Monday
UUC NRV UniFi Network Upgrade
Used Products
×1
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Location
1301 Gladewood Drive, Blacksburg, VA, USA
Description

UUC NRV UniFi Network Upgrade

 

At the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the New River Valley (UUC NRV), we’ve been trying to fill a 8834 sq ft building with Wi-Fi and tried a number of different products over the years. The most recent attempt was a three-piece system from TP-Link that provided a master wireless router and two remote extenders. This worked okay, but the speed was very slow and the system couldn’t manage more than a few users at a time. As an engineer who runs UniFi products at work and home, I decided to recommend that we upgrade the wireless system at UUC to a UniFi system.

 

One of the biggest benefits to using UniFi to me is the design choice to move the management tools to an external unit instead of building it into the products directly. This enables the hardware to be fully utilized for its primary purpose instead of sharing those resources with a management interface. I would go so far as to say this this is the primary reason that other products require reboots all the time just to keep them working. I only reboot UniFi products when firmware updates are required.

 

The project was split into the two phases. Phase I: Replace and upgrade the switch, router and  old wireless access points. Phase II: Add new access points to expand coverage. This phase requires running some new ethernet cable through the building and will take a bit more time.

 

Phase I took about 2 hours, but that’s mostly because I forgot I was going to need a laptop on which I had both admin credentials and ethernet support so I had to drive home and get a different laptop halfway through the setup. Be sure you’ve got everything you need with you before you start!

 

Before.jpgOriginal Configuration 

As you can see in the Original Configuration image, the ethernet wiring in the building is clean and organized. The connections on the front panel are not so well organized. There is a gigabit, unmanaged switch connected to a port in the patch panel and then the cable modem is also connected to a port in the patch panel. The main wireless unit also servers as the router and is located in another room, connected to both of those ports in the patch panel. This configuration allowed the wireless device to reach a reasonably large area in the building and kept the majority of the equipment in the utility room. The downside to the configuration is that the room where the wireless device is located uses 2 ethernet ports to support wireless in that location and no physical ports are available for hardwired devices in that room.

 

For the new configuration, there were three major goals. (1) Provide better wireless coverage and reliability for regular users. (2) Enable strong security and remote support capabilities for members. (3) Provide guests with access to the Internet without compromising security. To accomplish these goals, we decided on the following equipment.

 

Boxes.jpgEquipment

  

Equipment

Quantity

MSRP

UniFi AP-AC-LR

5

$499.00

UniFi Switch 16 (150W)

1

$299.00

UniFi Security Gateway

1

$119.00

UniFi Cloud Key

1

$79.00

Total

 

$996.00

 

The Access Point 5-pack enables distribution of wireless coverage throughout the building and should enable us to move them around a bit to get the best coverage possible. The UniFi Switch has Power over Ethernet (PoE), which will power the UniFi Access Points and enable even easier adjustment to their locations in the building since they don’t need to be located near a separate power source. The UniFi Security Gateway provides routing, strong security capabilities, and protects the network from unauthorized access. The UniFi Cloud Key enables remote management and configuration without requiring a separate server and allows the other equipment to focus on the job it  should be doing instead of supporting management interfaces.

 

The first piece of equipment installed was the largest one, the UniFi Switch. I learned a trick on the the web site documentation for the switch, which is that it can be mounted on a wall using the included rack adapters by rotating them 90 degrees. Simply attach the brackets to the switch using the included hardware, then mount to the wall using hardware appropriate for your wall. This mounting method gives the switch a small clearance off the wall and holds the switch in place very nicely.

 

Switch.jpgSwitch

 

Next, I installed the UniFi Security Gateway onto the wall. The USG has a standard wall mount solution where the screws are left partially screwed in so that the unit can hang from them. I  mounted this unit so that the UniFi logo was properly oriented, but the device can be mounted in any orientation.

