Sharing the Bandwidth and Helping a Friend

I have a wonderful friend. He is a well-known author who has written over 100 books, including a one-volume commentary of the Bible. His gospel and Biblical messages have helped thousands all over the world. At age 91, he still has an active ministry and is especially fond of e-mail to encourage and respond to many people each month. But at this age, he does not need the encumbrance of a monthly DSL bill, especially since his overall bandwidth use is quite low. Why not bring technology to him which enables his ministry in an ongoing and yet, low-cost way? (And besides, its an interesting technical challenge!) So, we set up an Airlink101 AP431W configured as an AP client at his apartment and an AP relay on my neighbor’s house which has a 1.5 mile line-of-site shot to his apartment window. (My neighbor graciously allowed me to put this small box on their roof and they now benefit by getting free WiFi in their house) After a number of trials getting the AP relay (also an Airlink101 AP431W) to pass traffic, I finally got the connectivity. Remote Friends Diagram .pdf Remote Friends Diagram

It turns out that the AP431 (and any AP Relay) cannot use WPA for security. So, the best that can be done is WEP 128 (or higher) encryption, along with MAC address filtering. This works well. I found that originally I had an omnidirectional 10 DBI antenna at my friend’s house. I was getting sputtering throughput. When I replaced it with a 14dbi directional antenna, the throughput went up dramatically. We also learned that though the manufacturer (Airlink) says DHCP works, my experience was that we had to use static IP addresses for reliability.

Here are some photos of the AP’s in use.

My AP w/neighbor’s (sm)
The AP on my rooftop with the neighbor’s
AP-relay off in the distance (click to enlarge)

Neigbbors AP Relay
The AP configured as an AP Relay on my neighbor’s roof.
(Click to enlarge and open)

Welcome to West Coast Smart Home – Home of many things Automated and Connected in the Home

Cisco Systems (my former employer) and my many friends are to blame for this. At my friends urging and Cisco igniting, I have entered in to the world of communicating more than a dream, actually a reality. The home is smart. It is connected. It does things for you. It talks to you. It keeps you informed. It makes you think, but it lets you relax as well. This is our world of home automation and the connected home. Like many others (or so I thought) this home is part of a growing trend to build intelligence into the home and allow everything that can be connected to be so, IF it makes sense and serves a purpose. I thought this was what tons of people were doing. But, according to the managers at Cisco, I scored the top-dog prize for the most-connected and automated home for all 57,000 Cisco employees. There were some other awesome ideas, its just that I got a little more invested in connecting everything that moved me to the top of that list. So, at the urging of many friends and acquaintances, I think I will share some perspectives and experiences and hope that you too, will enter into this great world of the connected home.

WardHouse v5
Click HERE to see the full Network Diagram
Or Click HERE to see a PDF of the Network Diagram.

Read the full story of the Best Home Network contest at Cisco’s web site.

One of Cisco’s FIRST multi-point telepresence conferences with active participants in Sydney, Europe, North Carolina and San Jose (Andrew is on the far right of the picture, next to Cisco’s VP of the IT dept.)

Each of us presented our network and discussed its technical features.