Pick up Wifi signals from 3000m (1.8 miles) and have iPads, iPhones connect to it too.

My 76 year old uncle just moved in close to my rural parents house.  He has no broadband yet and so I thought I would extend my parents broadband to his house on a different street.

Sounds a bit complicated but in reality it is quite simple.  There are two ways to do this.

  1. Boost my parents WiFi signal so that it blasts out beyond their house.
  2. Use the external WiFi aerial at my uncle’s house so he can pick up my parents (and many others like pubs, cafe’s etc) broadband.

I went for option 2 because it is more secure due to the fact that my parents signal will not need to be broadcast beyond their property boundary.

I ordered a TurnRaise Wifi Antenna off Amazon.co.uk for £19.99

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This is basically a USB Wifi Dongle but supersized and usable externally.  Every laptop and mobile device has one of these built in already but the aerial strength is quite weak.  The information on this device says it can send or receive WiFi, i used it to receive signals.

I have a little windows 10 tablet, a Lynx 1010B which I am going to use to test it.  After reading the instructions that came with the device and ignoring them I just plugged it straight into the tablet.  It discovered the TurnRaise straight away and set it up with no drivers needed.  Keep in mind I was already on the internet at this point so it may have downloaded the driver behind the scenes.

I then went into “Device Manager” on the Windows 10 tablet and disabled the internal Wifi Chip as I was not going to use it.

After tapping on the WiFi icon in the task tray, up popped about 6 networks that I had never seen before, including my parents.  Interesting!  I was still in a back bedroom when doing this.

With tablet and aerial in hand, I went outside into their garden up to a shed that I know gets no signal whatsoever.  It could still see my parents WiFi (through 5 walls and across a large garden) with full 100% strength.  I then went to the far corner of their garden (it is quite a long garden).  I don’t even get a phone signal at this position but the TurnRaise still showed their WiFi signal and then about 20 more wifi signals popped up too.

I loaded up youtube, hit a HD music video and tested it out.  It started straight away, no delay and didn’t jitter at all. Awesome, I could get my Bluetooth speaker down here and have a party.

Connecting to a BT Home Hub from the bottom of the garden, gave a 72 Mbps connection.  It is supposed to support speeds up to 150 Mbps.


Sharing the WiFi with other devices (iPad, iPhone etc)

The easiest way to do this is use the supplied software on the CD-ROM.  But if you want to do this manually, read on.

The next task is to try and share the tablets WiFi signal with iPad’s and iPhones by making the tablet a hotspot.  Keep in mind, the way I have done it here is a local hotspot, not a blasted hotspot for everybody in the town.

It gets a little more technical now but if you have windows 10 and follow the steps here you shouldn’t have a problem.  I got it working great.

Open a command prompt and set up a Hosted Network (Windows version of a hotspot) on your Wireless lan by typing:

  1. netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=toaster key=set_a_wifi_password_here
  2. netsh wlan start hostednetwork

You should change ssid and key to what you want above.

Now, head to Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network Connections (or type “View network connections” in search and select the control panel match)

You will see a new connection called “Local Area Connection* 3” or similar.  This is your toaster connection that is bound to the wifi that other devices will see.  You do not need to do anything with this connection in the next section.

  1. Right click your active wifi connection, this is the one connected to the internet and NOT the new Local Area Connection 3 one)
  2. Select sharing tab and tick “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection”
  3. Deselect the option to let users control your connection just under it.

Thats it!!

I connected an iPhone 5, an IPad and a Mac to the little tablet at the same time and all worked flawlessly.  Great if you go camping, trucking, canal boating and near a free wifi hotspot, you can pick up distant wifi and enable it for your other devices too.


 

Troubleshooting:

1. Don’t enable sharing on the toaster connection as that is already linked to the wireless lan connection, just leave it be.

2. If you disable the “Microsoft Hosted Network” by mistake, or on purpose and it vanishes, you can find it again in Device Manager under network adapters, just enable it back in there and run the command prompt netsh wlan start hostednetwork command to make it reappear in your network devices.

3. If you do not have the tab for sharing, you enabled it on another connection already so it hides it for this connection.  Just untick sharing on the wrong connection.

4. Keep the tablet charged if you can, turn the brightness to 10% and if you don’t need bluetooth then turn it off as this will all extend the tablets battery.

5. To stop sharing the tablet connection, just deselect “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection” on your wifi connection.

6. You rebooted and the connection is gone or not connected?  Run a command prompt (cmd) and type “netsh wlan start hostednetwork”.
If you are techy add it as a task scheduler startup item or create a simple batch file.

7. Plugging this aerial directly into a Mac USB port did nothing, no new network peripheral was available.

 

Continued testing

So, I took the little tablet down to my partners apartment.  Outside her window you face other apartments with no line of sight to the town.  I booted it up and checked to see how many WiFi signals were available.  I counted 17 including a WiFi printer that was unsecured.  I was quite tempted to print out a message that said “Hello.  I am Epson.  Your printer.  I just wanted to ask that next time you go to the Fox & Hound pub if you could please switch me off?  it gets so lonely when you leave me.  Thanks.

Keep in mind these aerials work best with line of sight.