 

Gateway.jpgGateway

  

 

At this point, I disconnected all the old equipment (wireless devices, switch) and plugged the Cable Modem into the Security Gateway. I then connected the Security Gateway to the UniFi Switch. The Cloud Key simply plugged directly into the UniFi Switch and is powered using Power over Ethernet (PoE).

 

This is the point I realized that I needed a laptop with an ethernet port and admin access in order to allow the Chrome plugin to listen through the Windows firewall to find the new network objects, including the Cloud Key. So after a drive home and back, I was able to plug in and complete the software side of the setup. Conveniently, the UniFi Security Gateway’s default settings matched up perfectly with the Cable Modem so connectivity to the Internet worked right away. After a quick setup of the Cloud Key, I was able to begin installing firmware updates to all the attached resources. While the firmware updates ran, I started the setup of the Access Points. This was as easy as finding the ports in the building and lining up the numbers with the Patch Panel. Once I plugged them into the UniFi Switch, they immediately fired up and were discovered in the UniFi software. Simply click Adopt and they are automatically provisioned.

 

After a few more updates, I had two UniFi Access Points installed and both the Members and Guests Wireless networks were up and running. One small issue we had was that the old router had used 192.168.0.x and the UniFi Security Gateway came set up with 192.168.1.x out of the box. I expanded the network a bit to include the 192.168.0.x addresses as well without expanding the DHCP range so that the static IP configured on the network printer didn’t have to change, which would have required all users to re-configure the printer settings on their machines. I was able to set up a static IP assignment for the printer in the UniFi software and re-configure the printer to get a DHCP address. This way, the printer can use DHCP and the UniFi software ensures that the printer always gets the same address, which is the same address as it was before the migration.

 

Final.jpgCompleted Configuration

 

Next up is Phase II, where the remaining UniFi Access Points are installed in more permanent positions in the building and additional ethernet cabling is run to ensure that they can be placed in optimal locations.

UUC NRV UniFi Network Upgrade

by Monday

UUC NRV UniFi Network Upgrade

 

At the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the New River Valley (UUC NRV), we’ve been trying to fill a 8834 sq ft building with Wi-Fi and tried a number of different products over the years. The most recent attempt was a three-piece system from TP-Link that provided a master wireless router and two remote extenders. This worked okay, but the speed was very slow and the system couldn’t manage more than a few users at a time. As an engineer who runs UniFi products at work and home, I decided to recommend that we upgrade the wireless system at UUC to a UniFi system.

 

One of the biggest benefits to using UniFi to me is the design choice to move the management tools to an external unit instead of building it into the products directly. This enables the hardware to be fully utilized for its primary purpose instead of sharing those resources with a management interface. I would go so far as to say this this is the primary reason that other products require reboots all the time just to keep them working. I only reboot UniFi products when firmware updates are required.

 

The project was split into the two phases. Phase I: Replace and upgrade the switch, router and  old wireless access points. Phase II: Add new access points to expand coverage. This phase requires running some new ethernet cable through the building and will take a bit more time.

 

Phase I took about 2 hours, but that’s mostly because I forgot I was going to need a laptop on which I had both admin credentials and ethernet support so I had to drive home and get a different laptop halfway through the setup. Be sure you’ve got everything you need with you before you start!

 

Before.jpgOriginal Configuration 

As you can see in the Original Configuration image, the ethernet wiring in the building is clean and organized. The connections on the front panel are not so well organized. There is a gigabit, unmanaged switch connected to a port in the patch panel and then the cable modem is also connected to a port in the patch panel. The main wireless unit also servers as the router and is located in another room, connected to both of those ports in the patch panel. This configuration allowed the wireless device to reach a reasonably large area in the building and kept the majority of the equipment in the utility room. The downside to the configuration is that the room where the wireless device is located uses 2 ethernet ports to support wireless in that location and no physical ports are available for hardwired devices in that room.

 

For the new configuration, there were three major goals. (1) Provide better wireless coverage and reliability for regular users. (2) Enable strong security and remote support capabilities for members. (3) Provide guests with access to the Internet without compromising security. To accomplish these goals, we decided on the following equipment.

