I’ve been able to get online with my laptop, while here on retreat. My father, on the other hand, … not so much. I’ve been a bit frustrated with the download speeds (read this as “impossible to download large files at all”) and I always am amazed/shocked to learn how dependent I am on the Internet. Five minutes doesn’t expire here at the camper without me having the urge to look something up, jot something down, send something out, or check on something on the Internet.
So, I was doing ok and had decent signal strength… until the RV slot next to us (and between us and the office where the wi-fi lives) filled up with our neighbor. Then, signal strength plummeted. We are lucky to get one or two bars (for those of you that know wi-fi meters).
Pops and I looked online for an antenna to help draw in the signal. We ordered one — one that was going to cost nearly $200, including the shipping and handling, but I was desperate. So I ordered it and paid extra for fast delivery. Today marked the SIXTH day since the order was placed, and still no antennae. So I called the company (radiolabs.com) and they informed me that my antenna had not yet been sent!! It was on back order and they really couldn’t tell me when they would get the part they needed back in, nor did they bother to inform me of this at any time within the six days since I ordered it.
So Pop and I drove into town and he got a little creative. We ended up making our own for a fraction of the cost. Want to know how? Read on…
We went to the local computer store and purchased a USB Wi-Fi dongle. We got a 10′ USB extension. Pops got up on top of the camper (I really shoulda had my camera, but alas, I didn’t think of it), He took the USB dongle plugged up to the USB extension. I’d double wrapped it in a heavy gauge zip lock baggie plastic. (Hey, I had zip lock baggies and a pair of scissors… nuff said). And he borrowed some electrical tape from a neighbor (the one next door, no less!).
Then he taped the baggie-covered USB dongle to the FM antennae and taped the extension cord down the length of the FM antenna and we then snaked it into window and it plugged into the USB on the back of his desktop. Thankfully, the measurements were right… otherwise it wouldn’t have worked. The 10′ on the USB is about maxed — beyond that you start losing signal strength.
However, if you are looking for this type of booster for a camper, RV or even a Van or vehicle… it just might work for you. It works great for us.
Since we were searching the Internet for a solution to this problem… and couldn’t find one… I figured I’d share it to help out the next guy.
Price? About $60.