The AirTies thread

rorz0r

Executive Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
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7,750
#1
Figured we don't have one of these, so here's my initial review of the AirTies 4920 Triple Pack (TLDR - skip life story and scroll down to pictures :D)

Link: https://www.nology.co.za/products/h...wireless-mesh-access-point-triple-pack-detail
I bought from Smartkit: http://www.smartkit.co.za/product/airties-air-4920/
Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated to anyone

LIFE STORY

About 8 years ago I moved into my first house, which was just big enough that a single Wi-Fi access point wasn’t cutting it. At various stages I ran CellC LTE, Telkom ADSL and Bitco Wi-Fi as my internet connections. Of those Cell C was the fastest (but capped) at around 11Mbps. I also ran a HP N36L microserver that I liked to stream linux isos from so needed reasonable speed internally as well. With the “centralised” data approach I didn’t need to do much file copying over the network but faster is always better.

After reading about the evils of Wi-Fi “extenders” and then installing some cabling and multiple access points I had Wi-Fi access that worked reasonably well, when it worked. However once a week or so I would have to reset access points, or the router, or something and just end up resetting everything. Another issue is that I had 3 SSID’s to connect to, which was firstly a pain to set up but also because you’d find your throughput on your phone non existent then notice it was connected to the AP on the oooother end of the house which required a manual disconnect/reconnect to fix. This solution was just frustrating me.

At some point I upgraded to just 2 Ubiquiti UAP-LR units and life was amazing. These devices basically ran absolutely flawlessly and never required a restart, while providing excellent signal, a single SSID and seamless handover. They were certainly pricey for a home solution but for frustration free Wi-Fi absolutely worth the price.

Just over a year ago I moved to a much larger house, which just seems to block signal as well. I had some issues with the UAP-LR units which may have been related to lightning damage, or could have been some other networking related issue. I’m not really sure and I’ve spent ages trying to figure it out, even bought some more units which either have the same issue or something else is the problem. For a while we limped along with a UAP-Outdoor and a mostly working UAP (seemed to disconnect occasionally). We were also fortunate enough to go from Telkom LTE (30-40Mbps) to a OpenServe 100Mb fibre connection (about 84Mbps really). I also replaced a laptop with an Intel Wi-Fi chip with one with a Killer Wi-Fi chip and it didn’t seem to be quite as good, particularly in the bedroom where the signal was weak.

So having faster internet REALLY showed up any weak signal spots, and general lack of throughput on Wi-Fi so I’ve been looking for a solution. The house is also a double story and everything is cast in concrete so it’s practically impossible to run network cabling anywhere. I also had some issues setting up the UniFi control software in a Docker container on an unRAID server (now resolved).

I was also having issues with the Rokus as higher resolution linux isos were becoming unwatchable with buffering etc and sometimes even giving up completely. I had already upgraded from a N46L to a Gen8 microserver to assist with having the power to transcode but knew the real solution was a capable network.

The AirTies solution seemed good because the units provide really good value (though R4-5k is a rather hefty chunk for most households to drop on Wi-Fi gear), 2 network ports (which you only get on the “Pro” Ubiquiti gear at twice the price) and not having to run any control software to deal with was a bonus.

ACTUAL REVIEW STARTS HERE

On receiving the AirTies units I was actually a bit surprised at how small they are. I glanced at the first page of the instruction manual, downloaded the app to my phone, made sure my PoE from my “server cupboard” to my home theatre was disconnected (the plan was to have the PoE injector on the UPS and the UniFi AP in the home theatre but I think the cable was just too long) and connected into a gigabit port. I basically just plugged in the first AirTies unit, the app found it, let me name it and that was about it. I plugged in the second one near the downstairs TV (which could never receive a good signal, even though the main UniFi AP was in the “server cupboard” almost directly upstairs from it) and repeated the same process. The app terminology for “name” was a little unclear to me. I initially assumed it would be SSID so wondered why the second AP was asking me for a different SSID. This was easy peasy to correct in the app and it’s actually nice to have meaningful names. It’s very helpful that the network view shows which AP is connected to the internet and which one my phone was connected to so it was trivial to figure out which is which.

