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Extending the Dexter Industries NXT dWifi Sensor's Range
The Dexter Industries Wifi Sensor allows your Lego Mindstorms NXT robots to connect to the internet and send and receive data via a local Wifi network. The I found that the Wifi Sensor had issues with signal levels, which is primary cause is my homes design. Laptops have issues as well in some areas as well.
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Dexter Industries Wifi Sensor's U.FL connector

To get around this issue I needed to attach a 'High Gain Ariel' to the WiFi Sensor. The WiFi Module Dexter Industries chose to use has a U.FL connector on it. So a connector cable that interfaces U.FL RF connectors to regular SMA connections used by standard WiFi Aerials that attach to WiFi Routers, Modems and most PCI Cards.

U.FL to RP-SMA Ariel Connector Cable

I sourced a couple of 18cm UFL RF connectors to RP-SMA Ariel connector interfaces cables shown above for $2.50 off eBay. Most computer outlets should also have them. They attach to any standard RP-SMA 2.4GHz antenna used on DPAC 802.11 modules.

Technic Mount for Wifi Sensor to Ariel Connector Cable

The next issue was coming up with a universal mount for the Ariel that was solid and easy to connect to LEGO Technic components. After a little trial-and-error, I decided on modifying a Technic #32184, Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular 3L with Center Pin Hole. The modifications to the Technic #32184 Connector was simply to drill out the centre hole with a 17/64 Drill Bit. The Ariel connection end of the fly-lead fits tightly into the enlarged hole. When the 2.4GHz 802.11 Ariel is screwed onto the fly -lead, the mount is very secure.

Technic Mounted Ariel attached to the Dexter Industries Wifi Sensor

Using the Technic #32184, Axle and Pin Connector with Centre Pin Hole, allow a multitude of ways to fix the Ariel to your LEGO Mindstorms NXT Robot. The ExoForce Off-Road Rover: Mark II, shown below has the Ariel attached via 2x Technic #87083 (Axle 4 long with Stop) through the Ariel mount, via a chassis rail, and two Technic #32184 fitted on the protruding shaft to lock the Ariel into place.

dWiFi Sensor and Ariel fitted to my ExoForce Off-Road Rover

With the new 9dB Wi-Fi (Signal Booster) Ariel attached to the Dexter Industries Wifi Sensor, I can now send and receive data over my local Wifi network in any direction, for a radius of 80-100m.

I advice you too unscrew the Ariel from the fly-lead when not in use, but have the other end permanently attached to the Dexter Industries Wifi Sensor. Care must be taken with the fly-lead attachment on the WiFi Module. I suggest that you feed the Fly-lead through the hole in the centre of the WiFi Sensor's PCB. This will help to secure the the Fly-lead and protect the WiFi Modules tiny Ariel Socket.

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By Sparra McNamara
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Added April 5, 2012

LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Extending the Dexter Industries NXT dWifi Sensor's RangeRobotics

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