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Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Hey all, I am new to using Cisco Ap's and I am in need of advice for our 1200's. We have 6 of them setup here in our Dr's office for Electronic Medical Records. Each has two 7dbi antennas attached (Linksys I believe). We are continually having connectivity issues. Either the signal drops randomly or the connection speed will drop. We have had an IT company come in and do a site survey for interference and they found nothing notable.

My question is: Are there a set of "Best Practices" or setup guidelines as far as positioning AP's, Antennas etc...

Any and all information, tips, advice, and tricks will be greatly appreciated as this has been an ongoing headache. I have several of the Dr's who want to pull the equipment out because of this.

Please point me in a direction...

Thanks!

13 REPLIES
New Member

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Hi jere,

Check the channel setting in the access point,Some time it may couse the signal and u may face the connectivity issue,

U can change the channel setting mannualy,

Always use the below channels

Channel Identifier Center Frequency (MHz)

1 2412

6 2437

11 2462

Pls use the netstumbler S/W ,which will help you see the signal strength and access point information.

Thankx@Regds

Saji k.s

New Member

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Hey,

Thank you so much for the response, I'm just looking for some direction and this helps a lot. I will check the channels Monday.

Anyone with other suggestions?

Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Hi Jeremia,

These type of answers are just guessing without actually seeing your facility and doing a proper site survey :) But here are a couple of ideas to add to Saji's good info;

The first thing that I would look at are factors that effect the Radio Cell. Have you tried to tweak the Radio Transmit power on AP's to turn them down somewhat? The default power setting is Maximum, so try to turn it down to various settings to see the outcome and effect on the cell size.The other things that might be easy to try are, re=orienting any attached antennas. Have a look at the following docs;

You can change the radio coverage area of an AP when you modify the transmitter power level parameter.

The transmitter power (mW) setting determines the power level of the radio transmitter.** The default power setting is the highest transmit power allowed in a regulatory domain.** Government regulations define the highest power level for radio devices.

Caution: The transmitter power level setting must conform to the established standards of the country in which the setting is used.

This CLI command under the radio interface changes the transmitted power level to the maximum on an AP:

Access Point (config)# interface dot11radio 0

Access Point (config-if)# power local maximum

Use this command to set the power level to maximum. Then, check how much throughput you have, and move the power level to a lower value until you reach a high throughput rate that stays consistent. You can also start from the lowest possible power level and increase the level until you reach a consistent throughput. This is because in some cases, if you do not boost the signal to the maximum level, the throughput and signal strength can change continuously and not remain consistent

From this doc;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps430/products_tech_note09186a00805190f1.shtml#topic5

Configuring Radio Transmit Power

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps4570/products_configuration_guide_chapter09186a00802085c3.html#wp1017196

Also have a look at these docs;

Use of Nonoverlapping Channels

When you have multiple APs in a wireless LAN (WLAN), ensure that the channels that the adjacent APs use are nonoverlapping. Nonoverlapping channels are frequency bands that do not have a frequency that is common to the other channels. For example, in the 2.4-GHz range, there are three channels that do not overlap (channels 1, 6, and 11). Therefore, when you deploy a secondary AP in order to extend the radio coverage, you can use:

Channel 1 for the first AP

Channel 6 for the next adjacent AP

Channel 11 for the third AP

From this doc;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps430/products_tech_note09186a00800a86d7.shtml#nonover

Please see next post........

Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Continued...........

Also, have a look at the requirements for using two Antennas connected to the 1200 AP;

When you use a pair of antennas with matching characteristics to provide diversity for cell coverage in your facility, the guideline is to put those matched antennas at a distance apart from each other that is equal to a multiple of the wavelength of the frequency that is being transmitted. The 2.4 GHz wavelength is approximately 4.92 inches. Therefore, to support diversity on a 2.4 GHz radio with two separate antennas, the antennas should be spaced approximately 5 inches apart. The antenna pair could also be spaced at multiples of 5 inches, but the distance between should not exceed 4 multiples: reflected waves farther apart than that are likely to be so distorted and different in delay spread that the radio could not work with them.Because each antenna is selected by itself, both antennas must have the same radiation characteristics and be positioned to provide similar cell coverage. ***Two antennas connected to the same access point must not be used to cover two different cells.***

" ** Multipath ** - You can relate this to a common occurrence in your car. As you pull up to a stop, you may notice static on the radio. But as you move forward a few inches or feet, the station starts to come in more clearly. By rolling forward, you move the antenna slightly, out of the point where the multiple signals converge.

