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Need Advice for AiMesh with AC86U primary with two AC68U nodes

Discussion in 'ASUS AC Routers & Adapters' started by JT Strickland, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Hello Everyone,

    Here's the situation:
    • Asus RT-AC86U (on thee way), plan to flash with Merlin, primary Aimesh router
    • Two RT-68U's, one with Merlin, other stock firmware, Aimesh access points/nodes
    • Netgear CM-1000 Docsis 3.1 modem
    • MaxxSouth 250/10 Mb/s cable
    • Ethernet cable exists from primary to 2nd node/access point (120 feet direct)
    • Plan to install Ethernet cable from 2nd node to 3rd node (40 feet +/-)
    • Present dictates daisy chain configuration
    • Future may allow star configuration
    I plan to use a switch between primary and second node near the node, with a 6' wired connection to both the second node and and an 8 Tb stand alone hard drive, and a 50' cable to the 3rd node, and possible future connections. I may not need the switch. If not, please let me know. My thinking is if the second node is acting up or out of commission, then it could also knock out the third node and other devices. And I felt the router would not have to work as hard as if it were handling the switching. Let the switch take care of it?

    Secondly, Should I configure the 68U's as just nodes, or access points? Or both, one as an access point and the other as a node? I looked on the Asus website, and in the forums, and didn't find an answer. And, fwiw, the primary router may be configured in the future for OpenVNP, but most likely will not unless some things change.

    The RT-AC86U is scheduled to arrive sometime Friday, Sep. 27th. I really appreciate the good help and advice. I am a Noobie, and I am out of my league here, so if something sounds foolish, it's because I don't know what I am doing. But I'm trying! And I have already learned a lot.

    Thanks again
    jts
     
  2. aurizn

    aurizn Occasional Visitor

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    Adding a switch doesn't take much load out from the router as routing is still performed at router level. A star topography will provide some redundancy if the second node is acting up. I don't think you need a switch if you only have 3 wired devices. Ideally, your NAS should be connected to the main node.

    I suggest running them on AiMesh mode (AiMesh node) for better roaming and centralized management. Add the nodes over wireless and only linking them with Ethernet afterwards. Remember to select prioritize Ethernet backhaul on the UI.
     
  3. Grisu

    Grisu Part of the Furniture

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    No need for a switch with CAT5e or better upto 100m.
    Either both as AP (uplink connected to WAN-ports) or easier use Aimesh.
    Be aware you cant get guest-WiFi on nodes (not supported by Asus).
    Both nodes wont need CPU power as they do no routing or VPN, will work in daisy chain more or less same as in star (only if the first fails for any reason the second will go down too).
    But if you are lucky in Amesh mode they may see WiFi from main-router and switch over to WiFi-backhaul.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
  4. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    I wonder if AiMesh would work with all three routers wired to the switch and would there be any advantage to this?

    ISP -- modem -- WAN 86U LAN -120'- switch --
    -- WAN 68U LAN -- clients
    -- WAN 68U LAN -- clients
    -- NAS

    How is the 120' house-to-office Ethernet routed... buried? I wonder if its exposure warrants some sort of safety Earth ground suppression/protection on each end to shunt any introduced large voltages/currents to ground?

    How is AC power supplied to the office? If it has its own supply and Earth ground, I wonder if house and office Earth grounds should be directly bonded together with a ground conductor to preclude voltage potential differences between house and office equipment which will be sharing a common network? A power company engineer might be able to advise on this.

    OE
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
  5. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    The ethernet to the house is buried in pvc conduit, in the same trench as the power and phone line in another conduit, and a water line. The guy at the building supply told me the ethernet would not work in conduit with electrical and phone when I ran the utilities for the office about 15 years ago. I asked him why, and he said "I dnno. It just won't work." So I took him at his word, and bought enough conduit for the ethernet by itself.

