12 - - Trails End WiFi
Make an effort to
understand the works of our WiFi system and what you can do to improve
your connection and speed.
There are 3 challenges to using a satisfactory WiFi connection and there are many things you can do to improve it.
1. Signal Strength: With the upgrades of towers, radios, antennas and
internet connection, the park has provided a premium and up to
date system to work with. The towers are well spaced out for optimum
coverage. The 4 radios installed on each tower are not only powerful
but also use the latest technology for best connection. There are 4
antennas on each tower and are panel type with directional transmit and
receive. Each radio/antenna combination beams a signal in the direction
of a few homes.
Then where are the weak points:
A. The radio in our computers. Our radios typically have 28 mw of power,
(1/40th of a watt). This is fine for what our computers were designed
for (WiFi in the home, office, coffee shop, restaurant, library or
airport), all indoors without our challenges.
B. Technology for WiFi has changed over the last few years. Many of us do not have the
newest (802.11N) built into our radios. Being that the channels
overlap, only 3 channels are typically used, 1,6,&11.
C. Large trees with a lot of moisture in their leaves will absorb a lot
of radio energy if they are located between your computer and the
antenna on the nearby tower.
D. The signal will not penetrate metal surfaces including
siding and roof as well as cement fiber siding as found on some newer
mobile homes, although it may penetrate windows. It may be
possible to place the radio or a repeater or an antenna on a window sill and receive
good reception throughout the home.
2. Interference: Interference coming from
our very powerful microwave ovens, portable telephones, light fixtures
and many other devices we use every day.
3. Speed: The FCC has recently set a benchmark of 10 Mbps (10 Million Bits Per
Second). Goal being that end users could download data at 4 Mbps and to
upload at 1 Mbps. They are now
working on gigabits per second.
Trails End has turned on the Fiber Optics connection in
October 2014. Prior to that, our park used Time Warner cable and
that bandwidth among the WiFi users. I've experienced from 3 to 7
million bits per second with the new system. Fiber Optics is capable of
100,000,000 giga bits per second.
That is far more than we can expect. Each person in the park is
scheduled to receive no more than about 3 Mbps.
What can we do to upgrade our computers to the standards now available at Trails End?
your computer came with Windows 8 or is less than 3 years old, you
probably have a radio using 802.11N. Any older computer, you probably
have an older radio. Regardless of what radio your computer
contains, the following device will most likely improve your WiFi
The Alfa 802.11G USB wireless long range radio is available in several
models from 1000 to 5000 mw of power which makes the transmitter
between 40 and 200 times more powerful than the radio in your computer.
Mostly in the range of $30.00 to $40.00 at various on line stores
Just make sure you are getting a model with an (N) at the end as
802.11N. As long as the N is at the end it will work with the latest
technology as well as being backward
compatible to work on older WiFi systems.
To my knowledge, this is the simplest item to improve WiFi connection and speed.
You may attach an outdoor antenna to the Alfa radio above. The
Hawking corner antenna is directional, may be pointed towards the WiFi
Netgear N300 Range Extender Model EX2700. This unit can be placed on a
window sill or plugged in a wall receptical where the WiFi signal is
strong from the nearby tower. To set it up use a web browser and type
into the address bar "www.mywifiext.net" enter "admin' and in the enter
"password" then you will be connected to the N300 range extender. From
here you can select the strongest signal from the park towers.
You can use most any device to do the above including a laptop, tablet, smart phone etc.
Use your WiFi network manager on the device to connect to the newly
created WiFi network. It will be "Trails End ??_EXT". All your devices
will be able to use this.
The Rootenna antenna enclosuer for a router to fit inside is a premium
setup requiring some assembly and installation. Total cost can be over
$200.00 but it works well. Complete instructions are available at
http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/images/hsmm_docs/Rootenna-W5MAE.pdf . With this setup, the antenna and router is mounted on a pole outside your home and network wires run into your home.
A router may be placed in a Tupperware container and placed outside.
Power and data wire must be run to the router. I have seen this work
This unit is inexpensive and simple to use. It looks to me that it
could be the best solution. It mounts outdoors, has a 30 ft. USB cable.
I have not tried or seen this unit. Going by reviews of this item, it
should work well. http://www.amazon.com/Outdoor-150Mbps-Wireless-Adapter-Antenna/dp/B00DJ23D3W/ref=pd_sim_e_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=09YT4PNSPRTHQWTSDYGK
What you want to end up with is a dependable, fast as possible WiFi
connection. There are several speed tests available. I prefer http://performance.toast.net/
. It is quick to give you an answer. As stated above, we can expect up
to 3 Mbps. I often get 5 and more Mbps using only the Alfa radio listed
above with my laptop computer.
Harold Buechly, First published 8/28/14, Updated 11/11/14, Updated 12/2/14