Upcoming move, ? add second Alien as RAMP


  • I purchased an Alien Router in late summer because of occasional issues with my Nest Guard security "home base" dropping offline with my LAN running from a final generation Apple 802.11ac Time Capsule. Unfortunately, that didn't solve the issue, and a new headache appeared, namely stuttering streaming to my LG 4K OLED smart TV (either directly or via my 4K Apple TV streaming box.

    My non-techie spouse was the first to notice that during the latter irregularities, the Alien's Screen would TRY to alert me to "No IP address" or "No internet" problems, which often were recurring for a matter of a few seconds at a time.

    Eventually, I took the Alien offline because firmware updates from 3.4 ->3.4.1->3.4.3 didn't help. Along the way, someone suggested my cable modem (Arris SB 6190) could be the problem (Intel Puma 6 chipset causing episodic "jitter" spikes and long latency).

    Recently, similar (but less lethal) issues have developed even while I was running via the Time Capsule, so I gave up, purchased a Netgear CM1200 modem, and installed it yesterday. The installation required resetting the Alien to factory defaults, because although my network clients claimed they were connecting to the Alien, and the Alien claimed IT was connected to the internet (and, indeed, I could run speed tests either from the Alien's LED screen or from my MacBook Pro when it was connected by Ethernet but THROUGH the Alien, none of my network clients could do anything at ALL via Wi-Fi (Apple's Network pane in System Prefs blamed this on a self-referring IP address issue).

    Along the way, I learned (OK, inferred) that AmpliFi's "chat" support is provided by an AI bot with a very limited repertoire of responses. Fortunately, eventually "Bob the BOT" gave way to a live human being, who actually helped, although I bemoan the loss of human interaction that could reduce downtime from hours to minutes in such situations.

    So, now I'm back up, with my Arris 6190 and Time Capsule not yet discarded but powered off, removed from my LAN and sitting on a shelf in my office, and I have a few questions:

    • I've read that the Ethernet backhaul between RAMP Alliens and the Alien doing DHCP can be routed through a switch so long as the router doing DHCP is connected directly to the cable modem. Is any performance loss expected from that configuration compared to a direct Ethernet connection between the two routers?

    • At the moment my new house is framed and jacketed in plywood, but the electric and data cabling have not been installed. There will be plenty of room for an unmanaged switch at the internet interface point. This would be the time to lay two direct runs from where the Alien as DHCP router to where MESH satellites may be needed. Should I do that? The house is a fairly open floor plan, 2100 square feet, with the primary devices where the router will be located being my OLED 4K TV, my Apple 4K TV streaming box, a 4K-capable DVD player, my Phillips Hue hub, and the Nest Guard security "cpu/hub." I'll likely have another smart TV and perhaps streaming box in the master bedroom and a cluster of other devices in my home office, each situated in different corners of the house.

    In my current smaller house (1500 square feet but on two stories), I can get approx 300-350 mbits/sec DL OOKLA speedtest results to the upstairs office devices from just my one Alien, which is about 50 feet away from the single router now. However, there's less intervening sheetrock now than there will be in my new home. If doing the backhaul over Ethernet requires either the switch or using Powerline devices, how much better would those direct cable runs be? And what would the topology be (LAN port on DHCP router to WAN on satellite 1, and LAN on Satellite 1 to WAN on Satellite 2?)

    Thanks so much.
    Jim Robertson


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