Can I put one directional antenna on an RT-AC88U in AIMesh, so my boat gets a good signal?

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Mastiff

Occasional Visitor
I have two RT-AC88U in my cabin, one in each end. It works well, I get the speed I should. But my boat, which has a Pi 4 with an USB-AC68 in a waterproof box in the window, with direct line of sight to the corner where the closest RT-AC88U is placed, is not getting a good signal. Only one bar on the main page of the router. I had the Pi in the cabin while I was setting it up and testing it, and it gave me a very good speed and reliable signal, so I can't unerstand why 30 meters distance without anything in between except for a wooden outer wall blocks it so much. But I thought maybe it would help if I replaced one of the four antennas on the router with a directional antenna pointing towards the boat.

Is that something that could work, or is it hopeless? I have an RT-AC68U laying around that I don't use, would it be better to use directonal antennas on all three on that one?
 

Mastiff

Occasional Visitor
If you mean that they are suposed to be folded out so it looks like an Y, they are.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
It's unlikely changing one antenna to a higher gain directional antenna will significantly improve the signal. Is the signal too low on 2.4 GHz as well as 5 GHz?
 

Mastiff

Occasional Visitor
Ah, too bad. To be honest I had no idea about the speed on 2.4 GHz, because it's too slow. I move rather large amounts of data back and forth, because the boat is my "cloud" for music and movies (I don't do streaming). At the moment, with the weak signal, it jumps up to around 10-15 MB/S, goes down to 0, keeps running on 10-15 for some seconds and so on. But I tested just now on 2.4 GHz, and it manages around 5 steady, without the pauses. That shows three of four bars in the router's page. But from the copy time on the file it is a bit slower than the uneven 5 GHz.

I actually bought an extra Ubiquiti Nanostation AC to use that (I was already buying two for a point to point connection to a neighbour's cabin), but it turns out that those only do the proprietary AirMax, and not regular AC. So I'm wondering if the best would be to get an Ubiquiti Unifi UAP-AC. But that one's only AC1200, with 867 Mb/s on 5 GHz, so it's quite slow. If I could get that RT-AC88U working better I would get a lot more. If I'm not mistaken, it's more than 2000 Mb/s on 5 GHz. Even that old RT-AC68U would give more, it's 1300 on 5 GHz.

I have been looking for something that's directional and has good speed, and preferably is weatherproof. But I guess that's not really a common thing, except for forbiddingly expensive pro stuff.

Edit: I do have power down to the boat, on the same circuit as the router. Maybe I should try with a wifi/home plug setup? I don't know if that will work well over the 30 m extension cord that goes down there, though. And I would have to make a box for the wifi part, since it's not meant for outdoors use. Also I don't know if there are any that are good enough to help me to get much more speed than I have now.
 
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thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Sorry, I didn't read your first post closely enough and saw "cabin" and thought you were talking about the cabin of your boat.

First, how much bandwidth are you looking for? Do you transfer the files before you play them locally or are you playing them over the network?

Wood walls of a cabin have a high moisture content, which kills 5 GHz signals. The glass of your boat could have a metalized coating that would also block the signal.

Best solution is to use a pair of outdoor bridges. That solves the weatherproofing problem and gets the radios into the open air. Amazon has a bunch of no-name Chinese bridges. I'd tend to go for an EnGenius or TP-Link, which are known companies. AC1200 should be fine for what you need.

The other thing would be to do what you do in your cabin, use another AC88U or other four stream router in bridge mode in the boat and connect to your Pi via Ethernet. The extra streams might buy you the extra gain you're looking for.

But the outdoor bridges are the better way to go
 

Mastiff

Occasional Visitor
I use it as a backup sky, so I'm not actively playing from it. But with MKVs of up to 70 gig it would still take far too long to do the backups. I moved the router a meter or so and hung it on the wall instead of having it on top of the fridge (big dual fridge), and that helped a bit. I am getting around 20 MB/s now, and I don't see much of those pauses either, so that obviously helped.

As for the cabin I think your impression of a cabin and my cabin (and most cabins in Norway) are quite different things. :cool: It's thin wood panel (standing framework of 6x4 with two feet in between), wind block plates, 20 cm of insulation, plastic sheets and then inner panel. So the heavy, thick wooden walls that are common in Alaska haven't been used here since before WW2, I think. There's no moisture at all there. And the glass in the boat is regular plexi, no coating there.

As for the outdoor bridges I haven't seen any that can do as much as 20 MB/s. But using a four streem router in bridge mode is definitively a good idea, thanks! I will try to experiment a bit more to see what I can get with the current setup, and if I can't get it any better that sounds like a plan. :)
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
As for the outdoor bridges I haven't seen any that can do as much as 20 MB/s.
20 MB/s is 160 Mbps, which is well within the capability of an AC1200 bridge.

As for your cabin construction, if you have foil-backed insulation, that will reduce signal.

At any rate, let us know how you make out.
 

Mastiff

Occasional Visitor
Yeah, but I'm getting 25-26 now, I'm hoping to get up to at leat 30, preferably 40. As for foil backed insulation that is not used in Norway, no. It's just glass wool. But maybe that's also a problem? For my first attempt I may make a box with a regular AC router and put that underneath my terrace, which is facing the boat. That would be about 5 meters closer and outside the walls, maybe it's all I need. A plastic box is a cheap test instrument. :cool:
 
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