Extended Wi-Fi - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-02-2013, 06:31 AM   #1
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Extended Wi-Fi

I don't know where to put this so I will just pick here. When camping in a park where WiFi is included, the signal may well be unusable out in the park. There is an antenna called a Cantenna which may help with this.

Cantenna Kit Tripod USB Wireless WiFi Antenna 802 11b G | eBay

This is an EXAMPLE of the thing. I have not purchased from this vendor, though I may do so. A package like this is much easier than the alternatives.

The Cantenna is a directional antenna tuned to the frequencies used in WiFi. You plug it in, point it at the transmitter and you get a boosted signal.

You can Google Cantenna to read more about it. It has been around since the early days of WiFi and there is an entire community around how to make them, modifications, which can to use etc. This thing can be home made by you but you probably do not want to do that, it is a lot of work.

They really do work quite well from what I have read. Electronics is my original background, in fact Amateur radio was where I got my start back in 9th grade a few millennia ago. I am just too old now to spend my few remaining moments building a Cantenna.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:15 AM   #2
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We have found some campgrounds to have inadequate wifi, where if there are a lot of users on it to be slow or unusable. Some campgrounds the wifi could only be used close to the office. We finally gave up and bought a Verizon Jetpack, now we have wifi wherever we have cell phone service. Kind of pricey, but we do all our business online when away from home for months at a time.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:16 AM   #3
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A wifi extender will do the same thing without being so obvious
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:56 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by mary and bob View Post
We finally gave up and bought a Verizon Jetpack, now we have wifi wherever we have cell phone service. Kind of pricey, but we do all our business online when away from home for months at a time.
I hear that. My Verizon phone is a wifi that I use to tether my laptop and pad. Two obvious problems there, cell signal and I have to pay for the data.

I was simply reading (somewhere) about folks going to the office to use the wifi etc. This is a tool to help with that.
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Old 07-02-2013, 08:04 AM   #5
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A wifi extender will do the same thing without being so obvious
Not quite. A Wifi extenders work quite well, and I recommend them highly. I have one in the room I rent to get at the wifi at the other end of the house. The Cantenna is an antenna to increase signal strength.

BTW you can buy the Cantenna part by itself (from this guy in fact) to connect to the range extender's external antenna.

Again, I have no commercial interest here. I don't sell these things, I have just studied them. I will probably eventually buy one. They really do what they say they will, which is to give you X db higher signal strength. X is determined by line of site of course. It wouldn't help at all if the antenna can't "see" the transmitter. For our purposes a long coax cable would often be required to get the Cantenna to where it can see the transmitter.

Just another tool in the arsenal.
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:29 AM   #6
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Though I've never used one of these, I'd say you have to remember to switch to the can WiFi receiver when running your computer. By default, you probably auto-switch to the internal WiFi and have to go to network settings to change things. Though, if I was the developer, I'd set it up so that "If USB WiFi is plugged in, use that...".

And even though you now have a good signal you may have crumby internet connectivity since the TOTAL bandwidth for the campground my only be a max of 10 MB/s or less for ALL users. If someone else in the campground is downloading the complete season 3 of Battlestar Gallactica you aren't going to be able to do much more than read your emails.
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:15 AM   #7
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You can defeat the campground bandwidth limitations most of the time by using wi-fi off peak. We're early risers and use it immediately after breakfast.

In Canada we usually go to CAP centers since our Verizon data plan is prohibitively costly in Canada. The data rates at CAP cebters are always 54 MB/s and usually little used and every town has one, typically better then Tim Hortons or McDonalds.
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:26 AM   #8
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And the nice thing about a cantennna is that you can often sit on a hill overlooking the town, aim your cantenna at the wifi hotspot and there ya go. With a cantennna on one end you can often get a useful signal a fair distance, up to a mile or more IF you have line of sight.
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:10 PM   #9
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You can defeat the campground bandwidth limitations most of the time by using wi-fi off peak. We're early risers and use it immediately after breakfast.

In Canada we usually go to CAP centers since our Verizon data plan is prohibitively costly in Canada. The data rates at CAP cebters are always 54 MB/s and usually little used and every town has one, typically better then Tim Hortons or McDonalds.
Can you enlighten me regarding the CAP centre?
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Old 07-02-2013, 01:47 PM   #10
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CAP Centres

In Canada, at least all of Atlantic Canada, there are CAP centers. CAP stands for Community Access Program. Generally they are open wireless hotspots, located in virtually every community. In the old days they all had computers you can use as well.

In the larger communities they are at often at a library. You can park in front of the library and pick up a great wireless signal. No password required. Just accept there terms and you're on, just like Tim Hortons or McDonalds.

In smaller communities the CAP centers are located at the town hall, the fire station and sometimes a school. It is our experience that they are always left on. In our years of travel we have only come across on CAP center that used a password. it was the strangest past word; you had to enter '9' 26 times.

Since we always have our phones, whenever we come across one during our daily riding around we'd stop and download our email and do whatever business. As well I usually have my netbook in the car for more complex actions.

We carry a cigarette lighter inverter in the car and use it to charge phones and computer while driving.
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Old 07-02-2013, 04:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jwcolby54 View Post
And the nice thing about a cantennna is that you can often sit on a hill overlooking the town, aim your cantenna at the wifi hotspot and there ya go. With a cantennna on one end you can often get a useful signal a fair distance, up to a mile or more IF you have line of sight.
Seriously? Have you proven this yourself or is this just internet hype? If it's true that's pretty cool...but how often do you have a line of sight to the nearest starbucks from your campsite?

...Walmart parking lots excluded
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Old 07-02-2013, 04:51 PM   #12
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I do not own one so to some extent it certainly is "internet hype". I was reading a test by a guy who bought one and went to the park at the far side of a lake (think line of site) aimed the Cantenna at his house and as he put it "it was a slow connection but he was able to get in and use his network".

That was from over a mile away across a lake.

As for "how often will you have line of site" I guess what I was simply pointing out is that this is a pretty easy, pretty cheap tool. What you get in any given location is going to be what you get. It may make the difference between nothing and great reception. Or it may not help at all.

I am simply presenting another tool in the toolbox. Some people will not care, not want to figure it out, decide that it isn't worth it. Others may decide to use it and think its the greatest thing since sliced bread.
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Old 07-02-2013, 06:16 PM   #13
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My read on it is that it will power one laptop through the USB port. Our problem is usually powering the other items from the camper - iPhone, tablet, etc. They seem to have smaller antennas.

For about the same price, we are trying a Netgear signal booster from Walmart. A friend used one at camp to pick up the signal from about 450 feet. He put it in a plastic bag and hung it in a tree. It works at home but we have not been out since we got it.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:11 PM   #14
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I installed a "Alfa 2000mw 2W Waterproof Marine high power Long Range Outdoor 802.11 B, G, N, USB wireless network Wifi Adapter with Integrated 12dBi Antenna" on top of my Bigfoot.

The 'mast' is a piece of PVC, stuck in an aluminum adjustable flagpole mount. Less than $50 all-in. Easy to raise / lower / fold over / take down.

It connects to my laptop, and I then enable internet connection sharing using the internal wifi adapter so that I can use ipad, etc. if I want to as well.
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external wifi adapter rear view.jpg   external wifi adapter side view.jpg  

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