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  • Writer's pictureShannon

Ubiquiti Beacon HD Tip

Hey folks,

As I'm always tinkering at home and upgrading various components, I recently decided to upgrade some components with my Ubiquiti set-up. I decided to upgrade my Unifi Security Gateway 3P to a Dream Machine base. On top of this, I also decided to get a few Beacon HD WAPs for the house as well. My home is about 2,000sf (if you include the finished basement). Ubiquiti's mesh technology has come a long way and the Beacon's do a good job at broadcasting your 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks.

So my Ubiquiti gear consists of 1 Dream Machine base, 2 Beacon HDs, a 48 port managed switch, an 8 port POE switch, and 3 8 port switches. All Ubiquiti. I love their management software and enjoy the GUI + command line so much. It's prosumer equipment, so if you are ever interested in digging into this product line or have any questions, hit me up.

My first mesh deployment at home was through the Orbi Mesh systems back in 2016. Mesh WiFi is really the best option for you at the moment. I'll skip what's coming, what to anticipate next, etc., as that is 1) more futuristic and 2) a lot of your current devices would have to be upgraded (P.S. For the curious folks, I'm talking about WiFi 6).

Mesh routers are made to spread WiFi all throughout your home. If you have a large home (somewhere in the 2,000-3,000 sf range) or one with an unusual layout (maybe an older home with plaster in the walls, concrete or brick walls, etc), you probably regularly encounter Wi-Fi dead zones. In those instances, your setup could be a good candidate for a mesh-router system.

Prior to my upgraded mesh access points and Dream Machine base installation, I ran a Unifi Security Gateway 3P, with a cloud key, and a number of AC WAPs. I do promise to go through a better post surrounding my Ubiquiti gear and what I've done, but that's not the point of this post.

I bought a house during 2020 (I know, I'm crazy) and I didn't want to shell out cash to run Ethernet throughout my house (at least not yet). Plus the house was built in the early 50's. It could be more of a nightmare prying into these walls to make something work than leaving everything alone. Supposedly the owner 2 owners back did a complete gut rehab, but there's still part of me that thinks cutting into walls this early into ownership will result in some not so fun times.

Given that Ubiquiti seems to be quietly writing on the walls that the USG 3P will eventually stop getting updates, I decided to make the splurge on a Dream Machine base. It literally looks like an AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule. From there, I bought 2 Beacon HDs to spread the WiFi around.

Overall, the transition to the Dream Machine from the USG 3P/Cloud Key wasn't too painful, but backup/restore doesn't work, so that proved to be annoying. After manually reconfiguring the Dream Machine (because the controller lives within the Dream Machine vs. a separate device), I installed the Beacon HDs. Everything was fine for a few days. After a few days, each WiFi device started disconnecting or losing a signal.

I scoured the Ubiquiti forums for an answer. Surely this can't be TOO crazy, right? I kept coming up empty. I didn't want to give up on the Beacon HDs, as they came highly recommended by colleagues and the broader tech community. I decided to drill into the Beacon HD settings and that's where I figured everything out. I wanted to document what I did in the hopes it helps someone else out down the road.

When you select the device, select the gear icon (which allows you to configure the Beacon HD). Once that opens, select Radio and move down to "Enable Meshing." Ensure you have this set to manual (auto is what I believe caused the WiFi blips and outages from my devices). From there, select the Priority 1 as your Dream Machine and your Priority 2 as another Beacon HD (if you have it). Ultimately I think this is only a problem if you have more than 1 Beacon HD in your house, but I haven't had a chance to check myself.

Here's a screen shot with the settings configured:

After making these changes, my WiFi has been rock solid. Seriously. Hopefully this helps folks out if they are experiencing the same problem!!!

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