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micksulley
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Extending Wireless Range

Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:16 pm

I have a Pi 3 installed in my garage, which seems to be on the limit of wireless reception from the house network. I can sometimes get a connection but not always. Is there any way to increase the sensitivity of the wireless receiver on the Pi? Maybe adding an aerial? A wired connection would be extremely difficult.

Any suggestions?
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W. H. Heydt
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:14 pm

There is no LEGAL way to do what you want, directly. You could put an access point acting as a range extender somewhere between your router and the Pi, configured as either a wireless repeater or as a remote, wired, range extender.

Heater
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:41 pm

I don't think there is any law against increasing the sensitivity of a receiver.

Still, that ain't going to happen. Neither is putting an antenna on the Pi's WIFI device.

You could try getting yourself a USB WIFI dongle that has an antenna.

In the extreme something like this: https://www.amazon.de/TRENDnet-TEW-809U ... B01EOQ61KI

As you will see on that ebay page there are many small cheaper options.

I have never tried such things but the industrial WIFI devices we use can easily reach 100 meters. But that is in free space though, not through walls and such. And it all depends greatly on how much other WIFI traffic there is going on in your space.

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HawaiianPi
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:08 pm

Actually, there is a spot for a U.FL (antenna) connector on the Pi3 (and I believe the Pi0W as well), but it will require soldering and modification of the board to use it. And as others have suggested, the modified system will not be government approved any longer (although it's highly doubtful the feds will come after you if it's for personal use).

A wireless repeater/extender would probably be the simplest solution (unless you are really paranoid about KRACK). Or some of those Ethernet adapters that let you send your network data over your house AC power wiring.
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micksulley
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:50 pm

Thanks for the feedback. A wireless repeater is not an option. From the access point in the house to the Pi is only about 20 metres, but that is made up of stairs, then a solid wall and driveway then the garage wall, so no-where to position a repeater.
Network over mains may be possible.
You say that there is a spot for an antenna on the Pi3, do you have any details? I would like to try that. I am up to a bit of soldering :)

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:38 pm

No further details, other than to confirm that a modified board would not have type approval for UK use.
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:46 am

micksulley wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:50 pm
You say that there is a spot for an antenna on the Pi3, do you have any details? I would like to try that. I am up to a bit of soldering :)
Here's one article I found with a quick google search: https://hackaday.io/project/10091-raspb ... al-antenna
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:53 am

Also worthy of consideration: https://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Antennas/WiFi/
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:53 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:14 pm
There is no LEGAL way to do what you want, directly. You could put an access point acting as a range extender somewhere between your router and the Pi, configured as either a wireless repeater or as a remote, wired, range extender.
Plenty of legal ways for the OP to do what they want. They can use a Catena and hook to the antenna spot on the board, they can use a better USB Wifi adapter, a better Access Point, etc.. The options are endless and no one is going to go running off to the authorities, just because the OP improves their network or builds a better mousetrap.
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:57 am

davidcoton wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:38 pm
No further details, other than to confirm that a modified board would not have type approval for UK use.
Modifying the board with a adapter to hook an antenna in is not going to cause it to automatically run out on no legs (the Pi), just so the OP can place a regular antenna on it. It is no different than fixing a wireless card that had the antenna connection pop off. This is where the term "Hacking" actually came from. It is also why there are all of the Hat's and other accessories that are available for the SBC's that are out on the market. If it was illegal to use them, they would not be out on the market, but people would be making them up on breadboards.
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:21 am

Type approval would be for sale into the market, not subsequent use post-sale.

There are numerous methods for enhancing connection, you can begin by just trying different locations within the building, see the effect of placing it near metallic objects. Using the external antenna option, placing the antenna external to the building. There would be nothing illegal about this and nobody will be interested unless you start to cause RF interference to others.