    Since I've got the stuff, or it's coming, I might give it a try and see what it will do like that. I don't know anything about it, but my thinking was the switch would make it more like a star arrangement, as well as take a little off the most middle node, but I guess I was wrong about that since it don't do much processing anyway. We may get to move the 86 to the upstairs in the house later, anyway, if they will run us another drop there. That would probably be better, but I think I'll try the switch for a day or two. Maybe longer if I try both 68's as mesh nodes and mesh access points. It will give me a benchmark to compare to, if nothing else.
    jts
     
  6. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    Sounds like the Ethernet is buried and separate (somewhat) from power. The issues to avoid are lightning (of course) and interference/noise in voice/date cabling (low voltage) caused by electro-magnetic induction from large currents in near and parallel power cabling (high voltage).

    Sounds like the office power comes from the house supply... good! Equipment in both locations will have the same common Earth ground.

    OE
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
  7. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    Yes, they both lay side by side in separate pvc conduits from the house to office. The electric is 3 #4 copper, or possibly #6. I didn't need 220 volts so that was sufficient. I was thinking a while back that those powerline adapters should work good between house and office. Maybe the same principle will be used on my home network.

    Maybe I could run a temporary ethernet on the ground away from the underground power to test and see if there is a difference after I see how, and if, it will perform. I would have to get 100'+ of cable, but the longer lengths aren't much more expensive than the short ones. Especially if it is raw without connectors. I reckon I could learn how to put them on. Maybe.

    Edit: On second thought, I think I will get cable with connectors. Looks like it would require some specialized tools to put them on, not worth it for a couple of connectors. Cable subs buried the drop today. Don't look like another drop to the the house is gonna happen, at least not soon, after talking to the subs.

    And, how do I set up a swap file? Or do I need one? Haven't found out that yet. I did create a JFFS partition fwiw, but haven't used it yet. Anyway, the 86U is due in today, and I'm looking forward to some new tests, and new experiences. Or experiments maybe. TIA,
    jts
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
  8. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    The RT-AC86U has arrived. I also found a tutorial on the Merlin board to create a swap file installing scripts. Looks pretty deep for a noobie. Maybe I will get up the courage to tackle that later. I've got other fish to fry now.
    jts
     
  9. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    Who was the vendor and what is the build date on the back of the 86U?

    OE
     
  10. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    From Amazon. Made in China, 2019. Don't know if it means anything, but the label also says H/W ver. 1.5, F/W ver. 3.0.0.4.384
    That F/W hasn't been out all that long I don't think, so it may be manufactured recently, unless they make 'em and don't stamp 'em or F/W 'em untill they sell 'em. I'm keeping the box with the hope I'll never need it.
    jts

    Edit: Looks like I was mistaken about the 384 F/W, it may have been out a LONG time. I guess I was (green) thinkin about 384.13.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
  11. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    Interesting. We now have reports of 2019 builds from China and from Vietnam. I wonder if this is i) a diversification that reflects ii) economic/trade and/or iii) political tensions with China. No way of knowing.

    The H/W version has not changed so perhaps any fix to any radio fault is not design-related. No way of knowing.

    OE
     
    jsbeddow likes this.
  12. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    OzarkEdge,
    Is there an actual build date given on the box label or elsewhere? Only thing I saw was the year.
    thanks,
    jts

    Edit: I am going to bypass the surge protector on the RT-AC86U, and the two AC68U's also, and see if I can glean any benefit with the electrical connection. I hope it's not the wrong thing to do. If I don't see any difference between tests, I will put their power supplies back in the surge protector. I suppose they have a kind of protection with the AC convertor that plugs in. I am unsure if it would offer much protection or not. Certainly not against a lightning strikc.

    I plan to flash the AC86U with Merlin 384.13 and the other two AC68U's with the latest stock Asus f/w unless I hear different before this evening. One of the 68's currently has the Merlin 384.14 Alpha and the other has 384.81049 Asus f/w. If I should do something different, I would appreciate someone letting me know. I will start with the two AC68U's as Aimesh nodes, and possibly later with both as Aimesh Access points to see which is most beneficial. This time I'm not turning on all the bells and whistles, but cautiously add one feature at the time if it doesn't degrade my performance badly. Thanks again to everybody.
    jts
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
  13. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    The build date is the year noted on the box label... that's all the date resolution we get, the year.

    The best protection is to use a UPS.

    Surge protection can only help and will not affect equipment performance.

