Ruggedized access point
and antenna cast wide
network from literally
Outdoor router with minimal coaxial run
maximizes network range. By Will O’Brien
In typical neighborhood wireless network deployments, the routers/transceivers operate indoors
and connect to outdoor antennas via coaxial
cable. The problem with this arrangement is that
a lot of power gets lost in the cable, reducing the
range. The combination of high frequencies (wi-fi
operates at 2.4GHz) and low power (imposed by
the FCC) makes coaxial cable very inefficient.
For example, the maximum output of a Linksys
WRT54GS router is 84 milliwatts, but after you
add 20 feet of Times Microwave LMR-400 cable,
you reduce its broadcast power to 62m W. Standard RG-6A cable is even worse (see Resources
for the calculators used to derive these figures).
To solve the loss problem, you can either add
an expensive, FCC-approved amplifier, or you
can just eliminate the long coaxial connection. I
took the cheaper, more flexible, latter approach.
I located a full access point outside, right next to
the antenna, inside a weatherproof enclosure.
Choosing the Main Components
For the router, I chose the hacker-favorite Linksys
WRT54GS, which is upgradable with third-party
firmware such as Sveasoft (
sveasoft.com), Hyper-WRT (
hyperwrt.org), and Open Wrt (
For the enclosure, I found a great NEMA 6
aluminum pole-mount enclosure from FAB Corp