by William Waites
24 Aug 2012

Allanton Site Survey

Marwan and I went out to the University of West Scotland in Hamilton to see about putting a radio up on one of their buildings to connect a small and relatively sparse community near Allanton.

The proposed setup in this case is somewhat simpler than the networks out on the West coast, being simply a Nanostation M5 at the university, which has a nice wide radiation pattern and then several rather more directional Nanobridge M5 out in the field. This was just an exploratory trip, so everything was done in a very temporary manner, the Nanostation strapped to a 2m length of 40mm plumbing and wedged behind a filing cabinet, and the Nanobridges mounted atop a similar length tube.

Antenna at UWS In the garden

After spending the morning with Brian Mullins, head of ICT at UWS explaining what we proposed to do and putting up the temporary radio next door to the Campus Director’s office, we headed out to Allanton with Anne Graham and Hew Colquhoun to see if we could see the signal after a nice lunch.

The initial results were somewhat disappointing, however. Only from outside of Hew’s house were we able to get a link, and even then the signal was very weak, too close to the noise floor to really be useable. On the bright side, there were very little other signals in the 5GHz band that we could see, and none on the particular channel that we had chosen randomly in advance.

There are several things to try next. Obviously the arrangement at the University is very temporary and far from ideal. The best thing would be to mount it on the roof. It might be that the glass in the windows is interfering with the signals as some kinds of glass treatments are known to do this. It is also possible, even likely, that we misjudged the vertical angle of the antenna there and it actually is aimed too far downwards. This last is the easiest thing to change, so obviously the first thing to try – simply adjust the ad-hoc mounting.

If that fails, and this may be a good idea in any event, use a radio with a better antenna, such as the Rocket M5 with a [90̣° sector] – these are the ones we use up North.

The final possibility is, there is a church about mid-way between the school and Allanton, and it is visible from pretty much the whole area. It may well be possible to use it as a relay site.

We’ll have another go next week…

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