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The title pretty much says it all.
A charity I volunteer for was given a whole bunch Cisco 1142 ligth-weigth AP's.
(A demolition guy pulled them from the building he was taken down and donated them.)

As an IT/network person I was asked to see if they can be used to setup a Wifi network (Guest and internal use) for the charity main offices.

As far as I know these are useless without a WLC to act as central controller. The WLC wasn't included obviously. The serverroom was stripped bare before the demo-guy got to the building.

Buying a WLC (and AP licenses) is out of the question. We just don't have the budget.
So I'm looking for alternatives. As cheap as possible.

Can these be use standalone in some way? If not, are there alternatives (open source maybe ?) to replace/emulate the WLC functionality?

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    You can convert these APs to autonomous APs. But you have to download the software from Cisco. It's not free.
    – Ron Trunk
    Sep 12 '19 at 12:09
  • @RonTrunk I know that and we can't afford Cisco's prices. Off course there are ways to get the firmware images without paying. We both know that, but I (and my charity) like to stay honest.
    – Tonny
    Sep 12 '19 at 12:16
  • @RonTrunk Having said that... I didn't have time to check each AP. If one has the full image I could pull that and copy to the others. Morally still not really OK, but I could probably live with myself.
    – Tonny
    Sep 12 '19 at 12:20
  • Did you explore the 2nd hand marquet? Maybe you could find used WLC for a low price. Also maybe you are eligible to Cisco grant program for nonprofits
    – JFL
    Sep 12 '19 at 12:22
  • @JFL We are not USA based. Besides... Did you ever look at the fine print of those programs ? There are some things in there that are not really as nice as they look at first glance. Like, in case of a hardware grant, you will have to have it installed and maintained by a CCE from a Cisco approved partner and the cost for that is NOT part of the grant. International financial grants are only open to NGO's, which we are not.
    – Tonny
    Sep 12 '19 at 12:38
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Self-answering as I got a couple inquiries how this turned out:

After taking a close look at the 35 AP's in the crate I found that 7 of them where actually the full autonomous 1142 model.
Additionally, when I checked the firmware on each it turned out that 3 of the light-weight ones had also been upgraded to the full firmware at some point in their life.
So I just upgraded all 10 to the latest firmware version which gave me 8 APs to cover both buildings and 2 spares.
I already had a pfSense router running so I just used that to add a Captive Portal to the guest-Wifi subnet.

We sold the other 25 APs and used the proceeds to replace our ancient 3Com 100 Mb/s switches with TP-Link Gigabit switches (cheap, but they do surprisingly well).

So effectively we got a full network infrastructure upgrade out of this donation.

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