The best resource I’ve found for improving WiFi range on the road is this guide on Private RV Wi-Fi and Making a Better Park Connection by Outside Our Bubble.
The guide and video take you step-by-step through the process of setting up a Ubiquiti NanoStation and a Ubiquiti airGateway. The guide recommends the Ubiquiti NanoStation Loco M2 and the Ubiquiti airGateway Wireless Access Point. I ended up buying the more expensive Ubiquiti NanoStation M2 and Ubiquiti airGateway Installer.
The M2 has double the antenna range of the Loco M2. This is probably overkill, but I sided with making sure I had enough range for any park. When choosing, keep in mind that a larger antenna means more power consumption.
The Installer version of the airGateway offers a USB power input. I paid a little extra money for this hoping I could power both it and the NanoStation from a USB source, but, as I expected, USB isn’t powerful enough to drive the M2. USB provides enough power to set up the M2, but not enough to pull in a WiFi signal. The Installer version is intended to power up equipment from a USB battery pack just enough to allow provisioning. So, experiment failed, but I had a backup plan. Once I hooked up a Tycon Systems TP-DCDC-1224 24V POE Out 24W DC To DC Converter And POE Inserter, the NanoStation had all the power it needed to pull in WiFi from afar.
If you get the Installer version, note that you must toggle a setting to get the same user interface referenced in the Outdoor Our Bubble guide, which uses the non-installer version of the airGateway. By default, the Installer version shows a minimized interface with fewer options. Changing a setting (I forget which one), reveals the full interface seen in the guide. For RV and van use, I’d skip the installer version and get the cheaper version without the USB power input.
The NanoStation is weatherproof. I mount it to a small length of 3/4” PVC pipe that tucks into a socket on the roof rails. From its perch, it has endured months of rain and snow and wind without incident.
- Ubiquiti NanoStation M2 – Wireless Access Point – AirMax (NSM2US) This is the directional antenna that pulls in weak and distant WiFi signals. If you don’t need this much range, try the Loco M2 suggested in the Outside Our Bubble guide.
- Ubiquiti airGateway Installer Indoor AP (AG-PRO-INS) This is the access point/router. Your wireless devices connect to this.
- Outdoor Ethernet 15ft Cat6 Cable, IMONTA Shielded Grounded UV Resistant Waterproof Buried-able Network Cord This connects the airGateway to the NanoStation, providing a conduit for both power and data.
- Tycon Systems TP-DCDC-1224 24V POE Out 24W DC To DC Converter And POE Inserter This converts 12V DC from your car to POE (Power over Ethernet) that powers both the gateway and the antenna.
- TYUMEN 18 AWG Gauge 2 Conductor Stranded 40 FT Roll Red Black Speaker Audio Cable Electrical Hookup Wire – 99.95% Oxygen Free Copper Wires This connects the DC to POE converter to your 12V electrical system. A lot of the cheap wire on Amazon is aluminum, not copper. This is actual copper.