In my previous article on the UniFi WiFi System I went thru the steps involved with physically connecting the UniFi Access Point to our home network and the installation of the controller software on my Windows 7 computer. The software installation process prompted for the SSID name and the wireless network password, so initial configuration was complete.
At this point, I had not even logged on and used the UniFi controller software. It was running on my computer but no additional configuration had been done. Remember, the UniFi WiFi system is a scalable wireless access point system only. It does no routing or connecting to your broadband provider. These functions would still be performed by our AT&T Uverse 3800HGV gateway device.
The first wireless device to switch over was the Xbox 360. We went thru the network configuration screens and changed the wireless SSID and entered the new password. We then tested the connection to the internet, it worked great. Next step was to change over an older desktop computer connected to our home network via a USB wireless adapter. After we connected to the new SSID and entered the new password, it also worked perfectly.
We have teenagers in our home with friends who have iPads, laptop computers and gaming devices. At any time there can be up to ten different wireless connected devices to our home network. I decided to simply disable the wireless option on our dying Uverse 3800HGV gateway device. It was only a short time later and all the rest of the devices had switched their wireless connection to the new UniFi Access Point. Only one last wireless device remained to be switch – the printer.
Home network printers have always been a necessary evil for us. Replacement ink cartridges are expensive and run out late at night when kids are printing last minute papers due the next morning. Our HP C6180 all-in-one inkjet printer is today considered obsolete technology, but when we purchased it, it was one of the first printers which offered an Ethernet wireless connection option for the client computers to use. It worked great and allowed everyone in the house to print regardless of what I was doing on my desktop computer located right next to the printer.
One of the earliest issues we had with our first wireless printer was with dynamically assigned IP addresses. Any time the printer was turned off and back on, or the 3800 gateway was restarted it would assign a new IP address for the printer and the printer client on everyone’s computer would no longer work. It required changing the IP address in the printer configuration.
It soon figured out how to create a static IP address on the 3800 router and assign this to the printer. The printer connection problems were solved.
Needless to say, there was a reason for the printer to be the last device switched over. I expected problems. The UniFi WiFi system was not a complete wireless router so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I went thru the printer network configuration setup. It recognized the new SSID. I entered the password. It worked perfectly the first time. Success!
It was now time to explore the UniFi Wireless controller management software.
The preceding article stopped at the logon screen for the controller management software, so I’ll start from that point. Keep in mind, in terms of wireless access point scalability we are at the bottom – only one access point installed.
The very first screen is a map of your home with the locations of the different access points marked. The idea is for you to import your own home drawing, so that it matches you location. I still have the access point sitting on top of a computer next to my desk, so I skipped this step. The image below is a standard one from Ubiquiti.
The second tab in the controller software gave me a nice pie chart of the number of wireless clients by connection to each access point. No big surprises here: I had one access point so the pie chart was all blue.
The third tab in the controller software gave me a listing of the different access points with some basic configuration options. The interesting button here was the “Locate” button, which takes you to the map on your first screen so that you know where this access point is located. However, what I didn’t realize at the time is that it also sends another signal to the access point itself.
The access point device has a round glowing light which is always a steady green. There is an option to turn this off, but it’s a techy sort of thing and was not bothering anyone in my office so I left it on. What I learned later is that clicking on the locate button in the controller software causes this green light to blink – allowing you to find the device if necessary. Nice touch! Clicking the button again turns it off.
The fourth tab in the controller software gave me a listing of the different users currently connected.
The fourth tab in the controller software gave me a listing of the different guests currently connected. The software allows you to configure a separate wireless connection for guests – allowing them less bandwidth or maybe a different password for temporary access. At this point I’ve not enabled the Guest network option so there is nothing to see on this screen.
The final tab in the controller software is for those clients who have connected before but are currently offline. One option on this screen is to block them from connecting again. Since it’s based on the wireless devices hardware MAC address it would be pretty difficult for someone to work around this.
The previous screens are for basic, routine management of your wireless access point network. There are additional configuration option screens accessible at the bottom of each of these:
So far I’ve been completely satisfied with the Ubiquiti UniFi Wi-Fi System. Once set up, the wireless network has worked without any problems. The controller management software probably has more features than I need right now, but it’s nice to know they are available. The software screens were intuitive and didn’t overwhelm me. Nice graphics and summarization and best of all… It’s Free software (works only with the UniFi devices).
Once summer time comes, I’m thinking that I may need to purchase one of the UniFi outdoor access point devices…
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