It is time to implement a WiFi solution such as Ubiquiti UniFi Now that we have gotten ourselves a PfSense machine set up, there’s only one thing missing from the equation: WiFi! WiFi nowadays is as crucial as it gets, and the fact that a router such as PfSense is short of such functionality is something that can easily be addressed.
WiFi access points come in 2 flavours: hybrid SOHO routers where both router and access points are combined into one in order to simplify the average house internet experience. Another is just simply a standalone WiFi access point that works on its own and is dependant of a separate router for DHCP/routing to the internet. For this we are going to look into setting up a standalone WiFi access point with Ubiquiti UniFi.
Ubiquiti has been known throughout the world as one of the top dogs in the wireless and networking sector, having achieved the unthinkable with unparalleled quality and simplicity at a friendly price. Their products range from consumer WiFi to cost-efficient enterprise networking gear that just works and rarely(if ever in my experience) goes kaput. Finding the perfect UniFi access point can go in any direction, but for now we will focus on one that fits the budget. In this guide I will be going with the Ubiquiti UniFi AP-AC Lite as this one fits our budget perfectly and is at the lowest price available. The UniFi AP supports up to 300 Mbps wifi speed at 2.4 GHz and 867 Mbps at 5GHz frequency making this sufficient for the average home user’s internet connection. Anything higher such as 1 gigabit fiber or cable internet you will want to look into an Unifi UAP-AC-Pro or UAP-HD if performance is a factor.
UniFi Network Controller
Ubiquiti UniFi products uses something called an “UniFi Network Controller” which is a piece of software that runs on your computer/server for managing multiple access points and configuration/provisioning. It is needed for first time provisioning of our UniFi access point, but is not required to be running constantly as all of the configuration is stored within the device itself. This controller is capable of displaying who’s currently connected as well as how much traffic is being consumed by each device. You can also look at the connection history for every access point that is currently connected to this controller, but you will need to be running it 24/7 for maximum accuracy.
In this guide we are going to be installing the windows version of the Ubiquiti UniFi Network Controller. Before installation, make sure that you have the following:
- Ubiquiti UniFi AP(as well as our Power over Ethernet adapter)
- 3 ethernet cables(1 for AP to adapter, 1 for adapter to router, and 1 for your PC to the router)
- (PfSense only) It is highly recommended that you get a switch to plug into the LAN port of your PfSense router. Suggestion
Begin by downloading the installer from here UniFi-Installer. Once downloaded run the installer and click Install.
If not installed already, you will be prompted to install Java. The UniFi Network Controller depends on Java in order to function. Click OK to continue, download and complete the java installation.
Proceed with the UniFi Controller installation and click finish to launch the program.
Wait for the UniFi Controller to finish starting and then click on “Launch a Browser to Manage the Network”.
If you’ve read the previous article on installing PfSense, you will come across this warning once more. Because the software is using a self-signed certificate by default, the web browser doesn’t recognize it as an trusted root authority which is completely normal. Again, we will click on Advanced and select Accept the Risk and Continue.
You are now asked to name your controller. Type in one and click next on the bottom right hand corner of the page. You will be asked to sign-in with your Ubiquiti Account, skip this for now and click on “Switch to Advanced Setup”.
Disable “Cloud Access” and “Use your Ubiquiti account for local access”, fill out the local administrator user and password boxes as well as the email address box. Click Next, then leave both “Automatically optimize my network” and “Enable Auto Backup” enabled. Click Next again.
Here, make up a name and password(8 characters) to your UniFi AP WiFi network. For simplicity, we will want to enable the “Combine 2 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi Network Names into one” option. Click Next.
Make sure your Ubiquiti UniFi AP is plugged into the PoE adapter and from there into your router; once that’s done, wait a moment for the AP to be listed. If the controller doesn’t detect the AP, try to power cycle it once more and troubleshoot by disabling your windows firewall and checking your router’s devices list to see if the AP has been assigned an IP address from DHCP. Once its available, select it and click next.
Here make sure your configuration is how you wanted it to be, also adjust the timezone to yours and click Finish. Wait for configuration to complete. Once you’re at the main page, on the left side of the page there’s an option called “clients”, click on that. Grab a wireless device and try connecting to the UniFi AP with the WiFi name and password that you’ve made up earlier. If everything goes according to plan you should see your WiFi device listed on top.
Congratulations! You now have a pretty solid WiFi access point to compliment your router. Sky’s the limit with what you can do in UniFi Controller, go here to learn more.