Ubiquiti Unifi access points

Boy, bad first impression of a product. I got a Ubiquiti wireless access point. Figured I could set it up in 10 minutes and go; what could be easier? Lol, joke’s on me. They now require a 200 megabyte “Unifi Controller” running on some machine on your network to configure the devices; no more simple web interface. Instead the controller talks some magic protocol to the devices and then runs its own web server on port 8843 with a fancy web UI. Did I mention the Mac binary is not signed, so it won’t even run without working around Mac’s security system? And the SSL certificate doesn’t work? Awesome.

The software itself seems useful but complex. The manual is 154 pages. It provides group management of all Ubiquiti devices on my network. This seems like it would be great if I had a complicated network with a bunch of Ubiquiti devices. Maybe that’s their market. I just have one device, though, and it better play nice with the rest of my network. Fortunately this is just an AP, and stumbling through I got it working without much effort.

I think it was as simple as going through the basic config of the controller software (username, password, wifi settings), then choosing the Devices tab and clicking “adopt” on the access point.

Sitting 6 feet from the AP I’m getting a full 100Mbps according to DSLReports’ speed test. (Link layer claims 216Mbps). Putting the AP where my old one was gives more like 20Mbps, but I think it’s still better WiFi than the Asus RT-AC66U that I use. But the whole point of this is I want a second AP for upstairs, so I’ll end up running both.

Not a fan of the Power-over-Ethernet brick they provide. I’m confused about POE, there seems to be multiple standards for voltages and which pins are hot. I have no idea if it’s feasible for me to run POE for my whole house, particularly since this punchdown board everything goes through is some Levitron piece of crap that can’t even reliably do gigabit.

5 thoughts on “Ubiquiti Unifi access points

  1. One of the added features of the Pro is that it uses a standard-compliant PoE, unlike many of their other devices. The market is definitely commercial rather than home use, they even sell them in three packs and the data sheets show diagrams of college dorms and hotels.

    I updated the firmware on mine today and realized (after six months) that you can actually ssh into the thing and that people have even got OpenWRT running on it, for those who are into breaking perfectly functional devices.

    What I find completely mystifying that the thing is so much better at Wifi than the RT-[X]66U with its annoying antennas that fall off and get in the way. Radio is dark magicks but are the magicians so rare that Ubiquiti can hire them but ASUS can’t?

  2. Yeah I’m mystified by why the wireless is better, too. My completely unsubstantiated guess is antenna design. Maybe they have some fancy planar / fractal / hyperdimensional antenna hidden inside the smoke detector form factor? There’s absolutely nothing subtle about the ASUS antennas, just three basic sticks. I did get more range out of an older ASUS router by replacing them with longer sticks, so that makes me think there’s at least a little room for improvement.

  3. I wonder if the extra $$$ for eeros could be worth it considering this hassle. I definitely won’t recommend Ubiquiti to my father in law!

  4. I have no idea what the Eero experience is like, is it simpler? They’re also doing something unique, or at least unusual, with the mesh network. The Ubiquiti APs all require their own wired connection, at least in any reasonable configuration.

  5. I have no first hand experience, only anecdotes (and their marketing) about ease of setup and better performance in hard to reach places. I was researching solutions a bit for my inlaws who are having a hard time getting coverage at their cabin. As far as I can tell it doesn’t require wired connections and doesn’t rely on powerline networking. So it all comes down to whether their wireless mesh networking actually works and how it manages to.

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