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Author Topic: Best wifi repeater?  (Read 3066 times)

Sun2Retire

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Best wifi repeater?
« on: November 05, 2016, 04:22:42 PM »
Planning on installing a directional external wifi antenna and looking for input on repeaters. Would like to install the highest power unit avail to make the most of the install.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

docj

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2016, 08:26:37 AM »
There are a number of companies that make repeater/routers with what is known as "Wifi as WAN" capability which means they can receive the wifi signal from the park's system and rebroadcast it inside your RV on your own network.  I am a roving ambassador for one of them: WiFiRanger

To abide by the rules of this forum I'm going to suggest that you take a look at the Technomadia website: http://www.technomadia.com/2014/08/how-we-keep-online-illustrated-tour-of-our-rv-mobile-internet-setup/ where you will find clear, objective information on the subject.  The owners of that site have established themselves as a valuable resource for RVers. Once you have read through what they have on line you will be in a better position to ask specific questions of them or others. 

IMO this is a better approach then simply having a bunch of people post in this thread all the different ways to do this each of whom argues that his is better and cheaper.  This is not a case in which the cheapest is necessarily the best; sometimes you do get what you pay for.

Joel (AKA docj)
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2016, 09:16:19 AM »
Do you need a repeater, or just an improved wifi antenna & receiver? The basic decision is whether you need to service multiple devices or not. With multiple devices using the wifi in the coach, a broadcast repeater makes the most sense. If a single device, e.g. a laptop only, a wired amp+antenna is both cost effective and powerful. I'm not knocking Wifi Range and similar devices - just offering up an alternative that also does a fine job. An example of the type of device I'm talking about is the Crane SuperUSB Wifi antenna/radio.

I personally don't think a directional antenna (vs omni) helps wifi all that much and has the drawback that antenna aiming is always required. Wifi is a local broadcast that is intended to flood the immediate area, so it's not a very directional signal in the usual park wifi set-up. The primary problem in park wifi is most often the inability of the devices in the coach to reliably send their replies back to the park antenna, i.e. they lack sufficient broadcast power. Their radios simply are very weak.  If a more powerful radio and antenna is attached (wired or broadcast repeater), they should work fine in most places.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 09:18:54 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
Gary
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Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Sun2Retire

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2016, 09:52:54 AM »
I'm going to suggest that you take a look at the Technomadia website. This is not a case in which the cheapest is necessarily the best; sometimes you do get what you pay for.

Joel, while I certainly don't want to throw money away, looking for best, not necessarily cheapest, looking for best performing radios I've read Technomadia's (free) info, enough to place Wifi Ranger high on the list. I'll PM you if I have further questions.

Do you need a repeater, or just an improved wifi antenna & receiver?

Repeater. May have some combination of pads, phones or even laptop on.

I personally don't think a directional antenna (vs omni) helps wifi all that much and has the drawback that antenna aiming is always required. Wifi is a local broadcast that is intended to flood the immediate area, so it's not a very directional signal in the usual park wifi set-up. The primary problem in park wifi is most often the inability of the devices in the coach to reliably send their replies back to the park antenna, i.e. they lack sufficient broadcast power. Their radios simply are very weak.  If a more powerful radio and antenna is attached (wired or broadcast repeater), they should work fine in most places.

I'm torn on the approach here. Antenna will be attached to Wingard for rotation. Understanding the downside of directional, I'm just thinking if I go to the trouble of wire runs, rooftop antenna installs and equipment purchases, I should get the best, strongest available. Short of having side-by-side installs there's no way to know if I really need that extra 5db (or whatever) but I'm just thinking why install knowing I'm getting less than I could?

But again, I'm asking these questions because I don't know the answers, so the more info I can get the better. I only want to do this project once.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2016, 10:06:00 AM »
The tradeoff with the "extra 5dB" is that it is not automatic, i.e. you have to tune accurately to get it, and do it every time you set up. Assuming you can even identify what direction is best.  If you are just a little off, or the direction fluctuates a bit (common), then there is no extra dB at all. Maybe even less than an omni. RV parks in particular have a lot of reflected signals, making "directional" less than ideal. It's not the same as looking at a map and locating the compass direction to a tv or cell tower. You have to weigh the theoretical against the practical.

Also, if you are mounting a cell antenna plus a wifi antenna to the directionalTv antenna, which direction do you pick when they all demand directional tuning?  They are rarely ever going to be all in the same direction...
« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 10:09:17 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
Gary
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Larry N.

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2016, 11:26:01 AM »
To take Gary's final point even further, if you have the directional WiFi antenna mounted to the Winegard, it's more than just being likely to need multiple directions at once. There's also antenna polarity. Most WiFi stuff is vertically polarized (that is, the antenna is vertical, so the signal is too). When you raise or lower the Winegard, if the Wifi Antenna is mounted to the mast, you'll be changing polarity from vertical to horizontal, or vice versa depending on how you have it mounted. That cross polarity will give you several dB of loss, probably negating any directional advantage, or even exacerbating the problem.

