The company I work for recently moved into a converted barn, we were trying to keep everything in the building in keeping with the surroundings and as such just screwing an access point to the wall would have looked out of place.
We considered hiding it above the large beams, in a cupboard or even under a desk but none of these really seemed suitable .... then we came up with a better idea!
As part of our main business is selling these access points and we happen to have some faulty ones around along with old end of life units we thought it would be a nice idea to actually put them on display
Step 1: Parts List
The first thing we did was get everything together, bits we already had but some we had to go shopping for.
- Picture frames large enough to fit your access point in - ours came from Ikea
- Wood to make the rear shadow box - we had some mdf sheet left over from another project so we used that
- Glue and nails
- Paint - ours are magnolia on the outside to blend in with our walls and black on the inside to contrast the white plastic of the access points.
- Wood filler
- Tools - Ruler, hammer, table saw, sandpaper, paint brushes
- Your choice of wireless access point/s
Step 2: Cut and Assemble the Back Box
Unfortunately we didn't get any photos of the cutting phase but its pretty straight forward. I'm not going to give any measurements as this will depend on the size of the frame you are using
We didn't plan on doing any fancy joints so all our mdf was cut to length to create an open topped box with the back panel being thicker to take some mounting screws for the access points. If your were leaving the back box in its natural wood state then it might be nice to do some tenon or dovetail joints.
Next job once the wood has been cut is to glue and nail it all in place then wait for the glue to dry.
Once the glue has dried you can then slap on some filler where its needed and then get ready to sand the whole thing down ready for the next stage - paint.
Step 3: Paint the Box
Ok, at this point we are almost ready to paint the box, but before we do so it would be a good idea to test fit the box in the back of the frame. In our case the frame is pretty light so we were not planning on using any fasteners to join the frame to the back box, we just want it to be a nice snug friction fit.
If you don't want to use a friction fit then you could use a number of stylish metal fittings or even glue the frame in place if you aren't using a glass front.
the other thing you need to decide is how and where the cables are coming in to the access point. Two of our frames are for displaying old, broken or end of life kit that is not going to be powered but the third one is to house our main access point so we would need network and power. Fortunately our access point can be powered over the network cable so we only had to make a small hold in the back box for that cable to come through.
On to the painting. If you have used MDF like us then its a good idea to seal the wood prior to painting as the MDF has a tendancy to soak up the paint and swell a bit. We just mixed a bit of water with some PVA glue and gave the box a couple of light coats all over to ensure it was completely covered.
We decided to paint the inside with a satin black wood paint, we used a because that's what we had but it probably would have given a better finish if we had used a small roller or even been able to spray the paint on for a nice flat look without the brush strokes. After two coats we were happy that the required coverage was there and we then painted the outside of the box with our cheapo magnolia paint, this took a few coats to give a nice coverage but matches the wall nicely.
Step 4: Fit Your Access Point
Now that the paint has all dried its time to but a hanger on the back of the box and then mount your access point.
We used a brass hanger that would allow a bit of movement from side to side to make sure that the box is hung nice and straight on the wall.
We lined our access point up in the centre on each of the frames but depending on what else you want to put in the frame you are the best person to work out where you want it. Ours were fixed with a couple of small panhead self tapping screws as they all have nice mounting holes on the back which slide over the screws.
Step 5: Fit the Frame
You are now on the home straight, all that is left to do is connect your network and power cables up if required, push the frame onto the front and then hang the box on the wall.
Dont forget to make sure that your access point is configured and working before you mount it as its a bit more of a pain to get it back down to work on it afterwards!
Finally tidy up any cabling running to the access point (ours will be going in some white trunking) and then stand back and admire your handy work!
We have had quite a few visitors in the office who have commented that this is a great way of showing off some of the current and older products that we deal with, they are usually even more impressed to find that one of them is actually providing our main wireless network.