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2 weeks ago
Wi-Fi for a 650 player LANparty

Small non-profit project: Provide Wi-Fi for a 650 people LANparty. Relatively low traffic as this thing is only there for some e-mail and light browsing, but the Cisco hardware we'd used in previous years was starting to show its age (802.11a/g only). To replace it, we started by taking inventory of the available UniFi hardware (stuff that everyone could bring privately) and ended up with this:



1x AC-HD


1x UAP gen1


With those, we used the ability to place virtual APs on a map in the controller and devised the following deployment plan to cover as much area as possible while also trying to handle the higher density of the main hall:


We put one AC-Pro in the low foot-traffic entrance area (only gets busy at the start and end of the event):



and then used the rest of the APs a floor up to cover the main hall, and the area in front of it:




From top left to bottom: AC-Pro to cover our 'Anki Overdrive' track (part of our fun park), AC-Pro to cover the bar and sitting area, AC-Pro to cover the northern part of the hall with about 200 players, AC-SHD and AC-HD to cover the rest of the main hall (450 players) plus the stage where the organisers sit, and finally, the old UAP-gen1 backstage, covering part of where we sleep. (The above is actually the 5G coverage map but due to a cosmetic controller bug, the 2G coverage of the gen1 was not removed.)


Since the standard mounts are not well suited for temporary installation or hanging off the truss, we built our own support platforms:

SHD floating in main hallSHD floating in main hallSHD attached to trussSHD attached to trussAC-PRO attached to pipingAC-PRO attached to pipingAC-PRO above our Carrera track (Anki Overdrive track not in shot)AC-PRO above our Carrera track (Anki Overdrive track not in shot)AC-PRO at the barAC-PRO at the barAC-PRO in the entrance areaAC-PRO in the entrance area




The SHD came in particularly handy as we could use AirTime and AirView to check on the RF status, and quickly deduce that our initial plan to do balanced bandsteering would be tricky as the 2G band was filled with noise!

 70-80% 2G airtime was noise, the 5G band was smooth sailing70-80% 2G airtime was noise, the 5G band was smooth sailing


(We actually asked the location guys and they confirmed that their Wi-Fi has 2G trouble all the time as well.)


As a result, we set the APs to 'Prefer 5G' instead, which worked admirably:2G clients not having a good time, fortunately most got moved to 5G.2G clients not having a good time, fortunately most got moved to 5G.


(If you're wondering why we are doing 1 5 9 11: 6 had interference on it, and when we switched to 1 5 8 11, 8 was completely unusable with the respective AP complaining about 99% interference blocking the channel.)


Limited Internet connectivity made our Wi-Fi provided access relatively slow, causing most guests to prefer staying with their 3G/4G connections, but we still served some clients:





(I kept walking around during the party to run speed-tests towards a local endpoint and the UniFi controller and never had less than 100Mbps both up and down on the 5G band.)


We had a few little hiccups with testing-stage firmware (some APs started rebooting, and some others stopped doing bandsteering temporarily until restarted) but overall the whole installation performed wonderfully and the AP reboots went completely unnoticed as clients roamed over to the next AP.


Finally, some miscellaneous photos from the dashboard and the event itself:

Selection_026.pngYou can see when people went to sleep. ;)You can see when people went to sleep. Man Wink

RS4119_2017-10-28 16.06.20-scr.jpgSelection_014.pngRS4123_2017-10-28 16.08.11-scr.jpgRS4145_IMG_0035-scr.JPGRS4149_IMG_0039-scr.JPGInternet, routing and services VM cluster.Internet, routing and services VM cluster.Game-server farm.Game-server farm.Grafana dashboard to monitor Internet, Wi-Fi and LAN.Grafana dashboard to monitor Internet, Wi-Fi and LAN.


2 weeks ago

Curious, why did you use 1 5 9 11 for the 2.4 channels and not 1 6 11 ?

2 weeks ago

We ran into interference on 6 as well (not as bad as 8, but still enough to have APs complain about it).

2 weeks ago

Sounds very odd to configure them that way.


I would have thought it would've been more correct to use the correct 3 channels, in low power mode.

Then this would have encouraged all capable clients to use 5 Ghz.


Since channels 6 and 8 overlap, the interference could've been self caused.

Plus when you have hundreds of bluetooth devices, including mice and keyboards that can transmit on all 3 correct channels as part of their normal operation.



2 weeks ago

What is the location of this?

2 weeks ago

You could have used 1,5,9,13

2 weeks ago - last edited 2 weeks ago

@JimBob We started with 1 6 11, but the APs on 6 were complaining about interference (something like 30%) even with no clients, so we moved to 1 5 8 11 (putting 5 and 8 each on a separate end of the hall, away from each other, and having 1 and 11 in the middle, so that 5 would mostly interfere with 1 and 8 with 11). This made the AP on channel 5 happy, but the AP on 8 was now giving us the 99% interference warning, so we moved that to 9, which shut it up. This was all before the event even started, so we didn't have any wireless keyboards, mice and headphones in yet. (The 2G AirView waterfall was already red before we brought any APs other than the SHD on-line.) We also turned down TX power on all 2G radios to encourage 5G use. We did measure 6Mbps around the hall throughout the party, which was more than our congested Internet link would give clients anyway, but of course far from ideal for a normal 2G network. (Might walk around with the SHD next year to figure out what in the location is generating all the 2G noise but then again, Wi-Fi is an extremely optional feature at this event and our setup time is limited. Could also possibly disable 2G completely, but we didn't want to lock out 2G-only clients.)


@zunder1990 This was in Hagen, Germany.


@DSnet I've had issues with 13 in the past (not just with US-imports of devices like tablets, even EU devices sometimes just won't connect to it). We were planning balanced band-steering to ensure we didn't run into any density issues, but as it is, we did not have any density problems with our 'Prefer 5G' setup at all, so we just left 2G enabled for compatibility reasons.



2 weeks ago

With a hall full of geeks with mostly brand new gear it would have been interesting to see the results if you put off 2.4 all together.  Too bad for the odd guy that can't connect, but it does make sense for such an dense event.

2 weeks ago

Waht the data backend for Grafana, what it zabbix?

2 weeks ago

@zunder1990 I don't know that unfortunately (wasn't involved in building it, except for setting a few SNMP communities in the UniFi environment). I believe it was Prometheus, but I may be wrong.

2 weeks ago

What did you use to generate these wifi strength map? Looks handy!


Also nice setup, looks good.