Category Archives: Point-to-Point Bridging

Appreciating Siklu- An Un-a-bridged Tale

You gotta love a good bridge… like this gorgeous unit in Moravia, NY:

SikluC

If that bridge could talk it would tell you stories from my childhood. It would also speak of my own children flying across it on their bicycles countless times through the years. Lovers holding hands as they stroll, school picnics, photographers marking the change of seasons… Ah, memories.

*Ahem* That’s NOT the kind of bridge we’re here to discuss though (but thanks for indulging me on that). Friends, I’d like you to meet the Siklu EH-600TX. I’m impressed so far, and so feel compelled to share some thoughts with anyone interested.

I have two of them newly in production, forming a point-to-point bridge link, and a third sitting in a spares cabinet waiting to jump into service if ever the need arises. The birds-eye view of my link goes a little something like this:

SikluD

This unit is absolutely “carrier grade” from a build quality perspective. The EH-600TX works in the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum, and I added the license that gets you to 1000 Mbps aggregate capacity, from the base 500 Mbps. You can slew your up/down to be asymmetrical if you so desire.

The 60 GHz spectrum is a mysterious place where oxygen absorption  of all things needs to be understood (see this quick primer), and the transmitted beams are often described as no bigger than pencils or dimes. Wireless bridges of any sort can be hard to align, and the tighter the beams the more true that statement becomes. Yet Siklu provides excellent directions and an alignment methodology that let a technician who has not done a lot of this sort of work get it right fairly quickly.

SikluA

Given the weirdness of the 60 GHz spectrum, I really wanted to exercise this link in crappy weather before turning it loose on the network. The skies over Central New York have obliged, as we’ve had a fairly miserable spring and early summer with plenty of Florida-grade Sheets-of-Rain and Walls-of-Water sorts of storms. Through them all, the Siklu link did not blink.

After pressing the new bridges into service for real, I realized I should probably get the latest firmware put on them. As with the alignment process, Siklu provides good directions for this task. And the total time of upgrade-related outage is petty impressive:

SikluB

In testing via iPerf and other trusted verification metrics, I find that the EH-600TX delivers what it promises for speed and capacity. So far, it’s been a great experience.

This link is replacing a licenced 80 GHz Exalt setup of similar capacity, and it’s so nice to work with “palm-sized” hardware (as Siklu describes it). We also have smaller Exalts and LigoWave bridges in service, but this Siklu is now our big dog from a capacity perspective.

We are running the link as simple as possible, with it functioning as a patch-cable in the air in a simple extension of the LAN. But there is a lot that might be done with the bridge’s three Ethernet ports, and I encourage you to dig more into Siklu’s capabilities if interested.

Time will tell if I made the right choice with the Siklu EH-600TX, but the early verdict is that it’s a winner.

____

Please note- if you are new to point-to-point bridging, make sure you get educated on rooftop safety, licensed versus unlicensed frequencies, proper mounting procedures, and grounding techniques. None of this is particularly daunting, yet there are plenty of ways of getting it wrong- leading to failed links, damaged downstream equipment, and potential injury or death.

 

Things I Have Yet To Try Out, But Would Like To

First of all, get your mind out of the gutter, Sean.

Now I know  what you think when you think about me. Your mind wonders “Is there anything this guy hasn’t done? He’s the bee’s knees… when it comes to Wi-Fi he’s got the moves. He’s got the tools, the style, and the energy.” Yes, thank you for the sentiments- I get that a lot. But my friends, I’m here to tell you that I have NOT seen it all or done it all quite yet.

Even I have a wish list. I have products that I dream of  setting up, and gadgets I’d like to play with that I may never get around to. Let me share just a few, and I’d love to hear what’s on your own “Gee, I’d like to evaluate_________” list.

Siklu

Not to be confused with Sulu from Star Trek, Siklu is a wireless company. And I hear dreamy things about them. They don’t do Wi-Fi style wireless, but they are in the last miles/backhaul/point-to-point game.

