I was recently asked to connect a portable building to our network. The portable building sits 650ft from the nearest building. Since network cables do not generally run more than 300ft this created a problem. My consultant suggested a radio system from Ubiquiti (specifically the Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC gen 2). The installation and setup stretched me out of my comfort zone a little bit, but in the end I have a working solution! I thought I would share the details of our Ubiquiti building to building system using nanobeam ac gen 2.

The Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC gen 2 and other gear.

These units are small, and are not expensive (relatively). I purchased two Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC gen 2 units for about $200 total.

As you can see the unit isn’t much larger than my hand, so it is unobtrusive. We used some old satellite TV mounting poles that we found to mount them to the buildings.

Obviously you have to run a network cable to the location where you will be mounting the radios, and you have to have a line-of-sight pathway that is unobstructed between the two radios. We found out that tree branches were enough to break the connection, so be warned. The nice thing about these is that they run via POE (with a special connecter, not the POE+ connection from your network switch), so there is only one wire that you’ll have to connect on the outside of your buildings.

My setup has the following sequence: Cable from the main network switch through the Ubiquiti POE connector that runs about 120ft to the first Ubiquiti Nanobeam. Then there is a 650ft line of sight gap to the portable building. That is where the second Ubiquiti Nanobeam is mounted, which feeds into another network switch. That switch then connects to an access point and some other equipment in the portable building. You can see the installation inside the portable below.

Luckily this portable building isn’t heavily used, so an old Engenius EAP350 that I had laying around should be enough to handle the connectivity out there.

Connecting the two Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC gen 2 units

It really was not hard to connect these two Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC gen 2 units once we got rid of the tree branches. Remember, line of sight means unobstructed line of sight. I could explain the process in writing but it would take longer than watching the same video that we watched. You can find that video below.

Conclusions about the Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC gen 2

I’ve been using these things for about a month now. I’ve updated the firmware remotely, changed the network settings remotely, etc. and generally I’ve been pleased. The connection stays strong, and hasn’t dropped that I’m aware of. The connection is usually around 6Mbps in terms of speed. The distance is no problem. These units are only transmitting at about 1/10th of total power according to the software. The setup was pretty easy, assuming you understand networking basics. So, I would definitely recommend these things.

If you’ve enjoyed this post you might check out some of my other case studies. You can read about creating an in-building video network, or using a cloud based phone system.

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