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Thread: Wireless advice, please.

  1. #1
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    Wireless advice, please.

    I've messed with wireless a lot in the past and still do, but just wanted to know if you guys have any advice on what I should do.

    I want the best possible omnidirectional reception (be it on roof or in window) at a reasonable price. I wanted to know if you guys have had considerably better reception from the outdoor omnidirectional antennas as compared to other alternatives, such as a small stock external antenna sitting on the dash or small usb wireless adapters on the visor. (as I've seen before)


    What do you guys reccomend I should do? I'm not willing to spend TOO much but a decent wireless reception is sometimes worth a few bucks, as we all know.

    Best quality to price ratio is what I'm looking for.

  2. #2
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    Please

    Any input would be very much appreciated.

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate kbyrd's Avatar
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    My answer to this is always the same. That doesn't mean there aren't similar solutions. I guess these are my 4 wireless commandments:


    - Don't use an amplifier. Ever. No really. They're almost always a waste. You're better off with a high quality radio and antenna then just ampliying crap.

    - Buy a 200mW Senao/Engenius radio. They come in USB, PCI, PC Card, and Ethernet versions. Which form factor you get is up to you. Be sure whatever you get can accept an external antenna. This will run you about $100. I've dealt with or know people who have dealt with edigitalwireless.com and keenansystems.com for this gear. At least one user here (J187) bought the USB thing and said something like "OMG! Are you kidding me!" about the reception even with no antenna. Besides the high transmit power they also have great recieve sensitivity, which is the often over-looked but equally important other half of a wifi connection. In other words, if the AP can "hear" you, but you can't "hear" it you aren't connected.

    - Get an external omni. I've done a lot of business with hyperlinktech.com The gain you get is up to you, generally bigger antenna means more gain. But, paired with a radio I recommended even a 6dBi antenna would work great. The best location is probably as high up as possible and outside. That's not to say you can't get away with mouting it in your car. But all things being equal a 2 ft omni mounted on a 10ft mast on your car is going to get better signal than a 3" rubber ducky in the trunk. For me, I'll probably do something like a 1ft. omni hidden somewhere inside.

    - Either keep the cable between the radio and the antenna very short, or use high quality cable. This avoids signal loss. When I say high-quality. I mean something like LMR-400 or LMR-200. Although these are really thick and don't bend well so probably not so good for the car. It would be better to run a long USB line (digital signal) and keep the radio near the antenna if you can. Along the same lines, try and avoid lots of connectors. You'll usually have a "pigtail" which has an "N" connector that mates with the antenna, and some other small connector (MCX, RP-SMA, whatever) on the radio. Ideally this is it.



    That's about it. Actually, a few more random points:
    - Indoor or outdoor antennas don't matter for signal quality. They might matter for how well they'll handle the elements. If it's mounted in your car, either will do.

    - Be sure you keep the omni upright an not lying on it's side.
    My worklog.
    Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

  4. #4
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    100 bucks is just wayyy too much for a carputer. I'll look into it for other reasons though. What's the best pci wifi card you've used? I'm looking at this one right now. Lots of good reviews.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833194001

  5. #5
    Maximum Bitrate kbyrd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dagnasty
    100 bucks is just wayyy too much for a carputer. I'll look into it for other reasons though. What's the best pci wifi card you've used? I'm looking at this one right now. Lots of good reviews.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833194001
    $100 too much for a carPC? It depends on your priorities. If you want a really good wifi system that will talk to distant APs then the card you mentioned doesn't cut it. Look, most of the stuff out there works fine as you carry your laptop around the living room. But, your laptop isn't inside a big metal box (your car) and your laptop isn't 1/2 a mile away from your AP. Your question really should be: "Can I get a wireless card and anteanna for less than $50 that doesn't completely suck?" I don't know. What is it you want to do with it? If you're only looking to sync from your garage to your home AP, then that foxconn might do it. If you want to hit random APs when you're out driving or parked in random places, then well. The better the radio and antenna, the better your chances will be.


    Now comparing that Foxcon card with the Seano:
    Your card's transmit power is 15dBM. That's 31 milliwatts. The Senao card I mentioned is 200mW, or 23dBM. (db to millwatt calculator here). That's about 1/8 the transmit power. So, that card you mentioned is 1/5 the cost for 1/8 of the transmit power. TX power isn't everything. But it's a start.

