More Field Tips on 802.11n
Best field practices aren't difficult to follow and you want your devices to look good when they are exposed, safely and correctly installed.
In a previous post, Deploying 802.11n WiFi, I mentioned some field tricks that will save installers time and lessen stress. One of our schools called and needed their "legacy" cameras reconnected and mounted to the new ceiling grid. Sometimes the tricks you learn come from observation.
The new ceiling grid was part of an improvement project that lasted all summer, including our plan to pre-wire the campus for the future. (More on that in a future post) The existing security cameras are low tech and seemingly high maintenance when it comes to getting the user interface to work consistently.
We didn't know what to expect and upon arriving we set up shop atop a ladder and inspected the first camera in need of getting attached to the grid. Fortunately for us, the ceiling contractor left an old camera still mounted on an old piece of ceiling tile.
Depending upon the weight of the device--and this is where you exercise some judgment--some cameras and access points (APs) can be directly attached to ceiling tiles. How to do this is easy, but knowing the tricks is what prevents ongoing trouble calls:
Before you mount cameras or APs, survey your work area. You don't want to mount APs that block the camera's field of vision.
Cameras and APs have mounting brackets that are often lightweight and plastic. Some are molded into the device. Use the mounting holes of the device against the tile; mark the locations of the holes on the tile face. Next, take a 2-inch drywall screw and pre-drill the holes on your marks. Use an X-acto knife to cut a hole to allow your cable to go through the tile to the device. Then, depending upon what you have available--EZ-Anchors or molly bolts with wings--secure the device to the tile. When you use EZ-Anchors, screw the EZ-Anchors from the tile face and then attach your device and screws that attach to the EZ-Anchors. The molly bolts with wings are just as easy. The key is to pre-drill those holes.
Now, ceiling tiles may be 2x2 or 2x3 or other sizes. The 2x2 tiles have more strength with weight so use judgment. For argument's sake, what happens if the ceiling tile were to fall out of the grid with the device still attached? The last thing you want is to bean someone's kid or staff member. This is why you must attach your cable loop using a Ty-wrap to a ceiling stringer/hanger. Allow movement, but if the tile were to drop, you don't want too much more than 2 feet of slack.
The last trick is the easiest and that's keeping people happy. Ceiling work is always dirty even when it's a new grid. Clean up afterwards. Best field practices aren't difficult to follow and you want your devices to look good when they are exposed, safely and correctly installed--and remember, leave the jobsite clean.