WiFi Card upgrade testing

NYG

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Yesterday I posted on another thread about testing I'm doing with WiFi card upgrades in the Solo.
The stock cards are mini PCIe and based on the Atheros AR9382 chip, both controller and Solo have these cards.
I've got a pair of MikroTik R11e-2Hnd (800mw) cards that I've been wanting to test, they're based
on the Atheros AR9580 chip. The Solo uses the ath9k driver that is compatible with a wide range of
Atheros based cards.

I've been regularly doing my testing at a local middle school/high school facility. It's not the cleanest
area for WiFi, especially with the surrounding neighborhood but it's only a few minutes from leaving home to flying.

With the stock wifi cards and stock antennas the max range I got was 600'-700' before RTH. This was pretty consistent.
With just the new Mikrotik wifi card in the Solo my range increased to 1500' before RTH.
Today with the controller also upgraded with a Mikrotik card I went over 2500' before RTH.

With a pair of router antennas I was getting 1300'-1500' before RTH with the stock wifi cards.
With just the Solo upgraded I reached 2300' before RTH.
Today with both the Solo and controller upgraded I reached over 3700' before RTH.

I also have a homebrew high db panel antenna that I reached just under 4000' with today but I'm finding it very difficult to aim when i get out that far.

Today is also very humid and cloudy day. Looks like rain soon.

I had a couple of concerns going into this:
1) would the new cards generate more heat and would that be a problem? So far this looks to be OK
2) would the newer cards eat more battery? This is still an open question but I haven't noticed any difference just on normal flying habits with the limited tests done so far.

Also of note I don't know the TX power of the stock wifi cards and I have yet to find a compatible linux command to display it on the Solo or controller (certain commands are missing). I also saw in one of the startup scripts that it *may* limit max TX power to 27dbm. I also don't know the exact TX power of the new Mikrotik cards, based on the results though the Mikrotik cards are significantly better.

More research needs to be done on this. I also need to do some testing from the command line to see if i can boost power from the Mokrotik cards.

So far so good. I'm pretty damn impressed right now.

I also planned on testing a 1W mimo booster I had but decided not to do it yet. I just don't feel like carrying around the booster, extra battery, cables etc...

I'll keep you all posted as this venture continues.
 

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This is great info, thanks for posting it!

Do you know the model/part number of the original cards that were in the Solo and the Controller? Perhaps we can get the specs of the original cards by knowing their part numbers.
 
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NYG

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unfortunately there is nothing to identify what card it is. It's got a 3D Robotics part number sticker on it and MAC address. Honestly it's a card I haven't seen before. It's slightly longer but the mounting holes align for standard full size mini PCIe cards.
 

NYG

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If i get the chance later I'll install the Solo wifi card into a laptop. Maybe I can get more information on it that way.
 
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Ive been investigating the whole booster thing, have you worked out what to pwer them with. I think they say 6v... would a 2s fry one, and how much battery would one need mah wise?
 

NYG

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The boosters I have are the brand Sunhans. they operate at 12V 2A. I bought a rechargeable battery from ebay, snipped the connector off the end of the booster wall wart and created my own power cable to go into the battery.
 
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The boosters I have are the brand Sunhans. they operate at 12V 2A. I bought a rechargeable battery from ebay, snipped the connector off the end of the booster wall wart and created my own power cable to go into the battery.
Also since youre at the wifi card, will you please, please adapt either rhcp or even just a rubber ducky antenna out the bottom.
 

NYG

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What I'll do next is run a couple RP-SMA connectors outside or through the shell of the Solo. I'm waiting on the gimbal first though so I don't place the connectors in a bad spot.
 
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What I'll do next is run a couple RP-SMA connectors outside or through the shell of the Solo. I'm waiting on the gimbal first though so I don't place the connectors in a bad spot.
is the area on the rear that looks like a puck occupied by anything? it says sololink or something on it?
 

NYG

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is the area on the rear that looks like a puck occupied by anything? it says sololink or something on it?
I didn't see anything in the space, though i wasn't really paying attention to it. The antennas just run down a couple of legs. My thought is that it might be for airflow with the small gaps around the front of it.
 

