Cisco Meraki WAP

I attended an online webinar a while back for cloud-based infrastructure which resulted in a fantastic Meraki MR18 being delivered. Days, weeks and months passed and I never got around to unboxing and conneting the unit to my network to do any investigation. Until this week.

Unboxing Experience

Out of the plain box there wasn't much to speak of - some brackets and screws nicely put in foam so they didn't rattle around or scratch anything, a power supply and of course the WAP. The instruction booklet, a very flimsy bit of paper booklet, turned out to just be the information on radio communications licensing. Connecting and turning the unit on I found it in my router tables and tried to connect over the usual ports - nothig. So a quick trip to Google to figure out what and how to connect this...

The site wasn't a great deal of help , I remember something about signing up so I checked for the management system and discovered that I did indeed need to register and log in. That having been done, usual confirm emails and setting passwords etc. I started to prod the interface.

I discovered the add device section quickly and whapped in the Serial number of my unit. To my surprise it recognised, claimed it and added it onto my device list and gave a twinkly light update on my unit. Wow.. that was simple.

Cloudy control

So at this stage I realise that my unit is pretty much open to anyone to connect to it and hop onto my network so I started the process of setting up SSID's, setting security options and locking the thing down. My, there's a lot of security options!

I realised I could add a sign-on splash screen so I tried that one out which was quite fun and I suppose rather useful for open access areas. I might revisit that idea and have some "open" network SSID's broadcasting to my neighbourhood for some tech projects in the future. You can assign different VLAN's and suchlike to each SSID so I can control access and lock out Internet / my systems as necessary.

Controls and settings are as expected - I've used lots of Cisco gear before ( did a CCNA many years ago ) and I've been using Cisco Wifi kit for many moons so a lot of this is sort of second-nature now. Some new items and some interesting options in here on this firmware. I'm impressed with the Internet-based management of it all, the fact it pushes through to my device and can communicate without me having to open up firewall ports. I'm also scared by this fact.

Crowded Neighbourhood

Digging a bit more I discovered that I could get information on pretty much anything from clients and their associated application bandwidth breakdown to the local airwaves and what's happening. Okay, let's dig into that a bit more. Wow, okay my neighbourhood is a little crowded. Three of these are mine ( I run a current wireless network , have a Roku connected to my TV and this Meraki unit now ). I think I might need to start looking at how I segregate and lock out these devices from flooding my airwaves ( bigger transmitters!? Phwor! )

It's at this point I realise there's an RF link which I assume has information about antennae power options or suchlike.. oh no, wait.. this is WOWZERS!

A live feed of spectrum analysis for the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands so I can see how crowded the locality is and where drop-off points are. Okay, now I'm impressed with this thing. That'll come in really handy when working out what's going on with my signal strengths.

Continuing the tests

So I've been running it for 24 hours and trying a few things out across the Internet - I'm pretty happy with how it's going so far, I'll be doing some distance tests over the next few days and I might post some results from that. All in all, I'm giving two-thumbs-up to this little unit so far. Let's see what this thing can do and if it'll replace my ageing DD-WRT unit...

Happy hacking!

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