Or, if you have the WiFi mounted on the batwing itself, you've messed up your TV reception, and you also have a potential problem with the batwing not being strong enough to take the stress, over time.

I'm with Gary, in that I don't think it's worth the time, expense and trouble, especially since you'll probably gain little or nothing. Note, too, that often the problems in a campground WiFi are caused by too many users trying to do too much on limited bandwidth, and your directional antenna wouldn't help that at all.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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Sun2Retire

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2016, 12:23:14 PM »
Gary and Larry,

Points noted, and I have considered some of them already.

Also, if you are mounting a cell antenna plus a wifi antenna to the directionalTv antenna, which direction do you pick when they all demand directional tuning?

We never watch OTA or satellite TV, either at home or when traveling. As a result the only times the dish and the batwing have been elevated was during purchase to be sure they worked. We have a large collection of DVDs and (when we have the bandwidth either on wifi [very rare] or Verizon mifi when we have a good signal) might watch a little Netflix.

There's also antenna polarity. Most WiFi stuff is vertically polarized (that is, the antenna is vertical, so the signal is too). When you raise or lower the Winegard, if the Wifi Antenna is mounted to the mast, you'll be changing polarity from vertical to horizontal, or vice versa depending on how you have it mounted. That cross polarity will give you several dB of loss, probably negating any directional advantage, or even exacerbating the problem.

Not sure I understand the polarity issue. I get that you couldn't have a directional pointed at the sky but as soon as the mast is raised that wouldn't be the case (would it?). I have seen a large number of directionals mounted on the mast (some yagi cell and some flat plate wifi) so wondering how they dealt with the polarity issue.

That said, because of the reflected signal issue Gary mentioned thinking maybe the "sweet spot" might be a directional cell antenna (much more important for emergency communications, etc) but just an omni wifi.


Note, too, that often the problems in a campground WiFi are caused by too many users trying to do too much on limited bandwidth, and your directional antenna wouldn't help that at all.

Understand. We rarely stream on campground wifi, just looking for a solid signal for email, general web surfing, mapping for trip planning, etc.

you also have a potential problem with the batwing not being strong enough to take the stress, over time.

Indeed, I am concerned about added weight on the Winegard, particularly during the initial lift off the roof to about the 45 degree point. The antennas I've considered, whether omni or directional, are about a pound each which seems doable. However I'm going to do a little testing before I commit to the plan.

Just exploring all avenues at this point so appreciate the continued input.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Larry N.

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2016, 12:41:48 PM »
Quote
Not sure I understand the polarity issue.

Without getting into the technical details (you can look it up on the web, though), antennas with vertical elements are vertically polarized (CB, WiFi, ppolice radio, etc.) and those with horizontal elements are horizontally polarized (TV antennas, etc.). Signal polarity is set by the transmitter, but a receiving antenna of different polarity doesn't receive nearly so much of the signal as one that matches polarity. This Wiki page gets into it pretty well, but think of polarized sunglasses (a rough analogy). Light and radio (including microwaves) are all part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and have many characteristics in common.

There is also circular polarization (often used by satellites), but I'll not get into that.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

docj

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2016, 05:47:21 PM »
Personally, I wouldn't want an antenna on the Winegard mast; that means that it has to be up and that runs counter to being able to easily use your wifi to grab a signal in a parking lot at Walmart or McDonald's, etc.   Once you put it up you have to remember to take it down.  No thanks, I'll mount the repeater to the roof with a vertical antenna attached. 
Sandie & Joel

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Sun2Retire

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2016, 11:13:27 PM »
Any issue with roof mount being fully shadowed by AC unit with some combinations of coach orientation and wifi source azimuth?
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
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2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
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LarsMac

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2016, 11:34:53 PM »
I've been experimenting with wifi range extender, lately.
I can use the range extender to detect the local wifi server, and configure it to connect and allow me access to the network.
I've tested around town on locally accessible wifi services.

Planning a road test of the netgear ac1200 in the next week.

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Arch Hoagland

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2016, 02:49:00 AM »
http://www.jefatech.com/product/RV-KIT-REPEATER/Long-Range-WiFi-Repeater-Kit-for-RVs.html 

That is what I have been using for about 6 years. I attached the antenna to my rooftop TV antenna. 

I don't always have crank the rooftop antenna up but when I do I place a marker chain around my steering wheel so I don't forget to lower it.

I can connect my devices wirelessly or run a Cat 5 cable to my PC which speeds things up. 

I ran the antenna cable across the roof and through the roof vent of my middle bathroom where the repeater box is located. 

