Cisco Aironet APs + vinyl = awesome

101315blog cisco ap birch primary
Credit: Markus Räty

Sure, white makes sense most of the time for a wireless access point, which is probably why the Cisco Aironet line comes in that color and no other (near as I can tell).

101315blog cisco ap white Cisco

However, this state of blandness didn’t sit well with Markus Räty, a systems specialist in the NOC at University of the Arts Helsinki. Räty recently posted this message to the section of Reddit devoted to networking:

“We've been contemplating surfacing options for our new Cisco APs to better blend them in at certain venues. As a proof of concept, I decided to try wrapping one in vinyl and I had some extra birch vinyl lying around and thought that might look nice. Turns out it does, I'm rather pleased with the result.”

101315blog cisco ap birch Markus Räty

Cisco Aironet access point covered in birch viynl.

He should be pleased. Says a fellow Redditor: “I was definitely expecting this to look ridiculous, but it really doesn't. Well done.”

Räty’s reply: “Thanks. … I'm really impressed with modern vinyl wraps that are available. This one is from d-c-fix and not only is it a highly detailed print that you can really get up close and personal with and still be satisfied, it's also got a textured surface so it really reflects light like real wood would and on the right surface even feels surprisingly much like well finished wood.”

A few weeks later and Räty was back with a variation on the theme, this time in black.

101315blog cisco ap black Markus Räty

Cisco Aironet access point covered in black vinyl.

More rave reviews:

“You should start a business to sell artisanal AP decorations,” suggests a Redditor. “The (building) architects will love it and maybe we can actually start getting conduit included to AP locations instead of fighting a f*****g battle with them over every building because we need ‘cables’ and ‘cooling’ and ‘electricity’ to run the network.”

And, since this project isn’t art for art’s sake, Räty had good news about vinyl in terms of impact on the access point’s performance.

“I also finally got to testing the wraps for attenuation … and neither this black film, nor the earlier birch one seems to have a discernible effect on the signal, measured with Netspot on my MacBook Air. As a fully scientific control, I threw an AP in an aluminum foil-lined potato chip bag, which attenuated the signal for some 18-25dB.”

So, let’s recap: When looking to jazz up the appearance of a white wireless access point, think vinyl.

And when looking for “a fully scientific control,” nothing works better than a potato chip bag.

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