Airport Extreme Sixth Generation (802.11ac)

I’m setting up a VPN to my home with OS X Server on my Mac mini. I have some nice network equipment, including my Ubiquiti Networks EdgeRouter Lite and my Unifi long-range access point.

But now it’s time to drill some holes in my firewall for L2TP. And I’ll need to dig into how to do that on my EdgeRouter. Maybe you can do it via the GUI, but my first guess is that I’ll need to use their able command line. But that’s not something I’m familiar with and I don’t want to invest time in it. Also, my wireless “guest” network has never worked right. It’s a built-in thing in the off-the-shelf router config I used, but it just doesn’t work. You can almost never actually connect to it. This is bullshit that I don’t want to deal with on personal equipment.

How about, instead of dealing with this stuff, I try out an Airport Extreme? So I found one, used, on Amazon, with a well-reviewed mounting bracket thrown in, for about $125. Compared to $199 from Apple and $178.99 new from Amazon, I think that’s a decent price for a solid state item. No Winchester hard drive in there to wear out, for example.

So I ordered it. And, within in an hour, my wireless network went down abruptly. That’s weird as it has been stable for many months. Rebooting everything down to the cable modem didn’t help. My AP would now drop out whenever I tried to connect to it from my Mac or my iPhone, disappearing pretty quickly and sometimes asking me for my password again and again, if it managed to stay visible in my hot spots list. Rebooting my Mac didn’t help. Leaving the AP unplugged for a couple hours didn’t fix it.

I burned my AP out some time back by plugging it into my PoE router that I bought to power IP security cameras. Miraculously, it eventually came back to life and I’ve been using it again for months.

I think that today’s traffic (downloading gigabytes of data for the Photography Bundle promoted to me by Phil Steele), plus using the relatively light Remote Desktop to do five or so hours of work today, may have pushed my not-fully-recovered Ubiquiti AP to the breaking point.

I have a backup AirRouter (802.11n) from Ubiquiti Networks that I bought for traveling. I used that as my backup at home when I burned out this AP last time. I set it up again last night and my wireless network came right back up using it, so I don’t suspect any problems outside my Ubiquiti AP.

When I get my Airport Extreme, I’ll put it in and see how it does. I’m excited to receive it. Perhaps I will buy a second one (or wait until they release a new generation, since this one is from 2013) and buy a second one to extend the power of my home wifi network, which was the reason I bought the ultra-sensitive long-range Ubiquiti AP in the first place.

8 November 2016 Update: This thing, in the same spot as my old AP, but five feet lower (sitting on the floor) supplies two bars of wi-fi clear across my house to the master bathroom. Previously, only my meshed Sonos PLAY:1 worked in there.

Wi-fi internet access from our phones is now considerably zippier than it was before, plus our master bedroom and bathroom are no longer wi-fi dead zones. Amazing piece of hardware.