Before starting, I researched access points. I was searching for a solution that would allow me to set up a system that did not expose my current LAN or require setting up an additional firewall. Ideally, I would also like it to be a single box solution. In other words, what can I use that will 1) allow an external antenna to be connected, 2) provide some form of access control and 2) be self-contained?

As a result, I've made a table with specs for the 3 options I could find in the US$300 price range. When additional documentation is available, I will try to expand this to include the recently released Farallon NetLINE wireless gateway since it's going for just under US$400.


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facingnw.jpg
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facingeast.jpg

Here's the first day of actual manual labor on the project. I was fortunate enough to have a dry, sunny day today. All the hard stuff is done so I can slip off a wet roof another day when I'm ready to mount the antenna.

The first view is from my roof next to the chimney I'm mounting the omnidirectional antenna on. You can see my other chimney in the foreground. The one I've got the mast mounted on is no longer attached to anything that produces heat. You can see the downtown Portland skyline in the background.

The next view is facing roughly towards Eric's house to the east and slightly northward. I'm trying to get idea of what it'll look like when we get the directionals installed for our point-to-point links. As you can see, we've got some other houses and trees in the way -- nothing a few explosives won't take care of. *smirk*


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gear.jpg
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mast.jpg

Here is an ensemble cast portrait. On the left is the 15dBi omnidirectional antenna from HyperLink Tech and the $7 antenna mast I picked up at Radio Shack. On the ground are the chimney mounting kit, a loop of LMR400 cable, an Apple Airport Base Station, and a Dell Aironet 4800LT PCMCIA card. My laptop was too shy to join the picture. The inflatable penguin is included for scale.

With the help of some good thick gloves, I managed to get the tin straps up and the mast mounted to the brackets. I'm glad I found a spot to bring the mast in a bit low since the antenna itself is another five feet up from there. I'm awaiting an order of adapter cables from HyperLink Tech to finish putting the antenna up. I also may have to order some longer LMR400 cable to reach the air duct I want to run the cable through. More to come.

Kudos to Bill for researching and buying all the antenna gear. I owe you some other hardware in return. And yes I'm sure those are N-male connectors on the cable. I'll post a picture for you if you still don't believe me. Heh.

Friday, January 19, 2001


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airtop.jpg
pigtail.jpg
pigtail.jpg

The next task was to do a bit of drilling on the ufo. Since I already had it dissected, I took the opportunity to upgrade to an Orinoco Gold card. Notice the extra bit of carving I had to do on the housing in order for the antenna adapter to fit. Damn, there goes that warranty. *shrug*

Friday, January 26, 2001


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antcar.jpg
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15ft.jpg

After some initial testing, we decided that a taller antenna might help a little bit with our line of sight issues. We headed down to the nearest Radio Shack and ended up with 5' and 10' pieces that fit together to make a 15' mast.


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upgraded.jpg
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mounted.jpg

It's suggested that no more than 10' of mast extend beyond the last strap in the chimney mount kit. So we only used the 10' mast and are saving the other 5' for a rainy day.

I mounted the Airport base station in the attic close to the cable's entry point. I'm using as short a cable as possible to reduce signal loss. In addition, the cable assemblies are not all that cheap to begin with.


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operatives.jpg

By the time we finished upgrading our mast, it was dark and cold outside Proper attire was required for some neighborhood range and line of sight testing. Our best so far has been 2500' away on the Holgate overpass, somewhere between SE 17th and 24th avenues. The Aironet card would not work from this location. Instead, we were using the Lucent Orinoco Silver card that I'd swapped out of the base station.

While standing there in the dark, moist chill amidst noisy traffic, a couple of Men in Black showed up to interrogate us. They turned out to be some very ambitious Mormon missionaries who must've seen us while crossing the overpass and parked a few blocks away in order to come and chat. That's what I call dedication!

Saturday, January 27, 2001

The HTML editor of

choice.