How to Upgrade Antenna on Router and Reposition the Antenna for Better Longer Range
To reach a distant WiFI signal you will need an antenna upgrade and you will need to position that antenna outside of the building or house.
Typical WiFi routers and USB WiFi adapters come with a small omnidirectional antenna of 5dBi gain (called a dipole or rubber duck antenna) and an SMA connector of the reverse polarity type – also called RP-SMA.
The upgrade for moving an antenna outside of a building, is done in these two simple steps:
- Obtain a high-gain antenna: If you are making a point-to-point connection, then a directional antenna will be better than an omni-directional (see panel antenna at right).
- Remove the small omni directional antenna to expose the antenna jack
- Connect the router and the antenna with a RP-SMA extension cable from the RP-SMA jack on the router, to the antenna’s connector.
The magnetic mount mount antenna base in the photo at right, made of steel, is an excellent option for a quick and easy installation – if there is protection from weather (such as an overhanging eve), or if the mount-base and antenna can be simply brought indoors easily when not in use.
Mounting surfaces might include:
- A steel surface or plate of some kind is ideal: The magnetic mount mount antenna base would be ideal to mount to directional panel antenna in a photo at right, or a small dipole antenna.
- Window sill or flat woodwork outside the window
- Roof of building
In all of the above situations, the magnetic mount / base with an RP-SMA cable would make an excellent mount for the panel antenna at right, or the small 5dBi omni antenna with an articulating base, that comes with the Hornet board based routers.
A variation of the SMA connector, the SMA Reverse Polarity cable connector is one of the most popular WiFi antenna cable coaxial connectors: The RP-SMA connector is found many WiFi routers and USB wireless adapters. These devices can be connected with an antenna either directly, or with an RP-SMA coaxial cable assembly.
RP-SMA has the exact same proportions as SMA, with some key differences that are confusing to almost everyone:
- The “RP” stands for “Reverse Polarity,” and this refers to the gender of the very small pin and socket combo that comprise the coaxial-wire interface /connection in the center of the RP-SMA connector piece: The gender is the reverse of the convention for male and female as descriptive adjectives for components of any kind.
- The confusing nature of the “reverse polarity” concept actually enhanced the popularity of the SMA connector Reverse Polarity among WiFi equipment manufacturers, who saw this as a means to limit customers’ ability to upgrade to a high-gain antenna to a radio, which might create a device with power enough to violate the FCC regulations on RF power output.
- If the placement of the antenna will be some inches or feet from the WiFi device, then an RP-SMA cable is used to connect the RP-SMA connector on the WLAN radio to the antenna. Typically the connector on the WiFi device is female and the connector on the antenna is male, and the two are connected with an RP-SMA cable coaxial assembly. Data-alliance.net carries a wide variety of quality cables with RP-SMA connectors, suitable for all WiFi, WiMax, RF and HAM radio applications.