    The reason I recomend the Senao (usually found as Engenius in the U.S.) stuff is because it IS the the best gear I've worked with. I don't have a lot of experience with a ton of different cards. My experience comes from some work I did some work with a non-profit wireless ISP. We went through only a few types of gear and found the Seano stuff pretty quickly and have stayed with it. Paired with good antennas it let us do 10 mile links and it is/was reliable. Again, there may be better, but this is the best stuff I've seen.
    My worklog.
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  6. #6
    The Last Good Gremlin GizmoQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbyrd
    The reason I recomend the Senao (usually found as Engenius in the U.S.) stuff is because it IS the the best gear I've worked with. I don't have a lot of experience with a ton of different cards. My experience comes from some work I did some work with a non-profit wireless ISP. We went through only a few types of gear and found the Seano stuff pretty quickly and have stayed with it. Paired with good antennas it let us do 10 mile links and it is/was reliable. Again, there may be better, but this is the best stuff I've seen.
    x3. I have owned or have installed about 20 different wifi cards in the last 5 years and none beats the 3 Engenius cards I own. Orinoko Gold is close but as for ease of install (hardware and software), and signal strength/quality: It's worth every cent ..... and cheaper on ebay.

    And as far as the antenna is concerned, I also agree with KBYRD. I don't use an external antenna in the cars since my 2 mobile cards are PCMCIA, but I get better throughput with my Engenius than most 5dB mag mount antennas connected to Lynksys or DLink cards.
    HARDWARE: Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111w/WiFi and dock, internal Hitachi 500G HD, external 1TB HD, Sierra Wireless Aircard 550, DVD-RW, BoomzBox HD radio, XM Commander, Delorme GPS, Saitek X-52 Pro joystick, BluSoleil Bluetooth, TPMS, FB, Elm327

  7. #7
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    Money is an issue..

    Money is an issue. the Orinoko Gold seems to be pcmcia.

    Wireless capability is a necessity in my carputer. I'd definately love to have that 200mw radio but $100 is way more than I'm willing to spend (but not more than I have) With the foxconn and a decent antenna on the roof of my car with low loss cable do you think I'd have trouble picking up signals? Sure, it'd be great to be a mile away and be able to connect, but I don't think that capability is worth 100 bucks at the moment simply because I don't plan on browsing the web while driving Mainly want the wireless capability for emergency on-the-go internet usage and sharing files with my friend's future carputer and transferring between parking lot and apartment.

    Perhaps I'll change my mind in the future

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    http://cgi.ebay.com/EnGenius-200mW-8...QQcmdZViewItem

    from the prices I've seen this seems like a deal.. if anyone is interested

  9. #9
    Maximum Bitrate kbyrd's Avatar
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    I get ya. I rant and rave about the Seano stuff, but I'm using a buffalo wireless PCI card with it's stock antenna. For know I need it to get thru the garage wall to my AP on the otherside. For that works fine. But, the USB Seano will be one of my next purchases.

    So, what you're looking for is probably best transmit power (many cards with good transmit power also have good recieve sensitivity). So before you buy, compare that value. Some specs will give dBm, some will give milliwatts. Use the link I gave a few posts up to convert. Or, for rough estimates, remember that 23dBM is about 200mW, and that every +3dBm is twice the power and -3dBm is half the power (17dBm is 50mW).

    I'd compare cards on that one stat and look for the best price. If you're going to buy an antenna anyway, look at some of the ones from hyperlinktech.com, I think you can find reasonable antennas for $10. You'll also find a lot of stuff only available in PCMCIA (called PC-Card now). You can buy a PC-Card to PCI adapter for about $20.


    Oh, good find on Ebay. That's steal for those cards.
    My worklog.
    Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dagnasty
    http://cgi.ebay.com/EnGenius-200mW-8...QQcmdZViewItem

    from the prices I've seen this seems like a deal.. if anyone is interested
    That is a good deal, but one should that it does not appear as though there are any external antenna connectors on that card.
    2005 Black Chevy Impala
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