Convert Aruba AP-315 to IAP

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Aruba Access Points (APs) can be deployed in two ways: with a dedicated controller or a built-in virtual controller. This guide will show you how to convert a 300 Series AP (specifically the AP-315) to an Instant AP (IAP) without an existing controller by using the console port on the device and a self-made cable. This is an in-depth, step-by-step beginner’s guide with a lot of detailed instructions.

Background

Certain Aruba APs are predefined as either controller-based campus APs or controller-less Instant APs (IAP). Campus APs are shipped with the ArubaOS image and must connect to a controller in order to receive its configurations. IAPs are shipped with the InstantOS image and capable of running a built-in virtual controller that manages the configurations of an IAP cluster.

Before ArubaOS 6.5.2.0, campus APs could only run the ArubaOS image and could not be converted into an IAP. Starting with ArubaOS 6.5.2.0, certain APs can run in both controller-based mode using ArubaOS and controller-less mode using InstantOS.

An IAP configuration does not require an external Mobility Controller to manage the Wi-Fi network. Instead, one IAP in the network assumes the role of the Virtual Controller. It coordinates, stores, and distributes the settings to provide central management of the Wi-Fi network. The Virtual Controller serves as the single point of configuration for all IAPs in the network and it acts as a node to ensure client mobility when roaming between different IAPs.

This guide will show you how to convert an Aruba AP, specifically the AP-315, to run as an IAP in controller-less mode with InstantOS. This is a great setup for any homelab wanting to use an enterprise Wi-Fi platform without having to purchase dedicated hardware or a license for a controller.

Prerequisite

Compatible Aruba AP

Conversion to an IAP can only be done on certain 300 Series APs manufactured after 2016. This guide is based on the AP-315, but it should also work for the AP-305 and AP-325.

If the AP was manufactured in 2016, it will most likely not be able to convert to an IAP due to limitations with the apboot.

Also note, there are some AP-325 devices that cannot be upgraded to ArubaOS 8 due to not having enough memory.

You can easily find an AP-325 for around $20 shipped on eBay. I was able to win an auction for two AP-325’s that was $25 shipped!

Console Cable

The console cable for the Aruba 300 Series is different from the standard RJ45. The AP-305, AP-315, and AP-325 use TTL connectors. The Aruba console cable is Item JW071A, but it costs $70 – $160 and it uses the old serial DB9 connector for the end of the cable that connects to the computer.

A cheaper and more practical alternative is an FTDI Serial TTL-232 USB cable or adapter board, which are commonly used for Arduino boards. You can use a cheap USB TTL serial adapter such as this one.

Make sure your TTL converter uses 3.3V (not 5V) for the TX signal! A 5V TX signal could damage the console port on the AP!

You’ll also need some male and female jumper wires to connect the TTL end of the cable to the console port of the AP.

Next: Downloading the firmware

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Comments

3 responses to “Convert Aruba AP-315 to IAP”

  1. randominternetperson Avatar
    randominternetperson

    thank you so much, Just converted an AP315 which was stuck in INSTANTAP mode and wont do anything but flash green light, i was able to get it to webadmin access with InstantOS

    Thanks so much, you are a genius!!

  2. randominternetperson Avatar
    randominternetperson

    thanks a zillion times for this, I just fixed my AP 315 stuck in instantAP mode forever and was nothing but a paperweight.

  3. SlickRick Avatar
    SlickRick

    Great guide, works like a charm! Upgraded my AP315 smoothly.

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