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:20 am

broe23 wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:53 am
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:14 pm
There is no LEGAL way to do what you want, directly. You could put an access point acting as a range extender somewhere between your router and the Pi, configured as either a wireless repeater or as a remote, wired, range extender.
Plenty of legal ways for the OP to do what they want. They can use a Catena and hook to the antenna spot on the board
.
Certainly in the UK (and I suspect many other places), that would break type approval and could easily lead to the device being used outside of what's legally allowed. As a starting point, to stay legal if you put a higher gain antenna on (which could be as simple as modifying the existing antenna to make it more directional) you have to turn the transmit power down to stay within the permitted limits.

broe23 wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:57 am
Modifying the board with a adapter to hook an antenna in is not going to cause it to automatically run out on no legs (the Pi), just so the OP can place a regular antenna on it. It is no different than fixing a wireless card that had the antenna connection pop off.
Adding a USB adaptor (which would have it's own type approval) wouldn't be an issue, adding a coax connector onto the Pi PCB would break Type Approval as it's a modification to what's been approved (repair of a wireless card with a broken connector may be ok, as you're replacing like with like so no actual change from what was approved)

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:35 am

mfa298 wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:20 am
broe23 wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:53 am
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:14 pm
There is no LEGAL way to do what you want, directly. You could put an access point acting as a range extender somewhere between your router and the Pi, configured as either a wireless repeater or as a remote, wired, range extender.
Plenty of legal ways for the OP to do what they want. They can use a Catena and hook to the antenna spot on the board
.
Certainly in the UK (and I suspect many other places), that would break type approval and could easily lead to the device being used outside of what's legally allowed. As a starting point, to stay legal if you put a higher gain antenna on (which could be as simple as modifying the existing antenna to make it more directional) you have to turn the transmit power down to stay within the permitted limits.

broe23 wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:57 am
Modifying the board with a adapter to hook an antenna in is not going to cause it to automatically run out on no legs (the Pi), just so the OP can place a regular antenna on it. It is no different than fixing a wireless card that had the antenna connection pop off.
Adding a USB adaptor (which would have it's own type approval) wouldn't be an issue, adding a coax connector onto the Pi PCB would break Type Approval as it's a modification to what's been approved (repair of a wireless card with a broken connector may be ok, as you're replacing like with like so no actual change from what was approved)
They are not hacking to resell, they are trying to get a better wifi signal, due to the etch for the antenna on the board is not good enough, nor is the chip strong enough to get a decent signal. Again there is nothing illegal for what the person is doing and the authorities are not going to care about it, since they will be in the proper radio range for wifi and even if they decided to put up a outside A/P, they are still not going to get busted by the authorities.
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:41 am

micksulley wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:16 pm
A wired connection would be extremely difficult.
Even powerline (PLC)?
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:21 am

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:19 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:14 pm
There is no LEGAL way to do what you want, directly. You could put an access point acting as a range extender somewhere between your router and the Pi, configured as either a wireless repeater or as a remote, wired, range extender.
There a many things that are supposedly illegal but will never cause you a problem if you do it. The Foundation needs certification to sell millions of board, but you, as an individual, can modify your board in ways that break the certification without subjecting yourself to legal problems. In the case of wifi, the worst that could happen would be that you caused interference on a neighbor device and they complained. All you'd have to do is stop. :mrgreen:

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:49 pm

Legalities aside, it requires a certain amount of skill to add a connector to the Pi3 and expect it to work well at gigahertz frequencies. Without such skill one is probably more likely to wind up with something that works worse than the on-board antenna. There is a great deal of "magic" involved in antenna systems at those sorts of frequencies and getting it right without instrumentation is difficult.

The simplest solution might be to get a home wifi router that has been tested to provide better long range performance. There are any number of reviews for such things. Generally these will be MIMO units, that is, they will have multiple external antennae and will automatically select the optimum signal from that set. In general radio link budgets are symmetrical so improving antenna performance on either end will be equivalent to that improvement on the other end. If one improves the router end, the benefit goes to all devices used on the network.

On the Pi3 end one could add a well-reviewed USB or Ethernet attached WiFi device with an external antenna.
Last edited by MarkTF on Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:03 pm

broe23 wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:57 am
Modifying the board with a adapter to hook an antenna in is not going to cause it to automatically run out on no legs (the Pi), just so the OP can place a regular antenna on it. It is no different than fixing a wireless card that had the antenna connection pop off.
Not true. A card which had the antenna connector pop off would have type approval for such an antenna to be connected. The Raspberry Pi does not have type approval for such an antenna to be connected.

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:07 pm

lewmur wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:19 pm
you, as an individual, can modify your board in ways that break the certification without subjecting yourself to legal problems. In the case of wifi, the worst that could happen would be that you caused interference on a neighbor device and they complained. All you'd have to do is stop. :mrgreen:
Not true. When the appropriate authorities have the right to prosecute a breach of regulations then they may well prosecute and/or take any other action they are empowered to take.

