Extending WiFi to the garden shed

I’ve purchased a pair of Ubiquiti Litebeam M5 network dishes to extend my house wifi to the garden shed.

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Normally you’d only need one of these either to send or receive the broadcast from the main house, as my shed however is made of metal it tends to act as a Faraday cage and shields most radio frequencies, hence the pair of CPE devices. I have these set up so they point directly at one another and connect via the proprietary AirMax protocol which speeds things along as it is a layer 2 link (which means that broadcast and other packets normally inspected at the bridge boundary are passed as-is). While Ubiquiti do provide an excellent management server (UNMS) running in a Docker container, this is supplied only in a x86 image and won’t run on my always-on ARM SBCs.

These M5 are nice units because they are cheap, simple to assemble and operate, and gain up to 23db over a simple omnidirectional antenna.

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Careful positioning is needed, and when they are talking to each other directly the signal is taken into my shed using normal ethernet Cat6 cable – although for professional and hardier situations there are toughened cables that you may use. This signal is fed to a Vigor 800 access point and spreads around the inside of my shed. Ethernet connection to the AP is also possible which gives really good latency response for playing games. I’ve measured 18ms response on a speed test which is pretty good considering how many bits are in the way, and the cable/radio/cable arrangement back to the main modem. I now have a number of managed switches and ADSL devices spread around my house, which is pretty good considering I don’t run a lot of servers.

Interestingly, the M5 are PoE meaning that they only have one ethernet cable into the actual radio ‘horn’, and further back you supply power and a connection to a PoE box – passive in this case – which feds 24 volts along the ethernet cable to the assembly. I also use this for my LoRa antenna in the loft as it means you don’t have to have power so close to the installation. They work well and my multi-protocol house is rapidly gaining an assembly of antennas!

(images taken from Ubiquiti web page)
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