Each year thousands of Americans trek
around the country in their RVs and Motor homes in search of new
adventure. What better way to spend a vacation with all the
accommodations of home and without the worries of hotels? RV Parks
are the landing place for most, providing water, sewage, electrical
connections, and sometimes WiFi internet.
Omni-Direction RV WiFi Antenna to
Computer USB port
Weatherproofing a USB Antenna
Most WiFi internet is broadcast from the park office and has a
limited range. For those who are within range of the WiFi access
point life is good, but for those who are stuck out in the "Back
40", life is not "peas and carrots". To check your email or browse
the internet for directions you must pack up your laptop and head
down to the lobby in the main office. Of course your privacy is gone
and it seems that people are always interrupting your internet
secession. It's about time you figure out how to get better WiFi
from the comfort of your RV.
Some locations only have a few RV parks
available, but if there are several parks available then try
searching online for web sites that list free WiFi parks in your
area. Once you find one that you like, call in and reserve a site
that is closest to their WiFi access point. Some RV parks will not
let you reserve sites ahead of time and in this case you will have
to figure out which campsite has the strongest WiFi signal.
When you arrive at the RV park ask that attendant were the WiFi
access point is located. After receiving your answer, take out your
WiFi enabled laptop and walk around from site to site in search of
the strongest WiFi signal. Start at the sites that are closest to
the WiFi access point. Usually the signal strength is represented by
a number of bars next to the WiFI network name when scanning with
your laptop. Be sure to press the refresh icon at each site for an
updated signal strength readout.
When looking for a good site, keep in mind that even one tree can
block your WiFi signal. Try to achieve perfect line of sight to the
outdoor WiFi antenna or RV park office from your campsite. If the RV
park is crowded then it is ok to choose a campsite further back as
long as its has good line of sight to the access point and good
signal strength. These two should relate directly to each other.
Once you find a site that has good WiFI signal strength, write down
the campsite number and request it for your stay.
How to Get
So, you've finished setting up camp and
now your ready to get connected the WiFI Internet. At first, try
connecting using just the WiFi capabilities that are built into your
laptop. If you are unable to get a good connection from inside the
RV or motor home then try positioning the laptop in a window that
faces the RV Parks WiFi Access Point. The walls of an RV can block
your WiFi signal completely, this is why we recommend using the
window as a portal for WiFi.
...Using a USB WiFi
Unfortunately holding your laptop up in
the window is not a greatly comfortable position. This can wear on
your arms after only a few minutes. If you
are experiencing this then your solution is a USB WiFi Antenna (like
this one). A USB WiFI Antenna should be more powerful then your
average laptops built-in WiFi abilities but in some cases newer
laptops do have very powerful antennas. Place the USB antenna in the
window with suction cups or double sided sticky tape and run the USB
cable to your computer. If your USB antenna does not come with a USB
cable then you can pick one up at your local electronics store
one from C. Crane . The cable is called a "USB 2.0 Extension
Cable" with standard type "A" connectors.
Avoid Harmful Radiation
USB WiFi antennas are also a great way to avoid
harmful radiation. You will notice that almost every WiFi device has
an FCC RF exposure warning that tells you to keep it at least
8-inches away from your body. Some people worry about the radiation
that is output from their laptop could cause them health problems
because of their close proximity when using it. Using a USB
Antenna with a USB extension cable will lessen the possibility of
exposure to harmful RF because you can place it further away.
Remember to turn off the built-in WiFi on your laptop when using a
USB antenna or you will remain subject to the harmful radiation.
Turn of the built-in WiFi using a switch or button on your laptop.
Weatherproof your USB Antenna
If you are still unable to pickup the WiFi signal then
you may need to place your USB WiFi antenna outside. It will need to
be located above the roof of your RV or motor home for best
reception. Zip ties work well to secure it to a plastic or PVC pole.
