Extending the range of a WRT54G

Discussion in 'Cisco/Linksys Wireless Routers' started by pvtjohndoe, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. pvtjohndoe

    pvtjohndoe Network Guru Member

    I'm working on a fairly complex project which requires the use of an embedded system. The WRT54G seems to fit most of my needs for the project, and I have quite a few of them laying around. They're pretty much the cheapest mass-produced devices available that can run Linux.

    One of the requirements for the project is bi-directional communication over a span of about 30,000-80,000ft (line of sight). I know the router would require some extreme modification or some kind of external RF power booster to even come close to this range. The router will be moving at a fairly high rate of speed (60mph) so I can't use a directional antenna.

    I know it's probably just a pipe dream to get a WRT54G to work over these long distances. It could cut months off of my design time though, so it's worth a try. Does anyone know of a way that communication over extreme distances with a WRT54G might be possible?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. pvtjohndoe

    pvtjohndoe Network Guru Member

    Disregard my last post. I've found a better (and cheaper) solution than the WRT54G.

    The module is made by Aerocomm and claims a 20 mile range line of sight. That's over 105,000ft...which far exceeds my requirements. Here's a link to the specs for those of you that are interested: http://aerocomm.com/rf_transceiver_modules/ac4490_900mhz_rf_transceiver.htm

    I'll still be using the WRT54G as the on-board computer, but the wireless function will be disabled to save power.
  3. vibe666

    vibe666 Network Guru Member

    come on, you can't just say stuff like that and leave us hanging!

    so what's the project?

    promise I won't tell anyone, honest. :)
  4. crawdaddy

    crawdaddy Network Guru Member

    I dunno, but whatever it is, it's going to be very SLOW communitcations...with only 115kbps of available data rate, of course alot of that being lost to data overhead to whatever he's transmitting.
  5. HennieM

    HennieM Network Guru Member

    Dittio vibe666. C'mon, do tell, please daddy....
  6. pvtjohndoe

    pvtjohndoe Network Guru Member

    Alright, I'll tell you. :)

    I'm building an "open source" autonomous high-altitude glider. I'll be publishing all of my plans and software online so that others can replicate what I've done.

    I ruled out using the WRT54G's wireless functionality when I found out the price of the signal-boosting hardware. In order to extend the range to what I need, I would have to buy a $3500 range-booster. Umm, no thanks.

    A high data rate isn't required. The only data that needs to be sent is the occasional small JPEG image, GPS coordinates, and some other little things. The glider will be completely autonomous and will be lifted to elevation by a weather balloon. Once it reaches it's target altitude, it will release the balloon and begin heading toward specified GPS coordinates. All location data sent back from the glider will be displayed within in Google Earth in real-time.

    The flight computer of the glider is a Linksys WRT54G running OpenWRT. Ruby will be the primary language due to ease of development and debugging. Most of the hardware I need is in the mail and on it's way here. I'm already hundreds of dollars and many hours into this project, so there is no turning back now. :)

    Any functions of the glider can be controlled via the ground control interface, which runs within Google Earth's integrated browser. The control software of the glider can even be completely reprogrammed while the glider is airborne. The front-end of the ground control interface and the KML interface with Google Earth is served by a local Ruby on Rails server. The front-end is connected to yet another Ruby script that interfaces with the ground control hardware, which includes an auto-tracking pan/tilt antenna.

    Basically, my goal is to use as much off-the-shelf hardware and software as possible so that the project is within the reach of anyone with lots of time and motivation.

    Let me know if you have any questions. I will create a blog and post details as the project progresses if there is enough interest.

    -Skylar Givens
  7. HennieM

    HennieM Network Guru Member

    Very cool! What's NASA have to say... ;-)
  8. vibe666

    vibe666 Network Guru Member


    keep us posted, and don't forget to take lots of pics. :)
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