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bomblord
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Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:10 pm

I have a pi-zero W mounted on a wall that's running a feed from a camera and there's a clear line of sight only obstructed by a pane of glass between it and the Access point it's connected to roughly 30 feet (10m) away. The Pi is running Raspbian Buster which was up to date as of about a week ago and has bluetooth disabled.

The wi-fi connection currently has 2 "bars" and frequently loses internet for seemingly no reason. When the internet does work it seems to peak around 75Kbps (according to the download speed listed in terminal). While an internet connection isn't explicitly needed at all times it makes it very difficult to manage it remotely and run updates because it'll timeout or lose connection while attempting to download just about anything which usually ends in 5+ attempts at doing it. I'm curious if there is some equivalent to the overclock commands I can run on the Wi-fi chip to give it a little more juice or something else I can do to increase the speed and consistency of the connection.

mattmiller
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:01 pm

There's nothing in software to boost the signal I'm afraid

trejan
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:32 pm

It is running at the maximum TX power already.

You tried a different channel? Maybe there is something else using that chunk of 2.4GHz spectrum.

jahboater
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:28 pm

Try changing the orientation of the Pi's PCB so that its antenna matches the antenna on the router.
Might, or might not, make a difference but worth a try.

hippy
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:14 pm

You could mount the Zero W 'inside a wok' or other metal bowl and perhaps make it more directional. A 'woktenna' is claimed to work with various RF technologies and you never know.

It goes without saying; YMMV.

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Imperf3kt
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:18 pm

hippy wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:14 pm
You could mount the Zero W 'inside a wok' or other metal bowl and perhaps make it more directional. A 'woktenna' is claimed to work with various RF technologies and you never know.

It goes without saying; YMMV.
Also known as 'wok-fi' and AFAIK, the only "legal" way to boost the wifi range on a Pi. I say legal in quotation because there isn't any law against it, but it still breaks FCC certification.
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mahjongg
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:11 am

Try using 2.4GHz mode instead of 5HGz mode.

hippy
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:49 am

mahjongg wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:11 am
Try using 2.4GHz mode instead of 5HGz mode.
I don't believe the Zero W supports 5GHz so it should already be on 2.4GHz.

I have my own Zero W running Buster some 30 foot from my Wi-Fi router with a wall in the way and that's been just fine in my experience, though admittedly that's not been updated for a while and it's all indoors.

I don't know what signal strength I have but "two bars" would seem enough as a rule of thumb.

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bomblord
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:52 pm

mahjongg wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:11 am
Try using 2.4GHz mode instead of 5HGz mode.
Does Pi Zero W have a 5ghz mode? How do I disable it?
Last edited by bomblord on Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

drgeoff
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:04 pm

bomblord wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:52 pm
mahjongg wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:11 am
Try using 2.4GHz mode instead of 5HGz mode.
Does Pi Zero have a 5ghz mode? How do I disable it?
Zero has no Wi-Fi
ZeroW has 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.

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bomblord
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:33 pm

drgeoff wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:04 pm
bomblord wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:52 pm
mahjongg wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:11 am
Try using 2.4GHz mode instead of 5HGz mode.
Does Pi Zero have a 5ghz mode? How do I disable it?
Zero has no Wi-Fi
ZeroW has 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.
I assumed that was implied by asking about Wi-fi apologies I've corrected my post.

Paul Hutch
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 2:18 pm

I have a ZeroW running Stretch Lite outside about 30 feet from my R7000 beamforming router with all wood between the two and I'm getting very strong signals (measuring -39dBm, -30 is usually considered the best possible).

Some energy efficiency coatings on windows also severely reduce radio transmission so you might want to try moving one or the other to avoid the window and see if that helps.

