Equipment we use - Part 2

We've made a couple changes to the equipment we have deployed and I know some other co-ops out there have been following this so let me detail the changes and why.

Our core router was a Mikrotik CCR 1009 router. This was performing well but the problem came when we wanted to make changes to it - specifically in regards to having multiple WAN connections. While a Mikrotik can handle this, programing it to work properly is not trivial. We found we kept needing to go back to a consultant to make changes and the changes were becoming more frequent.

As a co-op, we have members that help with various networking tasks and none of the current members were specialists in RouterOS (Mikrotik's OS) or wanted to learn it. I don't blame them. While I hd been using a Mikrotik at home for years and could work my way through many issues, we were getting too advanced.

So, we replaced the Mikrotik with a Peplink Balance 305 router. This came recommended by a good friend who does a ton of large wireless network projects and he swears by them. He sent us one of his as a loaner to try out and after a few weeks, it was clear this was the router to use and we bought our own. Since we run two WAN connection at this point, we needed a router that would load balance between the two effortlessly and router all traffic instantly over one if the other went down (and then load balance again when it came back up). This is what Peplink was built to do. In addition, it was very easy to program in all our VLANs and subnets. The interface is all web GUI so teaching it to out network gurus was much easier than the Mikrotik.

We were happy enough with it that we made a video for Peplink which we later found out won us a Peplink Balance One router and a wireless AP! The AP we have deployed in the Mountaineering Center for guest wifi and admin access to our equipment there. It is managed by the Balance 305 which is also pretty handy. The Balance One is sitting as a hot spare at the moment until we add an additional antenna site.


For our primary APs to get Internet to you, we have been closely following what Mimosa has been doing with the new A5 line of APs. However, due to cost, we have made the decision to stick with Cambium ePMP. They have been rock solid for us. One change is we are starting to re-purpose our original ePMP 1000 receivers as APs for our neighborhood mini-sites. This is a slightly scaled down version of the ePMP 1000 GPS AP that we have on Lookout Mountain. But, since we already own the equipment and all we need is a $200 omni antenna, it was a no brainer to save the $$ and re-deploy these radios. We have two of them out there and are getting ready to launch our third and have been very happy.

An ePMP 1000 radio with a 5 GHz omni antenna

An ePMP 1000 radio with a 5 GHz omni antenna

Lastly, we are getting ready to test / deploy an IgniteNet MetroLinq 60 GHz radio. This is a point to point radio operating in the 60 GHz frequency spectrum - also called millimeter wave. This is the same frequency that oxygen vibrates at so it can only go a limited distance (under 2 Km) but in that limited distance, speeds are 1 Gbps or higher! Extremely fast. We see these as point to point radios to feed some of the neighborhood antenna sites we are starting to work on. There is virtually no interference in 60 GHz and because the signal degrades so fast, it should remain virtually interference free. 

Stay tuned for more information about 60 GHz.