A few years ago I installed an Air Stream node at my house. Air Stream is a community wireless network here in Adelaide. Unfortunately my link stopped working after a while as the node I was linked to moved. So last Sunday a team of Air Stream guys descended upon my house to set up Air Stream Kilkenny Mark 2. These guys taught me a lot about setting up outdoor Wifi nodes with guyed masts which I have documented in this post.
Air Stream is growing steadily. Nodes now exist over most of metropolitan Adelaide and beyond, an area of about 60km by 20km. However there are still gaps in the NW suburbs where I live. So I am happy to offer my house to help plug that gap.
I was really impressed by the professionalism of the installation team. I had to keep reminding myself they were volunteers working on a community network. As Air Stream grows, specialisation is appearing, for example there are “router board” guys who know the ins and outs of the router configuration, and guys who specialise in machining outdoor boxes and installing masts. These guys donate many weekends to perform Air Stream installations. After spending a day with these guys I can see why. It was fun working in the shed together drilling and machining then climbing all over a roof.
Thank you very much Nathan, Michael, Daniel and Matt. I really appreciate you giving up your Sunday and working hard on my Air Stream node.
Machining Weatherproof Boxes
Here are some photos of the aluminium router box being machined.
The key is to minimise the number of holes, as that is how water gets it. For example the stand off mounts for the router board are glued with epoxy to the base of the box, rather than bolted:
Holes for the mounting bracket are drilled into the internal pillars of the box, which avoids a hole passing right through into the interior of the box. The mounting bracket is then secured with self tapping screws:
So there are only three holes in the box, and each one has a cable gland:
The N-type connector and PoE holes are quite large. We drilled them using our largest bit then used a tapered reamer to enlarge them. The reamer is much faster than a file for enlarging holes and makes a neat circular hole. The small antennas are connected for the purposes of testing, as it’s not a good idea to turn on high power transmitters without a load.
Self amalgamating tape is used to weather poof the N-type connectors:
Here is a close up of the guy wire hardware at the top of the mast and mounting for the omni antenna. Putting up guyed masts was new to me so I took these photos for future reference:
Then the guys were up on the roof for a few hours of adjusting guy cables:
I particularly like that middle photo of the turn-buckle with the ominous clouds in the background.
The guys spent most of Sunday until dark installing the node. Unfortunately it was dark before we could complete the alignment, so we don’t have a reliable link just yet. Some more adjustment is required over the next few weeks. After experience on a few Wifi installs, I am getting used to this iterative approach.
1. Air Stream Kilkenny
2. What Smoke – Michael’s blog, shows some interesting hardware projects and Air Stream Installations.
3. Nathan’s blog talking about his experience on various Air Stream installations.