Pretty easy to setup as you go from RV park to RV park.
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Dragginourbedaround

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2016, 09:25:29 AM »
Following.
Gene

2013 Winnebago Adventurer 37F
2011 Honda Fit

docj

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2016, 03:27:10 PM »
Any issue with roof mount being fully shadowed by AC unit with some combinations of coach orientation and wifi source azimuth?

If the A/C was a solid metal box and we were using millimeter waves as will be  the case for 5G cellular, there might be a problem.  But your A/C isn't a solid box and the 2.4GHz waves used by wifi should diffract easily around the object.  I seriously doubt that shadowing will be an issue.  Remember, the wifi access point doesn't send out a "beam" but, rather it is more like a circular wave from a point source.
Sandie & Joel

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rls7201

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2016, 03:47:45 PM »
Here is a little something I did in 2010. Kind of extreme but I have connected up to 4 miles away.
http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/23833682.cfm

Richard
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legrandnormand

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2016, 08:58:57 PM »
Planning on installing a directional external wifi antenna and looking for input on repeaters. Would like to install the highest power unit avail to make the most of the install.


Why waste all that money when you can get a "pay as you go" DATA package from any cellular provider !
When you do get free WI-FI, just use it then, if not get on your DATA package !
Normand
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Sun2Retire

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2016, 09:47:36 PM »

Why waste all that money when you can get a "pay as you go" DATA package from any cellular provider !
When you do get free WI-FI, just use it then, if not get on your DATA package !

That's exactly the point, to use wifi when it's available but weak
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

decaturbob

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2016, 07:10:11 AM »
I'm expecting my wifi system to show up monday.  I am going with a radiolabs system with their 50" marine antenna.  I will have a telescoping mast connected to unistruct coming off my rear ladder with a tilting antenna mount so I can "fold down" the antenna and secure it while traveling and put up in a few minutes when parked.


http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wireless/usb-repeater.php
http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wireless/marine-wifi-antenna.php

I most likely play with the system at home and see how it grabs neighboring wifi networks...
proud to have a 2008 Tioga 31M MH

rbertalotto

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2016, 01:36:45 PM »
I Have both the TechnoRV ALFA set up with an Omni directional antenna and also the Ubiquiti set up that is featured on "Outside our Bubble" RV web site with a Directional antenna http://www.outsideourbubble.com/

If you know where the WiFi you are trying to connect to is located, the Ubiquiti with its directional antenna works very, very good. In a parking lot and you can see a McDonalds, Panera Bread, Etc, point it at the source and log on. Works great.

But in many cases you have no idea where the WiFi host is located and then an Omni antenna is the way to go.

Both of these systems are quite easy to set up and use and very inexpensive.
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Sun2Retire

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2016, 02:26:55 PM »
But in many cases you have no idea where the WiFi host is located and then an Omni antenna is the way to go.

Thanks. Others have said the same thing. Current plan is to start with a 12db omni (same one decaturbob is using) and see how it goes
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

decaturbob

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2016, 06:37:12 AM »
Thanks. Others have said the same thing. Current plan is to start with a 12db omni (same one decaturbob is using) and see how it goes

I'll have my system next week and will temporary set up outside my house to test and play with.  I'll give updates on what I see and learn.
proud to have a 2008 Tioga 31M MH

decaturbob

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2017, 08:54:09 AM »
I haven't set the system up yet, mostly due to being cold outside and I have an unheated garage I will need to test this all out in but I will sat that dealing with Radiolabs has been painful...they really suck at communication and getting any information out of them is like pulling teeth.  I still haven't heard back on a question asked over 2 weeks ago concerning the USB cable they used on their antenna which appears not to be rated for exterior use.....and the cable is permanently attached to their external antenna.  Hopefully the equipment will work and set up goes well...but I see right now communication is a real problem.
proud to have a 2008 Tioga 31M MH

Desert_Rat

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2017, 12:39:36 PM »
Be aware that the issue with WiFi reception is most often not the signal from the AP but your signal back to it. I too use Ubiquiti for that reason: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JFQV6GC/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

You will find that your omni works just fine as long as the AP it's connecting to is fairly close, but it's range will be limited.

decaturbob

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2017, 08:12:22 AM »
I have a radiolabs unit with their marine antenna that waiting for the weather to warm up to set it up. Its probably one of the most powerful wifi extender systems available.
proud to have a 2008 Tioga 31M MH

Sun2Retire

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Re: Best wifi repeater?
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2017, 09:46:48 AM »
Be aware that the issue with WiFi reception is most often not the signal from the AP but your signal back to it. I too use Ubiquiti for that reason: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JFQV6GC/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

You will find that your omni works just fine as long as the AP it's connecting to is fairly close, but it's range will be limited.


Did you mount the Ubiquiti on the batwing mast? Why did choose that model Ubiquiti over others they offer? (Just curious as to what factors you considered.)
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

 

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