As I talked about in my last post, I have been playing around with an Ayrstone Ayrmesh Hub, providing long range wireless connectivity on my farm. This has proven to be a very cool product, giving me Wifi connectivity large distances from my house, but things weren’t quite so great when I first hooked it up, as it created some conflicts with the rest of the stuff I had already hooked up on my network.
Not being super tech savvy with Wifi, I got the chance to ask the guys at Ayrstone some questions, and in under 30 seconds they had already landed on the solution for my problem. It seems that Wifi runs on different “channels”, and overlapping networks can cause problems.
For the simple minded like myself, think of this as a CB radio. I know I will hear quite a few comments about how Wifi is nothing like a CB, but follow me on this for a minute and maybe it will help make sense to you, as this is how it clicked for me. For those that have used the ancient CB radio technology like myself, you didn’t want to use a channel that was close to someone else that was using a CB, or the signal would “bleed” between the channels and create interference, making it hard for either of you to get a good signal. For example, if you were talking to someone on CB channel 12, but your neighbor across the road was using CB channel 11, chances are neither of you had very good luck. If one of you changed to CB channel 23, both of you could use your radios very well.
Turns out my problem was very similar in nature. Living outside of town, I actually receive my high speed internet to my house with a point to point wireless connection. When I first hooked up my Ayrmesh Hub, it was broadcasting back out on the same channel as the incoming signal, not only creating connectivity problems for my wireless devices, but actually taking down my internet to my house entirely!
Only after changing channels that I was broadcasting on did my problem go away. Once the networks no longer overlapped each other, everything started working very well. The guys over at Ayrstone pointed me to a program to diagnose this problem called inSSIDer. Here is a link to the free software download. As you can see in the screen shot below, it graphically shows the channel and strength of each network found, showing you when networks overlap.
Once I could visualize how the channels were overlapping each other, the fix was simple. Thanks again to some great support from Ayrstone!