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Old 08-04-2014, 05:29 PM   #1
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Wifi Antenna

This is done as a result of a discussion on another thread in the TechTalk section titled RV Internet. Mustang65 had posted the info on a gadget he mounted to reach out for weak wifi signals. With his help I managed the same thing and wanted to post pics and info.
I purchased an EnGenius ENH202 from Amazon for $84. I bought a household common wireless outer on craigslist for $30. Mast was made from some pieces of 1 1/4" schedule 40 PVC (about 80") and a piece of 1" to slide into it (about 5'). I also bought two 1 1/4" caps and an elbow. I already had a 50' piece of cat5 ethernet wire.
Using four U bolts and short straps I mounted the larger diameter PVC base to my ladder, with elbow and a 1' horizontal section resting on ladder braces.
The 1" section, has the ENH202 mounted to the top, and about 3' down I put an easily removal pin to hold it from sliding in further. Cat5 is run up through the main mast base. When removing the top section of pipe, the cat5 needs to be held from sliding back down, so I drilled a hole through a 1 1/4" cab and bolted in an eye bolt with a large enough eye that the end of the cable can pass through. I can then stuff it into the mast and place the cap over it.
The ENH202 is powered through the cat5. It is configured so that you power it up, do a "site survey" and select the desired network. It is wired to the router which then rebroadcasts the signals in and around my fifthwheel.
I'm going to add three photos but there may be detail questions that I'd be happy to try and answer (Mustang65, be aware, you may need to also pop in).
Other recent mods were that I wanted shutoff valves inside for the outside shower. Bought two 1/2" pex valves at Lowes and cut the plumbing under the bathroom vanity and installed. Cost (if you already have a pex tool) was about $15. Seldom use the outside shower and don't want to hit freezing weather and forget to drain it.
Also replaced the "pull up and turn" valves for low point drains with same valves. I didn't like how short the drain hoses were from the factory (didn't clear the skirt of the RV). To do this I removed the short piece of wall in the cargo hold, cut the old pex, made a longer piece with a 90 degree elbow and connected the two new valves. Staggering the valves a little made this easier since the valve handles need room to swing a quarter turn.
I like that the valves I put in are brass ball and solid. I could take pictures of this and post as well, if needed.
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Old 08-04-2014, 06:44 PM   #2
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Very nice the DW has this mod all planed out one question how do you protect your self and are you using a wireless net work. Just wondering if this is a mobel hot spot or are you simply bringing in the weak signal of a camp ground. Thanks
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Old 08-05-2014, 07:38 AM   #3
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signal boost

This allows you to see what wireless networks are available and shows the signal strength and secured or not. If you have no connectvity where you camp you maybe able to locate a network off site. I've camped at fairgrounds with wifi too weak to access from rv parking area but can actually see a safeway or some other business offering service. I probably will still have times where I get not service but it definetly willgive me more or better signals.
I don't feel nervious about wifi access with my tablets, and my pc has good antivirus and firewall.
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Old 08-05-2014, 09:22 AM   #4
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Have you used the set up and if so what range have you been able to reach? the CG we have spent several weeks at has Wifi about 2 miles from the CG at a campstore/marina. Otherwise the only signal is from secure hotspots from other campers. I've thought about trying something that would extend range beyond the usb plug in antanee that I use. That gets me to a weaker signal in a CG that I couldn't otherwise connect to, but has no chance on something a mile or more out.
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Old 08-05-2014, 10:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassdogs View Post
Have you used the set up and if so what range have you been able to reach? the CG we have spent several weeks at has Wifi about 2 miles from the CG at a campstore/marina. Otherwise the only signal is from secure hotspots from other campers. I've thought about trying something that would extend range beyond the usb plug in antanee that I use. That gets me to a weaker signal in a CG that I couldn't otherwise connect to, but has no chance on something a mile or more out.
It would depend on many details, like trees/shrubs, height of your antenna, quality of the device sending the signal and I'm sure many more items. What I can relate are stories from the EnGenius froum where folks are stretching a signal between building, homes etc and the ranges can be very long (vague I know but to me a single mile is even a long way to push/grab wifi. The power slider adjustment in the ENH202 goes from 1km to 30km. From where my RV sits in my driveway I can see networks (line of sight) at about 3 miles, but being passworded I can't try them. There are two open networks near my home that I can attach to, and neither are even visible to my devices with the extender in play.
Mustang65 advised that I want to look for a network with a difference between signal and noise of >20, but I was connected to one here that was down at 12 and showing 11 mbps from theiir home, and invisible to my Kindle otherwise.
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:15 AM   #6
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a few more pics

