Thursday, May 29, 2014

Another neater network

This is one network that I wanted to clean up for a while. The problem is that every time I went to this customer was close to the end of the day and everyone wanted to leave the office.

Finally they had issues with their network, and I attempted to troubleshoot the issues within this mess. I was semi-successful, however I advised them that I would need to come down at a time that I could disconnect the entire network to resolve all of the issues that they were having.

They agreed to allow me access after hours today so that I could repair all of the issues that they had on their network. As small as this network is it actually took a while to get things neatened up. 3 hours actually.

There was an old unused PBX system (unfortunately cut out from the before photo) located above the 66 blocks. I removed that system, and removed the old MoH player. I moved the 16 port switch from the side wall to where the old MoH player was located. I mounted one of the surge protectors, and one surge protector was able to be removed completely (several unused plugs, the PBX and MoH systems no longer needed power). I replaced all of the patch cords with shorter wires, and routed everything as neat as possible.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How to disassemble Polk Audio speakers (TL1 / TL1900)

Just a short video I created to show how to take apart Polk Audio speakers.

Rooftop cellular site / tower

While I was installing a point to point wireless bridge between two buildings, one of the roofs that I was working on was a cellular site / tower. 

I am unsure what provider operates this tower, other than it is highly doubtful that it is Sprint, due to the lack of a decent Sprint signal in this neighborhood!

Installing a wireless point to point ethernet bridge

UPDATE: 5/29/14: While these antennas worked perfectly fine, and I was getting an excellent ping VoIP was still an issue with these antennas, so I had to take them down and run a wire from one of our customers in the next building over. If you are doing anything other than VoIP these antennas should be perfectly fine for your use.

I am currently in the process of installing a wireless point to point ethernet bridge between two buildings. 

Mounted 1-1/4" PVC pipe as an antenna mast
and installed antenna on chimney.
The original plan was to run CAT 5 between the locations, but the distance was nearing 400 feet or more - which is well beyond the recommended 300 foot length for CAT 5 cabling.

Antenna mounted
Both antennas have been mounted and aimed at eachother. Outdoor CAT5 has been run from the antennas to the inside of each building. 

View from building to building. 

The antennas have been set up with unique static IPs which are on a different subnet than the WAN that they will be bringing between buildings.

View from building to building.
distant building is the one with the elevator enclosure on the roof.

The main antenna will be connected to a T1, and the remote antenna will connect to a router to provide internet for the far building.

This is where I brought the CAT 5 inside from the roof.
It connects to the PoE injector, then connects to a jack that goes back to the patch pannel.

Cable internet is currently at the location where the T1 will be extended to, however it has been causing issues with the VoIP services. FiOS is not currently available at the location, and Verizon provided a ridiculous construction cost to bring a T1 to this location. (Think the cost of a brand new mid-range vehicle)

View from oppisite roof back towards other antenna mast. 
This may not be the ultimate solution to resolve the customer's issues, but it should at least provide the ability to separate their voice and data internet traffic. 

View between roofs
Currently I have spent about 5 hours on site running wire and installing the hardware. I have already tested the antenna in the lab. 

1-1/4 inch PVC pipe mast mounted to the wall with antenna mounted.
I have about 2 hours left to connect the antenna to the T1 and complete the configuration of the network(s). 
View between buildings

Thursday, May 22, 2014

cleaned up another network

While I went down to resolve a multi-WAN configuration issue with this customers RV082 router which took less than 5 minutes, I decided to use some of my down time cleaning up the wiring around their network.

This was accomplished with barely no down time. The only down time was when I replaced the patch cords one at a time. This took about an hour to clean up, and a ton of zip ties. Had I been able to take down the network completely I might have been able to come up with something more visually appealing, but I think it came out much neater than it originally was.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The worst router I ever came across!

EDIT: This post was made before I had to deal with a customers Apple Airport Extreme - It amazes me how Apple doesn't think that port forwarding, SIP ALG, a web GUI, remote access or many of the other features that they leave out of their routers are important! 

I have had my share of devices provided by cable and telephone companies to their customers to connect internet services. 

There is the Ubee modem that Time Warner Cable installs in businesses that is a modem with a built in router. These are NEVER a good idea to leave alone and should ALWAYS be bridged with a real router installed behind it (ALWAYS make sure it is bridged before installing a router behind it or risk having a double NAT)

Then there is the horrible modem/router that Verizon installs with their FiOS service. Wherever possible (when customer does not have TV service) I remove them and connect a real router directly to the network port of the ONT. You need to release the IP address before replacing the router, otherwise you will need to call Verizon to have them release/renew the DHCP lease once you have the new router installed. 

I haven't seen one out in the wild for a while now, but for a short period of time some of the router/modems that Verizon was providing for DSL did not have the option to be bridged. They either stopped providing these routers or finally provided an updated firmware that allows these modems to be bridged. 

So with all of those awful devices that the cable and telephone company ISPs provide to their customers, none of those would qualify for the worse. Today I encountered a new router that Optimum has begun providing to their customers. The Sagemcom F@st 3965CV takes the award for the absolute worse device ever provided by a cable or telephone company ISP. Why? Well, when you attempt to browse to the default gateway you are redirected to the Optimum web portal, not to the devices configuration page. 

What genius decided that it was a good idea to provide a router that HAS to be managed online, and REQUIRES the customers Optimum credentials (their account user name and password). With this roadblock there is no reason, or no ability to log into the router itself to make any adjustments or changes to the LAN or WAN settings. 

EDIT: Apparently Optimum is flashing this "smart router" firmware on all of the routers, regardless of model or manufacturer, that they provide to their customers. This cripples the full capabilities of the router, and prevents local access directly to the router. Do not keep this router connected to your network, install your own router immediately!

The worst ISP provided router EVER! 

If they charge you for this router, send it back to them and buy your own!

Mounting cable modem, router and VoIP phone

So the cable company just left the modem and some awful router on the windowsill. 

I snaked the cable wire down the wall and mounted the modem, ran a new CAT 5 wire for a jack in another room, and installed an e1200 router with DD-WRT.

The Cisco E series routers do not have an easy way to mount on the wall.
I use oversized fender washers to keep it in place.

Cisco 504g with wall mount bracket.
Wires brought down wall to electric and network jack
in a wire molding. 

Cleaning up a network

So I had to troubleshoot this network, and it was a mess. So before starting to troubleshoot the network I decided to clean up the mess that their network was.

This is what the network looked like when I arrived. 

This is the network after about an hour of neatening up the patch cords. 

Once the network was neatened up then I was able to troubleshoot the network. It turns out that every 400 or 500 packets over the cable modem drops a single packet. This would normally go undetected, but it was enough to cause issues with their VoIP service, so I ended up sending the VoIP traffic over the DSL line and keeping the cable connection for a back up for the VoIP (as well as the data network)