Wireless Photography with the Engenius 2611

March 27, 2012

The Access Point of choice for a large number of photographers is the Engenius 2611 Wireless AP/Client Bridge. This unit is originally designed for building to building wireless links but has a range of features which make it very suitable for use by photographers. These units are available in the UK from Solwise http://www.solwise.co.uk. A small downside of these units is that they do not support the later 802.11n standard of wireless communications. They do support the 802.11b/g standard which is usually good enough for what we want.

When using any wireless solution the range (distance between units), obstructions, interference, transmission power and other wifi users (same or close channel) will affect wireless transmission speeds. A good general idea is to have a walk around any area you want to cover with wireless and plan how you will cover it before you start. I usually also channel scan using inSSIDer on the PC or an Android app on my phone before I set up. Remember for a clear channel you need two channels clear either side of the channel you intend to use. Sometimes you just have to go with the channel which has the weakest signal from other users.

Righto, on to the Engenius units. As the units ship the default IP address is 192.168.1.1. If you are using the same address range (192.168.1.x) on your network then all is good and all you need to do is assign a fixed IP address to your PC which does not conflict with the Engenius unit and you are good to go. For our purposes we will assume you have set the PC address to 192.168.1.10. If it is set to dynamically acquire an IP address using DHCP then you need to set it to a fixed IP address (plenty of guides on the internet for this one). Note: all IP masking for this configuration is 255.255.255.0.

Communication with the Engenius unit is via a web browser so once you have it all plugged in and powered up just open a browser window and enter the address http://192.168.1.1. You will be prompted for a user name and password. The defaults are admin and admin. It is recommended that you change the password once you are happy that all is working (an option in the Engenius menu).

Once you have got this far we can run through a couple of set ups. The first part is applicable whichever configuration you later choose to use.

PC Set Up
You will need to set up a FTP file server on the PC. Filezilla Server (not client) is a good option. Create a user and set up some default FTP space (folder where incoming files will be saved). The defaults for everything else are fine for the FTP server. Now, make a note of your PC's IP address (if you have followed the above it will be 192.168.1.10). You can find this in 'Networking' in the Control Panel (Windows) if you don't know it. As you will not be connecting to the internet you can disable any firewalls on the PC. Disabling the firewall avoids a lot of problems when testing your FTP access. At this point your PC is ready to accept incoming FTP requests and to save transferred files to the folder you designated.

Configuration One
Single Engenius as an Access Point
This is the simplest configuration you will use.
From the Engenius menu select 'System Properties'
Set the 'Device Name' to something that makes sense to you. 'AccessPoint1' for example.
Set the country code to UK.
Select Access Point from the 'Operation Mode' options and click 'Apply'.

From the Engenius menu select 'Wireless Network'
Select the b/g option.
Select a channel (6 for starters).
Create a unique SSID and enable it. Go for something simple when naming the SSID as you are going to have to enter this to the camera and complex SSIDs are a pain.
At this stage do not set any encryption. Once all is tested and you are happy the basics are working you can set encryption on the camera and the Engenius unit.
Click 'Apply'.

Set up your camera WFT unit to use the SSID you have just created. Refer to your camera manufacturers manual to do this. It is reasonably straight forward for most cameras but the menu and key combinations for each camera and WFT unit are generally unique to that combination so (call me lazy if you want) you will have to dig these out for yourself. You will need to set a unique IP address for the camera and you will need to enter the IP address of the FTP server (IP address of the machine running Filezilla, 192.168.1.10). You will also need to enter the user name you created in Filezilla.

Check the FTP server is running on your PC and fire a shot on the camera. All being well you should see the image appear in the folder you specified in Filezilla.


Configuration Two
One Engenius as an Access Point and another as a Client Bridge
This configuration is designed to allow you to have an Engenius at the PC and an Engenius out in a field next to you. The PC Engenius will communicate with the field Engenius and the camera will also communicate with the field Engenius. The purpose of this configuration is to extend the range at which you can work from the PC. In a traditional networking set up the Client Bridge would be the remote end of the link and the server machine would be connected to the Access Point. However, we need wireless at the remote end so for our purposes we will reverse this and set up the Access Point (as per Configuration One) as the remote end and the Client Bridge at the server.

The Access Point should already be set up as per Configuration One. If you need to then go back and follow the instructions for Option One to set up the Access Point. Once set up the Access Point should be powered but no cable should now be attached to the LAN connector on the POE unit.

Plug an Ethernet cable into the server PC and into the POE unit for the Engenius which will be the Client Bridge.

Open the menu for the Client Bridge in a browser window - http://192.168.1.1.

Set up a unique IP address for the Client Bridge Engenius (the default is 192.168.1.1 but this will conflict with our Access Point). Set the IP address for the Client Bridge to 192.168.1.2 by changing it in 'IP Settings' and clicking 'Apply'.

Set up the Engenius as a Client Bridge by selecting 'Client Bridge' from the 'System Properties' menu. Set a Device Name and select the correct country code and click 'Apply'.

Select the 'Wireless Network' menu and set the SSID to the SSID you set in the Access Point. Click Apply.

Select 'Connection Status' on the Client Bridge Engenius menu and the status should show it is connected and using the SSID you specified.

At this point you should be able to shoot an image and it will be transferred from the camera to the Access Point and via the Access Point to the Client Bridge and then from the Client Bridge wired to the server machine and appear in your images folder.

You may notice it is a little slower (about half the speed) to transfer than using Configuation One (a direct connection to the Access point). A simple explanation is that the Access Point is doing two jobs. It is talking and listening to the camera and talking and listening to the Client Bridge. It cannot talk/listen to both at the same time so splits it time talking/listening to one or the other.

A limitation of this configuration is that you cannot shoot directly to the Client Bridge and must be in range of the Access Point to transfer images. This can be a limitation if you want to cover both the area around the server PC and the remote area with wireless cameras.


I have also posted some further configurations which will allow you to shoot at either end of the wireless system and/or are more suited to static remote cameras.

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