FYI - to monitor the signal strength from the command line while trying locations I use:

Code: Select all

watch -n 1 cat /proc/net/wireless

MalPi
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 2:55 pm

You could try a flat metallic sheet spaced 1/4 wavelength behind the zeroW ( remember those big Band1 'H' antennas ? ) the reflector was a rod 1/4wave-approx behind )

Or to be more adventurous, a corner, or trough, reflector out of wire mesh as is often seen on high-gain UHF yagi antennas these days.

Even more ambitious would be a paraboloidal dish (as seen at Jodrell bank) with the W antenna (a little triangular etch in the pcb foil ) at the feed-point (focus) and a small reflector 1/4 wave in front of the W. To be truly efficient though the dish diameter should be several wavelengths, a wok is a little on the small side ! :)

EDIT to add : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corner_reflector_antenna

Hours of fun to be had, , ,

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clicky
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 3:13 pm

Quick (lazy) question fired at Google and the answer is:

"As the unit we began with was meters we now know that the wavelength of a 2.4GHz signal is 0.125 meters or 12.5cm."

12.5cm / 4 = 3.125cm or 31.25mm

MalPi
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 3:33 pm

And if anyone wants to ponder upon the triangular antenna :
https://magpi.raspberrypi.org/articles/ ... nna-design

which is a (slightly distorted) slot antenna.
(an analogue of the more familiar rod/wire antenna ) which depends upon Babinet's principle,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babinet%27s_principle
(/ trivia :) )

MalPi
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:15 pm

bomblord wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:10 pm
to give it a little more juice or something else I can do to increase the speed and consistency of the connection.
How good are your soldering skills and your bravery ? :)
Looking at the pic in the article that I pointed earlier it looked to me like the designers already anticipated the need for a stronger signal by providing a break-out point for an external antenna. *
here is a wee snip
Image

(link by the lower red marker and external mounting pads upper red)

and then a bit of googling showed that the forum has been here before !
https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/view ... p?t=176249
and
http://www.briandorey.com/post/Raspberr ... ntenna-mod


*hmmm, I may be mistaken, there is some discussion that it is for testing/assurance. But if that were the case I would expect it on prototype/pre-production eval, not on the final board ??

Whatever,,,
interesting !
Good luck with that !

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bomblord
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:23 pm

MalPi wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:15 pm
bomblord wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:10 pm
to give it a little more juice or something else I can do to increase the speed and consistency of the connection.
How good are your soldering skills and your bravery ? :)
Looking at the pic in the article that I pointed earlier it looked to me like the designers already anticipated the need for a stronger signal by providing a break-out point for an external antenna. *
here is a wee snip
Image

(link by the lower red marker and external mounting pads upper red)

and then a bit of googling showed that the forum has been here before !
https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/view ... p?t=176249
and
http://www.briandorey.com/post/Raspberr ... ntenna-mod


*hmmm, I may be mistaken, there is some discussion that it is for testing/assurance. But if that were the case I would expect it on prototype/pre-production eval, not on the final board ??

Whatever,,,
interesting !
Good luck with that !
My soldering ability or at least my confidence in it is roughly a 4... on a good day. Last time I soldered some pins to a Pi-zero I managed to do it upside-down and then had to unsolder it and do it the right way and even then a co-worker more experienced than I had to come in and clean up my peaks and excess solder.

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HawaiianPi
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:28 pm

MalPi wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:15 pm
*hmmm, I may be mistaken, there is some discussion that it is for testing/assurance.
Yes, that is correct.

But if that were the case I would expect it on prototype/pre-production eval, not on the final board ??
Unless it is for QC testing of production boards (every Pi is tested before leaving the factory).