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:19 pm

How is the house network laid out? Could you move the access point closer to the gargage, perhaps eliminating some interior walls in the process. Walls reduce range somewhat. Perhaps move the access point closer to a window, etc.
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:49 pm

hippy is right.

It's not just about manufactures getting approval for their products.

Rules about radiating radio waves exist in most countries. No matter who you are. Got to keep in band, got to keep to radiated power limits, etc, etc.

As I discovered aged 15 many years ago, building UHF transceivers. When the police picked us up range testing at night on the beach it was under suspicion of aiding the import of drugs or immigrants. In the end we were busted for transmitting without a licence. Nothing bad happened but it was annoying not to get our transceivers back. It took a long time to build them.

I'm all for people pushing things as far as they can. Trick is knowing what you are doing :)

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:30 pm

We've already explained the potential legal issues to the OP, so we don't need the ongoing debate. Leave it up to the OP to decide.

The U.FL connector mod does require a good amount of soldering skill, because some tiny components and board mods need to be done. There are other online mods that simply replace the onboard antenna with a wire from another antenna, but that is NOT recommended as it would reduce the gain and cause more interference to nearby equipment. If the U.FL connector mod seems difficult, then don't mod the board and find another solution.

I don't understand why the OP said a range-extender/repeater isn't plausible (they can be put almost anywhere), but okay, if that's not an option, and a better antenna on the Pi is not an option, then a better antenna on the router could be another solution that would be less expensive than replacing the entire router. Many routers have removeable antenna, and the OEM ones are usually pretty low gain (typically 1-3 dB). There are a lot of 7-9 dB replacements available.

On the other hand, if your router is old and not likely to get patched to fix the KRACK vulnerability, then upgrading to a newer, better supported and more capable router might be a good idea.

The Ethernet over powerline devices are capable of gigabit speeds, but that is dependent on the configuration. If the two end points are not on the same breaker circuit performance can suffer, but the Pi only has 10/100 Ethernet anyway, so it may not matter (and it would certainly be faster than a spotty WiFi connection).

So the options we have so far are:
1. Better antenna on the Pi3, which is a difficult and risky mod with questionable legality.
2. Better antenna on the router. Simple and cost effective if the router has replaceable antenna (possible legal issues again).
3. Replace the router. Newer routers have better technology and range, and potentially better support and security.
4. Ethernet over powerline. Somewhere between options 2 & 3 in price, simple to install, no legal issues, and wired security. *

* Some of the Powerline Ethernet kits also include wireless functions (the end point includes wireless router/repeater).

The Powerline Ethernet kits usually include 2 adapters to start. One is plugged in by the router, and another near the end device, and Ethernet cables connect the router and device to each adapter. You can purchase additional adapters for other devices and locations, although some adapters may have more than one Ethernet port and wireless capability.

Did I miss anything?

Anyone have any other ideas?
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hippy
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:37 pm

HawaiianPi wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:30 pm
a better antenna on the router could be another solution
I was going to suggest the same. It may be possible to fit a repeater, AP or router in the garage which can have an antenna fitted external to the garage, on the wall or roof. It would only remove that one wall of garage attenuation but it may be enough. That would only require one hole drilling.

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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:12 pm

For those interested in the certification application documents, please refer to the following link:
https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/ ... ABCB-RPI32
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Re: Extending Wireless Range

Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:27 pm

lewmur wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:19 pm
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:14 pm
There is no LEGAL way to do what you want, directly. You could put an access point acting as a range extender somewhere between your router and the Pi, configured as either a wireless repeater or as a remote, wired, range extender.
There a many things that are supposedly illegal but will never cause you a problem if you do it. The Foundation needs certification to sell millions of board, but you, as an individual, can modify your board in ways that break the certification without subjecting yourself to legal problems. In the case of wifi, the worst that could happen would be that you caused interference on a neighbor device and they complained. All you'd have to do is stop. :mrgreen:
Sure...the relevant authorities are very unlikely to come looking for someone who makes the sort of modifications under discussion. They are also unlikely to stumble across it. So the chance of getting caught is very low. On the other hand...don't make an enemy of someone who knows about it. They could notify the relevant authorities who very well might then come around and take what they see as appropriate action.

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