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WLAN-Verstärkerantenne Webcatcher

Strengthen WLAN on the campsite


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Who hasn’t experienced this? You arrive at the campsite and the Wi-Fi only works at reception. Or it fails all the time. Or it’s very slow. The following tips can help with some of the most common problems. However, if the router on the campsite simply capitulates to the amount of registered devices or the campsite’s line is reaching its limits, then of course they won’t help. Then you need a solution that also combines mobile radio / LTE / 4G. You can find both further down in the article.

You just want the summary quickly and know what you should buy?

OK, here comes the short form: If you still have questions, read the article either in its entirety or in the exciting parts, or listen to our podcast. You can find the player at the top of the article.

Many devices on one WLAN voucher

If you have to pay for the WLAN on one place and want to use several devices via it, this sometimes does not work. Either only one device can be connected at the same time, or two. Sometimes only one device is connected in general.In this case, all solutions will help you. Because you simply connect to the router or the repeater with the WLAN of the place. Then you connect to your WLAN with a mobile phone, tablet or computer and call up a website. Then, 80% of the time, the Wi-Fi login page appears, where you have to enter the voucher code or other data to activate the Wi-Fi. Once you have done this, all devices on the WLAN can use the access.In 20 % of the cases this does not work. Then you can try to connect to the WLAN with your laptop (that’s where it works best). You will then see the address of the login page in the browser. Save this address, connect to the router to the place WLAN, with your device to your WLAN and call up the login page.If you still can’t see the login page, then individual DNS settings may be to blame. Some people (including me) use DNS servers from Google or Cloudflare, which means that some WLAN logins no longer work. But let’s move on to the technology.

What is the benefit of an amplifier and what else do I need?

You can find these devices in shops as WLAN repeaters. These small devices “catch” the WLAN of the place and pass the signal on to their own internal WLAN in your vehicle. This way, weak WLAN signals can be intercepted and amplified.In my experience, however, this often works best with an external antenna. Some devices, like the one I’m about to introduce, already have built-in antennas. However, since the WLAN amplifiers are located in the vehicle, reception is often not very good; an antenna on the roof, on the other hand, significantly enhances the effect. I have been able to use WLANs at a distance of 3-5 km with some solutions. In addition, with the devices described above, you can use the WLAN access on the pitch with several devices.It is also practical that your smartphones, tablets and laptops only have to save the WLAN data of your own WLAN and you only have to change the data of the square WLAN once in the repeater/router. With the more expensive solutions, you even have mobile radio as a fallback. If no WLAN is available, you can use all devices via the WLAN.

WLAN speed

Before we get started, a quick word about speed. Almost all devices indicate the WLAN speed in Mbit/s, i.e. megabits per second. And this is the maximum value, which you will hardly ever reach in practice and on campsites not at all. Many devices reach 300 Mbit/s, which corresponds to 37.5 megabytes per second. This should be completely sufficient for normal applications. Of course, you can buy faster devices, but if the campsite’s WLAN doesn’t offer the speed, it’s no use.Make sure to buy devices with 2.4 AND 5 GHz bands if your budget allows it. Many devices only support 2.4 GHz. That works everywhere. Some places also offer 5 GHz, which often works better but is rarely available. However, 5 GHz devices are often much more expensive.

Solutions for getting started: WLAN repeaters

Here you only need the device and possibly an external antenna (which I generally recommend). Here are three devices that I can recommend for beginners:

TP-Link TL-WA850RE

This simple repeater is plugged into the socket and immediately starts transmitting. You can set the WLAN of the place via the web interface and start surfing. However, it has no external antenna connection. You can test it in vehicles made of GRP. I would not try it on vehicles made of sheet steel or aluminium.[apn typ=”template” template=”tpl-6″ asin=”B00A0VCJPI” tag=”cstra-0047-21″ false=””]

D-Link DAP-1360

Inexpensive WLAN repeater with antennas. These can be unscrewed and external antennas can be connected to significantly improve reception. Supports 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. Be sure to assign an admin password during setup and write it down. Otherwise, anyone who is on the Wi-Fi can simply access the user interface.[apn typ=”template” template=”tpl-6″ asin=”B002TAA3HE” tag=”cstra-0047-21″ false=””]

D-Link DAP-1665

Quasi the big brother of the previous repeater. Supports WLAN up to 1,200 Mbps (instead of 300) and 2.4 and 5 GHz WLAN. It also has two antenna connections to which you can connect an external antenna.[apn typ=”template” template=”tpl-6″ asin=”B00IEH7S6A” tag=”cstra-0047-21″ false=””]All three units have only one 230-volt connection. This usually fits when you are at the campsite. There is also the option of using a 12-volt power supply for the D-Link devices. I found an offer for this at FTS Hennig here.

Matching antennas

Indoor antennas are not really necessary with the two D-Link devices, because the devices already have them installed. If your vehicle body has a metal outer skin, then it is better to use an external antenna. I can recommend this one for just under 200 euros. It has WLAN 2.5 GHz, 5 GHz, LTE, UMTS/3G.In general, make sure that the antennas have an SMA connection (the repeaters have this) and that the cable is as short as possible, as every metre attenuates the transmission and reception power.

