WiFi with TP Link WA5210G
We often have trouble connecting to the parks WiFi because we are in the back and the signal is week. And sometimes in Federal parks, there is no WiFi. We are left to use our AT&T hot spot if it has signal, and with 4gb it goes quickly. So we wanted a way connect to the parks wifi, and if not available, be able to connect to local free and open wifi, like McDonalds, Lowes, and a host of other free spots. Anyway we had researched how to best increase our ability to receive wifi. Seem running long coax from an indoor router to a pole on the roof has a lot of loss in the coax. USB connections have limits to. I chose the TP Link WA5210G after reading about good results. I bought mine from Amazon for about $60. There are several of this type of device. They have an antenna built in, and amplifier, and it is powered by POE, through the same Ethernet cable that sends signal your computer and it is all sealed in a weather proof case. And only one cable going to the antenna. But it is far from simple because it can do so many things. It can be configured to receive Wi-Fi and connect to your computer, known as AP client. or as AP, which can send Wi-Fi from your internet to others in Wi-Fi. It can be set up as a bridge, with one on each end to send wifi over longer distance. The point is, setting it up is far from simple for the average RV like me. I about pull all my hair out trying to learn enough network jargon to understand how to set it up, and I had to get some help to do it the first time. But in the end it is fairly simple once you understand it. In Short, the device has to be configured with each set up. This is where it gets interesting. The computer you are using to configure it has to be assigned a static IP address. Not hard but requires several steps. Then you log on to the device with an address and go through about 4 steps to choose the right setting. One is a survey which shows all the wifi it can see, shows which have security etc. If you are logging on to the park wifi, they will give you the password, and you have to know the security type, which is pretty much one of two types. You will have to go to the security page and enter this info. If it is an open wifi, simple disable security. Now this is just setting the device up. To access the Wi-Fi you have just set up, not necessary to unplug the Ethernet connection, but, you do have to go back and take the static IP out of the computer, or simply use another computer that does not have a static IP.
The bottom line is it works. The key to seeing signal is line of sight. If you are in a low place you may not get much. If you are on top of a hill, the list of wifi will be many, if you can get the antenna above the trees. If you happen to be on lake side with no restriction to the town, you will get bunches. Now again, most you see will be secured. But it is easy to identify the free open one by the name.
I am using a pole to set up by the rear of the coach and run the Ethernet cable through a window, but I intend to attach it to the TV antenna and run the cable inside. Then just raise the antenna my be enough. The antenna is supposed to be directional so it may need some repositioning at times.