(Editor's pre-amble. This is a guest article from an RV52.com reader Dan Wilcox -THANKS DAN- about his real world experience. Minor edits by RV52 along with added Amazon links.
Dan wrote RV52.com due to some of my articles on managing the WiFi in your RV. He wrote a great article and I hope it is of great use to you. Please comment and share so everyone can benefit from his experience.)
Why I wanted better RV Park WiFi
A month ago my wife and I sold our house in Spokane, WA and hit the road in our new RV. Our intention is to live and work from the road for an entire year.
Ability to Work Remotely and the need for security
We work from home, so our computers are important to us, as is the security of our computer network. We were hesitant to simply connect our computers directly to any RV park’s WIFI for our connection, worrying about the security of our connection (editor's note – very wise, very wise indeed).
My goal was two-fold; To put a firewall between us and any RV park’s WIFI, and to have the ability to connect to WIFI networks further away than our computers can see.
Solving the RV Park WiFi Signal Strength Problem
The rest of this article lays out what I did to arrive at what I feel is the best solution for RVers in similar situations. Here’s what I did;
Positioning the M2
You can either mount the M2 on the roof of your RV for the best results, or (like I did) simply place it near a window inside your RV, which is totally sufficient.
Connecting the M2 Cables
Here are instructions on how to connect the cabling of the M2 to your router; When you receive your M2, you’ll notice it has no power cord, as it’s powered over Ethernet (POE). This just means some of your Ethernet cables will run through a POE dongle that’s included with the M2. Here’s how the cabling connects your router, M2, and the POE dongle:
- Cable1: Connect a cable from the Internet port of your router to the LAN port of the dongle.
- Cable2: Connect a cable from the POE port of the dongle to Main port of the M2.
- Cable3: Connect a cable from the Secondary port of the M2 to a normal port of your Router. (For example, ports 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Just not the Internet port.) The reason for this cable is, it allows you to log into your M2 from your laptop once you’re connected to your router’s WIFI, which you’ll need to do to change the M2’s WIFI settings from RV park A to RV park B as you travel.
The M2 Configuration Interface
The M2 has an interface allowing you to see all the WIFI networks nearby. The M2’s interface lets you connect to any nearby WIFI network. It has a nice interface that lets you enter the WIFI connection’s password, then save it as the default, so you only have to do this once, initially, at each RV park you visit. Then, when you arrive at another RV park, you simply change it to that park’s WIFI.
Tricky Configurations with your Router and the M2
My goal with my router, which is a Netgear Nighthawk (an awesome router BTW), was to use it both at home and in my RV. Therefore, I didn’t want to change ANY of my router’s settings for using it in my RV. My router is on the 192.168.0.1 gateway (not 192.168.1.1, which is how the M2 is configured when you receive it).
I had to change the IP and Gateway of the M2 so the 3rd digit is a 0 and not a 1, to match my network. I made my M2’s gateway 192.168.0.100, the IP 192.168.0.50, but you can use different IP’s that make sense to you. Remember that you’ll use the IP address you assign to the M2 to log into it, to change the WIFI network you’re connecting to.
A few notes; The Ubiquiti Networks website has excellent support if you use their chat feature.
The folks at Ubiquiti Networks may tell you that you need a switch between your Router and the M2. That’s not true.
(editor's note: The wireless printer would be on the Nighthawk's wireless network completely unaffiliated with the RV Park WiFi and the M2.)
The M2 was the safer route as it’s on the 2.4 ghz signal that works on all devices. Don’t by the Loco M2 as its smaller and won’t do as good a job at picking up WIFi networks further away.
(editor's note: The Loco has a +5 km range, approx 3 miles, where the non-Loco has a range of 13 km, approx 7 miles. The price between the 2 types is about $40)
Lastly, the folks at Ubiquiti Networks told me that I didn’t technically need to use my router, and that if I wished I could simply connect directly to the M2 with my laptop(s), and that the M2 had an encrypted connection which offered sufficient security, but I figured it was best to have that added layer of protection offered by my router’s firewall (which the M2 and M5 do not have). Plus, I like the ability of having a router that I can connect printers to, tweak ports on, etc., so this was the best route for me.
Ubiquiti Products from Amazon