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**Changed** - Defective Design, Research Other Gear
on January 31, 2014
This will be the final update for all of these posts. After more in-depth testing, the units are still defective, even at firmware 3.2.10. Performance will be very good for 30 seconds, then terrible for 10s, ping times of 1-3ms internally, then jump to 2000ms with random time-outs and then network-disconnects. Adjusting power-output had some benefit, but upon applying more load (5 devices) the behavior becomes severe. Repeat this pattern infinitely and it becomes unusable. Around 20% packet loss, with 40% transmission-retries.My guess for the problem is the units have a high noise floor (meaning the ability of the unit to pick our signal from surrounding noise, it starts "noisy" without other devices to interfere). I did more testing using a spectrum analyzer, this time accounting for interference. I went to an unused locale (rural house), with zero competing APs, mounted a spare Outdoor+ 10' up, and even at a line-of-sight range of 30' with a laptop and cell-phone, continue to experience the same erratic behavior.
My company is now swearing off on the Outdoor+ design, though we still love the UAP-Pro (Blue Circle) units and will continue to deploy the on-mass. Unfortunately, the Outdoor (Non-Plus) units are no longer available, manufacturing having ceased in early 2014. Really a disappointment, I gave these units so many chances over a year of testing, and in the end, they are unusable. More returns to go through, we will proceed to testing other Ubiquiti units as we trust the company in general, but not the Outdoor+ line. We may branch out into MikroTik WAPs. Good luck in whatever you research, and test, test, test!
I deployed two Outdoor+ units mounted to poles at 16 feet with water-sealed CAT6 wiring. The units continue to work well, but only if you work around interference and fine-tune power settings. Due to how crowded the 802.11 radio-range is becoming, we are having to pick non-standard channels (standard are: 1,6,11) in noisy environments, and pick whatever is empty (channels 4,8,13), and only with HT20. The units work fine, but you must use the Config > Performance tab to track your loss/retry/success packet transfers to fine-tune the channel and intensity (high, medium, low). To test, get a laptop or two and setup a "ping 188.8.131.52 -t" and connect over wireless. If you see erratic numbers (40ms, 800ms, 700ms, 40ms etc), you need to adjust your channel/power. Configure until under moderate load (10 devices, web-browsing/YouTube) and you get under 15% loss over a 2-minute window. If the antenna is broadcasting too high strength (e.g., 30+dB), transmissions can be very 'shouty', meaning Tx (send to device) works fine and shows full bars, but Rx (receive from device) isn't heard over the noise. Using medium or low power can have much better results (which are still very strong compared to other WAPs). Once they are configured right they work well. A helpful tool to find a clear channel is InSSIDer, use it to look for spiking interferences that may not be visible, and use WiFi Analyzer for cell-phones to identify available channels. Between -40dB -> -75dB is ideal. Have fun!
I upgraded all of our WAPs to 3.10.0, the erratic packet loss under load has disappeared, range is usable from at least 400' radius @ -60dB (limit of usable signal at about -85dB), and speeds are dramatically better under load, reaching 38Mbps on 2.4GHz. This product is now viable for business use with the updated firmware. My company is going to deploy a few units for further testing. For now, the product appears to match the rest of Ubiquitis excellent lineup. Please perform testing under load with minimum 10+ connected devices before making a full deployment. You won't find enterprise-grade gear this capable at prices even close (aside from maybe MikroTik, but their interface is brutal due to deploy mass-scale). If your deployment is over 6 WAPs, look into setting up a cloud controller. Product review raised from 2 to 4 stars pending further testing.
Ubiquiti had a firmware release, 3.2.1, on 06-18-2014 which modestly improved the situation. It appears Ubiquiti has given up on fixing the Outdoor+ issues. We RMA'd only two units and have kept five in service as their load is under 4 devices each. The units even on the new public firmware 3.2.1 still experience severe stability problems when more than 4 devices are connected. Bandwidth looks fine in a speedtest (sometimes), however, YouTube videos will fail to buffer from constant packet loss, and pages will stop mid-load (for about 10-20 seconds there is no traffic for that device, enough to be a problem). UBNT staff have moved onto other projects with newer, more marketable features. Our company is continuing to use the Outdoor (non-plus) model with great results, due to its reliably handling huge amounts of traffic and users, but with a real throughput maximum of 45Mbps (5.6MBps) per device. Have hit a maximum of 60 users (It can likely handle more) with over 400GB of download throughput over the last three months without needing a reboot. Strongly recommend Outdoor (non-plus) units over the Outdoor+.
Review changed from one of great praise to one of dismay, dropping to two stars. The units are very unstable. Speaking with other users at the Ubiquiti forums and talking with UBNT Developers has yielded no results. For five of our Ourdoor+ WAPs we have extremely intermittent connections. With one cell phone running a speedtest we get a full 60Mbps. When four devices jump on, all devices drop to 0.2Mbps download -- unusable. Updating the controller and firmware to 3.1.13RC made no difference, neither did adjusting minimum RSSI values (kickoff for weak devices). We will be RMAing all seven units and finding an alternative product. Unfortunate, I really like Ubiquiti, their hardware is great but these devices have kicked the bucket.
Our business has been greatly pleased with the UBNT UniFi Outdoor+ units. The "Outdoor+ [Plus]" is simply the newer model, running at 2.4GHz, the alternative to the "Outdoor" 5GHz model. Both models contain the same guts, are reliable, very competitively priced, and practical to setup.
Though outdoor rated (temperature & moisiture), we have installed five units for a sports arena, keeping the UAPs in indoor utility boxes, and running 25' TRENDNet TW-l208 WiFi cables to externally mounted EnGenius EAG-2408 2.4GHz antennas.
The Outdoor+ has standard WiFi SMA Male Connectors. To use an external antenna you will likely want a reverse SMA (female) to N-Type adapter or cable. I strongly recommend using low-loss cables to get optimal signal strength. The Outdoor+ did a good job automatically adjusting power settings for the loss in the wire and the antenna gain.
Upgrading device firmware and management (channel, bands, SSID/PSK) is a very simple and fast setup. Rather than individually managing the units, due to Ubiquiti's design choices, we use the UniFi Controller application on a standalone workstation to manage all the WAPs from a single location. Any UniFi provisioned WAPs are locked to that controller, unless reset to factory defaults.
The price is right, the reliability impressive, and performance is exactly what we were expecting. We will be continue to purchase and setup these units as long as Ubiquiti makes them.