Thinkgs looking a bit wonky tbh... (this was with me in the bedroom, quite far from both)
i9dLk4q.jpg
8S8Ihrv.jpg

On connecting the third unit, I plugged in a Roku to the one network port and then tried to configure it. The app hung after the screen where you name it, then whenever I tried the app again it would start searching for nodes unsuccessfully (which was strange, as I was connected to and using the AirTies SSID just fine).

X8Gqi32.jpg

I figured maybe that wasn’t the right thing to do so I unplugged the network cable, force closed the app then the app instantly resumed at the name screen and proceeded flawlessly. After plugging in the cable again everything was working fine. Later on I noticed in the manual it specifically tells you not to do this :D I guess basically if a cable is plugged in (before pairing/configuration) it would assume that to be an uplink.

UaRVYdC.jpg

Success and a pretty good looking picture. Placement was basically 1 downstairs to cover the lounge and open plan kitchen/dining room, entrance hall, patio area etc. 1 in home theatre because we’ve got that and then 2 office desks and a lounge upstairs in that area. 1 in the bedroom because it’s in the opposite wing of the house and that’s really where we watch the most linux isos anyway. Also should boost signal in the bathroom and near the driveway/garage etc.
I am still running the “old” wifi so I could do some comparative speedtests. From my phone from the bedroom (so 1 ap away from the one that’s actually connected) old wifi showed 11-20Mbps, AirTies showed 76Mbps. The Roku in the bedroom was reconfigured to use the network cable, going into the one AirTies unit, which connects to the main one. No idea about actual speeds but startup buffering time was WAY quicker, and shows that were previously unplayable are now playing fine.

0T4ZVDb.jpg

I tested from my laptop upstairs (so connected to the AP that’s physically connected to the main switch) and that gave me 84Mbps :D (which is what I get when running a speedtest directly from the unRAID box).

I was also surprised to see that both 2.4 and 5Ghz networks run with the same SSID. Previous routers I've tried have always had two separate SSIDs. So far so good. Still need to switch over a few devices and turn off the old network, and then hope that these units remain stable without any required resets etc. Also maybe time to starting bugging OpenServe about that missing 16Mbps.
 

phaktza

Executive Member
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Jun 29, 2008
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#2
Nice that someones actually tested them thoroughly - unfortunately I had a dud in the box I was given for testing so I've never fully appreciated the meshing :)

Good stuff!
 

rorz0r

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Feb 10, 2006
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#3
How would you rate it compared to Ubiquiti? And what AP's did you replace?
I have mulled over this, but unsure how it compares to my AP Pro's. Very curious.
UAP Outdoor and UAP/UAP-LR (have some of each and not sure which one is actually active).

Easier to set up than Ubiquiti, but then none of the "cool" graphs and stuff like that (wasted on me). They do make you sign up for an "account" for some reason though, so maybe they are planning on offering more features, but right now the account is rather pointless. I see the FAQ mentions that there is actually a http management interface but I didn't have a look at that yet.
Ubiquiti has a more integrated solution if you really start adding all the cool bits to it etc. I wouldn't think that these units support PoE because it's not mentioned anywhere but they also seem to not require very much power so you could maybe use one of those injectors on one end and splitter on the other. For super easy installation that anyone could do and for a residential environment I'd go for the AirTies, assuming they hold up in terms of stability.
 

phaktza

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#4
UAP Outdoor and UAP/UAP-LR (have some of each and not sure which one is actually active).

Easier to set up than Ubiquiti, but then none of the "cool" graphs and stuff like that (wasted on me). They do make you sign up for an "account" for some reason though, so maybe they are planning on offering more features, but right now the account is rather pointless. I see the FAQ mentions that there is actually a http management interface but I didn't have a look at that yet.
Ubiquiti has a more integrated solution if you really start adding all the cool bits to it etc. I wouldn't think that these units support PoE because it's not mentioned anywhere but they also seem to not require very much power so you could maybe use one of those injectors on one end and splitter on the other. For super easy installation that anyone could do and for a residential environment I'd go for the AirTies, assuming they hold up in terms of stability.
My major headache is it is impossible to get a WiFi signal from one end of the house to the other - even through seemingly open spaces. Seems something is degrading the signal - be it the pillars or the downlights. As such I can't mesh, even if I used repeaters they would have to be in relays...
 

