Can non-Alien mesh nodes be paired to the Alien router?

  • The short of it

    Can Amplifi, Amplifi HD and Amplifi Gaming mesh nodes be paired with the Amplifi Alien router?

    The long of it

    So, we live in a Victorian home, complete with lath and plaster walls, which is dreadful for microwave propagation (quality wifi signal throughout the house). In addition, we're a couple of engineers with modern teens, and everyone has all of the devices, and streams everything. So, my goal was to pick up an EdgeRouter4 for superior routing of all the connected devices, and the Amplifi Alien + Mesh node for the "core" of our wifi (e.g. where the best quality wifi needs to be). However, I don't really want to spend the money on Alien mesh nodes for where we do want wifi, but do not need gigabit (e.g. the front porch, the back porch, the workshop above the garage). Would I be able to pair the mesh points for the other Amplifi systems with the Alient?

  • Well, that's a bummer. Thanks for the reply, @Ali-Hadi. I had missed that article.

  • Hi @Liam-Conrad - if you are willing to manage them separately, and I would recommend using a different SSID as well, you can enable the additional (WiFi-5) 5GHz radio (using the lower 5.2GHz band) on the Alien and add standalone HD routers in 3rd party mode

    The Alien WiFi-6 radio only uses the upper 5.8GHz band

    With the separate SSID and radio band it becomes it's own little secondary mesh network tied to the primary mesh, but also managed separately and the Alien cannot steer between them

    So it just depends on your clients how well they might roam between the 2 networks, but for low priority locations like you mentioned, they might work out

    I do this in order to use HD's as wireless extenders for Ethernet ports, and for a few fixed location WiFi-5 devices which are only configured to recognize the additional SSID to keep them off the main WiFi-6 network

  • @Derek-Saville I think you've just solved my problem! I have no qualms with having them managed separately, unless they're separate enough that the two would be seen as being completely separate networks. However, if the Alien is in bridge mode, then the real "who's one what network" should be managed by the ER4, right? Or would the Alien, as a super-fancy AP at that point, still hold some power in segregating the two 5GHz networks?

    Okay, thinking through this:

    • WiFi A is the WIFI6 from the Alien
    • WiFi B is the 5ghz to the HD mesh node

    Say we're in a weird spot out back--the wifi-connected portable speaker is connected to WiFi B a la the HD mesh node out in the breezeway, or where ever. But, let's say we're a little closer to the house, and are still connected to WiFi A. Controlling the speaker through its app, it expects to "be on the same network." I mean, worst case scenario, we just switch networks, no big deal, but you know--this is all lavish convenience and positive UX, right? lol Would the Alien, as an AP and not the router, still segregate the two mesh networks, or defer real network management to the ER4?

  • Hi @Liam-Conrad - from the Alien's perspective it is all one meshed network, no matter if you turn on the additional radio, or add other additional SSID's

    The only segregation the Alien can do is the Guest network

    (I have actually made a feature request to optionally segregate the Additional 5GHz Radio into it's own independant network, but that is unlikely to ever happen)

    Ignoring 2.4GHz, from my very limited research, the Alien is unique in that they limited the WiFi-6 radio to the 5.8GHz band, and implemented an optional WiFi-5 only radio on the 5.2GHz band, which also happens to be 4x4 MIMO

    In this respect, by using band steering between 5.8GHz and 5.2GHz they can implement a form of 'radio steering' if you leave the SSID the same as the main SSID, but clients may not like that, so I avoid it

    AmpliFi only recommends using the additional 5GHz radio for WiFi-5 clients that cannot connect to the WiFi-6 radio or have other compatibility issues

    So my recommendation is not an officially recognized usage, but I have not run into any issues with it either, and if you happen to have an older HD laying about from an upgrade, it comes in handy

    Technically you can try to use any WiFi-5 range extender for this, but results will heavily depend on the client devices themselves

  • @Derek-Saville That's fantastic, and yeah--using the hardware to its capabilities, not its "intended use."

    (I have actually made a feature request to optionally segregate the Additional 5GHz Radio into it's own independant network, but that is unlikely to ever happen)

    Yeah, that'd be pretty great. Would certainly save on the cost of hardware (not having a dedicated mesh setup for the 2nd wireless network) while adding a great feature for something like home offices, where maybe you don't want all the hardware ever, but want to segregate your home wifi from your office wifi (especially if there are compliance concerns re: the nature of one's work). Alas, I imagine their response would be to buy a 2nd wifi AP, and attach it to a vlan on a dedicated router.

    Also, re: the wifi 6ghz stuff, and entirely unrelated to the topic above, I just popped over to the fcc site to read up on that vote a bit more. As a ham radio guy, a part of me understands that, as ham radio interest declines (with the exception of the current resurgence of interest), commercial applications vie for a lot of the bandspace. While we don't venture into 6GHz, both the 2.4 and the 5 GHz wifi bands fall squarely into ham radio use (at limited power). I knew about the 2.4, but I wanted to see where interference would be caused in 5cm band. So, I do microwave EME work at 1296MHz, and 5cm band is my next effort; 5760MHz is right in the midst of wifi channels 151-155. I use yagis, because I'm in a neighborhood that cares about dishes, and when I light those up at 400+ Watts, that has got to have repercussions. (A quick blurb on RF safety: backyard is a controlled environment, and with the 14 degree beam angles of the yagi, the fact that they'll be pointed up at the moon, and the size of the yard, the neighbors are safe...but maybe their equipment within the dipole effect of the yagis may not be.) Wifi, by design, is very weak signal, and I can't imagine the front end of those little radios wouldn't be built to handle the emission lobes from dipole effect well at all...and with 400+W, that'll carry for a mile or two for sure. The best-case scenario is they'll all rebroadcast "CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ FROM KILOWATT FOXTROT FOUR...," and that's not great, either.

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