MikroTik CAPsMAN. Wi-Fi SEAMLESS ROAMING
We continue (RU) the topic of wireless networks in a smart home. A year ago, I described the creation of a WiFi Mesh (RU) network. Then it was the one and just one solution. But as time went on, it was time to try out and launch seamless Wi-Fi roaming.
A little more than three years ago, six routers were installed around the perimeter of my apartment. They expanded the wireless network and connected wired and wireless clients. Additionally, two routers were installed in other apartments and connected via VPN (RU, EN). There was another router in the car and one in the garage (RU, EN). The network changed regularly, but the mesh structure worked fine.
Now the situation is different, the routers were connected with wires and optics, the car was sold. The need for a mesh network has disappeared, but the need for stable Wi-Fi coverage has increased. What is the main difference between the CAPsMAN and the mesh network? In CAPsMAN, all access points are connected to a controller that distributes parameters. Sometimes the entire date goes through it. If we change the settings on the main controller, they will automatically change on all access points — this is mega convenient. If we are moving, the client will switch between access points, as the phone switches between base stations when we are driving in the car.
In the mesh network, the same result will be for the client, but the principle of operation is completely different. Each point is independent and can connect to any other. There is no central controller in such a network. If we want to change the network settings, we will have to change them at each access point.
For example, both technologies can be deployed on the same access point. For example, for two-band access points, we will organize a mesh network on one frequency and run CAPsMAN on another frequency. In other words, it is impossible to compare CAPsMAN from mesh, because they are just 2 different solutions for different tasks. The only thing that unites them is the fact that a seamless Wi-Fi coverage is formed.
After comparing all the pros and cons, I decided to try to reconfigure the network, it can be done very safely. The plan was as follows: we launch the CAPsMAN manager on the main router, disable wi-fi at 5 points out of 6, switch the remaining one to managed mode and look at the network operation. If everything is OK, then we reconfigure the others one by one. We are looking for everything to come together and work.
Let’s start by configuring the main controller. Install or activate the wireless package. I didn’t just focus on this for a reason. There is no wireless network in my router, so the package was turned off. Then we will go to the CAPsMAN and activate it in the manager
Great, now let’s create a channel and enter the wireless network settings. The main thing is that our access points support these settings.
In the next Datapaths menu, we will indicate that the interface will go to the bridge, to which I have all devices connected, except for the TV box. By setting two marks, we will allow traffic to remain inside the access points, and not pass it through the main controller. If local-forwarding is activated, then all the traffic of the access point clients is managed by the access point itself. In this case, the load on the communication channels with the controllers and on the controller is minimal. If this parameter is not set, all traffic is sent to the controller. It will be visible on its virtual interfaces. If the wifi network clients communicate with each other, then it is not necessary to let all client traffic through the controller, this will load the communication channel with the controller.
In the next menu, we will set the security settings. Everything is standard here, as in previous articles.
Then we will configure the rules for distributing the config for access points. I have one rule for everyone, and it will be applied immediately. We set the settings as shown below
And we assemble the configuration as a software constructor step by step
Now let’s start configuring access points. The first thing you need to save. Go to the files, click create a backup, enter the name and disable encryption and make sure that the backup has been created. Making backups is generally useful.
Next, turn off the wireless network and go to the CAP settings. Activate the CAP, select the wi-fi interface and select the bridge in which all the ports and interfaces are located and with which the router is connected to the main controller. Thus, I indicated that Wi-Fi and the main controller will be on the same network and this is the bridge. If your situation differs from the described one, then wait for the next article ☺.
If everything was done correctly, then after clicking “ok” we will see a notification that the access point is controlled via CAPsMAN. Later we will see another line with the parameters. As the access points are transferred to the new control mode, their names will appear in the controller
We do not pay attention to the fact that the network was previously called mesh, and then mesh2. With one click, we rename it to mesh on all access points and see how clients connect to the network and are distributed between access points.
Activate all the other access points and enjoy the result ☺.
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