Those $3 Wifi modules can be extended to surprisingly good range with the right antenna. From Hackaday:

With progress slowly being made on turning the ESP8266 UART to WiFi module into something great, there is still the question of what the range is for the radio in this tiny IoT wonder. [CNLohr] has some test results for you, and the results are surprisingly good.

Connecting to the WiFi module through a TPLink WR841N router, [CN] as able to ping the module at 479 meters with a huge rubber duck antenna soldered on, or 366 meters with the PCB antenna. Wanting to test out the maximum range, [CN] and his friends dug out a Ubiquiti M2 dish and were able to drive 4.28 kilometers away from the module and still ping it.

Using a dish and a rubber duck antenna is an exercise in excess, though: no one is going to use a dish for an Internet of Things thing, but if you want to carry this experiment to its logical conclusion, there’s no reason to think an ESP8266 won’t connect, so long as you have line of sight and a huge antenna.

There’s still a lot of work to be done on this module. It’s capable of running custom code, and since you can pick this module up for less than $5 USD, it’s an interesting platform for whatever WiFi project you have in mind.

Views: 18309

Comment by Bill Bonney on January 22, 2016 at 3:58pm
Comment by Artem on January 22, 2016 at 6:10pm

pinging and having a reliable telemetry connection is two different things. In my experience the best range @ 56k baud I was able to achieve is about 70 meters to my cell phone. 

Comment by Bill Bonney on January 22, 2016 at 8:43pm
You are using a cell phone, they where using a base station which was better sensitivity than a phone.

Comment by Bill Bonney on January 22, 2016 at 8:46pm
BTW, I think this module with built in regulator fits best the autopilots

You can also add easily a better antenna using the connector
Comment by Rana on January 22, 2016 at 9:36pm

You are right Bill, this wifi module along with this 2W WiFi amplifier provides unlimited range with 24dbi Yagi antenna at ground station along with tracker and this 7dBi 2.4GHz rubber duck antenna on the air module.

I am my self using this setup, I could never test the maximum range due to inadequate battery endurance.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 22, 2016 at 10:03pm
I would be playing with LoRa modules these days for max range.
Comment by Jack Crossfire on January 22, 2016 at 11:37pm

$3 + $6 for that thing is quite a reduction from the small fortune of the old 3DRRRRadio, but it's unremarkable otherwise.  The old 20dB transmit power is focused down a narrower bandwidth of 1Megabit, leading to longer range.  If it has to be line of sight & require aiming something, you should be using lasers.

Comment by Pascal P. on January 23, 2016 at 3:37am

@ Rana : your setup looks good and affordable. What maximum range did you get ? Knowing your limitation was battery capacity...

Comment by PX4 on January 23, 2016 at 11:04am

AUAV ships the Pixracer, which has a socket for the ESP8266, with a module which comes pre-flashed with a MAVLink enabled firmware which allows to set the Wifi password through QGroundControl:

It won't get more compact and easier than that.

Comment by Phillip Kocmoud on January 23, 2016 at 2:59pm

With the PCB antenna and a basic laptop running dogmaphobic's MavLinkESP firmware, my MAX range is typically 120m LOS. This is running UDP @ 900000bps.


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