[SOLVED] Need help choosing a long range WiFi adapter

DrvLikHell

Commendable
Jul 17, 2016
4
0
1,510
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I need some help choosing a WiFi adapter. I'm interested in the Alfa adapters, but I don't know which one to pick because there are so many. I frequently have a situation where I need to connect to a WiFi signal that is out of range of my TP-Link 722N. Usually, I'm in a hotel in a foreign country and the WiFi doesn't reach my room, or there is no WiFi in my hotel, but there is free WiFi available nearby. Other times there is an internet cafe around the corner where I would gladly pay for internet but I'd much rather use it from my hotel room where it's quieter and safer. From what I've read, this means that I'll need a WiFi adapter that is just as sensitive as it is powerful in order to pick up a distant signal and also transmit it back the same distance without using long range antennas on either side. I'm not opposed to using a long range antenna on my side, but it would have to be small enough to easily pack up and carry with me as I travel. Also, I don't need AC as that's usually not available anyways, so N is just fine.

I am looking at the Alfa AWUS036NH, AWUS036NEH, AWUS036NHA, or possibly the AWUS036NHV. Each one has different power and sensitivity ratings, and there are different chipsets as well. It seems the power and sensitivity ratings aren't solely indicative of the ability to connect to a weak signal as there are many reports of the 36NHA being able to connect to and use weak signals, even though it has a much lower transmission power. If I made a choice on specs alone I'd choose the 36NHV, which has a high sensitivity and second highest transmission power. But for some reason I can't find much information about experiences with that adapter.

If anyone has another WiFi adapter in mind that can connect over long distances in varied conditions I'd be open to suggestions other than these.
 
The sellers of of alfa equipment have historically been massively deceptive in what they sell. When you look up the data they must file with the FCC they are well withing the legal limits of 1 watt of total power.

In addition this is extremely old equipment. Some of it is using 802.11n draft chipset which do not work well.

The main reason this stuff used to be popular was it was on the few chipsets at the time you could put in promiscuous mode and capture wifi data. That is very much a thing of the past since all traffic tends to be encrypted both at the wifi level and by the applications using HTTPS. In addition almost all traffic is now using Mimo and it tends to be almost impossible to reliable capture mulitple overlapping signals.

Be extremely careful the vast majority of what you read on those devices can be 5 to 10 yrs old.

I agree with the above post. If you can see the location that has the signals a directional bridge will increase your chances. If you can not see the location then you are dependent on reflected traffic so a omni directional will likely work better.
 

lolnole

Upstanding
Oct 2, 2018
349
1
360
109
You should also look into travel routers. I've used them for the exact issue you have described. Some of them include better security features.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Those Alfa adapters might say they have 2W or 10W, but you have no way to prove that. My recommendation would be an omni-directional WIFI bridge/router that you can place in your window for maximum signal and then connect to it via conventional ethernet. Something like an Engenius ENX202EXT or a Ubiquiti Rocket M2
 
The sellers of of alfa equipment have historically been massively deceptive in what they sell. When you look up the data they must file with the FCC they are well withing the legal limits of 1 watt of total power.

In addition this is extremely old equipment. Some of it is using 802.11n draft chipset which do not work well.

The main reason this stuff used to be popular was it was on the few chipsets at the time you could put in promiscuous mode and capture wifi data. That is very much a thing of the past since all traffic tends to be encrypted both at the wifi level and by the applications using HTTPS. In addition almost all traffic is now using Mimo and it tends to be almost impossible to reliable capture mulitple overlapping signals.

Be extremely careful the vast majority of what you read on those devices can be 5 to 10 yrs old.

I agree with the above post. If you can see the location that has the signals a directional bridge will increase your chances. If you can not see the location then you are dependent on reflected traffic so a omni directional will likely work better.
 

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