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Wireless Reviews

Universal 802.11ac Access Point
At a glance
ProductOpen-Mesh Universal 802.11ac Access Point (A40)   [Website]
Summary2x2 AC1200 class PoE-powered cloud-managed access point. Supports Wi-Fi backhaul
Pros• PoE powered
• Supports mesh backhaul
• Cloud-based portal supports multiple sites
• Good for indoor and outdoor use
Cons• No local admin option

Typical Price: $162  Shop Amazon

Universal 802.11ac Access Point
At a glance
ProductOpen-Mesh Universal 802.11ac Access Point (A60)   [Website]
Summary3x3 AC1750 class PoE-powered cloud-managed access point. Supports Wi-Fi backhaul
Pros• PoE powered
• Supports mesh backhaul
• Cloud-based portal supports multiple sites
• Good for indoor and outdoor use
Cons• No local admin option

Typical Price: $206  Shop Amazon

Introduction

Updated 9/14/17 - Support comments modified

Ubiquiti's cheap UAP access points seem to be the suggested go-to for those looking to build a network with access points instead of repurposed routers or store-bought Wi-Fi Systems. And I have to admit, they're tough to beat on price.

But there are other vendors out there who want a piece of the small business/prosumer access point market, including Open Mesh. Open Mesh is not to be confused with OpenMesh, the "generic and efficient data structure for representing and manipulating polygonal meshes" or Open-Mesh, the "development platform for a collection of tools to build free and open mesh networks".

The Open Mesh this review is about is a descendant of the MIT Roofnet project. Some of those folks went on to start Meraki, which was purchased by Cisco in 2012. Others started Open Mesh in 2007, with the goal of creating an easy to deploy Wi-Fi system. The Portland Oregon company was snapped up by business continuity solution provider Datto early this year, which also sells the A40 and A60 APs and other gear under its Datto Networking line.

The A40 and A60 are very much built in the same platform. The specs taken from the datasheet show they have the same footprint and, aside from the number of streams, essentially the same specs. Both are powered by 802.3af Power over Ethernet only. A PoE injector must be ordered separately for each AP if you don't have a PoE switch. Open Mesh has a few, including the cloud-managed S8-L that we'll be reviewing later.

Open Mesh A40/A60 specs

Open Mesh A40/A60 specs

Both APs have a two-port gigabit Ethernet switch that makes it easy to daisy-chain connections if you need to. The USB port doesn't do anything, it's just there for "future expandability".

Open Mesh A40/A60 specs

Open Mesh connector view

The enclosure is water and dust "resistant", using silicone gaskets under the removable cover (removed for the photo) and between top and bottom covers to help make it so.

Open Mesh says the APs are IP55 rated and good for -20° to +50° C. The cable entry gasketing should be mounted pointed downward, since it is not water-tight. Each AP ships with a mounting plate and clips that support wall, ceiling, pole or ceiling tile T-rail mounting (video below)

Inside

Like Ubiquiti's UAPs, the AP40 and 60 are built on Qualcomm platforms, although not with the same chipsets. Here's the FCC photo of the A40 board with RF can tops removed. Note the empty position at photo right for a third dual-band antenna.

Open Mesh A40 board

Open Mesh A40 board

Here's the A60 board.

Open Mesh A60 board

Open Mesh A60 board

The next photo shows the silicone gasketing. Note the signal path to all antennas is via mini coax cable.

A60 inside view - top

A60 inside view - top

The last photo shows the board removed to reveal the heatsink pate on the bottom cover.

A60 inside view - bottom

A60 inside view - bottom

The component summary shows Ubiquiti and Open Mesh made different component choices.

  Open Mesh A40 UAP-AC-Lite Open Mesh A60 UAP-AC-PRO
CPU Qualcomm QCA9557 2x2 11abgn WiFi SoC QCA9563 3x3 802.11bgn wireless SoC Qualcomm QCA9558 3x3 11abgn WiFi SoC QCA9563 3x3 802.11bgn wireless SoC
Switch ? Atheros AR8033 (Ethernet PHY only) ? QCA8334
RAM 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB
Flash 16 MB 16 MB 16 MB 16 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - In QCA9557
- Unidentified front end/power amp (x2)
- In QCA9563
- Anadigics AWL9293 2.4 GHz front end (x2)
- In QCA9558
- Unidentified front end/power amp (x2)
- In QCA9563
- Anadigics AWL9293 2.4 GHz front end (x3)
5 GHz radio - QCA9882 11abgnac 2x2 radio SoC
- Unidentified 5 GHz front end/power amp (x2)
- Ubiquiti U-AME-G1-BR4A
(Custom labeled Atheros AR9888?)
- Anadigics AWL9581 5 GHz front end (x2)
- QCA9880 11abgnac 3x3 radio SoC
- Unidentified 5 GHz front end/power amp (x2)
- QCA9880 3x3 a/b/b/n radio SoC
- Anadigics AWL9581 5 GHz front end (x3)
Table 1: Access Point component summary and comparison

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