airMAX - How to Align airMAX Antennas


Overview


This article will provide the basic steps to deploy and align a new airMAX Point to Point or Point to Multi-Point installation.


Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. How to Align an airMAX PtMP Deployment
  3. How to Align an airMAX PtP Deployment

Introduction


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Having a perfectly aligned link is crucial if you want a well-performing link. Without proper alignment, you may see less than desirable throughput, high latency, or just overall stability issues. Follow these steps to ensure that your links completely fulfill your expectations.


How to Align an airMAX PtMP Deployment


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Step 1: Ensure your plan is viable with our link planner.

  • Visit this link and select your AP location and desired Station locations.
  • Set the real height of each location.
    • airLink does not account for trees, building, or other obstructions; only ground elevation. If you are in a wooded area you will need to judge obstructions by sight, either by looking at the satellite imagery or by going on site.
    • For PtMP deployments, the AP is generally higher, Stations will be closer to the ground.
  • Select the antennas you plan to use at each location.
  • Select the total EIRP that you are allowed to use. 
  • Change your channel width until you see the desired capacity.

If your signals are not close to -50, you should consider using higher gain antennas.

Step 2: Install the Access Point.

  • For longer links, it can be easier to use the satellite imagery to pick out a landmark that is visible from your AP location and point the AP in that direction.
  • Be mindful of your tilt. It is very easy to point your AP too far up or down. Most sector antennas have a 2-degree electrical down-tilt already.

Step 3:  Install the Station or Stations.

  • Find a high ground high above all reflective surfaces to mount your Client's CPE.
    • Never install and point a CPE across the surface of a roof.
    • Be sure to install the antenna two or three meters above the ground.
  • Point the CPE in the general direction of the AP, then log into it.
    • Once logged in, open the scan list and select your AP's SSID. 
    • Once the connection has been established, open the alignment tool and start very slowly panning the antenna from the left to the right keeping in mind the best signal you see. Once the signal starts dropping dramatically, pan back from right to left until the signal starts dropping again. Pan one more time from left to right and stop once you match the best signal you have seen so far.
    • Repeat for elevation.
  • Your signals should now match the expected signal from airView.

Step 4: After you have installed several CPEs, you can go back to the AP and adjust the alignment as needed.


How to Align an airMAX PtP Deployment


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1. Use this link to find landmarks near both ends of the link for the installers to aim at.

2. Mount the Access Point and slave radios with installers at both sides.

3. Have both installers use the previously found landmarks to establish a link. This can take quite a while depending on the experience of the installers. Each installer may need to change the azimuth and elevation a few degrees at a time in order to establish the initial link. Be sure only one antenna is being moved at a time!

4. Open up the alignment tool in the AirOS WebUI and have one installer slowly adjust the azimuth on one antenna until you see the signal get better, then worse again.

5. Once you are losing signal, start backing up the azimuth until you reach the peak signal.

6. Repeat step 5 for the elevation.

7. Do the same for the second installer: have the second installer slowly adjust the azimuth on one antenna until you see the signal get better, then worse again, then again for elevation.


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