A diversity antenna system can be compared to a switch that selects one antenna or another, never both at the same time. The radio in receive mode will continually switch between antennas listening for a valid radio packet. After the beginning sync of a valid packet is heard, the radio will evaluate the sync signal of the packet on one antenna, then switch to the other antenna and evaluate. Then the radio will select the best antenna and use only that antenna for the remaining portion of that packet.

On transmit, the radio will select the same antenna it used the last time it communicated to that given radio. If a packet fails, it will switch to the other antenna and retry the packet.

**One caution with diversity, it is not designed for using two antennas covering two different coverage cells. The problem in using it this way is that, if antenna no. 1 is communicating to device no. 1 while device no. 2 (which is in the antenna no. 2 cell) tries to communicate, antenna no. 2 is not connected (due to the position of the switch), and the communication fails. Diversity antennas should cover the same area from only a slightly different location."

From this Antenna reference guide;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps469/products_data_sheet09186a008008883b.html

Here is the best description of why to use Diversity Antennas (in laymans terms) from Scott Mac last year. When I read his reference to being at a stadium watching a sporting event, this all finally made sense.Have a look at his great explanation;

http://forum.cisco.com/eforum/servlet/NetProf?page=netprof&forum=Wireless%20-%20Mobility&topic=WLAN%20Radio%20Standards&CommCmd=MB%3Fcmd%3Dpass_through%26location%3Doutline%40%5E1%40%40.1dd7905b/6#selected_message

Another good doc;

Multipath and Diversity

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk722/tk809/technologies_tech_note09186a008019f646.shtml

Rob

Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

lastly.........

You should try to perform a site survey to help determine the AP/Antenna types and placement.Make sure the site survey is done when the facility is in full activity mode and Medical equipment is up and running. Here is some info to help get you started.

"In a Wireless network, many issues can arise which can prevent the radio frequency (RF) signal from reaching all parts of the facility. Examples of RF issues include mulitpath distortion, hidden node problems, and near/far issues. In order to address these, you need to find the regions where these issues occur. A site survey helps you to do this. A site survey helps define the contours of RF coverage in a particular facility. It helps us to discover regions where mulitpath distortion can occur, areas where RF interference is high and find solutions to eliminate such issues. A site survey that determines the RF coverage area in a facility also helps to choose the number of Wireless devices that a firm needs to meet its business requirements.

A proper site survey provides detailed information that addresses coverage, interference sources, equipment placement, power considerations and wiring requirements. The site survey documentation serves as a guide for network design and for the installation and verification of the Wireless communication infrastructure.

These are some of the steps that are performed during your site survey:

Obtain a facility diagram in order to identify the potential radio frequency (RF) obstacles.

Visually inspect the facility to look for potential barriers or the propagation of RF signals and identify metal racks.

Identify user areas that are highly used and the ones that are not used.

Determine preliminary access point (AP) locations. These locations include the power and wired network access, cell coverage and overlap, channel selection, and mounting locations and antenna.

Perform the actual surveying in order to verify the AP location. Make sure to use the same AP model for the survey that is used in production. While the survey is performed, relocate APs as needed and re-test.

Document the findings. Record the locations and log of signal readings as well as data rates at outer boundaries."

Wireless Site Survey FAQ

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk722/tk809/technologies_q_and_a_item09186a00805e9a96.shtml

Well, that's my 3 cents worth :)

Hope this helps!

Rob

New Member

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Rob,

Thank you for the very detailed and thoughtful response! The post is a wonderful pointer for me to get started on troubleshooting this issue. The company that did our site survey did a horrible job. I don't think they've ever done a true site survey as described here.

