a very high point where we mount the antennas that does have direct line of sight to the top left building and most of the surrounding areas (there are some trees). So you're saying we need to antenna-bridge to the outside of the building, then run a wire inside to a separate AP? Thanks for the response!

have you tought about grabbing the shovels and dig cat6a in a tube/wrap?
sure its some work, but very doable and it will save you a hell lot of trouble in the long run (no backhaul wifi troubleshooting) and have high capacity to connect the ap's.

tldr; cables are cheaper, more reliable and faster


If you can dig these trenches and put conduit for cat6 cable I do think this is a good idea. But I also think that directional point to point equipment will work fine. Consider looking at ubiquiti or engenius or cambium wireless bridge devices. Then run openwrt on regular APs connected to wireless bridge stations via short cable

tell me about all the harware you have for this task which vendor and model too

I also recommend using just a cable. Its fully inside the specifications for LAN cable lengts and then you can run speeds of over 1Gbit, have shielded coating and dont rely on free wifi frequencies. Also microwaves and broken electronics dont cut your connection speed or even the whole connection.
You also save the whole money for elecrtricity and wont have problems with wifi devices that have capacitors that go bad at some time and so one.

Just go for cable on this short range.

May I ask, does each node on your network have a reliable power supply?

Wired Ethernet is cheap and easy to support but requires digging up the site; okay if the soil is sand but not so easy with clay or rock. With the short distances involved, it may be possible to provide Power Over Ethernet to the nodes - but there can be issues with 'electrical isolation' when PoE traverses into other buildings.

An alternative might be using ethernet over existing power-line, but this is only realiable inside a house. Actually, it's not even reliable inside a house!

A wireless Mesh network is supported by OpenWRT, is cheap to do and can use low power tech that only needs a solar panel charger. However, Mesh has issues with throughput, especially when people start using Skype.

Linking each node with optic fibre via Media Converters provides a future-proof, interference free connection with unlimited bandwidth; but is expensive and requires digging up the site, again. Plus for the short distances involved, is total over kill.

I would be tempted to investigate a 'mesh like' solution where, for example, Cisco aironet wireless access points were linked together. There is a single master wireless access point and satelitte repeaters. You would need five or six access points to cover your site with reliable N grade wifi. But this method is limited by the provision of mains power!

Otherwise, wired ethernet.

Hey arjuniet, we've got:
Huawei gigacube B528s-23a, our gateway
Allnet ALL0358N router/antenna combo
(Allnet ALL0258N router/antenna but currently bricked)
Fritzbox Fon WLAN router 7360
antenna, unknown model but works fine over our distances

We're happy to buy more equipment but we are budget minded and don't need high speeds, just basic reliability. Thanks for your help!

So obviously there's a majority 'get diggin' group here, which I understand, was my first thought as well. Unfortunately the ground here is really rocky and awful to work with, which is why we're hoping for a wireless solution, and mesh sounds like it could work well for us! Thanks for the recommendation.

But we do have very reliable power supply spread across the network, every marked building has easy access to electricity. You mentioned the downside of Mesh is throughput for e.g. video streaming, but that's about our lowest priority here. I'll take a look at the Cisco APs you mentioned and do some more research on my own. Thanks so much for taking the time to help! If you have any more recommendations feel free to send them our way!

I will try my best to help you guys , actually I am not able to get the map , if you can re graph the area clearly that would help me

just a rough diagram of access points and objects coming between them

You could probably put a few cpe devices from tplink, rather than a mesh just have one primary Omni AP at the center and several directional clients at the star points. Then run cable from the mast to an AP indoors that provides the local access to the building

Slightly OT, but I had very good experience with Ubiquiti point-to-point radios to make a wireless bridge connecting a (single) cottage that was about 200 ft from the main house.

I don't know if the cost of each link ($125 or so) would be warranted in this installation, but I can vouch for the ease of setup and reliability of the Ubiquiti Nanostations. I used two Nanostations (with two PoE adapters) below to make the connection. I also used an OpenWrt router inside the remote cottage to provide Wi-Fi. I get ~300mbps or 400mbps between the two buildings.


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@rosencrantz The world is going wireless, I have not run a cat5/6 cable for ages! Which is a good thing.

If you want to buy a system out-of-the-box, there's plenty of mesh like kit from TP-Link. Cisco Airlap units can be found on ebay for under 50 euro.

If you want the fun/joy/terror of building a true multi hopping adhoc mesh network, see B.A.T.M.A.N from the OpenMesh project. Also loads of content on YouTube about this.

But first, check out what the guys from Das Freifunk Projekt have to offer.

No digging required.

Have any metal toilet-brush holders lying around?
Build your own directional antennas:

It's in German, but since you're operating a 'Teilbiologische Kleinkläranlage' it would appear that that shouldn't pose a problem :wink:

Some more references:

Lots of stuff on Youtube as well.

Then get some routers with external antenna connections and build a few of those antennas. Either go point-to-point or build a mesh with OpenMesh or FreiFunk (as mentioned above).

I just wanted to throw this out there

ALL Engenius / OpenMesh / (brands that use boards made by Senao)
are good candidates for openwrt

the only issue is getting each model into the hands of someone who knows how to work on it

I have added about 10 Engenius boards so far, looking for more as my budget allows

Also I will be selling the ones I have when the next major release comes