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Author Topic: Remote wireless access  (Read 11583 times)
EccentricAnomaly
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« on: March 08, 2009, 01:49:38 PM »

Suppose, hypothetically, you live on an island off the coast of an island off the coast of an island and that you have a sometimes flaky and expensive satellite internet connection.  Suppose, further, that you can get somewhat cheaper wireless internet access but that you have hang the dongle out of the window to get a connection.

It occurs to me that the way to go might be to stick the wireless dongle up a mast of some sort.  If it was a PCMCIA/PCCard type dongle then that would be somewhat awkward but if it was a USB dongle then getting a sensible connection would be merely interesting.  Something like plugging it into a slug or router running OpenWRT with a suitable USB interface (thoughts here triggered partly by this photo of such a router which obviously does have a USB interface) and routing traffic to/from the house router (wired or wirelessly) with iptables.

Now, I've read about how to do all of this in various places but to me it's all rather theoretical and I've not heard of anybody putting all the bits together like this.  So, anybody got any thoughts?
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dhaslam
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2009, 02:18:48 PM »

There are USB boosters available that use CAT5 cable but they are quite expensive. USB depends on voltage and is very critical of cable length if not powered.   I used a wireless internet here for a short time while waiting for the broadband connection.   Apart from the  USB problem, using an extention lead,  the signal was very bad, it would vary  from 3 Mb/sec down to 4K , depending on phone traffic.  I found that dial up was much faster.   
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Justme
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2009, 03:59:43 PM »

There are USB boosters available that use CAT5 cable but they are quite expensive. USB depends on voltage and is very critical of cable length if not powered.   I used a wireless internet here for a short time while waiting for the broadband connection.   Apart from the  USB problem, using an extention lead,  the signal was very bad, it would vary  from 3 Mb/sec down to 4K , depending on phone traffic.  I found that dial up was much faster.   

A usb booster will not increase a wireless signal that does not work. It will increase the distance that the paltry voltage & ampage travels so that powered devices still work but a dongle is not realy a powered device as its consumption is so low.

Long distance wireless is quite common. You can do 20 plus miles IF both ends have directional arials. Google is full of it.

Justme
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wdh
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2009, 04:42:27 PM »

Woaaah there.

You want to pick up a weak (but you say accessible) 3g phone signal for wireless broadband.

This is different to going long-range with an ordinary home wireless network - which is actually surprisingly common. (And tends to involve "directional aerials at both ends".)

Anyway --

First you need an APPROPRIATE aerial - take a look at http://www.solwise.co.uk/3g-antenna-outdoor.htm
And you need to point it at the "transmitter" that you get a signal from,
then you need the right cable from the aerial to bring the signal indoors (ask, and about connecting it - detail is very important at these very very high frequencies!) Note that Solwise will make up cables to your exact requirements - definitely the easy way!

Then on the indoor end of the cable you can have one of these http://www.solwise.co.uk/3g-datacard-to-antenna-adapters.htm
which sits on top of your 3g dongle and 'couples' to its aerial without needing an aerial socket which is good because 3g dongles don't generally have an external aerial socket!

now, you could plug the dongle into a computer and use it like that. (Maybe a usb extender to boost the cable length if needed.)
You could perhaps have that computer set to 'share' its internet connection with others on its network.

Although, better would be to connect the 3g dongle to a dedicated router which would share the connection with the network (using much less wattage than a full computer). MUCH easier to buy a router than to try and create your own, even from the starting point of a slug. Solwise will soon have an appropriate little one - http://www.solwise.co.uk/3g-routers.htm

I've no connection with Solwise (other than buying some stuff from them a few years back), but I'd recommend that you had a word with them. This is just the sort of stuff that they specialise in.
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camillitech
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2009, 07:57:06 PM »

Evening Chaps,

I am indeed at this moment freezing my nutz off with my dongle hanging out of the window  help as my satellite link has all but failed and the helpline don't open until 9:00am. Still at least it's in London so there's a chance they'll understand my accent  Roll Eyes Problem is we're 10 miles from the phone exchange so land based broadband is out and we're 100miles from a 3g mast so that's out. The best speed I ever saw on dial up was 31.2 kbps and the GPRS aint much better at 53.6 kbps so for the time being at least I'm stuck with the 90cm dish on the back of the house. To be fair when it's good it's good and at 30 a month it's the same price as the crappy dial up as we had to rent an extra line because the Raasay exchange will not support 'net waiting'  Roll Eyes ah the joys of living in the sticks  Grin Just before we got the sat link I was experimenting with a repeater for the GPRS.



That's the aerial below the turbine and above the solar panel, I did get it working in a fashion but abandoned it when the dish arrived as at best it would give me 53.6 kpbs beside the wood burner as opposed to on top of the bed with the window open and the dongle in a plastic bag.

Cheers Paul
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2009, 08:51:04 PM »

I'm still not quite sure what signal it is you are picking up, (wifi to your own aerial?) but as wdh said, you want to put the aerial out of the window, not the USB device itself. Iv'e not seen a USB wifi device with an aerial socket but there are plenty of PCMCIA devices that have one (My old and reliable orinoco card does for example, and I've even used it with a biscuit-tin antenna in Edninburgh to good effect). So find a device with an aerial socket that will fit into your machine, then go and buy a corresponding aerial and mount it so you can keep the window shut. Sometimes patch antennas on windows work quite well.
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Wookey
EccentricAnomaly
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2009, 08:51:50 PM »

...and the GPRS aint much better at 53.6 kbps...

Ouch.  I was assuming you were getting much better connections than that.
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wdh
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2009, 08:53:44 PM »

Evening Chaps,

I am indeed at this moment freezing my nutz off with my dongle hanging out of the window  ...
Paul, if you are wanting to do stuff via GPRS rather than 3G, what I posted above remains valid.