We don't recommend mounting it to a metal pole or object as it could
block or lessen your WiFi reception. If you plan on mounting it
permanently outdoors then you will need to weatherproof it. The
easiest way is to use a plastic bag with some tape around the bottom
to keep water out. While effective, this amature job may become an
eyesore on your rig. For a more professional weatherproofing setup,
try enclosing your USB WiFi Antenna in a PVC pipe with end caps. You
can also use vinyl gutter pipe for better results as it has a little
less resistance to WiFi signals. Here is one example of a
PVC pipe enclosure.
...Using a Large
Outdoor WiFi Antenna
For the best possible WiFi RV park
antenna, use a large outdoor WiFi antenna connected to a powerful
WiFi adapter. This will be your solution for receiving WiFi way out
back where others cannot. If this doesn't work then there's not much
else you can do. how to hook up an outdoor wifi antenna
Point-To-Point WiFi Antenna
For the best WiFi antenna setup, hook up an
outdoor Point-to-Point WiFi antenna on your RV or motor home's roof.
This is a directional type antenna and can really bring in hard to
get WiFi. It is not really a "discrete" antenna but it will get the
job done. You will need to reposition it to face toward the WiFi
hotspot at each campground. The trick is trying to figure out how
the WiFi antenna will mount to the RV. Usually these antennas will
come with mounting hardware that includes a "U-bolt" for attaching
it to a pole.
Once the antenna is mounted and aligned, run a low-loss LMR-400 or
9913 coax cable inside the RV or motor home to where you will be
using your computer. Unfortunitly the cable will not plug directly
into your computer as your computer does not allow for this type of
connection. The best solution is to use a
powerful USB WiFi Adapter with the approiate connector to adapt
to the heavy cable. Since this cable is so heavy we recommend using
USB extension cable (15 foot max) to lessen the load on your
computers usb port and provide extra length at the same time. You
may actually have enough length using the USB cable to downgrade
to smaller coax cable pigtail for short runs of about 8 feet.
This pigtail cable will be specific to the connectors on the USB
WiFi Adapter and the Point-to-Point antenna. Most USB WiFi adapters
have a RP-SMA female type connector whereas most Point-to-Point
antennas have a "N" female type connector.
Omni-direction WiFi Antenna
A more discrete WiFi antenna is an 8dbi omni directional
antenna. You will want to use one that is rated for outdoor use and
is easy to mount (like
this one ). The setup will be much like the Point-to-Point
antenna because both antennas typically use the same connector
types. Omni-direction WiFi antennas are a little easier because you
do not need to aim them at the parks WiFi hotspot. They can receive
a WiFi signal from any direction.
Share your WiFI Reception with Others
Often at an RV park you will meet people
that are not able to catch the WiFi signal because they are out of
range for their WiFi antenna. It is possible to share your WiFi
reception with them by using a WiFi range extender to repeat your
signal to others. Equipment required includes a 8dbi outdoor
omni-directional WiFi antenna, low-loss coax cable, and a WiFi range
extender with a removable antenna.
First mount the antenna above the roof
of your RV in a spot that it is not blocked in any direction by your
RV. Next run the coax cable from the antenna to the WiFi Range
extender that is located inside. You will need to remove the antenna
that comes on the range extender so that you can hook on the coax
cable. Once everything is connected up properly, plug in the power
to the range extender. It will take a minute to start up. Some range
extenders have a button that can be pressed to repeat the strongest
non-password protected WiFi site in range (like
this one ). In this case, just press the button and the range
extender will do the rest.
In some case where there are a lot of
WiFi site the range extender will not repeat the desired site
because another is stronger. In this case you will need to connect
your computer to it and run the setup so that you can pick your
desired WiFi site.
Ideally you do not want to be too close
to the main WiFi site as you may cause too much interference for it
to work properly. You want to be at least 150 feet away from it but
not out of range of the WiFi signal. If the parks WiFi signal is
weak then you will want to be at a closer site.