LCWA is a volunteer organization, and as such relies on you as a member to get yourself connected to our network. This page contains step-by-step instructions to follow to get connected. If you are not familiar with our association we suggest you review our Steps to Get Started page.
As part of the installation process, you are required to attend one of our orientation meetings. At this meeting will learn how our association works and obtain specific information that you will need in completing the following steps. Please review these installation instructions below prior to attending a meeting so we can answer any questions you may have about the process or service before you get started.
You may find in reviewing these instructions that some steps are challenging and may take some time to complete. We are happy to assist you in this adventure, but we do not have the ability to perform these steps for you. In the event that you need help or further instruction you can visit the tech group at one of its informal work meetings and we can provide assistance and guidance. We have chosen this method in order to mimize the amount of time our volunteers spend on weekends and to promote additional volunteers that have gone through the process and are interested in helping out.
Obtain your GPS coordinates
The best way to obtain your GPS coordinates is via a portable GPS unit, but if you do not have one available you can approximate your position using Google Maps. We use decimal degree notation, so if your coordinates are in degrees, minutes, seconds you can use the FCC DMS converter .
To use Google Maps , to obtain your approximate position, use your mouse to scroll/zoom to position the center of the map on your location and then select the “Link to this page” option. In the “email or IM” text window you will see a string of the form ll=XX.XXXXX,YY,YYYYX. This is the map center position in decimal degrees.
Submit GPS coordinates and review simulation
Once you have obtained your coordinates, email the data to the member coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. The coordinator will run a computer simulation that helps identify potential access points that are visible from your location. Results of the analysis may indicate the quality of the the connection and may help guide your decision as to whether you can connect to our network or not. Study the results to get an understanding of the distance and direction to each of the potential access points and print out a copy to take to the orientation meeting for review.
Attend an orientation meeting
- We will collect your contact information and give you an introduction to the association.
- Your simulation results will be reviewed for access point options and outstanding issues.
- You will find out how the network operates and what hardware you’ll need to get connected.
- We will answer any questions you may have.
An orientation meeting is required for all members. The orientation allows you meet face-to-face with one or more volunteers and allows you to ask any questions you may have. Orientation meetings are held on the second Monday of the month in parallel with our member/board meetings according to our meetings schedule. At this meeting:
Confirm access point location(s)
Before you order any equipment it is important that you are confident you will be able to get a signal. At the orientation meeting potential access points are identified. You should verify that your view of at least one of the access points is unobstructed, which should guide where the antenna mast will be placed. If you are unsure if you have an unobstructed view, you can request a stumble at the next tech group workday, at which point we will bring some test equipment to your house to verify a signal.
Create an installation plan
Each installation is unique and requires some planning in advance. In addition to determining the location and direction of the equipment mast, you also need to determine how the mast will be mounted. You will also need to map out and measure a cable path from the mast to you where you plan to install the router or connection to you computer(s). By thinking through the installation you should have an idea on what specific equipment you’ll need to support the installation. For example, you may decide to use a tripod mount on your roof and run the cable though an existing cable opening to your computer room. The tech group has amassed a lot of experience in doing installations and can help you if you run into problems putting together your installation plan.
At the orientation meeting you will be instructed on how and where to buy your equipment. Depending on the means and number of computers you wish to connect and the distance to the access point, your hardware requirements will differ from others.
Firewall routers can be purchased locally at a variety of locations. The router we currently recommend is the LinkSys WRT54G . You can use other firewall routers (such as an Apple Airport), but you will have limited support from the tech group.
Radios can only be ordered online. The radios we currently recommend are made by Ubiquiti, and can be purchased through Streakwave and other vendors. Which radio you require depends largely on the distance between you and the access point, and will be discussed with you at the orientation meeting.
Submit equipment for configuration
Once you have collected your equipment, you must configure your equipment to allow it to connect to your network. Configuration is performed at our tech group work meetings. Current meetings are held informally. Email for the current meeting schedule email@example.com or attend a monthly board meeting.
Bring along your router and radio with associated power and cabling. During configuration you will be assigned unique configuration data and your radio will be configured to allow connection to your selected access point(s). If you wish you can also bring along your laptop and we can show you how to configure the equipment yourself. We recommend that before you bring your equipment in for configuration, you review the manuals so you have an idea of what is involved in configuration. This is very important in the event that you have to reconfigure the equipment for any reason. Follow the links in the previous step to download the manuals.
Install the equipment
- Mount an antenna mast with clear line-of-sight to the access point.
- Run a CAT5 cable from the mast to the router location.
- Terminate the CAT5 cable with connectors on both ends.
- Connect the router and PoE at the inside location.
- Connect the radio and align / mount it on the mast.
- Visually confirm the radio has power, LAN, and WLAN lights.
Installation generally involves these steps:
You should proceed according to your installation plan, starting on the roof or elevated position installing the mounting hardware and routing the cable first. In the event that you have difficulties in these steps or need help with various parts of the installation (such as crimping cable connects) you can solicit help from the tech group at one of its informal work meetings. Although the group would prefer that you do the installation yourself we can visit your site and help out, time permitting.
Verify connection to the network
Once you have the equipment installed and see the proper indicator lights on the antenna you generally just need to plug your computer into one of the router ports, and you should be online. As an initial verification of access see if you can bring up our website. This link is only available when you are connected to our network, so if this page displays you should be able to connected to the internet. Congratulations!
If you fail to get online you can visit the tech group in person, leave a message at our support line: 800-536-6149. The latter is generally your best option as the tech list is checked and replied to frequently. Reasons for not being able to get access are numerous, so we’ll walk through some basic troubleshooting steps when we hear from you.
Start the billing process
Once connected we need to receive a response from you letting us know you are up and running. By doing so we can establish a permanent connection and monitoring of your equipment. To do this simply send an email to the tech list and await confirmation.
We strongly encourage you to become familiar on our internal website. From this site you can view your monitored connection and network status, read news about the association, find out about other members on the network, and have access to our tech support pages for self-diagnosing problems.
After completing this process we hope you have a good understanding of your association, your network, and the need for your help in keeping this thing alive. If you found the installation process interesting and would like to know more or lend a hand, feel free to come to any of our board meetings, tech group meetings, and/or orientation meetings. Not only will be kept up to date on what is going on, but you can also help plan our future and help others like yourself fulfill the mission of community based wireless here in your community.