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Antenna Selection - more

WHyperLink HG2409P-NF 2.4 GHz 8 dBi Flat Patch Antenna

HyperLink HG2409P-NF gain plot
HyperLink HG2409P-NF 2.4 GHz 8 dBi Flat Patch Antenna

Type: Directional "panel" / "patch"

Gain: 8 dBi

Pattern: 75° horizontal, 65° vertical beamwidth

This 4.5" square "patch" style has a directional pattern with relatively wide horizontal coverage for indoor use. Best suited for single-floor use, aimed at a central access point.

HyperLink HG2414P 2.4 GHz 14 dBi Flat Panel Antenna
HyperLink HG2414P gain plot

HyperLink HG2414P 2.4 GHz 14 dBi Flat Panel Antenna

Type: Directional "panel" / "patch"

Gain: 14 dBi

Pattern: 30° beamwidth, horizontal and vertical

The 14 dBi gain should provide noticeable performance improvement. But the 30% beamwidth makes this antenna very directional.

This type would be used for building-to-building applications.

WiFi-Link U-Tenna 2.4 GHz Panel w/ USB adapter

WiFi-Link U-Tenna 2.4 GHz Panel w/ USB adapter

Type: Combination panel and USB adapter

Gain: 14 dBi

Pattern: Directional

This is a combination of a 14 dBi panel antenna connected to a USB Wi-Fi adapter.

It is used with wireless clients and allows the antenna to be placed up to 15 feet away without worrying about signal loss.

It could be used indoors. But is better suited for building-to-building applications.

HyperLink HG2430G 2.4 GHz 30 dBi Grid Antenna
HyperLink HG2414P gain plot

HyperLink HG2430G 2.4 GHz 30 dBi Grid Antenna

Type: Directional "panel" / "patch"

Gain: 30 dBi

Pattern: 5.3° beamwidth, horizontal and vertical

This 30 dBi grid-style antenna is big (5' diameter), heavy (35 lbs.) and for long-distance outdoor use only.

Note the extremely narrow beam width, which requires very careful aiming and secure mounting.

The choice of omnidirectional or "patch" types depends on antenna placement relative to the coverage area and any signal containment requirements. In general, omni-directional antennas are best for central access points. Directional antennas are better on the client side, aimed back at the central AP. They are also good for point-to-point wireless bridging applications.

Most of the antennas above are helpful for improving AP, wireless router and even wireless bridges. But improving a wireless client's antenna is more difficult, because few adapters have connectors that allow other antennas to be attached. There are, however, some 802.11g USB adapters that support upgradeable antennas.

I reviewed the EnGenius EUB-362 EXT, which comes with a small 2 dBi dipole attached via an RP-SMA connector. It provided improved performance even with that small antenna and would do even better with a higher-gain antenna attached. If you're looking for similar adapters for draft 802.11n, however, don't bother because there aren't any.

Before we leave the subject of antennas, let me show you why add-on laptop wireless cards have such poor performance. As most any laptop user knows, their WLAN adapter card is highly directional, but Figure 5 shows just how much!

PC card antenna gain plot
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: PC card antenna gain plot

From Antennas Enhance WLAN Security by Trevor Marshall
Used by permission

This plot shows the relative sensitivity of a typical PC card adapter, with the key points being:

  • this is definitely not omni-directional performance
  • the adapter would perform better if the laptop's body were vertically oriented!

The reason for the second point is simple. Notebooks orient a WLAN adapter card's antenna in a horizontal plane, while most access points' antennas are vertically oriented. This simple fact itself accounts for the significant performance improvement from built-in WLAN notebook adapters because of their better orientation (usually vertical when the laptop screen is raised) and design (from not having to be squeezed into a 1 x 1.5 in space in the adapter itself).

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