Building a Private Wi-Fi System for Under $100!
Updated from 2014 with new router!
What can we say, we all would like a much better connection to an RV Parks Wi-Fi. For at times, you just can’t reach based on where you are parked or you can not stay connected. It also would be nice to have our own internal protected Wi-Fi setup in our coach or RV for all our devices to connect to. (Noting can make you 100% secure, but having your own internal Wi-Fi setup surely makes you more secure than just being on a RV parks Wi-Fi network.)
Seeing I have been asked about a lower cost solution vs our other video of our personal setup, in the below video we show you how you can do this for under $100! You will not only have a much more powerful connection to a parks Wi-Fi over a longer distance, but you will always connect to your own secure Wi-Fi in your RV so you never need to connect to another SSID for each device. This also means you will be able to connect your wireless printer and print to it any time. (Just leave the setup plugged in.)
In the photo above, this is all you will end up with at the end. All you will need to do is plug it into an outlet. Then, seeing this is a much more powerful directional antenna/radio, just point the antenna towards the parks closest access point and connect to it.
The best placement for the antenna would be pointing out a window. You can use a longer network cable to put the antenna somewhere else if you do not have an outlet close by. You can even put the antenna outside. But I am getting ahead of myself. First things first….what you need to do this.
All the items listed below you can purchase from Amazon. The names of each product are also links to the product on Amazon. (Below the main products are OPTIONAL upgrades that will setup the same.)
….What you need….(Just click the product name to be taken to Amazon.)
Ubnt NanoStation Loco M2 – This is the directional antenna and powerful radio all built into one nice package. It is made by Ubiquiti which is a carrier grade company. As such, it is not as consumer friendly with wizards and the like, in other words, it is not a fancy looking user interface as it is geared towards someone who knows what they are doing. Do not let that scare you however, as once it is setup, which I walk you through, you will be good to go.
NOTE: There is also an M5 unit and some people have bought them thinking it is newer. This is NOT a new version! It is a 5 Ghz version of the radio which most parks don’t support. You can surely buy one also and have both the M2 and M5 and if a park offers 5Ghz, then use that as it is a less crowded frequency and you likely will do better on it. AGAIN…Only if the park supports 5Ghz. If you have no idea what I am referring to, then just be sure to buy the M2. :)
NOTE: You can also use this NanoStation with any router you may choose once it is setup. (Stop video when we get to the AirGateway setup.) You would come out of the POE power injector’s LAN port into the WAN port of a router of your choice and use the same steps below (or talked about at the end of the video) to connect to a RV Parks AP. Sorry, I will not be able to help with your own router setup, just too many on the market. The AirGateway below is what we will use for the wireless router as it makes for a nice little package.
AirCube ISP – This is also made by Ubiquiti and is a very little wireless Wi-Fi router and what is new vs the tutorial I did in 2014. This is actually what all your devices will connect to to talk to each other and the Internet. It may be small, but can cover your motor coach or RV without an issue. Best part…it’s low cost and it uses the same power supply as the NanoStation. This makes for a clean setup. After you can use the Ubnt U-Mobile app for Android and IOS (Which is easy!)
Two Network Cables – You will need two (2) of these in order to set this up, but will end up using just one when we are done. I recommend shielded cables and that is what I linked to. If you already have network cables, then you are all set. If not BE SURE to order TWO.
Ubnt NanoStation M2 – A more powerful model of the Loco M2 listed above with double the antenna range for hard to reach access points in a park. (It is also double the height do to the large antenna.
NanoStation Window Mount – A handy window suction mount for your NanoStation. Great for windshields or other areas as the NanoStation is usually pole mounted outside. (But we are using it inside.)
Ubnt NanoStation M5 Loco – While most parks always run at 2.5Ghz, thus the need for the M2 unit, you may also consider adding an M5 Loco unit so you could use 5Ghz if the park has it. Or the full size NanoStation M5 (NOTE: This is NOT in place of, but in addition to the M2. You set it up the same way and then just use the one you want.) 5Ghz is a less crowed frequency not most parks currently do not offer it.
Now as a reminder, even though you will have a much better chance connecting to the RV parks Wi-Fi service, that does not mean you will have better Internet. The speed depends on a number of things, from the amount of data bandwidth they have coming into the park, to how many people may be on the Wi-Fi network using it. Or the park could even be limiting speed per user among other things. But one thing is for sure, you will have a much better way of connecting to them as well as having a secure Wi-Fi setup inside your coach or RV.
