Help me spread the wifi through the trees into this log cabin.
December 17, 2012 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me share WiFi between 2 distant houses with strange construction materials? Need antenna and setup recommendations.

I am trying to connect my mother's house to my sister's house via WiFi for the purposes of sharing an internet connection. The houses are about 150 yards apart. Both are of unusual construction, with poor wireless penetration. (Log and motar/cordwood respectively) Previous questions about WiFi sharing are helpful, but leave me with unanswered questions. Please enlighten me...

Running a wire is out. I don't want to bury it, and the distance is too great.
I suspect I will need to mount antennas externally on both houses.

What I want to do: ISP connection at sisters house, connected to a modded WRT54g. Externally mount an antenna, but am clueless as to which ones are good/desirable and which ones WRT can handle.
On Mom's house end, which is approx 150 yards away through trees/brush and up a 50 foot hill, I'd like to externally mount a high gain antenna and connect to another modded WRT54 in bridge mode. Again, no idea which antenna to use.

Does this seem doable? Am I missing something obvious? I have line of sight, but it's obscured by trees. I can trim trees if necessary, but no clear-cutting.

Latency on my mom's end is a non-issue. No gaming or anything like that going on.

Budget is probably around $200.
posted by cosmicbandito to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You'd be better off using something like a pair of Ubiquiti Nanostations to do a dedicated link between the two houses, and then have each house have its own wifi network for local machines.

Be aware that sharing the connection to another house most likely violates the ISP's terms of service.
posted by primethyme at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At my parents' house, I used this Hawking antenna with a WRT54g to connect to their neighbors' wireless network. The neighbors are about 100 yards away through trees, and the signal also goes through the neighbors' garage. The Hawking antenna is just sitting in a window, stuck to the sill with double-sided tape. The neighbors have no special equipment at all; it's just a normal Netgear router that doesn't even have external antennas. I'm surprised at how well it works. They have to reboot the WRT54g every couple months or so.

I loaded DD-WRT onto the WRT54g and have it running in client bridge mode, and have it connected to the WAN port of another wireless router. I also told DD-WRT to only use the antenna port I have the Hawking antenna connected to for Rx and Tx.
posted by zsazsa at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding the Nanostations. Dead easy to set up and aim, and will easily handle what you want. These would likely do the trick for you. Power over Ethernet, mount them on a pole, aim with the lights on the back, done!

Then, just have both run to their own wireless router, maintaining their own internal network for devices.

If trees are more of an issue, you could try the 900mhz units -- I run a link with a set of those, as well.
posted by liquado at 2:14 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

You could make or buy a cantenna. I'd try making one, they seem like a fun project.
posted by Mad_Carew at 5:21 PM on December 17, 2012

You want a directional antenna on at least one end, possibly both. And you'll want the shortest run of wire between access point and antenna (in both houses) to minimize losses.

I would probably use one of those mildly directional flat square (patch? I'm not sure) antennas instead of a cantenna - easier to aim and mount - and see how that goes.

Also, you will want more than just a view from antenna to antenna - you'll want minimal obstacles in the Fresnel Zone (an imaginary circle with the line of sight running through it) as foliage, water, or even land off center from the LoS but inside the Fresnel Zone will impair the connection.
posted by zippy at 6:49 PM on December 17, 2012

I had great success using Ubiquiti AirGrid M5 to connect a data collection station on a solar array to the site office over a distance of about 900'. Easy to setup, worked first time, still working 7 months later.
posted by Long Way To Go at 11:03 PM on December 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all. Ubiquitis ordered.
posted by cosmicbandito at 5:57 AM on December 19, 2012

Response by poster: Follow up: Ubiquiti Nanostations worked fantastic, although the setup documentation leaves a little to be desired. They've been up and running stable for about a month now, excellent signal strength. When trees leaf out in spring, in may be a different story.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:36 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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