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Thread: Wired vs Wireless

  1. #1
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    Default Wired vs Wireless

    I'm quite certain this has probably been covered before, but, I couldn't find it so I thought I would ask again.

    Thinking about next year and what I will be adding to my display, I realized that I need to add another controller or 2. Currently I run 2 e682's in a centralized station with 4 power supplies and fpp to run everything. Other than wires running everywhere it works fairly good. I say fairly good because for the first time this year, I go to play with power injection and null pixels. All was fine and everything went off without a hitch. As the show is going to grow in 2018 I have to consider the option of wireless.

    My question is I hope simple. Is there an actual advantage to wireless? I still have to run power wires to them, either 12volt, or run a 120 volt lead to a power supply mounted close to them. The only real advantage I'm seeing is not having to use null pixels so far. Hopefully I'm missing something and someone can open my eyes to the true advantage of wireless.

    Understanding that is a very opinionated subject, I'm hoping to get some real world advantages from members. Why did you choose wireless over wired or vice versa? Thank you all in advance!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    There's pros and cons to both. There is no wireless solution (yet) that's as reliable and troublefree as wired.

    Major advantage is less wiring, and less kinds of wire. You're right that you still need to run power, but that's it. No Ethernet, or serial lines, or pixel lines with kludgey extenders or repeaters. because there's much less wire, and just the common power wire, this gives you a lot of freedom of placement and changing from year to year. I distribute only 120V AC power in my yard and put appropriately sized power supplies in each prop.

    The other side of the coin is reliability. Nothing is as reliable as a wired signal. Wireless is subject to interference and reception issues. Most of that is out of your control. So if you're not equipped to diagnose and respond to problems, you're going to be doing a lot of cursing.

    Keep in mind that with wireless, small test setups usually work perfectly, but as you scale up, the problems start to show up. So don't get a false sense of confidence after doing a successful bench test of one wireless controller in your workshop. Don't get me wrong. You'll have gotten past all the steps to make it work in an ideal scenario, but you won't have experienced any of the problems that come up in real world use.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    I guess you could say my show is wireless as i have no data cables in my yard. I have 10 FPP remotes (9 Pi3s and 1 BBB) and all the sequences are on the remotes. The only data that goes over wireless is sync packets from my FPP master which is inside my house. For me it works great. I started with wireless last year just to get into my side yard and did not want to run any cables across the driveway. I have power on that side of the house. 2016 worked great so I expanded in 2017. I get good wifi signal even across the street from my house so maybe I am just lucky with no interference although it would appear that every house around me has a wifi network of its own.
    Jim Nealand
    Kennesaw, Ga

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    Is there a way to test for interference without setting up the entire display? What about delay? Is there any lag issues using wireless, especially as you get further away from your router?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    Quote Originally Posted by jnealand View Post
    I have 10 FPP remotes (9 Pi3s and 1 BBB) and all the sequences are on the remotes. The only data that goes over wireless is sync packets from my FPP master which is inside my house. For me it works great. I started with wireless last year just to get into my side yard and did not want to run any cables across the driveway.
    I think this is a distinction that not everyone seems to understand (or fully elaborate on) when they start talking about "running a show on WiFi." There are two (or more) *entirely* different methods employed here: sending data for the ENTIRE show over wireless, versus just using wireless to send the "sync packets."

    When someone new is looking at "going wireless," I think they may not understand this (important) nuance.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    I understand that difference. My thoughts are to employ Pixelsticks as opposed to multiple Pi's. I know this will be more traffic being sent, but should work just as well.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    famous last words
    Quote Originally Posted by Rooster519 View Post
    I know this will be more traffic being sent, but should work just as well.
    Yes it will work, with the right tweaks, in the right environment, and with an appropriate volume of traffic.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    If you have an Android phone, just look up WiFi Analyzer in the store.

    You will also want to purchase a dedicated wire Access Point for the show as well as a separate router. You will need to keep it on it's own Network Again in testing you may get away w/ using a wireless router but I would not want to run my show on oine. A number of those running WiFi have used the Ubiquity AirMax NanoStation Loco M2 running it in AP mode. You are going to need to have your AP up and running when you do your site analysis of WiFi strength.
    Matt

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    I have already keep my wired show separate and looking at the NanoStation, it should just plug into my switch which I already have, unless I'm missing something. What about packet loss using this? Is this a major problem running wireless?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Wired vs Wireless

    Yes, you're going to get a good deal of packet loss while using wireless. But in general, i wouldn't consider it a major problem. Because of the high loss potential, it's important to make sure you're using multicast for sACN and keep all the unicast traffic off the show WiFi network. This will make sure that when a packet is lost, it will just be lost and won't try to retransmit. And even more importantly, those retries won't hold up the rest of the data in queue. You'd be surprised how many packets you can afford to lose before you start to notice it. (and that's coming from a really picky guy)

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