Imperf3kt wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:18 pm
Also known as 'wok-fi' and AFAIK, the only "legal" way to boost the wifi range on a Pi. I say legal in quotation because there isn't any law against it, but it still breaks FCC certification.
There's also the cantenna (a waveguide antenna made out of a metal can).

bomblord wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:23 pm
...and even then a co-worker more experienced than I had to come in and clean up my peaks and excess solder.
Practice makes perfect (or at least acceptable, depending on how much you practice).
My mind is like a browser. 27 tabs are open, 9 aren't responding,
lots of pop-ups...and where is that annoying music coming from?

trejan
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:00 pm

MalPi wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:15 pm
*hmmm, I may be mistaken, there is some discussion that it is for testing/assurance. But if that were the case I would expect it on prototype/pre-production eval, not on the final board ??
They fit a U.FL connector there for EMC testing and it has test equipment like a spectrum analyser connected to it. The pads are still there because you don't want to significantly change your board after EMC testing. You can say it is still compliant without retesting but it on your head if it turns out that your changes caused it to emit more RF than allowed. It is better to just leave the pads there.

Look at the end of https://fccid.io/2ABCB-RPI4B/Test-Setup ... Up-4325664 for photos of the Pi 4B with the connector fitted and some coax to the test equipment.
Last edited by trejan on Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MalPi
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:02 pm

bomblord wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:23 pm
some pins to a Pi-zero I managed to do it upside-down and then had to unsolder it and do it the right way
Ah!
In that case we had best try the other possibilities first then ?! :)
HawaiianPi wrote: Unless it is for QC testing of production boards (every Pi is tested before leaving the factory).
ohh that is good to know.
Yes maybe, but the pads are for the mounting of a socket which would reveal evidence of it having been there on every one and removed ? anyone got one like that - if intermittent batches are so tested ? thanks trejan.
HawaiianPi wrote: There's also the cantenna (a waveguide antenna made out of a metal can).
but they usually have a 1/4 wave monopole inside them, then would be fed as an external to our baby.
Overthinking, ,, might be ok to get a W in there if a slot was cut top&bottom ? Be a devil of a job to connect up the ground plane to the can/body !
More overthinking ,,,, dont use a circular can, (as most do when looking for ET), unless one has a circular polarized antenna in the home, else there is another 3db lost :)

EDIT : typing and watching TV whilst trejan was posting !

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davidcoton
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:21 pm

Note that modifying any Pi model with on-board WiFi to fit an external antenna will invalidate the FCC, EU and other certifications.
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Imperf3kt
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:49 pm

davidcoton wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:21 pm
Note that modifying any Pi model with on-board WiFi to fit an external antenna will invalidate the FCC, EU and other certifications.
Additionally condoning the act here will land you a ban.
At least one user has already suffered that fate.
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mahjongg
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:47 pm

MalPi wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:15 pm

Looking at the pic in the article that I pointed earlier it looked to me like the designers already anticipated the need for a stronger signal by providing a break-out point for an external antenna. *
here is a wee snip
Image
NO, NO NO NO!!!!


IT IS NOT, I repeat NOT an antenna connector!

Its ONLY use is to connect test equipment during the FCC tests.

LTolledo
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:08 pm

there is a hack (not involving any modifications whatsoever on the RPiZW at all) just using an aluminum can....

make it like a parabolic plate, the RPiZW on the focus of the parabolic plate, directing the open end of the parabolic plate to the direction where you want the signal strength/range to be increased... ;)

though have not tried it myself as I have no need to... :mrgreen:
"Don't come to me with 'issues' for I don't know how to deal with those
Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

Some people be like:
"Help me! Am drowning! But dont you dare touch me nor come near me!"

MalPi
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Re: Pi zero W possible to increase wi-fi strength/range?

Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:59 pm

mahjongg wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:47 pm

NO, NO NO NO!!!!


IT IS NOT, I repeat NOT an antenna connector!

Its ONLY use is to connect test equipment during the FCC tests.
Please dont shout, yes @trejan has already addressed this (and corrected us) in a measured and informative way.

I posted that pic/clip and refs to earlier forum topic for @bomblord information and amusement (see my ref to his bravery and soldering skills)

I was, I thought, engaging in interesting conversation.
Please remind me, in future not to bother attempting interesting conversations on forums.
LTolledo wrote: make it like a parabolic plate,
Parabolic dish already discussed earlier in the thread.

Sheeesh.

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