As a side benefit, if you have a MiFi, JetPack, Hot-Spot, or something else you use to connect you to the Internet, you can also connect this setup to that just like you would an RV park. This is great for the times you need it, like if the park is just really bad or you are somewhere that does not have Internet. Then all your devices will just stay on your secure Wi-Fi without the need to change to another connection.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These Nanostations are very powerful, please DO NOT point it at your our personal HotSpot or even have it close. I would suggest laying it down flat when used with the HotSpot so not to over modulate the radios. Try to be between -50db and -70db when looking at the signal.
The video is a little long, 27 minutes , but that does not mean it is difficult. I just happen to go into more detail and explain things along the way. I could have made it 10 minutes but then some people would likely become confused.
*** NOTICE 1 *** In order to configure the NanoStation you MUST HAVE a network port in your computer and KNOW HOW TO change the network settings from using DHCP to using a STATIC IP and back again. I use my MacBook showing my screen, so if you have a Mac product, you should be able to follow along. If you use Windows, here is a Google search to help you if needed – CLICK HERE (You will only need to set the IP and Subnet.) NOTE: New MacBooks may not have a network card, and the MacBook Air surely does not. If you need a network adaptor a USB to Ethernet one works great. I use this one in my MacBook Air… Plugable USB to Eithernet.
*** NOTICE 2 *** You will also likely need one computer to do the configuration with and another to watch this video as we will be turning off Wi-Fi during the process.
If you mess up, don’t worry. You can always reset both units to factory defaults and try again. To do this, with the units powered up, use a toothpick or something to press down and hold the RESET button on each unit for 20 seconds and release. Wait 30 seconds before powering them off.
So, are you ready? Do you have your parts? Do you care to just watch the video to see what you are getting into? Well here you go. (You will likely want to watch this in HD and full screen mode to see my screen share as the entire video tutorial is done with my MacBook Pro as I do the demo from my desktop.)
Here is a recap on how to connect your private Wi-Fi network to a RV parks Wi-Fi or to your own Internet data connection… (Like when you go to another RV park or need to use your own Internet data.) Copy the text below and save it if needed.
Point the NanoStation towards an access point. Hint…Try to point it towards the main office where the Internet connection usually comes in. Plug in the system if not already plugged in and give it 30 seconds to boot up.
FOR AFTER ALL IS DONE…QUICK CONNECT CHEAT SHEET….
1) Connect to your Wi-Fi SSID.
2) Open web browser and go to: http://192.168.2.1
3) Put in the user name and your password. User name = ubnt Password = What you made it.
4) Click on the WIRELESS tab.
5) Click on SELECT
6) Find the Access Point you would like to connect to. (The park or your own data device.)If there are several with the same SSID name you want to connect to, then select the best signal. The first number in the Signal column you want to be closer to zero. -55 is better than -75.
7) At the bottom click LOCK TO AP.
8) If the Access Point requires a password *, enter it in the bottom area. (The park would have supplied one if needed. Or the one for your own data device.)
9) Bottom Right of the screen click CHANGE.
10) Top of the screen click APPLY.
In under 30 seconds, you should see the antenna lights light up and then you should have access to the Internet.
Dealing with Captive Portal or “Agree” Pages: Some parks require you to “agree” or login with a user name and password before you have access. So once you connect to the park with the NanoStation, while on your Wi-Fi network, the first time you open your web browser the “captive portal” page will come up asking you to agree or log in. Once you do, the portal will note the MAC address of the NanoStation and then allow access to anything on your local Wi-Fi network.
NOTE: If your browser defaults to a open a webpage that is HTTPS (vs HTTP) then the captive portal can not show up as it is not HTTPS active. So be sure you are trying to go to a site that is not HTTPS. (Ie…Facebook, Google, GMail are all examples of HTTPS sites that people have their browsers default to.) So try another site…any site…maybe ours, and the captive portal page should come up for you. Also some campgrounds auto log you out after X hours or at the start of a new day. If this is the case you need to AGREE again. Just a heads up.
*NOTE on WEP Security: If the RV Park uses WEP as an encryption, then you will have try a few settings to connect to the park. WEP is hardly ever used anymore, but I just had a person need help connecting. You will more than likely need to change KEY TYPE from HEX to ASCII if they give you a actual word vs a bunch of characters. With each change you will have to click CHANGE at the bottom and then APPLY to see if it worked. If the lights on the back of the NanoStation light up, then you connected. If not, try again by changing the TYPE to be Shared Key.
REMINDER NOTICE: These Nanostations are very powerful, please DO NOT point it at your our personal HotSpot or even have it close. I would suggest laying it down flat when used with the HotSpot so not to over modulate the radios. Try to be between -50db and -70db when looking at the signal.
QUICK VIDEO ON UPDATING THE NANOSTATION FIRMWARE…
We kindly ask you share this as the topic comes up in other places so it will help others. Enjoy your own personal secure Wi-Fi connection.