Author: Jim's Wireless World

I like radios, and networking when it suites me. Love watching baseball with my son!

RUCKUS AP on a Stick Configuration

A little bit ago I did a series of blog posts discussing all of the different versions of the RUCKUS controller line up as sort of an introduction to folks who might not be as familiar with the offerings. I did this as I didn’t really know anything about the line up either until Black Hat USA in 2019. In the introduction to that series I tell the story behind this so if you aren’t familiar, click on the link above and go take a look.

There is one version of software that I touched on briefly, but never went into too much detail on it, because I never considered it a “controller” as much as just a basic OS of sorts. It has a name and it’s called the RUCKUS Solo AP or Standalone code. It is this version of code that is used when you need to do an AP on a Stick (APoS) using a RUCKUS AP. I wanted to introduce this version of code under the guise of the APoS as this is where it comes in the most handy but in reality, it never really goes away.

What is RUCKUS Standalone?

Standalone is the “firmware” that is preloaded from the factory when you open up a new AP. That Standalone version is designed to be a way to work with the AP when it can’t discover a controller as it works through it’s discovery methodologies, kinda like what would happen if you put the AP on a stick, powered it up, but didn’t have it connect to anything other than your battery. While this is easy enough to do if you have a survey battery laying around but if you loaned both of yours out to another group while they did a huge project, getting an AP to come up in standalone mode can be tricky.

As with everything else, if the AP in question had Unleashed code on it, then this is the exception. Unleashed is a controller firmware on the AP, and more feature rich than Standalone code. You can use Unleashed to do an APoS but you will need to follow that configuration guide instead of this one. If the AP in question was connected to Cloud or SmartZone or ZoneDirector, then the Standalone firmware can still be used, but with a slight change. Oddly enough, the look of Standalone code on an AP that can’t connect to its previous controller platform is almost the same as the official Standalone code, but with a slight difference. The code version that it shows in the device detail will match the version of code the AP used to be running on. The AP that I just moved off of RUCKUS Cloud showed up as 6.0.0 (the code base that Cloud is up to right now) while an AP that I didn’t know the history of showed up as 9.3. That at least told me the last controller that AP was talking to was ZoneDirector. Anyways, I digress.

If you want to convert from Unleashed to Standalone then go to the support site, download the Solo Access Point code for your AP, and then power up and factory reset the AP using the reset button on the AP. When it’s ready for configuration, there is an upgrade feature near the bottom on the first page and just load the Solo AP (Standalone) code to the AP and let it reset. After that, here are the steps to configure an AP to be used for an APoS survey.

Step 1 – Power up the AP

Yup, that’s the step. If you are doing an APoS I would suggest using your survey battery for this step as RUCKUS APs are REALLY resilient in controller discovery. Doing this in my lab without a survey battery meant some custom firewall rules and some other tricks to keep the AP from discovering any controller. If this is your first RUCKUS AP and you don’t have a Cloud subscription or any other controller platform and just want to play, any PoE switch works great for this.

Step 2 – Wait about 5 minutes

This allows the AP to fail at all other controller discovery functions and then default to the Standalone (or Unleashed) code version. Take this time to go get some coffee or a snack or some other pleasant task. I’ll let you choose.

Step 3 – Log in to the AP

RUCKUS Standalone Log In

If you are isolated from any network by using a survey battery to provide power, the IP address the AP will use (eventually) is printed on the back of the AP. If you are using a switch connected to a network with a DHCP server (like me) then find the IP address the DHCP server issued and browse to that IP address. Once there you get the username and password prompt.

If this is a brand new AP out of the box, or a fresh Standalone image with an accompanying reset, the credentials are also printed on the bottom of the AP. If this is an AP you “borrowed” from another network, you are going to need the credentials of that controller in order to log in to the AP. If you don’t know the credentials, then holding the reset button on the AP for 20 seconds will wipe out the previous credentials and then you can use the information printed on the bottom of the AP. Either way will work and get you to where you need to be.

Step 4 – Configure a network

The best way to tell if this AP had previously been used (other than the default credentials not working) is to take a look at the software version (shown here are 112.x so this AP is on Standalone, controller standalone) and/or the status of the radio networks on the AP after logging in.

RUCKUS Standalone Dashboard

If the Status –> Radio shows some networks that are left over from somewhere else, then you know it was once connected to some other controller. If they are clean, then Configuration –> Radio X is the final step.

RUCKUS Standalone Radio Configuration

First set up the Wireless Mode, Channel Setting, and Channel Width and click Update Settings.

RUCKUS Standalone Advanced Settings

Next, click on the Advanced Settings: Edit Common Settings to adjust the transmit power. Then click Update Settings and Go back to Wireless Configuration.

RUCKUS Standalone SSID Configuration

Finally, click on the first Wireless tab and configure an SSID to survey on. When finished, click on Update Settings and return to the main page.

That’s it. 4 steps to take an AP from either new in the box or stolen from a network and get it running to do an APoS survey, and that included a step to wait and go get a drink! I even showed you how to configure it as well!

RUCKUS Standalone Final Thoughts

RUCKUS R750 on a Stick

A couple of other things I want to point out before finishing this up. There are some tabs on the main page for Maintenance and Administration. Maintenance –> Upgrade is where you go to either upgrade the Standalone code or load the Unleashed code. For an APoS the choice is yours on if you use Standalone or Unleashed, but if you are looking to run the AP in production I wouldn’t use Standalone code. You could do it, but I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t change the code to Unleashed. Maintenance –> Reboot / Reset is where you can do that factory reset and make sure that there is nothing else hanging out in the config or do a soft reset if necessary.

The Administration –> Management tab is where you go to manually assign the AP to a different controller. If the goal is to join your AP to someone else’s controller via a public IP, this is where this happens. To see how I managed to do that, you can take a look at my virtual SmartZone – High Scale review that you can find here.

Hopefully this helps you in some way with your journey with the RUCKUS hardware, or gives you a reason to consider how easy it is to use the RUCKUS line of products.