Complete systems for better WLAN

ALFA Wifi Camp-Pro 2

A set consisting of an antenna with router and mounting material. With the antenna you will definitely have very good Wi-Fi reception if you mount it on the roof or at least high up. A double suction base will help you. Depending on the antenna, you may have to get a clamp for mounting. The antenna is connected via USB and therefore does not have the disadvantage that a long cable reduces the transmission and reception quality. However, 5 metres is the end of the line.[apn typ=”template” template=”tpl-6″ asin=”B07JBBCDD2″ tag=”cstra-0047-21″ false=””]Optionally, the suction cup holder:[apn typ=”template” template=”tpl-6″ asin=”B002OL2LKK” tag=”cstra-0047-21″ false=””]You can even upgrade the router with LTE via USB:[apn typ=”template” template=”tpl-6″ asin=”B074WXQKT9″ tag=”cstra-0047-21″ false=””]

Webcatcher

We have already tested these WLAN catchers in detail. You can use them to tap into WLANs from a great distance. With this solution, however, only WLAN and no mobile radio. The advantage here is that the antenna has an Ethernet connection. This means you can also use 20 m, 30 m or even longer cables between the antenna and the router. This is an advantage over the Alfa system. But it is also more expensive. The prices for the Webcatcher start at 429 euros.

Campernet

We have also already tested the Campernet complete system extensively and continue to use it. The set consists of an LTE and WLAN router, an LTE antenna and a WLAN antenna. The antennas are available in different versions. The smallest package comes with a foil antenna. This can be stuck to the roof from the inside. Ideal for GRP walls and roofs or partially integrated vehicles with front spoiler. The price is 749 euros. Another package contains a roof fin instead of the foil antenna. This is glued to metal roofs. It is available in two versions: One with the antenna cable downwards and one to the side. The price is 799 euros. In the maximum version, there is a yacht antenna in the package. This has the best range. It can be glued to metal, plastic, GRP, etc.. The price for this is 849 euros. The router works with up to two sim cards. You can buy the system at: Amazon, Autarker or Campingshop24.

Alphatronics Mobile Connection

This is also a set of router and antenna. The latter can receive WLAN, LTE, DAB+, GPS and GLONASS. Here, too, two SIM cards fit in the router. The system can switch automatically between WLAN and LTE. The antenna is designed as a roof fin and there is an app for controlling it. We haven’t tested the system ourselves yet and therefore can’t say anything about its function. It costs just under 700 euros.

Oyster Connect

This system also consists of an antenna (here called an outdoor unit) and a router. Here, too, WLAN and LTE can be used as an incoming system. The developers at Oyster have packed the reception part for WLAN and LTE into the antenna, which is why it is also larger than in other systems. This has the advantage that no antenna cables have to be laid from the roof to the interior. So there is no signal attenuation like with other systems. I find that very cool. The disadvantage of this solution is that the sim card is inside the antenna. So you have to decide what you want. The price is just under 900 euros. Available at autarker.de, among others.

Self-construction complete systems

When we started with the motorhome 6 years ago, none of these great systems existed. That’s why I had made something myself. There are two systems to choose from, which I would like to introduce briefly here. The first one is easy to build yourself, it is not very complicated. The second one requires some Linux knowledge or fun in learning.

FritzBox 6890 LTE with WLAN repeater and antennas

The idea for this setup did not come from me, but from FTS Hennig. They have put together a set consisting of a Fritzbox, a WLAN repeater, antennas and a power supply. You can put the whole thing together yourself. There is also a manual. Depending on the equipment, the price starts at just under 600 euros.  The advantage is that you are very flexible. The disadvantage is that you have to do it yourself.

Raspberry Pi, Alpha Tube and LTE Stick

We started with that 6 years ago. The system is really only something for hobbyists. That’s why I’m only sketching it briefly here, you’ll have to look up the rest on the net :-). The components:
  • Raspberry Pi 3 or 4
  • WLAN stick for internal WLAN
  • WLAN external antenna
  • LTE stick
  • LTE antenna
With this system I use Raspbian. In principle, the WLAN antenna fetches a WLAN. The WLAN stick, which should be AP-capable, spans an internal WLAN. The devices can log in there. The LTE stick with the antennas provides a connection via mobile radio if no WLAN is available. The whole thing is routed internally via IPTABLES. For this, I had written a few scripts that regulated this accordingly.In addition, I had built a Squid as a proxy to improve bad connections. In addition, a nginx, mysql and php to have an internal development server. The whole thing costs about 150-200 euros, depending on the components.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are countless solutions. If you only need the whole thing rarely and don’t want to spend a lot of money on it, then WLAN repeaters are ideal. You can get one for 20 euros or more.If the WLAN is really far away and/or very weak, the Alpha Set or the Webcatcher are ideal. Depending on how long the cables are in the vehicle.If you also want to use mobile radio, which I recommend, then the complete packages are perfect. And if you want to tinker, then the solutions at the end of the article.I hope the article and the podcast helped you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here.
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