Great gadgets: Solwise antenna and wifi hotspot | John Norman’s Blog
From the horse’s mouth
Wireless 11n USB CPE with built-in 12dBi antenna GBP£41.08
Solwise Wireless USB repeater GBP£47.75
System total GBP£88.83 VAT and delivery to UK included
There are those of you who use a caravan, motorhome or other similar recreational vehicle as the mobile holiday home and are likely to spend time at caravan parks or campgrounds rather than set up somewhere like at the beachfront or the bush. Increasingly these places are offering a public-access Internet service with Wi-Fi either as part of the package or for an extra charge, in order to make themselves relevant to the “switched-on” traveller.
But the problem with gaining access to these Wi-Fi services from your caravan is that your site may not be in a position where you can gain reliable reception of that service. Similarly, the vehicle’s metalwork will also play a part in attenuating the Wi-Fi signal that gets in to the van.
You may think that the typical Wi-Fi range extender may cure this problem but most of these devices have integrated antennas which may not be all that “crash-hot” when it comes to picking up the Wi-Fi network’s signal properly. But the clever people at Solwise have partnered a pair of devices that can bring the Wi-Fi network in to the caravan wherever you are.
The first device is a USB Wi-Fi network adaptor with a 12dBi panel aerial. This single-stream 802.11g/n device can be mounted outside the vehicle or building and connected to a regular computer via its USB socket using a 3 metre USB cable. The second device is a dual-WAN 802.11g/n wireless router with a choice of Ethernet or USB serving a wireless-broadband modem for its WAN / Internet service. But it also is able to work with the abovementioned USB Wi-Fi network adaptor effectively as a router.
On the LAN side of this router, you have a separate Ethernet connection along with the Wi-Fi network offered by the device. This earns its keep not just with smartphones and tablets but also with devices like network-attached-storage units, printers or DLNA-capable media devices because this means that you are not dealing with having to log on to the venue’s public-access Wi-Fi network to run these devices or share their resources through that network.
Being a two-part setup, you you can locate the network adaptor outside the vehicle and plug this in to the router’s USB port to effectively “bring in” the Wi-Fi service. It is also designed to support the “quick set-up quick tear-down” requirements that these kind of travellers would need and there are accessories available through Solwise to provide a semi-permanent mount for the USB network adaptor.
According to the screen shots in the manual, there is apparently a “bridge” mode to allow the router to be an extension access point that plugs in to your Ethernet or HomePlug AV(2) wired backbone. This could come in handy at home for extending that wireless network but I am not sure how this is implemented fully, something which could be written up on further.
It sounds like Solwise are fielding another device which would have some utility value when it comes to having that small network how you like it.