I always get myself the best “Christmas” presents. I know me so well. This year, it’s a couple of Arcade1up cabinets from Walmart for $249/ea.
In my early 20s I got into collecting arcade cabinets for a minute. A 29″ Neo-Geo MVS 4-slot and mint 4-player Gauntlet were the highlights of my collection, but of course, what I really wanted was a Pac-Man cabinet. I was just never willing to pay the price for one that was in presentable condition.
Eventually I had to give up the collection. I’ve always wanted to get back into it, but… they’re just so big, and heavy, and difficult to move up and down stairs without several helpers.
Spotting the Pac-Man cabinet at Walmart literally made my Christmas. Even tho it was only Black Friday.
These Arcade1up cabinets are just 4′ tall and a mere 65lbs. Easy to shuffle around and I can man-handle them up and down the stairs all by myself. Assembly takes about 40 minutes with just a screwdriver. All the bags of parts are labelled so there’s no guesswork as to which type of screw gets used where and it comes with a bag of spares.
Obviously it’s not as solid as a 300lb cabinet made of 3/4-inch birch or MDF, but the construction is good enough for home use. I’ve no concerns that they’re going to fall apart.
I’ll be keeping the Pac-Man cabinet as-is for now, but I’ve already ordered the parts to convert the Street Fighter cab to a RetroPie MAME setup — basically it just needs an LCD controller board and a USB encoder for the controls.
And I suspect I might pick up another one or two…
I have a Ring Doorbell Pro on my front door which has always been problematic. At first I could get it to join the WiFi but then it would error — turns out it was trying to use an outside DNS server and I had blocked clients from using any DNS but mine.
When I replaced my temporary AmpliFi setup with UniFi, I couldn’t get it to find my SSID at all. I literally held an AP directly in front of it and it would find several neighbors WiFi but not mine.
I read somewhere that sometimes a Ring will get confused seeing several APs broadcasting the same SSID, so I decided to give it its own AP and SSID on 2.4GHz-only. I put it in the attic slightly offset from being directly above the door. This has mostly worked ok, except that it takes a long time to re-connect after the AP reboots from firmware updates.
Today I had cause to look at my AP retry rates…
And the Ring’s AP retry rate is just ridiculously bad. I crawled into the attic and shoved the AP all the way into the soffit. Gained 6dBm but the retry rate didn’t budge. Changed from Channel 1 to Channel 11, no difference.
Then I had the thought that, since initially installing this stuff, I’ve put a great deal of effort into tuning the power levels and minRSSI values to get devices to use the right AP instead of clinging to a poor signal. Let’s try turning off an AP in the attic I don’t really need anymore, bring the one I’ve been using for the Ring back into broadcasting my normal SSID on 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and trying joining the Ring to it.
And it joined right up! On 5GHz. The signal is decent and the retry rates have dropped to a more reasonable level. Huzzah!
I have a lot of front yard to maintain.
It would be nice to have good WiFi signal while mowing all this lawn. There’s an AP in the attic above the front door but the signal doesn’t reach all that far, maybe 30-40′ out. I needed something with a bit more oomf and the UAP-AC-M + UMA-D antenna combination sounded like the perfect solution.
If you haven’t heard, the UMA-D is a tiny miracle antenna: dual-band, 15dBi, 45-degrees on 5GHz and 90-degrees on 2.4GHz, for $99. It transforms the otherwise unimpressive UAP-AC-M into a directional WiFi blaster that will send its signal hundreds of feet downrange in open terrain.
As an initial test, I placed the combo in the bonus room knee wall space:
Blasting through my roof I was getting about 180Mb/s of download speeds to my iPhone XS… from across the street! That’s 140-ish feet away.
Of course, that wasn’t good enough for me, so I found a pre-existing hole to run an Ethernet cable to and mounted it outside the garage.
The improvement is incredible.
That’s from my phone. 140 feet away.
If you need to blast a WiFi signal far away outdoors, the UAP-AC-M + UMA-D are a powerful and affordable solution.
This past weekend I finally had everything in place to deploy my Mikrotik 60GHz gear to backhaul the WiFi being installed in my pool house and detached apartment. There are a few reasons for choosing the 60GHZ equipment over using wireless uplinks within UniFi or running AirMax gear:
- For wireless uplinks I’d still need to mount an AP on the outside of the house. Brick exterior terribly degrades 5GHz signal.
- Mikrotik advertises gigabit, full-duplex. The headline numbers for AirMax AC gear are substantially slower and half-duplex.
- The 60GHz band frees me from concerns about interference from neighboring WiFi. Or my own.
I already had a Wireless Wire kit I’d intended to use for a PtP link at my old home, so I just needed to add a WAP 60G AP unit to enable PtMP. And figure out where to mount everything.
The previous owners helpfully left me a couple holes where they’d mounted cameras. But climbing up the maximum reach of my ladder while drilling a mount above my head wasn’t something I really wanted to do.
Fortunately I found another set of holes coming off the living room. I wasn’t sure I could safely climb back down from that attic space, so first I embarked on a project to add another 2×4 step to the studs.
For mounts I used Ubiquiti’s UB-AM. On the house end, the Ethernet cable goes back to my main PoE switch in the bonus room closet. At the remote ends I’m using the Mikrotik PoE injectors with the data side connected directly to the data end of Ubiquiti injectors that power the WiFi APs. I figured it wasn’t worth installing switches in each location just to run a single AP, but if I install more devices later I may add them.
RouterOS is a bloody eyesore, but Mikrotik thankfully provides a quick-start interface for getting the units connected to each other and it was relatively painless.
The moment of truth was turning on the bandwidth test server on the AP side and getting both CPE units to bi-directional tests concurrently:
That is up to 1.9Gb/s of aggregate bi-directional throughput! Amazing. Individually I’m seeing about 1.3Gb/s, which is quite a bit less than the advertised 1Gb/s full-duplex rate, but 2-3X what I’d expect from AirMax AC gear in this scenario.
Before I start posting about all of my home networking projects, I should probably describe the home and property. This is it:
The lot is 1.5 acres, roughly 180×400 if it were perfectly rectangular, with the front of the house about 120′ from the road. The house itself is the standard 40×30 box on a crawl space, with another 25×30 of garage / utility room and bonus room above. An addition off the garage provides a larger living room with a high vaulted ceiling. There’s attic access in the main part of the house, knee wall access on either side of the bonus room, and from the back side I can reach the living room’s attic space. There’s also some attic above the bonus room but the a/c ducts leave no room to get in there.
There’s a detached garage that was converted to a 2-bedroom apartment and came with tenants who pay half my mortgage. It also has attic access.
There’s a pool house that is basically a glorified shed. There’s an open area in the middle with small rooms to either side. One had been a proper bathroom but at some point in the past vandals ripped out the copper pipes.
So that’s what I’m working with. I have plans to bring Ethernet and in-wall access points to several rooms, blast WiFi across as much of the outdoors as I can reasonably manage, use 60GHz PtMP gear as wireless backhaul links for all three structures, give my tenants their own access point in the apartment, and much more.
My next post will be about deploying the PtMP gear.