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Adding a WIFI and a Cellular Amp to my RV Part 5: More Options

June 24, 2017
Adding a WIFI and a Cellular Amp to my RV

When I originally built my WIFI amp/antenna setup and my Cell amp/antenna setup for the RV, I was looking for an easy permanent solution for most scenarios.  I choose a home built Linksys WRT54G router and a 5dbi omni directional antenna for WIFI and a Wilson Sleek with a Netgear LTE data hotspot for cellular.  In both cases the amp was mounted in my entertainment stand in the RV and the WIFI antenna attached to the crank up TV antenna.  The Wilson mag antenna was mounted to the roof on a metal ground plane.  I also had an Alfa 1W USB wifi adapter and a Sierra Wireless LTE USB cellular data stick for more mobile situations.

To read my original 4 Parts written about 2 years ago:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Both these setups have served me well and work for most scenarios, but there are a few scenarios that are not covered:

  1. improved coverage when away from the RV
  2. extreme fringe coverage with a 25dbi Yagi antenna
  3. enough adapters and pigtails to fit any possible configuration while on the road

My total cost was about $20 on eBay and all parts were ordered from China so delivery was slow, but cost was also quite low.

  1. 25dbi Yagi antenna with built in RP-SMA connector
  2. RP-SMA to RP-TNC adapter to connect Yagi to Linksys router
  3. RP-SMA to SMA adapter to connect Yagi to Wilson Sleek
  4. RP-TNC to TS9 pig tail to connect Yagi directly to cell hotspot

This combination of devices/adapters allowed for a number of scenarios beyond the original scenarios

  1. amplified WIFI with the built-in Omni directional antenna
  2. extreme amplified directional WIFI with the built-in Yagi antenna
  3. amplified Cellular with the Wilson setup
  4. extreme amplified directional Cellular with the Wilson setup plus the Yagi antenna
  5. portable mobile amplified WIFI connectivity for the laptop when not at the RV with the Alfa WIFI adapter using both the stock Omni antenna and the Yagi antenna.
  6. portable mobile amplified cellular connectivity when not at the RV with the Sierra LTE stick

What I have learned from all of this is that most of these solutions are cheap and easy to use and add value by improving my WIFI or Cellular signal when in less urban areas.  The one thing that I have noticed most is that just like WIFI and Cellular signal is logarithmic and not linear, so is the work involved to gain a better signal, only in the case of the work involved, it is inversely linear.  Basically, adding a WIFI or cellular antenna to the roof takes a bit of work, but has a big return, as you try to tweak things more and more to improve your gain, every tweak you do takes more work than the last and has less effect than the previous one and eventually you are investing large amounts of time and money to improve things a tiny bit.  Of all the solutions I tried, the Yagi antenna was the one that was the least worth it in my mind.  It is a lot of work every time you stop to find the cell tower or WIFI access point in the park, aim the Yagi and then only get a marginal improvement.  Yes a Yagi is a great idea for a permanent solution but for me it is just too much hassle for a long weekend.  Most importantly, RV’ing for me is an escape, so if I cannot get a good signal with the roof mounted WIFI and Cellular antenna, well then I guess I will just have to read a book in front of the fire instead.

From → RV Tech

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