If you look at the graphs for the 'coupler' you'll see that it covers all the GSM bands at least as well as the 2.2Ghz 3g frequency.

And the same goes for at least some of the aerials http://www.solwise.co.uk/3g-antenna-lpda-0044.htm (note that it comes with 7m of cable with a connector on the indoor end.)

An active GSM repeater seems like gross overkill, unless you want to provide your neighbours (or sheep) with better mobile phone service...  tumble


About the only two prospects for a faster/cheaper connection than those you have mentioned are
1/ ISDN. It costs about the same as two phone lines. Using one channel for data (so leaving the other clear for phone) should give you ~64k connection (with equal speed in both directions). Dialup happens near instantly. ISDN dialup services used to cost exactly the same as modem dialup, even 'unlimited' deals. In principle you might be able to use both channels when doing mega downloads. In practice it might remain easier to install updates from CD.
2/ Get a pal within clear line of sight that has a broadband connection, and piggyback off his service with a high gain antenna at each end pointing exactly at each other. You'd set up network 'bridges' behind the aerials. But you do need a pal that's "well connected" AND in line of sight -- if gets rather more difficult if you have to set up a chain where each link is 'line of sight'.
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wdh
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2009, 09:02:06 PM »

I'm still not quite sure what signal it is you are picking up, (wifi to your own aerial?) ... Iv'e not seen a USB wifi device with an aerial socket but there are plenty of PCMCIA devices that have one (My old and reliable orinoco card does for example, and I've even used it with a biscuit-tin antenna in Edninburgh to good effect). ...

I think its a phone signal being picked up by the dongle.
The Orinoco card (and Pringle tube antenna) was favoured for 'war-driving' to hunt for open access wifi networks.

But it sounds to me like a phone signal (GSM giving GPRS) that is the target for the 'dongle'.
They aren't made to take external aerials.
Which is where the coupler comes in.
Allowing the use of a decent aerial, to get a strong signal.
But I don't think GPRS would be expected to get to 128k. Max is theoretically about 170k, but 40k or so was pretty normal, I think.

And the usb mobile phone 'dongle' (with its big outdoor aerial) can be connected to an appropriate router, to share the access.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2009, 09:06:36 PM by wdh » Logged
EccentricAnomaly
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2009, 11:45:09 PM »

Quote from: wookey
I'm still not quite sure what signal it is you are picking up...

Sorry, my original post was rather confusing where I wrote:

Quote
It occurs to me that the way to go might be to stick the wireless dongle up a mast of some sort.

It is indeed "wireless" in the sense of "no wires" but would have been better called "mobile internet" as in 2g or 3g mobile phone Internet access though Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange or whoever.

P.S., I wonder when "wireless" well get to be regarded as being as quaint a term as "horseless carriage".
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stephend
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2009, 06:59:39 AM »

I agree with wdh, get a good 3G antenna and/or repeater, e.g.: http://www.antennas-online.co.uk/catalog/catalog_desplay.php?CallCatalog=PA

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Rooster
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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2009, 10:36:38 AM »

What sort of problem is there with the satellite connection?

At 30 a month it sounds like the best bet so long as you're not worried about latency (ping).

Is it an issue with your dish or is it an issue with the ISPs network?

Perhaps relocating the sat dish would help, its difficult to tell from the pics but possibly the mast/guy ropes are in the way.
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Roy
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2009, 10:37:10 AM »

Reading through this thread I may have come across the solution to my problem however not being technically minded when it come to 3G signals broadband etc if someone can offer a simple solution I would appreciate it.

Our problem is that we live out in the sticks although connected by copper wire the signal is so poor that broadband runs at a snails pace and BT refuse to upgrade. We would like to have the facility of landline telephone and fast broadband without actually being connected to a landline. On the plus side we have direct sight lines to Winter Hill and the various phone masts (about 10 miles as the crow flies) On the downside we have supergrid powerlines  within 100 metres of the farm house between us and Winter Hill.
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camillitech
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2009, 11:08:30 AM »

What sort of problem is there with the satellite connection?

At 30 a month it sounds like the best bet so long as you're not worried about latency (ping).

Is it an issue with your dish or is it an issue with the ISPs network?

Perhaps relocating the sat dish would help, its difficult to tell from the pics but possibly the mast/guy ropes are in the way.

Hi Rooster,

The problem is that there is no problem  Roll Eyes I just fired the system up this morning and it's working perfectly  banghead well it was for about 20 mins then it went pear shaped so I phoned the helpline and of course as soon as I got through it started performing faultlessly  Roll Eyes The dish does have clear line of sight to the sky and worked perfectly for almost 3 months. It's just the last couple of weeks that it's been mis behaving and the last couple of days it's become un usable. It is as you say my only real option as we really are REMOTE. I'll just have to wait for it to start plying up then phone back  Cry

Cheers for all the info on the phone options WDH, guys it really is interesting stuff but even if I got the mobile link up and running so I could use it in comfort it still to slow to do that sad obsession of mine that is http://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/

Thank's Paul
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EccentricAnomaly
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2009, 11:14:37 AM »

Renewablejohn, probably worth having a look at the various mobile phone providers' websites: see what they have to say about mobile broadband coverage.  It's likely there's a closer tower than 10 miles away.

Change of topic slightly, there was a bit of a fuss about WiMAX (sort of line of sight, sort of broadcast distant relative of WiFi) a few years ago but I haven't heard much since.  It seems to me to be the ideal solution for many out-of-the-way sites and likely to be of interest to many off-grid types.  Anybody know if there are any actual deployments in the UK?

This document is a couple of years old but contains a lot of detail which could be of interest: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/12/20130045/0
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