How-to: Panel Antenna on MintBox Mini 2 for Strong Wi-Fi

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AZM
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Posts: 67
Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:20 am
Location: Mesa, AZ area

How-to: Panel Antenna on MintBox Mini 2 for Strong Wi-Fi

Post by AZM »

Please see my Edit #1 at the end of this post if you've already visited this thread. The word "panel" refers to the directional antenna. I have gone through this entire post to weed out other uses of "panel" and substituted another word.

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The router is clear to the other end of the house from me. It's a long living room, a bedroom with four closet walls between here and there. I have been using a repeater, but sometimes I had to switch between the router and the repeater, which I named a different SSID. I run a smart speaker on that Wi-Fi network.

The MintBox Mini Pro 2 computer, which happens to have turned two years of age today, sits under my table on top of a retired tower PC. The antenna ports are on the right side. The router is off to its far right, some 40 feet away.

I bought a unidirectional Alfa panel antenna on Amazon, and when it arrived, I took the two antennas off the MintBox. I connected the panel to the antenna port nearest the computer's front face. The panel's logo faces away from the computer, to the right. The antenna's strongest reception is from the direction that the logo faces. It faces my household's router.

Before, I had many SSIDs from around the neighborhood, but now, I have none of the neighbors' stuff showing up. My target router on 5.8 GHz has no great signal, despite the panel's 10dBi gain, showing 35% signal. But it is by itself with no interference. I downloaded some Linux updates at blazing speeds of >1200 kbps to 2600 kbps. I can switch YouTube videos virtually as fast as changing TV channels.

The Bluetooth shares the panel, and where before, when I lost Bluetooth in the laundry room, it is now solid everywhere in the house.

The panel rotates 90 degrees to the left and 90 to the right, a total of 180 degrees. It also tilts from vertical.

(EDIT #1)
I have discovered that the antenna port closest to the rear face of the computer (Power plugs into the rear) is hot with Wi-Fi. Call this Port 1. If I put the panel there, I get plenty of signals from everywhere. The 2.4 GHz band is very much alive and well here. With no antenna on the front port (which I refer to as Port 2), I lose Bluetooth connectivity.

With the antenna attached to the port closest to the front face (Power switch) (Port 2) and no antenna on Port 1, I had weak, but usable Wi-Fi from the 5 GHz router, the only one seen. I had blazing-fast download speeds in this configuration. Bluetooth is connected to this port. The 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi is a very weak -110 at best. Bluetooth works very well.

Between the time that I first used the panel on Port 2 and switched it to Port 1, the 5G router switched from channel 157 down to channel 48. A hidden device is also on 48 with other devices using channel 44 and using the same 80-MHz bandwidth.

These antenna ports are too close together to use two of these panel antennas. My best bet is to use the panel on the Bluetooth port (2) and no antenna on the Wi-Fi port (1). I get decent, stable 5G Wi-Fi and good coverage on 2.4G Bluetooth throughout the house.

Now, you may ask, how do I get Wi-Fi with no antenna? The higher frequency of 5 GHz is received on the panel antenna feeding the Bluetooth antenna port. The 5G signal bleeds over into the Wi-Fi circuitry much more efficiently than the lower-frequency 2.4 GHz signal does. This is why I essentially receive no 2.4G Wi-Fi on this setup.

I should look for a directional antenna that I can connect to the Wi-Fi port by way of a cable. It will need a way to be stood up and aimed.


I hope this information helps someone with poor Wi-Fi conditions.
MintBox Mini Pro 2 with Linux Mint 20.3 Cinnamon
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