I wanted to give a better idea of what I did to avoid dropping the wiring back down the mast so took these pics when up taking things down this morning.
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Old 08-05-2014, 02:14 PM   #7
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Cosmik Debris, Nice pictures... but are those mountains in the background? Heck, I would camp in your back yard!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by outofhere View Post
Very nice the DW has this mod all planed out one question how do you protect your self and are you using a wireless net work. Just wondering if this is a mobel hot spot or are you simply bringing in the weak signal of a camp ground.
As Cosmik Debris mentioned you are safe if you use QUALITY firewall/anti virus software on your computers. The signal you receive from these devices are the same signal you receive when you log into the CC Access Point (AP). The only difference is that you are amplifying signals to and from your computer. It is not an AP, but is set up as a Client Bridge.

I connect the Wi-Fi signal extender in to the internet connection on a D-Link Wi-Fi router (same as in any home). It comes with a fire wall and a bunch of other security features. We connect to the internet using the D-Link unit. So we have the Wi-Fi router firewall and our laptop's fire wall/anti virus protection. I also use VPN to my home computer, for any secure information (banks, placing orders....), which is an extra layer of protection.

As for distance... that is pretty much "Line of site". When we were in Colorado last year, staying at a state campground (electric/water/no wifi) there was a Home Depot over a mile away (you could see the store on a hill from our site). I put up my Wi-Fi antenna and there it was, a GOOD signal from Home Depot's FREE customer Wi-Fi service. I do not feel bad about using any of these services while on the road, as I donate to their bottom line with large summmmmmms of $$ each year. I was able to access my SlingBox from my home network and watch the recorded programs and the Tampa Bay Rays games. The connection had enough bandwidth to allow me to stream that video with no problems. Just for using in a CC, makes so much difference, as we do not have to look for a spot near the CC's AP.

Granted, some CC's are tucked away in the middle of no where, so keep that in mind.

Some people are never satisfied, next year prior to leaving on our camping trip, I will be upgrading to a more powerful unit.

As with most things today, it may take a few trys to get it up and running and fine tuned.. so some patience is needed.. but after that it is easy street. Now we pull into a CC, set up, get the tablet out select the strongest AP for the Wi-Fi extender, and we are in business.

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Old 09-09-2014, 08:12 AM   #8
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after initial use "update"

So spent 12 nights out and got a couple of chances to try this out. First spot was at an arena with wifi offered, but weak out near RV parking. It worked great for picking up the signal.and allowing me to connect my bluray player and use my router for access. I was on generator at this site so only had wifi when making 110v.
Next campsite was in Yellowstone NP and never set it up due to strick generator quiet time restrictions.
Third site had no on site wifi but was plugged into power so decided to play with the enh202 and found a wifi signal I could connect to. From the name in the ssid I was able to look at a map and see a road nearby with the same name. At its closest the road was .2 mile away and ran for over a mile. This was in rural area of rolling to flat wheat fields.
What I learned. I need to carry a laptop to I itially set the thing up each time. I had hoped to only need the two tablets we travel with but you need to first connect to the enh202 (bridge) and run its site survey and pick a network to associate with, then disconnect from ethernet port of laptop and plugbit into the WAN port of your router. Easy to do once understood.
Another thing is that I may have opted for the omnidirectional model with external antennas. The enh202 has about a 70 degree view so has to be turned, run site survey, and turn it again to look elsewhere. Kind of like looking for tv stations. I'd think that most times you'd know where to point it.
So I'm happy to have this, would recommend it or at least the technology of it and some brand of bridge device.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:30 PM   #9
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I was just reviewing this old post because another member was working at doing the same thing. The one correction I want to make is that the last time we were out with the RV I was able to connect into the enh202 with my tablet, wirelessly, select a network and connect to it, then power up my router and it would connect to the ENH. I was then able to get right into the router with the tablet, and immediatety be online. Not sure why now it works without the use of hardwired initial setup and the laptop,but very simple.
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Old 02-11-2015, 03:34 PM   #10
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Hello,

This looks to be a great solution to staying at places with weak wireless signals. Looking at the EnGenius ENH202 I see that if can be configured in several different modes. What mode are you using it in when your connecting it to a wireless router?
Thanks.
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