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Old 24-10-2013, 19:48   #1
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Wi Fi Range Extenders

Does anyone here have any practical experience with outdoor Wi Fi antennas or range extenders. I will be coastal and inland cruising and it sure would be nice to be able to get some free Wi Fi from time to time. Ideally, it would be nice to be wireless to the antenna also.
I am planning to spend around $300 so what are your recommendations?
I'm also hoping for plug and play or is that too far fetched?
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Old 24-10-2013, 20:16   #2
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

I've had the Bitstorm's BadBoy (from Canada) almost four years and it has worked well. They have both Ethernet cable and wireless units. I have the Ethernet cable version. Nothing to install on the computer - when plugged in, the device shows up as a website on your browser with a list of available routers.
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Old 24-10-2013, 20:56   #3
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

I've used a few different antennas to boost WiFi range. I usually get them on a magnetic mount base. The ones that were specified as 6db or 8db boost gave me about twice the original range realistically. I also have a 90 degree directional antenna from Hawking that is specified as 15db gain. It gave me about 4 times the original range, but it had to be pointed in the right direction. I think that only about 60 degrees actually gave good performance.

Boosters are OK of you have a place to station them between you & the original signal. They work best when they are near the half way point. A 100 yard hard wire run to a second access point seems to give better coverage than most repeaters. Some of the repeaters don't need any real configuration to work with open signals.

There is a lot of hardware out there these days. Some of it is programmable to the point where a single $40 device can be an access point, a bridge, a repeater or a router. Fry's electronics (frys.com) is my favorite source due to selection available, but you can even get some of things from Office Max or Staples.
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Old 25-10-2013, 04:18   #4
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

I use an Ubiquiti Bullet that is awesome. With PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) all I need to do is plug the Bullet into my notebook's ethernet port and then use the browser interface to find the best signal and attach to it. You can choose which antenna you want so you can have different devices with different gain values and angles for short and long-distance connectivity. I've gotten WiFi signals at over a mile with my Bullet mounted to the rail.

"Alfa" makes smaller units that have an excellent reputation as well.
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Old 25-10-2013, 04:47   #5
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

I bought an Alfa 1000 on Amazon for $37.00 2 years ago.They have outdoor and indoor,I bought one of each.Very happy with them both,very good up to about 1 mile.
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Old 25-10-2013, 04:57   #6
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

+1, brilliant bit of kit for the price and worth having as a spare even if you bite the bullet and fit the bullet antenna, lots of posts on here about it btw.

Note: depending on which country you choose during the simple Alfa software installation sets the output power. 1000mw I think is the UK limit.

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Old 25-10-2013, 07:47   #7
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

I have been using my Verizon Mobile Hotspot and the cost is killing me. The only time I ever used a 'foreign' source for internet has been at motels and in McDonalds. LaQuinta motel has a password and McDonalds doesn't. So my question is: how practical are these antennas and boosters? When in a civilized areas, is it relatively easy to get on Wi-Fi with these. I will be travelling the ICW from Texas to Alabama and then going inland to Ky.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 25-10-2013, 10:23   #8
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

I live on my boat and my alfa is all the net I need,worked great in the ICW and any where else there is a small town or condo`s ,apt. buildings ,etc.Worked good in Georgetown in the Bahamas anchored 1/4 mile offshore.You won`t be disappointed.
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Old 25-10-2013, 11:08   #9
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
I use an Ubiquiti Bullet that is awesome. With PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) all I need to do is plug the Bullet into my notebook's ethernet port and then use the browser interface to find the best signal and attach to it ...
I use airMAX Bullet by Ubiquiti as well ... works well for me. I've connected it to wifi access point installed on a boat so the multiple users and devices can connect. In a bind I use 3G/LTE MIFI but it is bound to one particular cell network while with Bullet I was able to connect to hot spots on either side of the USA/CAN border.

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Old 25-10-2013, 11:12   #10
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

Tony B, I second the Alpha Networks Wi Fi adapter purchased from Amazon for around $30-35 USD. I have purchased several of them for use with our laptops while traveling and they are great. Insufficient signal on the internal wi fi, connect the Alpha to the USB port, 5 bars! Great units and cheap! I would certainly try one of them before spending $300. George
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Old 25-10-2013, 11:13   #11
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

great advice and info here tks
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Old 25-10-2013, 12:48   #12
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Re: Wi Fi Range Extenders

If you want to be fairly sure that you will have internet access, then get a portable hot spot. Some of the providers, like Clear Spot, Virgin, etc. will let you go on a month to month basis & not have a prolonged contract.

If you want to just scavenge for whatever open WiFi you can find, then any of the range boosting options already listed will improve your chances of success.
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