    Merlin 384.13 is based on stock 45717. I had issues with stock 81049, so I'm holding on 45717. Me, I would put 45717 on your nodes (and don't configure them... just reset them and add them to the AiMesh).

    Also, I would not enable Trend Micro features for now, and I would use separate SSIDs and fixed channels (the 68Us do not support Smart Connect node band steering).

    There are APs. There are AiMesh nodes. And there is a AiMesh AP mode that can have AiMesh nodes. You have indicated that you will try AiMesh nodes; otherwise APs. You will likely not try an AiMesh AP with one AiMesh node.

    OE
     
  14. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    Yes, I do have UPSs, or have at all but one node location. I thought, perhaps foolishly, that it would help for network conduction to plug directly into the wall outlets, similar to the powerline systems. A direct connection probably won't be permanent.

    I've been getting too many dropped connections to the IP, and don't know what is to blame. A new player on the field and a new playbook may correct my issues.

    Near the start with the RT-AC68U's, I enabled the Trend Micro, but disabled it and a lot of other stuff after my hardware acceleration disappeared. I would like to try some of the security features, utilities, swap file, and ad blocking, through some of the scripts available that complement the Merlin F/W after I am confident that I can do it. This is all new ground for me.

    I don't plan to just use one node unless I don't see any improvement with two, but I expect to see a lot.

    thanks again,
    jts
     
  15. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    OE, I've got more questions than answers. Attached is a sketch of My Network (see pdf), and a screenshot of my Clientlist, and a screenshot of part of my Log. I hope there's nothing there that I shouldn't be showing online, because I am not positive. I assume my "real" IP is all that shouldn't be shown?

    My RT-AC86U indicates that there are 2 clients connecting through 2 devices (See CLIENTLIST1 screenshot). I have since changed the priority of the Aimesh nodes from Auto to Ethernet, rebooted the primary router, and it's not there now (yet). It shows all the clients wireless except for my PC which is plugged in with a short cable next to the Primary router. It may be because of my configuration. I tried to follow your "recipe" and got most all of it, I hope.

    I have configured #2 node (see sketch) as Aimesh Access point, and #3 as Aimesh node. Should I configure both as Aimesh Access Points, or maybe both as Aimesh nodes? Or leave it as is. Should all configurations have ethernet priority?

    And, I noticed in the log an error message about the JFFS partition not being large enough. (See LOG1 screenshot). I set the router to create it for future scripts and a swap file, after I understand it clearly. Should I disable JFFS custom scripts and configs for now and do something differently there?

    I am hesitant to ask so many questions and take up your time, but if I understood your notes right, it would be better to manually assign IP's for the LAN clients rather than let DHCP choose them? I reserved 192.168.1.2-20, meaning to only reserve 2-10, but have left it as is for now. What is the purpose for the lower 9? Should I assign, or even can I assign, psuedo static IP's for the Aimesh nodes, or leave that to DHCP?

    Should I disable Multi MIMO? Shoould I enable DNS privacy protocol? Both aspects of hardware acceleration are enabled right now, and I don't want to do anything to disable them unless it is more advantageous. I have other questions that I will try to find answers to in your notes and links. I didn't understand about the public server addresses at first, and then figured out you were talking about IPV6, which is disabled in my network.

    I've have confirmed something that I already suspected: The VPN's, or the ones that I have been dealing with, are more dependent on device processing ability than the router's, at least to a certain extent, for speed. The firesticks won't get but a little faster download with the AC86U, than the less powerful AC68U as primary router. Running them through the VPN app will only get about 25 Mbs out of the 250 Mbs available, or about 10%. Outside the VPN they will get about 100 Mbs. My 4 year old iPhone 6 will get about 200 Mbs with VPN, and 240 Mbs without on the same wireless network. I figure the 86U would shine with Open VPN in the router, but I may not use it. This seemed toe best way to go at firet, but there seem to be too many obstacles this way, at least for now.

    I haven't figured out the wifi radar routines yet in the 86U. I've got to look elsewhere and learn what to do. There is a lot more here than the Site Survey previously in the AC68U. I've installed the Network Analyzer android app, and it is helpful. I haven't been able to find a decent Network App for an iPhone.

