doncharisma, don charisma, Nanonstation M2 Mounted to Air-conditioning Pipes

How to get @TRUEWIFI working with a Ubiquiti Nanostation M2

Getting a reliable wifi connection can be a paid in the backside.

A solution is a Ubiquiti Nanostation M2, for the unenlightened that’s one of these – http://www.ubnt.com/airmax#nanostationm

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Ubiquiti make stuff that works for outdoor wifi, expect to pay around 70-100£ for a Nanostation M2. This is a great piece of equipment highly recommended.

The access point we’re trying to reach from the 13th floor is the little square box

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UBIQUITI tab

First to note that airMAX is a proprietary protocol used in Ubiquiti products, so best to turn it off if you aren’t sure if it’s a Ubiquiti device you’re talking to. In this case I’m sure that it’s not.

Log into your Nanostation and select the tab with the Ubiquiti logo, switch airMAX priority to “None”

airmax off

NETWORK tab

I tried to set this up in bridging mode, no success, so best to use router mode, I used advanced mode also. My network I setup as 10.10.9.x network, but I think the default options work just as well. For privacy I recommend the “Technitium MAC Address Changer” http://www.technitium.com/tmac/index.html Use this to generate a MAC address and then you can use the “MAC Address Cloning” setting, MAC address enter as hex number like so “1a2b3c4d5e6f”. Recommended but optional.

Network settings

WIRELESS tab

In the wireless tab it’s worth noting that the equipment your talking to is probably using channel width 20MHZ, mine works with “Auto 20MHZ/40MHZ”, but if in doubt revert to 20MHZ. Wireless Mode is set to “Station”. I set country code to “US” because allows full power transmit.

This basic configuration should work. However I found at faster connection speeds to @TRUEWIFI access point the connection was unreliable. As the internet provided is up to say 15-20Mbps, I really don’t need 150Mbps connection to access point, especially if it’s unreliable. So “Max TX Rate, Mbps” is set to “MCS9 – 26 (60)”. This was a matter of trial and error getting fastest connection with best reliability, for this use the “MAIN tab –> Monitor –> AP Information”, this will tell you the MCS’s that the access point you’re trying to connect to is capable of. There wasn’t a great deal of easy-to-digest information when I searched for MCS, but basically it’s the protocol used for device to device talk over wifi and lower MCS numbers are older and slower, whilst higher numbers are faster and newer, the caveat here is that you may find the lower MCS numbers more reliable and for 15Mbps connection most of the low numbers work fine.

wireless tab

Obviously use the “Select” button to do a scan of the available wifi networks, and then lock to the one you want to connect to. If you have multiple access points available for truewifi, then some trial and error may be necessary in order to get a good signal. The position and orientation of the Nanostation also will make a difference, from my research having the Nanostation “pointing” at the access point is best. If you can’t see or don’t know where it is, then you’ll have to play around with this, can be time consuming, enjoy!

That’s the basic setup done, should now be able to connect. Add a LAN switch or router to your network port of Nanostation and you now have a network that all your machines can connect to internet over the connection.

SERVICES tab

For good measure I’ve added a “ping watchdog”, this means the Nanostation will reboot itself automatically if it can’t ping the ip addess specified (I’ve used Google DNS 8.8.4.4). This doesn’t cover all the possible scenarios, but does cover you for a dead connection between your Nanostation and the truewifi access point.

I setup the Nanonstation’s internal web server as https (because it’s more secure), have added an SSH server (so I can log in and geek on it if I want) and the NNTP time server. The https and NNTP are a good idea for most people, the SSH don’t enable unless you need it.

Services tab

That’s it, you should be up and running.

Next thing I wondered about was how log into TrueWifi automatically, more on that later … enjoy

5 thoughts on “How to get @TRUEWIFI working with a Ubiquiti Nanostation M2

  1. Great write-up on a nice but confusing device. Can you tell me then if configured in the way you’ve described here if the Ubiquiti router then can provide an internal wireless SSID for your network? In other words if the Nanostation is receiving a wireless signal in router mode can it then re-transmit a wifi signal or are you wired lan only?

    1. Yes, airos is a little difficult to use, BUT please do persist with it Ubiquiti are best of breed for wifi equipment, used globally by professionals. I have two nanos now and they run 24/7 virtually without hiccup in up to 50 deg C heat …

      Currently I use the router setting. So wifi in from true, wired out to a switch or another router. The “internet” does propagate through. Simplest and easiest is nanostation and a wired switch. Only issue I have is lack of firewall, and haven’t been able to figure out how to setup on the nanostation, their documents are poor, basically they expect you to be a professional if you’re using one, so one should know how to do it !

      I wouldn’t recommend “repeater” wifi mode, because if it’s an unencrypted connection, you’ll also be providing a hotspot for anyone else who wants to connect, which means you could be competing for your own bandwidth … obviously if you’re connecting to an encrypted hotspot, the situation is a little different.

      AirMAX is a proprietary Ubiquiti protocol so DO switch it off (probably). And generally 20MHz channel width works best, but I have also used 40MHz channel width too.

      Also generally do specify the hotspot you’re connecting to with both name eg “truewifi” and it’s MAC address eg “00:99:ff:55:44:33” … reason being is sometimes hotspots showing a good signal will be dead for some reason.

      Keep trying different hotspots, and antenna directions until you get one that works. And I’ve found generally the Nano works best if it’s located outside. Max down is around 10Mbps and up around 2Mbps where I am.

      Also be careful about handling the nano when it’s on, there’s a powerful radio signal and you could hurt yourself. It’s tempting to save time to not switch it off when you want to move it, but you’re potentially putting yourself at risk. So just be cautious is all.

      Hope this helps

      Don Charisma

      1. Either way. Is there a browser plugin? I was considering trying to use curl to post the form data to log in, but I’m curious what your solution is if you have one that works.

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