How to Set Up/Configure the Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 & M5 to Share an Internet Connection

Recently, I purchased two Ubiquiti Nanostation M2’s to beam internet from my workplace to my home. It’s about a 1.1km distance, without direct line of sight.  I’m estimating there are around 7 tree tops in the way. Right now it’s winter so there aren’t leaves on the trees, but for the month or so I’ve been using these satellites, they’ve been killer. I’m so happy with their performance. At work, the internet clocks at around 36mbps download, at home I’m getting around 22mbps up. Not bad considering I’m going through some trees. The connection has been super solid. I’m very pleased. That being said, the point of this blog wasn’t so much to review these antennas as to help ordinary people like myself set them up. The information is available online, I just couldn’t find everything I needed in one place so i thought I’d try to compile some of the more important/difficult-to-find things that I learned right here. Let’s get started. First of all: you’ll need to buy 2. They do not come in pairs. To be safe I purchased mine from Ubiquiti’s Canadian website http://www.ubnt.ca. Know this: there are different models of the Nanostation. The Nanostation M2 and M5 are the newer models. There are also Loco M2&M5’s available for a bit less money/a bit less performance. I went with the M2. Why? Keep reading.

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M2 vs M5?

A quick search will help you here. Basically, if you’re going through trees (like I did) you want the M2. The M2 uses 2.4gHz, the M5 uses 5.8gHz. 2.4gHz goes through stuff better. Each frequency has their pros and cons. If you have a great line of site get the M5, if you don’t – go with the M2. Please note, if you’re trying to blast through a forest, you’ll probably be really disappointed. I know I can get through about 7 tree tops and still get a pretty solid signal. How many trees/walls will be too many? There are a lot of variables and you might just have to give it a try.

CLARIFYING THE TERMINOLOGY BEFORE WE GET STARTED INSTALLATION

Access Point: This is the antenna that gets plugged into the internet source that you are sharing. In my case, my workplace.

Station: This is where you are sending your connection to. In my case, my home.

CONFIGURING THE NANOSTATION

Ubiquiti has a pretty good youtube tutorial here on what to do to setup your Nanostations. Watch it here, do what he says, and see my notes below. I got a ton out of this video, and basically did what he said, but there was one big thing missing from the demonstration that caused me a lot of frustration.

You need to change your internet settings to setup/tweak the antennas. When you’re done, you need to go back to your old settings You need to change your ethernet settings from using DHCP to a static IP address (the video above demos a mac, pc’s are different but not difficult) in order to set up the Nanostations. After you have configured both antennas you need to change your computer back to using DHCP. Very important! This detail is missing from the video and was one of the biggest issues I faced. The Nanostations were seeing each other, but I couldn’t connect to the internet. The reason? DHCP wasn’t enabled. To connect to the internet, you will need DHCP enabled. To connect to your Nanostations, you have to momentarily switch your computer to a static IP address. Why? I don’t really know – I’m not all that techie. But that’s the way things work. Now, if for some reason I’d need to connect to my Nanostations to adjust/monitor something here’s what I’d need to do: 1. Change my mac’s IP address from DHCP to a static IP. I use 192.168.1.50. Change the Subnet mask to 255.255.255.0 2. Enter the IP of the antenna of choice into my web browser. For my Station Point (my house) it’s 192.168.1.160. For my Access Point (workplace) it’s 192.168.1.159 3. Log in. Do my thing… 4. Change my internet back to DHCP. 5. Enjoy your internet.

MY FINAL BIG PROBLEMS?
PLUGGING MY NEW INTERNET INTO MY ROUTER

When I plugged my Cat5e cable directly into my computer, the internet worked great. However, when I plugged it into my D-Link router it wouldn’t work. The fix turned out to be so easy. Instead of plugging in the “Internet In” port it just has to go in one of the (in my case 4) outgoing ports.

At this point I thought I was all set, but there was one more issue at work after my weekend setup. Some computers were having issues connecting to the internet there. What was going on? My router at home was conflicting with my work’s router (the access point). Basically both routers were trying to be the boss, and it wasn’t working well.What was the solution? Log in to your router and:

1. Disable DHCP
2. Give your router an IP that isn’t used by anything else.

After this, no more problems. I’m looking forward to seeing how these guys work once there are leaves on the trees (mostly because it means it’ll be warm outside).

Hopefully this helps some people, use the comments for any other set up tips you may have. Cheers!

***** UPDATE (over one year later) *****
This setup has been working incredibly. It exceeded my expectations. It’s basically rock solid – set and forget. I have not had to tinker with settings, reboot the router to reconnect, it doesn’t drop the connection, it doesn’t lag  etc. Sun, rain, wind, snow, leaves, bare trees, leafy tree, hot and cold. It just works, day in and day out. It’s a beast of an antenna. Highly recommended!

How to Set Up/Configure the Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 & M5 to Share an Internet Connection

10 Steps To Mastering Inadequacy

1. Feel good about knowing to ride a bicycle sans training wheels (even though you’re a 25 year old bipedal male)

2. See a kid approaching you on a unicycle – TEXTING

3. Read #2 again

4. Think, “I can’t even ride one of those wicked little gadgets.”

5. Confess that the one time you tried texting while riding your bike things started getting really squirrely, really fast.

6. Realize that a picture would’ve been cool

7. Recall the painful memory that earlier in the week your camera was go-karted over repeatedly because you thought “the camera shouldn’t fall out of the go-kart – I won’t put it in my pocket which is literally only an arm’s length away, I’ll just set it on the seat which is going to vibrate, shake, and bounce furiously as I maneuver around tight curves swatting bugs flying into my eyes”.

8. Think about the fact that even if your hand hadn’t been too lazy to make the long trek transporting a 1lbs camera into your pocket, you probably would’ve fallen off your bike snapping the moment, or driven into something very hard that would surely stop you much quicker than is possible for mere mortals to find pleasant.

9. Remember your first ‘real married life’ day back at work, how you fell biking around the very first corner after exiting your driveway.

10. Fondly reminisce about the guy driving a snowblower behind you who surely saw it all as you quickly scraped your body off the asphalt as he thought to himself, “Aha, we have a brand new Village Idiot”.

Well, you all have a fabulous weekend. I think my experience calls for a relaxing evening  – after I finish the painting I’ve been working on while hula-hooping.

10 Steps To Mastering Inadequacy