Camp Wireless article

Outdoor antennas for wireless networks

Although the real electronics and antenna enthusiast can build antennas himself it is probably the best option for most people who build wireless networks to buy these ready-made.

Do ask around. Maybe one of your regular campsite guests is a radio enthusiast who will help you build a great antenna for material costs and a few drinks of choice.

But, the rundown on outdoor antennas:

The reason to have separate outdoor antennas is that these are designed to be used outdoors (and have special housing to keep out moisture).

There is a lot more choice in indoor antennas, so the price and availability of outdoor antennas (which are probably what you want to use on a camping site, but do look below about weatherproof enclosures for indoor equipment) are high in comparison.

When finding a wireless antenna for outdoor use on a camping site, make sure to check that:

  • They are compatible with your access-point. Not all access-points have connectors for external antennas or use the same connectors. This probably means that you have to get access-point and antenna from the same vendor.
  • That you get the right type for your needs. An omnidirectional antenna has a reasonable signal in an area shaped like a circle (or half a circle). This is what you need to cover (part of) your camping site. A directional antenna has a strong signal in one direction. This is what you need if you want to connect two points via wireless network.
  • That they can deal with the climate on your campsite. If winter temperatures get too low you will need to switch off the network in the winter and store the antennas.
It can be wise to get a company specialized in wireless antennas involved, like Wandy

Do remember that putting anything outside connected electrically to the inside (especially connected to computers or other network components) may need lightning protection.

A selection of outdoor wireless antennas. Here you have the access point indoors and the antenna outdoors. Usually this would mean both sides of a wall since there are limits to antenna cable length.

Another option is to use an access point which has been designed for outdoor use. This means the access point has a certain level of weather-proofing (rain, wind, temperature). Do make sure that your level of weather (extreme temperatures, humidity) falls within the levels the access point accepts according to its specifications.

A selection of outdoor access points.

This market seems to be dominated by D-Link.

Another option is to mount access-point with antennas in a weatherproof box.

In conclusion, several options for outdoor antennas are available, each with their own pricetag and possibilities. In general, outdoors is a hostile environment for computer electronics. Good weatherproofing can prolong the life of your wireless equipment.

Koos van den Hout
Webmaster Camp Wireless Camp Wireless Camp Wireless, Wireless Internet access at campsites.
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