Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's Back...

The weather in Barrow is always changing. Last night at 10pm, the sun was shining brightly without a cloud in the sky. This morning, it was snowing. Oh well, not the best day to be out and about working outdoors. I am testing a replacement outdoor point-to-multipoint wireless network for interconnecting buildings that house research. This includes some that are several miles away.

The first step was to install the base station and a panel antenna (90° horizontal, 4° vertical, 20db gain) on the roof of the Barrow Arctic Science Center (BARC). The diamond shaped antenna right above it is the eight year old system that I'm looking at replacing. I roughly aimed the antenna horizontally and used a bit more care for the vertical axis. There was a 20+ mph wind and it felt pretty cold in the time it took to install and adjust the antenna. I then drove around the NARL campus to measure signal level and throughput. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked just about everywhere I tried it taking very little care with antenna location. I even used it last night from my "hut" with the antenna hanging on the curtain rod in the kitchen (no line of sight to the base station).

After that successful test, I reoriented the base station antenna due south towards the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). I drove south as far as the road was open and reran my tests. This picture shows how much care I put into antenna positioning. With this setup 5.6km from the BARC, the system was still reporting 60 mbps of throughput.

This is the wonderful view from my test location looking due north with the BARC around ⅓ of the way from the left edge of the photo. Out here, the wind was really blowing so I didn't spend too much time outdoors. I was able to run the radio off of a small UPS and could have easily converted it to run off of the truck 12v outlet. Hmmm, new afternoon project.

For the true geek types, the radios even have a spectrum analyzer function so you can see what other radios are out there. Here, the upper section of the band is lightly used so that is what the system selected for its own use. Pretty cool!

15 comments:

Unknown said...

Richard:

You have a faster internet speed with your wireless than I have at home

Looks like you are posting photos from last Winter

bob
A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

The real bottleneck is the 5 mbps satellite connection between here and the university in Fairbanks. I was just measuring speed between the remote site and the science facility here in Barrow. No satellite latency...

And. no, these pictures are all taken today not last winter. Can't you tell it's almost summer (or not)?

VStar Lady said...

I think Bob would agree ... KOA campgrounds needs you .... (I don't think I've heard anyone with more sad stories to tell about internet connections out in the semi-wild than him!) Something to think about for your retirement Richard.

Martha said...

The snow's not deep so I can cope with looking at the photo without going catatonic.

Hope you enjoyed something nice to eat, as you usually do!

RichardM said...

As you say, most campgrounds and hotels don't have very good setups and don't really care since they usually don't charge for it but want to say that they offer "Free Wi-Fi".

RichardM said...

No, the snow never piled up but I was still rather surprised to see that it wasn't melting very fast.

No, just had dinner at the Ilisagvik College cafeteria.

Trobairitz said...

The snowy landscape looks pretty, but also so chilly.

When you get home it will seem so warm.

RichardM said...

Without the wind it would've been pretty nice but with the wind, not so much. While I was there, a couple of researchers began their cold trek out onto the BEO. They were bundled up as it it was winter with the addition of rubber boots to deal with all of the melt water.

Unknown said...

Richard:

I was trying so hard to blog every night but even though I had a strong WiFi signal, I couldn't connect to get on-line.

also I need to change some settings but don't know which ones. Using WiFi (whether KOA, or McDonalds etc) I can receive emails but can't send. Must be something wrong with the outgoing server settings

bob
A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

Most locations don't change any of the settings on their router/ap so the default DHCP lifetime it too long for such a transient population. Rebooting their router clears the leases and devices can once again get addresses. These days for travelling, I rely on my iPad with Verizon LTE service. And I can share out the Internet to my laptop if needed. Much more reliable than hotel/campground Wi-Fi (assuming it's even available).

As far as sending email, most ISP accounts require authenticated sending if it isn't sourced from their network. The better solution is to get a Gmail account and use their authenticated SMTP server for sending email. More reliable than just about any ISP solution as well as you don't care that they algorithmically analyze your email to provide you with targeted email. You can always set your "reply-to" address to anything else you want.

Unknown said...

Richard:

I forgot about this. My yahoo works and most likely my hotmail would work too but my main email doesn't work.

I have a Gmail but I use it for automatic archiving so if I delete an email, while on the road, I can go to gmail and get it back. Emails to my gmail will go unread as I don't check it at all.

bob
A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

The main problem with continuing to use your isp email address is that you are locked to them. If you decide to drop them, you will probably lose access to your email address. With your Yahoo or Google account, it doesn't matter what ISP you are using.

redlegsrides said...

Quite the desolate working environment for that networking gear RichardM, not to mention for the installer. Don't you have a young grad student doing all the installs while you "supervise"?

RichardM said...

Are you volunteering? I've had a temp position job announcement out for a couple of months but no takers. And experience from former installations indicate that if I want it done a certain way then I may as well just do it myself.

redlegsrides said...

nope, no volunteering here!