- Internet & the Web
How to Add an External Wifi Antenna Outside
Example of External WiFi Antenna Installation
Here is how to add an outside, external WiFi antenna on your home to pick up free wireless internet from far away, or to broadcast your wireless internet a long distance and share a broadband connection with a friend. If your city has a free WiFi network, or there are free hotspots in you area you may be able to use a grid parabolic antenna hooked up to a wireless adapter like the Engenius EUB-362 to get a free broadband internet connection. Here is how to hook up a grid parabolic WiFi antenna outside your home.
Step One: Determine The Best Position and Mounting Option
First you will need to determine the best position on the outside of the home for maximum WiFi signal reception. If you were going to be moving the antenna frequently you might even want to consider a TV antenna rotator. These can be found on eBay and other online sites. For most applications however, mounting the grid parabolic WiFi antenna at a fixed point on the outside of the home will work fine. I have found that old DirecTV mounting brackets work very well for this purpose. They can be bought for around $10.00. Depending on what type of siding your home has you may need to drill four holes and use masonry anchor bolts. In the case of the installation in the photo above, four deck screws were used to screw into the Hardiplank siding. Other mounting options for outside WiFi antennas include tripod mounts, which are screwed down to the roof and using an existing TV antenna pole.
Step 2: Mount The Grid Parabolic External WiFi Antenna
After your mounting bracket has been secured to the side of the house you can install the antenna. Most grid parabolic antennas come with a pack containing two U bolts and four nuts,four washers and a couple of clamps. Assemble the antenna as per the instructions and attach the U bolts to the L bracket. It helps to have a friend hold the antenna but if you put the clamps on before trying to mount it to the bracket it can be a one person job. You may be able to run the coax cable through a window. For a more permanent installation and to eliminate drafts, drill a hole through your exterior wall. To drill a hole for the coax use a 1/2 inch paddle bit with a 12" or longer shaft, depending on your exterior wall's thickness. Do this in an area of wall far from electrical outlets or water lines. Run the external WiFi antenna's coax cable in through the hole and seal around it on the exterior of the home with silicone sealant. Connect the coax cable to your wireless adapter's RP-SMA port by unscrewing the existing antenna and connecting the coax. Note: You can use an external WiFi antenna such as a grid parabolic with a router as well to broadcast your wireless internet a long distance. Attach the external antenna in the same way, with the same type of coax. Usually these antennas have an "N" type connector on the antenna and the router has an RP-SMA. Most pre-made coax cables, such as those seen below, are made for this purpose. If you are hooking the antenna up to a router and it has two antennas, then just unscrew one of them and connect it to the outside antenna.
As far as wireless adapters (for picking up, not transmitting WiFi) most high power wireless adapters, like the Engenius EUB-362 have only one antenna connection.
Step 3: Aiming The Outdoor WiFi Antenna
After you have installed the antenna the next step is to aim it. If you are going to connect to a specific access point and want to fix the antenna on that signal, take your laptop outside, run the coax cable back out the window, and set the laptop up on a bench or chair near the antenna. Connect up the wireless adapter and open the utility program that came with it. Engenius has a very good utility that shows signal strength, channel, link quality, etc. Move the antenna a half a degree and hit refresh and view the available networks and signal strengths. When you find the one you want to connect to, and get the signal strength at an optimal level, tighten down the bolts. That's it, you're done! You shouldn't have to adjust the outdoor WiFi antenna unless something changes on the other end of the connection, such as the router or antenna being moved.
These antennas really do work well. Recently I experimented with one and an Engenius EUB-362 on top of an 8700' mountain in West Texas and was able to pick up an open WiFi network over fifty miles away. Grid parabolic antennas have been used to set 802.11 wireless internet records. These antennas are the same one used in professional applications and are very rugged. You may be amazed at the number of open wireless networks in your area provided by places like McDonald's restaurants, etc. If you prefer a lower profile type antenna, consider a panel type. Though the gain of these antennas is not as much, they take up space. For overall range the grid parabolic WiFi antenna is the best way to go, at around 24 dBi, compared to 15 dBi at best for a panel antenna. What this means is about twice the range.
With an investment of less than $100 for the antenna and wireless adapter you may never have to pay for broadband again. Note: Use free networks with caution and don't abuse them by downloading loads of video, etc.