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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:13 pm

Long range WiFi for quadcopter

Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:51 pm

Hi all,

I built a quadcopter using the Raspberry Pi 3 as a flight controller. I'm using an xbox 360 controller on my laptop to send the desired heading over a WiFi connection to my quadcopter C++ application on the Pi. This setup works fine for very short range backyard flying, but I'm afraid to fly any further than that using just the Pi's onboard WiFi. Later on I also want to send back a small video stream over the same WiFi connection. Basically I want to upgrade the Pi's wifi with a good USB dongle:
  • Supported on Raspbian (which I would check through here: ... ss_drivers)
  • Long line-of-sight range (transfer speed not important)
  • Supporting monitor mode (next upgrade would be to send over bare physical layer rather than having to establish connections)
  • Having a detachable antenna (to be able to upgrade to a cloverleaf antenna later on)
  • Not "too big" or "too heavy". No exact figures here, but should somehow acceptably fit on a 250mm quadcopter.
I've done quite a lot of research and the TP-LINK WN722N is listed basically everywhere as being the best long-range WiFi dongle there is for the raspberry pi. Unfortunately these are all the older v1 model with the Atheros chipset, the newer v2 model with the Realtek chipset does not seem to work on the raspberry pi and so there is absolutely no data to support that it even would have the same range as the older v1 model let alone be able to function in monitor mode. I've looked around quite a bit but I was unable to find any source where they still sell the v1 model.

Then there are a bunch of Alfa adapters with mixed results; some people claim it's 1W claim is hugely overrated, others in the hacking community claim it to be the best tool for wardriving. Unfortunately these would all fall under the "too big" category since they are even larger than the Pi itself (not sure, but even with the plastic casing stripped off I think they would still be too big).

Does anyone have any good recommendations for this upgrade?
Some range benchmarks would be really helpful as well (about the Panda PAU06 for example), as the vast majority of reviews I find of WiFi adapters test speed and not the actual range.

Best regards,

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