To monitor a remote property using MaxMon you need reasonably reliable WiFi or mobile reception inside that property. Unfortunately this is not always easy. A classic example is narrowboats, which are essentially big metal boxes floating on water (see Faraday Cage). But there are straightforward and relatively inexpensive ways to extend external WiFi networks and mobile phone networks to the interior of your property, using readily available network components.

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The picture perhaps makes it look more complicated than it is. There are many ways of solving this interior networking problem, ranging from 3g dongles in rubber gloves mounted on poles outside a property to expensive enterprise-grade outdoor antennas and routers. But our solution is meant to give you good Internet access within your property, capable of leveraging BOTH external WiFi and mobile networks, for under £300 (if you buy and configure the components yourself) plus the ongoing cost of a mobile data SIM.

External antennas, internal WiFi hotspots

The basic idea is to mount two high-gain, omnidirectional antennas outside your property: one that picks up external WiFi and another that picks up mobile networks. The antennas are then connected via cables to devices inside your property that generate indoor WiFi hotspots - to which you can connect your phones, tablets, laptops and our MaxMon remote monitoring system!

In this approach you have two WiFi hotspots inside your property: one providing access to external WiFi (say MYSITE-X-WIFI) and the other to external mobile data (say MYSITE-X-VODAFONE). Your phone, laptop, tablet or MaxMon unit connects to whichever indoor WiFi hotspot is providing a better connection to the Internet. For example, a narrowboat might use MYSITE-X-WIFI when connected to the marina WiFi, or MYSITE-X-VODAFONE when out cruising.

The beauty of this approach is its relative simplicity (once you've got past configuring the WiFi hotspots :). If you only need to connect to external WiFi or external mobile data just install one external antenna and one internal WiFi hotspot device ... and halve your costs!

Extending WiFi

Our recommended products for extending external WiFi into the interior of your property are:

Alfa AOA-2409TF 2.4GHz 9dBi Outdoor Omni Mesh Antenna

  • Mount this 50cm-long omnidirectional antenna outside your property to pick up external WiFi networks.
  • Search online for "Alfa AOA-2409 antenna".
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Alfa TUBE-U(N) 1W 2.4GHz long Range Outdoor USB WiFi Dongle

  • Tube-like device that screws into the base of the Alfa AOA-2409TF outdoor antenna and converts it to a USB cable (5m cable included). Run this USB cable indoors to the Alfa R36 WiFi hotspot device (see below).
  • Search online for "Alfa Tube-U(N)".
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Alfa R36 EU Version 2.4GHz USB WiFi & 3G Router / Repeater

  • Connect this (mains- or battery-powered) device to the USB cable from the Alfa TUBE-U(N) and (after suitable configuration) it will generate an indoor WiFi hotspot connected to any external WiFi network in range (to which you have access).
  • Search online for "Alfa R36".
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USB 2.0 Active Extension Cable 15 Metres

  • If the 5m USB cable that comes with the Alfa TUBE-U(N) isn't long enough you'll need an 'active' USB extension cable.
  • Search online for "USB 2.0 Active Extension Cable".
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All these products are manufactured by Taiwanese company Alfa Network (their site is not particularly easy to browse, but you can find all the relevant data sheets and user manuals and they are usually helpful if contacted via email).

Alternatively, feel free to Contact us if you are interested in buying these products from us, especially in conjunction with a MaxMon remote monitoring and control system.

Extending mobile data

There are even more options for extending external mobile data inside your remote property, but our recommended products are:

Huawei E5332 mobile WiFi (unlocked)

  • This 'MiFi'-style device accepts an external antenna (TS9) connection and generates an internal WiFi hotspot for up to 8 WiFi client devices (phones, tablets, etc.). It supports up to 3g mobile networks (but not 4g).
  • It's available from mobile providers like Orange and Tesco as part of a mobile broadband package (but will be locked to that network). Can be unlocked if you change network. Also check out vendors like giffgaff that offer great SIM-only deals for unlocked mobile devices.
  • Buy unlocked and use on any mobile network. You will still need to purchase the appropriate pay-as-you-go or monthly SIM from the mobile network. Look under their SIM plans for mobile broadband.
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OMNI-A0121 Poynting 3G/4G Outdoor Omni Antenna

  • Mount this 60cm-long omnidirectional antenna outside your property to pick up external 2g, 3g and 4g mobile networks. Includes a 5m cable with an SMA termination, so also requires a SMA-to-TS9 adapter to connect to the Huawei E5332.
  • Search online for "OMNI-A0121 antenna" and "SMA-to-TS9 adapter".
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Mounting

You will need to mount your external antennas outside your property, either against a wall or on a pole. Orientation is important (both recommended antennas must be mounted vertically to work). Mounting kits for various types of properties are available from DIY shops, camping shops and chandleries (often for mounting TV aerials) and are not particularly expensive.

Setup/configuration

The Alfa R36 router and Huawei E5332 both come with their own configuration utilities and documentation. The idea is to configure them to provide two secured indoors WiFi hotspots, connected to external WiFi and mobile networks respectively, to which your indoor WiFi devices can then connect. 

Get in touch

This is a lot of information to take on board, so if you have any questions, or are thinking of purchasing MaxMon and upgrading Internet access at your remote property, please Contact us for a deal whereby we supply both MaxMon and a system as described above.