NYG

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So I installed one of the Solo wifi cards into a laptop and an iwconfig lists the TX-power at 27dbm. That is pretty good and actually what I was expecting from my new card. I also connected to one of my access points and after a few minutes it dropped connection and won't reconnect. More investigating to do...

If it's REALLY 27dbm then why does it perform so poorly compared to the mikrotik card.
 
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So I installed one of the Solo wifi cards into a laptop and an iwconfig lists the TX-power at 27dbm. That is pretty good and actually what I was expecting from my new card. I also connected to one of my access points and after a few minutes it dropped connection and won't reconnect. More investigating to do...

If it's REALLY 27dbm then why does it perform so poorly compared to the mikrotik card.
Hopefully future updates from 3DR will make the stock wifi cards better and more reliable, but your initial results are impressive.
 
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Yesterday I posted on another thread about testing I'm doing with WiFi card upgrades in the Solo.
The stock cards are mini PCIe and based on the Atheros AR9382 chip, both controller and Solo have these cards.
I've got a pair of MikroTik R11e-2Hnd (800mw) cards that I've been wanting to test, they're based
on the Atheros 9582 chip. The Solo uses the ath9k driver that is compatible with a wide range of
Atheros based cards.
Thanks for doing this! Did you have to pair Artoo and Solo again? Was this just a drop-in replacement? The MikroTik R11e-2hnd I found seem to be low-power versions or shipped from Germany? Where did you get yours if I may ask?
 

NYG

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Thanks for doing this! Did you have to pair Artoo and Solo again? Was this just a drop-in replacement? The MikroTik R11e-2hnd I found seem to be low-power versions or shipped from Germany? Where did you get yours if I may ask?
The R11e-2Hnd is the lower power version compared to the R11e-2HPnd, which is a 1W card. That card has a very large heat sink and the antenna connections are mmcx. I bought mine for $29 each from Baltic networks but their shipping is a bit pricey.

After installing the new card in the Solo the controller saw it as a new Solo, I assume because of the new MAC address. It asked me to hold A+B to pair them.

If i get the chance later I'll see if I can set the TX-power to 29dbm on the mikrotik card. That should be the full 800mw. But honestly I don't think I need it right now.
 
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I didn't see anything in the space, though i wasn't really paying attention to it. The antennas just run down a couple of legs. My thought is that it might be for airflow with the small gaps around the front of it.
are the antennas dual or just a dipole with two wires?
 

NYG

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NYG, was the WiFi upgrade difficult to do? Can you post some pictures / instructions
Thanks
I didn't document the whole process. From seeing the tear down photos people made taking the Solo and controller apart I knew what to expect. On the Solo itself I took the motors out on the opposite side as the accessory connector on the bottom, I also removed the fixed gimbal. This made easier to just flip the main board onto one side to get to the processor/wifi combo underneath. There is also a white silicon to hold the antenna connections down. I removed that but haven't replaced it on the new board. Maybe the next time i take apart I'll do it but I don't expect the connections to fall out. they snap into place.

The controller has a few connectors that run from top half to bottom half when you take it apart. You need to be careful and unplug a few connectors then the processor board/wifi combo is easy to get to.

Just be careful and don't force anything.
 
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Each antenna connector has it's own antenna. one down a front leg and one down a rear leg.
So assuming that the stock card is 27dbi , the stock antennae can only be 3dbi to stay under the limit.

Im thinking adding a ufl to rpsma-female to adapt external antennas on solo i would assume a pair of 5 or 6 dbi should effectively double the power right? 3 more dbi?

Also regarding the 1W card, is there room for the heat sink of it?
 
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NYG

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So assuming that the stock card is 27dbi , the stock antennae can only be 3dbi to stay under the limit.

Im thinking adding a ufl to rpsma-female to adapt external antennas on solo i would assume a pair of 5 or 6 dbi should effectively double the power right? 3 more dbi?

Also regarding the 1W card, is there room for the heat sink of it?
The 1W card won't fit with that heat sink. As a matter fact the mmcx connections on it may have posed a challenge with size once the antenna side was connected. When I ordered the 800mw cards they sent me the 1W cards, more expensive part but I had to exchange them because it just wouldn't fit.
 

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