 

Boxes.jpgEquipment

  

Equipment

Quantity

MSRP

UniFi AP-AC-LR

5

$499.00

UniFi Switch 16 (150W)

1

$299.00

UniFi Security Gateway

1

$119.00

UniFi Cloud Key

1

$79.00

Total

 

$996.00

 

The Access Point 5-pack enables distribution of wireless coverage throughout the building and should enable us to move them around a bit to get the best coverage possible. The UniFi Switch has Power over Ethernet (PoE), which will power the UniFi Access Points and enable even easier adjustment to their locations in the building since they don’t need to be located near a separate power source. The UniFi Security Gateway provides routing, strong security capabilities, and protects the network from unauthorized access. The UniFi Cloud Key enables remote management and configuration without requiring a separate server and allows the other equipment to focus on the job it  should be doing instead of supporting management interfaces.

 

The first piece of equipment installed was the largest one, the UniFi Switch. I learned a trick on the the web site documentation for the switch, which is that it can be mounted on a wall using the included rack adapters by rotating them 90 degrees. Simply attach the brackets to the switch using the included hardware, then mount to the wall using hardware appropriate for your wall. This mounting method gives the switch a small clearance off the wall and holds the switch in place very nicely.

 

Switch.jpgSwitch

 

Next, I installed the UniFi Security Gateway onto the wall. The USG has a standard wall mount solution where the screws are left partially screwed in so that the unit can hang from them. I  mounted this unit so that the UniFi logo was properly oriented, but the device can be mounted in any orientation.

 

Gateway.jpgGateway

  

 

At this point, I disconnected all the old equipment (wireless devices, switch) and plugged the Cable Modem into the Security Gateway. I then connected the Security Gateway to the UniFi Switch. The Cloud Key simply plugged directly into the UniFi Switch and is powered using Power over Ethernet (PoE).

 

This is the point I realized that I needed a laptop with an ethernet port and admin access in order to allow the Chrome plugin to listen through the Windows firewall to find the new network objects, including the Cloud Key. So after a drive home and back, I was able to plug in and complete the software side of the setup. Conveniently, the UniFi Security Gateway’s default settings matched up perfectly with the Cable Modem so connectivity to the Internet worked right away. After a quick setup of the Cloud Key, I was able to begin installing firmware updates to all the attached resources. While the firmware updates ran, I started the setup of the Access Points. This was as easy as finding the ports in the building and lining up the numbers with the Patch Panel. Once I plugged them into the UniFi Switch, they immediately fired up and were discovered in the UniFi software. Simply click Adopt and they are automatically provisioned.

 

After a few more updates, I had two UniFi Access Points installed and both the Members and Guests Wireless networks were up and running. One small issue we had was that the old router had used 192.168.0.x and the UniFi Security Gateway came set up with 192.168.1.x out of the box. I expanded the network a bit to include the 192.168.0.x addresses as well without expanding the DHCP range so that the static IP configured on the network printer didn’t have to change, which would have required all users to re-configure the printer settings on their machines. I was able to set up a static IP assignment for the printer in the UniFi software and re-configure the printer to get a DHCP address. This way, the printer can use DHCP and the UniFi software ensures that the printer always gets the same address, which is the same address as it was before the migration.

 

Final.jpgCompleted Configuration

 

Next up is Phase II, where the remaining UniFi Access Points are installed in more permanent positions in the building and additional ethernet cabling is run to ensure that they can be placed in optimal locations.

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Comments
by Ubiquiti Employee
Monday

@eagad  Awesome story and install  Ubnt Banana

by
Monday

OMG why evry rule those 4 pics????

by
Monday

Looks like a awesome setup dude! keep it on!

by
Monday

Good story glad to see UBNT making a difference for people. 

by
Monday

Dust in unused ethernet ports on switch!!! mount with ports faceing down or sideways