Siklu

Evidently the city of Wichita just fell in love with Siklu, as you can read about here. Being a gonzo bloggist, I get a lot of PR from different companies. Very little of it ever raises to the level of “man, that looks like great stuff”, but Siklu gear has always tickled my curiosity. Perhaps someday…

WiFiMetrix (Nuts About Nets)

Just look at this thing. Anyone who gazes at the WiFiMetrix and doesn’t feel a stirring in their loins IS NOT A WLAN PROFESSIONAL (or a patriot) I tellya. I’m a softy for spectrum analyzers as it is, and anything that stands alone in this role without requiring a PC gets me interested. It’s nice to travel light on occasion, and this just looks neat (with a decent spec and feature set, to boot.)

wifimetrix-device-trans-717x730

Anyone have any first-hand testimonials on the WiFiMetrix?

Ubiquiti SunMAX Solar

I have taken some solar classes in the past for a specific international project I was involved with, and have long imagined a wide range of Wi-Fi, IT, and amateur radio projects powered with solar. In my mind, each is absolutely magnificent. But in reality I haven’t done all that much with solar “for real” yet.

Enter Ubiquiti’s SunMAX.

sunmax-software-collage

I currently am putting my exquisitely manly hands all over a bunch of Ubiquiti networking and video equipment. It just works, and the pricing tends to be nothing less than astounding compared to the competition.  I’m guessing that Ubiquiti’s approach to solar is as innovative and (hopefully) cost-effective as the rest of their portfolio. And with this slogan:

Democratizing Solar Technology for the World

Ubiquiti speaks to my globe-trotting, fighting-for-the-oppressed background as a Cold Warrior. ‘Merica, baby. 

There you have it. Each of the above to me is a white whale that I covet, but Christmas IS coming. If those of you reading this make some sacrifices and pool your resources, I’m guessing you could scrape together enough to set me up with all of them!

Thanks for reading- and please share your own wish list.

Cambium Networks’ Quick Deploy Positioner is a Force-Multiplier

PTP_Positioner_300x300a

If you’ve ever installed point-to-point bridges to extend a network, you know that alignment can be the hardest part. The longer the link is, the more difficult alignment gets, and even those of us in the business who have a good knack for alignment can get thrown for a loop on occasion. To compound matters, sometimes wireless bridges get installed in tricky, dangerous places. It’s not uncommon to use bridges for short-duration connectivity needs, like for events or even battlefield operations. I’ve set up my share of wireless bridges, and I’ve that occasional situation where even after a few days, the alignment bolts are starting to strip and we’re no closer to getting a stable link. I have a feeling I’m not alone here.

Cambium Networks has recently introduced what can only be described as a “force multiplier” when it comes to getting their popular point-to-point hardware aligned. The Quick Deploy Positioner is not the only device on the market that promises to help with automatic bridge alignments, but Cambium does feel they have a winner in the Quick Deploy Positioner thanks to a number of differentiators:

  • Usable, optimized links are brought to life in under 5 minutes
  • Non-experts can successfully create high-speed links using the Positioner
  • Power options including PoE, AC, and even solar

I challenged Cambium on the Positioner’s list price (a little north of $18K) and was convinced that the cost very well would be justified in the right circumstances. According to Cambium:

  1. Some of these links are deployed in extremely remote areas where travel would be difficult and time-consuming. Sending an extra person just to align the antenna could cost them a day out of the office every 30 days for every positioner deployed.
  2. For emergency response and disaster recovery there isn’t always room to take along someone else in the vehicle to perform this function.
  3. In some cases (Border Patrol and Dept. of Defense applications, for example) there is danger to the personnel on-site.  So each additional person requires extra security, and adds extra risk to the mission.

The Positioner looks pretty sweet, and I can see it earning it’s keep on the Cambium bridges that it’s compatible with (PTP 650, PTP 700, PTP 450i and PMP 450i).

Read more in the press release above, or at the Positioner’s product page.


 

Related- I had the pleasure of meeting Cambium’s staff in person, at Wireless Field Day 8. See their presentations here.

I was not compensated by Cambium in any way for this blog- I just think the Quick Deploy Positioner happens to be a slick bit of kit, baby.