What tool would you suggest to measure the cell sizes? Or is there a general rule of thumb I can go by? Are there any free? I've heard of Cisco's ACU, but cannot find where to obtain a copy.

Any further help is appreciated.

J

Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Hi Jeremia,

First off, you are most welcome! I would really try to engage a company that specializes in "Wireless Site Surveys" to help you with this setup. Medical settings are known to be tricky to calibrate. Here is some more info to help get you started if you are doing this yourself;

Performing a Site Survey

From this doc;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps4555/products_installation_and_configuration_guide_chapter09186a0080184b69.html

Or this doc;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps4555/products_installation_and_configuration_guide_chapter09186a0080456a16.html

Here is where to download the ACU (you need CCO Login)

http://www.cisco.com/cgi-bin/Software/SWSearch/SWSearch_results.cgi/SWSearch_results.cgi/SWSearch_results.cgi/SWSearch.txt?isChild=false&file_delimiter=contains&file_pattern=acu&list_format=html

Hope this helps!

Rob

New Member

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Rob,

  Thx for the post. BTW, your crazy. I've seen you on the voice side on every other thread, but didn't think you woud be on the wireless side as well. I should come by MRU and thank you for all your posts one day soon. You're practically across the road from where I often goto work.

Kenta

Hall of Fame Super Gold

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Installation Guidelines

Because the antenna transmits and receives radio signals, they are susceptible to RF obstructions and common sources of interference that can reduce throughput and range of the device to which they are connected. Follow these guidelines to ensure the best possible performance:

•Mount the antenna to utilize its propagation characteristics. One way to do this is to orient the antenna vertically and mount it as high as possible.

•Keep the antenna away from metal obstructions such as heating and air-conditioning ducts, large ceiling trusses, building superstructures, and major power cabling runs. If necessary, use a rigid conduit to lower the antenna away from these obstructions.

•The density of the materials used in a building's construction determines the number of walls the signal must pass through and still maintain adequate coverage. Consider the following before choosing the location to install your antenna:

–Paper and vinyl walls have very little affect on signal penetration.

–Solid and pre-cast concrete walls limit signal penetration to one or two walls without degrading coverage.

–Concrete and wood block walls limit signal penetration to three or four walls.

–A signal can penetrate five or six walls constructed of drywall or wood.

–A thick metal wall causes signals to reflect off, causing poor penetration.

–A chain link fence or wire mesh spaced between 1 and 1 1/2 in. (2.5 and 3.8 cm) acts as a harmonic reflector that blocks a 2.4-Ghz radio signal.

•Install the antenna away from microwave ovens and 2-GHz cordless phones. These products can cause signal interference because they operate in the same frequency range as the device your antenna is connected to.

•Install the antenna in a vertical orientation to maximize signal propagation.

Hall of Fame Super Gold

Re: Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

You said you got those Linksys 7 dBi antennas (I got some of `em sitting on my desk).  How are your APs mounted?  I'm not familiar with them 1200 (are they 1230's perhaps?) but the antennas should be pointing towards the floor or towards the client.

Ok, so you got autonomous IOS so what gain setting is the radio?  By default, the gain is set to ZERO (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Finally, the gain.   Ok.  You got a strong antenna.  What about the client?  The client may have an antenna gain of < 4 dBi.  So this means that the client can hear the AP talking BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT the AP can't hear the client talk.

Right ... You are in a medical clinic?  Do you have any X-Ray machines or MRI donuts?  I hope not. 

New Member

Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

I have an issue with my engineers that want to mount the AP's on top of a large metal cabinet full of LOTS of electronics, instead of mounting them on the ceiling. 

Can anybody weigh in on ceiling vs. table top mounting ? 

Hall of Fame Super Silver

Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

Just replied to your other post.

Thanks,

Scott

Help out other by using the rating system and marking answered questions as "Answered"

-Scott
*** Please rate helpful posts ***

Cisco Aironet 1200's - Connection and signal issues?

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