    My 2.4 Ghz network is on channel 1 at 20 Mhz, N only, and my 5 Ghz network is on channel 157 at 80 Mhz, with N/AC mixed. It may be peeling the paint off the neighbor's walls. I have a very strong signal, especially in the house, so I could probably drop it to 40.

    I received a Mbs switch, although the description said Gbs, so reordered another. I won't get the replacement until late Tuesday, so the ethernet is daisy chained between 1, 2, with a drop to the NAS, and 3. This seems, to me, like a good way to link everything similar to a star arrangement, with the switch in between the NAS and node #2 on the sketch. My tests are trial-and-error, which can be expensive, because I don't know. I think this will address the conflict and confusion shown in my client list, which indicates everything but my PC wireless, even though there are wired connections. If it works.

    I really appreciate the help. I am in over my head, and I got to swim to get out. Upstream.
    thanks again,
    jts
     

    Attached Files:

  16. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    Let's take one thing at a time...

    None of your 68Us should be configured... period. Reset them and add them from the 86U webUI as nodes.

    Your 86U router is your ROOT AiMesh node... it configures and controls the 68U nodes.

    When your site router is NOT an AiMesh ROOT node (not AiMesh capable), THEN you might want to connect an AiMesh system to it by using an AiMesh router in AP mode and adding other nodes to it, not to the site router. But you do not need this... all of your routers are AiMesh capable, so you can build one AiMesh system from the root node, your 86U router.

    Don't pay much attention to the sometimes troubled client list(s)... focus on client connectivity and usage.

    OE
     
  17. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    Yes, sir,
    According to the ASUS setup instructions, I was supposed to update the firmware on the nodes, or all the routers, then configure the them either as Aimesh access points or plain nodes, then reset to default, leave power plugged in, locate and connect to node with primary or root router, then unplug power, move to best location available, plug in power and ethernet cable. That's all the configuration that I've done, with the exception of changing the priority from Auto to Ethernet in the AC86U interface. That, by the way, seemed to take care of the 2 - two device issues. It still shows all clients as wireless except my PC, even the NAS. I am unable to connect to NAS at this time, but I will figure that out later, not a priority now. This is the same procedure as I did with the 68U's, except I configured the only node as Aimesh access point since it was distant from root.

    I guess what I meant was, if I need to change the function of the node(s), I will remove it/them from mesh and start over with it. I didn't find enough info to determine what the difference was between Aimesh Node and Aimesh A/P on the Asus site, or on this forum. It is probably here, but hard to wade through all the information to find what I was looking for. Comments I did find were sometimes conflicting, and it's hard to tell if it's somebody as green as me giving advice. I couldn't find an example of more than two routers in a Aimesh system setup on their website in tutorials or their YouTube channel. I know they will work either way, but it seems that one way is surely better?
    thanks again,
    jts
     
  18. Grisu

    Grisu Part of the Furniture

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    Both router and AP mode supports Aimesh, that means this device is Aimesh-MASTER!
    You need router mode on 86U so forget anything about AP-Aimesh mode.
    All nodes have to be reset to factory, firmware update and dont touch nodes anymore not now nor later on!
    Then after connected to master, on master router you add them as Aimesh-nodes.
    Either via WiFi or in your case over LAN.
    So after meshed set both to use primary ethernet/LAN.
     
  19. JT Strickland

    JT Strickland Regular Contributor

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    Grisu, OK, thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. I'll just leave them as is.
    jts
     
  20. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    If you configure a router/node, then reset it... it is no longer configured. So, your instructions as such and use of terms as such is a bit flawed. Once you reset the 68Us, they are no longer configured. And this is as it should be... just simply search for them and add them to the AiMesh from within the 86U webUI.

    You are not configuring a node as an AiMesh Access Point. This is an AiMesh mode of operation that you are not using and do not want to use for your network.

    Here is your AiMesh network:

    86U root node -Ethernet- 68U node -Ethernet- 68U node

    Here is another AiMesh network you could try to remove the daisy chain:

    86U root node -Ethernet- switch ...
    ... -Ethernet- 68U node
    ... -Ethernet- 68U node

    Perform three speedtest.net from a PC client connected by LAN and by WLAN to each node to assess/compare performance.

    OE
     
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