Originally Posted by Zeppelinium
Before I remove the TV antenna fitting and patch it over.
has anyone mounted a directional wi-fi antenna on the roof and used the old TV antenna support as a manual rotator?
I was thinking that maybe a USB wi-fi device could be installed in a weatherproof box. I'd love to get 6-8 db gain in something attractive and relatively flat. I made an 8 db gain antenna out of a Progresso soup can that works good in the tow vehicle cab, but it's limited to the length of the SHF coax--I think there'd be too high a loss for a long coax down through the ceiling and wall to a nearby tabletop.
At the minute I have an omnidirectional antenna that I have attached to a piece of 1" (ID) PVC that slips over the smallest of the three extensions on the collapsible boat hook that I use as an antenna pole.
I put the antenna up with a connection to a rather largish piece of cable that comes into the trailer just behind the tongue where all of the wiring from the umbilical/emergency brake switch, etc., come into the trailer. At the minute I am using a piece of PVC that is attached to the tongue jack to put the boat hook into and thus, keep the pole in place. A flag holder would probably work equally well.
My "ultimate solution" will be to have the antenna mounted to the TV antenna so that it goes up and down with the TV antenna. But, I have some additional testing to do. I am concerned that the TV antenna may not get the wifi antenna high enough for it to "see" over the massive 5th wheels that we seem to always get parked next to. What with wifi signals being in the FM band and, therefore, line of sight, this is an issue.
The down side to the cable is that it is not the most flexible piece of hardware due to its size which is necessary, as you know, to attenuate the wifi signal as little as possible. We use a smaller cable in the trailer to connect between the computer and the exterior cable.
This is NOT a USB cable. I am not a fan of USB for networking for lots of different reasons which I will NOT go into here. We have a PCMCIA card that the small cable connects to with a very tiny connector that is easy to destroy should the cable be jerked very hard against the connector.
This is NOT a great solution but it is workable. The real issue is the cabling and how to get things set up so as to ensure that the least amount of strain can ever be put on the cable that connects to the computer.
The exterior cable is very hearty. When I take the antenna down I coil the exterior cable and it stores in the box between the A frame at the front of the trailer on which I have a key lock. The only other thing in this box is the master cylinder for the disk brakes on the trailer.
I have an idea about how to route the antenna cable into the trailer if/when I get it attached to the TV antenna that does NOT involve the refrigerator vent stack. It DOES involve a hole in the roof.
The real issue with all of this is two fold. First, in order to get a good strong signal into the trailer a robust cable is needed. The good news is that the antenna and cable are weatherproof.
The second issue is the connection to the computer.
In an ideal world I would have the antenna connected to a bridge that my computer could connect to "wirelessly" (my new word for the day). This would negate the need for the cable connection to the computer. But, so many wifi networks require input from the user, usually for passwords and sometimes user names. When these types of requirements can be met through a network tool the bridge could work. But, so many are now using a web browser for this type of input that the bridge becomes unusable.
There is a great opportunity for someone to develop a piece of hardware that will solve this problem. To date, I am aware of a Cisco bridge that can, with some work on the part of a savvy (technical term) user connect to a wifi access point IF no browser is involved for a login/password scenario. There may be others, but I have not been successful in locating any.
Any rate, as you and others have pointed out the path of least resistance is a USB connection for an external antenna. For many this is probably the way to go. I can suggest the following as a reputable place to purchase hardware of the USB type and of the type that I am using:
WiFi Antennas || RadioLabs
Of course, YMMV...