Luke7777

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#5
I found that the Airties app often can't find any of the nodes . Not affecting my internet connection at all. Only way to resolve it is to switch them all off and restart them one by one. One thing that would be nice is if they can show all the wireless and wired clients linked to the various nodes, not just wireless as currently.I have a gigabit switch running of one with Explora, TV, Xbox plugged in which obviously don't show and therefor don't present an accurate picture of total client per node

Had a 4th node, which bugged out on me. Need to pay Nology a visit, see if they can resurrect it for me

I've setup a 2nd SSID on 2.4 Ghz for my Ipad Pro. Had connection issues in the past. It was always connecting to 5 and although not dropping the connection the throughput would sometimes just die. After googling a bit on Ipad Pro Wifi problems, I created the 2nd SSID and default the Ipad to that one. Resolved my issues.

A 4-node config
Airties4.jpg

Current
Airties3.jpg

Not really knowing how a mesh works, I've been wondering whether traffic will take shortest or fastest. In the last pic, will Living Room traffic go via Bedroom to Office or straight to Office ?
 
Last edited:

ebendl

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Sep 27, 2004
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#6
I've been looking at Google Wifi (since Amazon ships them here at around $63) but some of the concerns are that it forces you to use their DNS and DHCP settings. I have a mikrotik which is my primary router and also DHCP server.

Can you operate the AirTies in AP mode? How's the reliability -- do you have to restart them often?
 

rorz0r

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#7
I've been looking at Google Wifi (since Amazon ships them here at around $63) but some of the concerns are that it forces you to use their DNS and DHCP settings. I have a mikrotik which is my primary router and also DHCP server.

Can you operate the AirTies in AP mode? How's the reliability -- do you have to restart them often?
They don't do DNS or DHCP at all, just add WiFi to existing network so should work perfectly with the Mikrotik routerboard.
 

phaktza

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Jun 29, 2008
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#8
If anyone is interested, we're running the following specials in February:

AirTies Air 4920 Triple Pack R4 395.00
AirTies Air 4920 Triple Pack + Extension for only R5 090.00

Shipping is now only R65.00 for Gauteng customers and R85.00 for other major metros.

www.smartkit.co.za
 

Dolby

Honorary Master
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Jan 31, 2005
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#9
I have a small place ... But my WiFi is faster than my wired network between my kitchen and lounge.

But pretty decent speed all around

Screenshot_20180203-222738.png
 

AirWolf

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Aug 18, 2006
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21,629
#11
Got 2 single units for the boss's house. The 2 units show on the app, but there are no arrows/speeds between the 2 units. Both the 2.4 and 5Ghz Lights are green so they are paired.

Is there some setting I am missing? :confused:
 

zr1hpc

New Member
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Mar 6, 2016
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#15
Why would they need to be connected to switch connected to router, they are WIRELESS, should just be able to plug in AC adapter and using app get unit to find wireless signal from router and get the rest from there surely.

Perhaps initial setup needs all three units plugged into switch on router but once configured should be stand alone right, asides from meshing with other units WIRELESSLY?
 

rorz0r

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#17
Why would they need to be connected to switch connected to router, they are WIRELESS, should just be able to plug in AC adapter and using app get unit to find wireless signal from router and get the rest from there surely.

Perhaps initial setup needs all three units plugged into switch on router but once configured should be stand alone right, asides from meshing with other units WIRELESSLY?
You generally would want to connect at least one to your network. They don't do client mode so you can't connect to an existing wireless access point. What you could do though is replace the existing AP with one of these and then use the second port to daisy chain to the existing AP if you really needed to keep it for some reason (No idea why you would though).

Only one of them needs to be connected. You can configure additional ones by pressing a button on the connected one and pressing a button on the second/third one to pair them.
 

zr1hpc

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Mar 6, 2016
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#18
Tnx for quick answer.

Why can't they do client mode and connect to existing network? I agree it could be a security issue but that is what encryption and network passwords are for?

Which wireless mesh units can do client mode, any?
 

rorz0r

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Feb 10, 2006
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#19
Design decision I guess. Most routers that do client mode will only be a client and no nm longer an AP. I don't think it's a security issue, more to do with available bandwidth and number of radios. I think these only mesh on the 5GHz radios which generally have enough bandwidth to spare.
 

rorz0r

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#20
I just logged into one and see the web interface offers a "repeater" tab under quick setup. I can't really do it now because I don't have another network for it to repeat.
 
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