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How to Add an External Wifi Antenna Outside

Updated on October 17, 2017

Example of External WiFi Antenna Installation

An old satellite dish mounting arm makes a great mount for a grid parabolic antenna.
An old satellite dish mounting arm makes a great mount for a grid parabolic antenna.
This external WiFi antenna could have been placed a bit higher for better reception. It was later moved to twice the height, resulting in a 3dB signal gain.
This external WiFi antenna could have been placed a bit higher for better reception. It was later moved to twice the height, resulting in a 3dB signal gain.

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.

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  • doodlebugs profile image
    Author

    doodlebugs 4 years ago from Southwest

    tdacruz, looks like Amazon has changed the link on the antenna since I first published the article. You most likely need a length of cable with an N type connector on one end and an RP-SMA end on the other. If you search Amazon, you'll find pre made cables. Sadly Radio Shack is no longer the place for things such as this anymore.

  • profile image

    tdacruz 4 years ago

    Hi doodlebugs

    I have purchased all the items above, the Alfa Die Cast Reflector Grid Wireless LAN Antenna, Alfa High Power WiFi Adapter and the

    Alfa R36 802.11 b, g N, Repeater and Range Extender the only problem is that i cannot connect the coax cable to the big cable connection on the antenna, i went to radio shack and the guy told me that it does not exist, also i need the reducer from the coax cable to the smaller connection on the Alfa WiFi adapter (smaller screw in than the coax cable) What are these adapters called and where can i find them.

  • doodlebugs profile image
    Author

    doodlebugs 5 years ago from Southwest

    tdacruz,

    I do know that some routers can be used as wifi repeaters, however you must be fairly tech savvy to do so since the output is through USB. The beauty of the Alfa R36 repeater is that it is made to be used with the AWUSO36H high power - long range WiFi adapter. (Plug and play, you just have to set up security.)

  • profile image

    tdacruz 5 years ago

    Thanks but what about the 2 routers that i have can i use one in place of the alfa unit?

  • doodlebugs profile image
    Author

    doodlebugs 5 years ago from Southwest

    That will create a new wireless "hotspot" in your home using the signal you pick up from a distance and will allow you to use wireless enabled devices such as laptops and iPhones. You could (in theory) even replicate the Starbucks hotspot down the road inside your home, though it would probably not make them happy if they found out. I share my own WiFi with a family member who lives a half mile away, although my cable company would probably oppose such sharing.

  • profile image

    tdacruz 5 years ago

    Thank's doodlebugs

    So if i install the outdoor antenna connect the 20' cable to it then connect the Genuine Alfa 1000mw Realtek 8187l USB Adapter to the cable then connect the Alfa R36 802.11 b, g N, Repeater and Range Extender to the adapter i should be able to pull in a WiFi signal true?

    Now i own a couple of D-link wireless routers can i use one of them in this setup i have a DI-624 and DIR-615 they both have a power plug do they have to be plugged in? and where in this process do i use one of them?

    Thank's again for the help

  • doodlebugs profile image
    Author

    doodlebugs 5 years ago from Southwest

    tdacruz, I just posted an update to my article on how to use the Alfa R36 range extender to share WiFi picked up by a high power adapter and high gain antenna.

  • profile image

    tdacruz 5 years ago

    Hi ,i have a question?

    The above instructions tells me how to connect the antenna to the wireless adapter an than to the desk top computer.

    How and what do i need if i do not intend to use a desk top computer and all that i am using are wireless gadgets like iphone, a laptop etc. that i do not want to hard wire connect to the adapter?

    What equipment do i need?

    Thanks

  • doodlebugs profile image
    Author

    doodlebugs 6 years ago from Southwest

    IzzyM, good luck with your situation. It sounds like a high gain wifi antenna might work in your location.

  • IzzyM profile image

    IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

    This is fantastic! I am so glad I came across your work because I simply didn't know those things existed and it could solve my problem. I live in a remote mountain area with no phone line, although the village a mile away has free line and h-speed internet, I am out of reach. I am using mobile broadband which is not only very expensive, but recently someone has been stealing my (limited) bandwidth making surfing a nightmare. This might be the answer. Thank you so much!

  • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

    Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

    Brilliant information. Thank you. l need to start reading all your hubs.

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I always wondered about the practicality of this.. great info!!

  • DiamondRN profile image

    Bob Diamond RPh 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

    The city of Charlotte in North Carolina keeps hinting that they are going to install free Wi-Fi, but nothing concrete has happened yet. I'd sure take advantage of it if we did.

  • Mentalist acer profile image

    Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

    Thank you for the expert information on Wi-Fi...