3D Robotics

Range testing the ESP8266 Wifi module


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.

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  • Beware, by modifying the antenna, your product could lose its Fcc compliance.

    Indeed, if your antenna gain is more than 6dBi you have to back off the power by the same value.

    That's for north american fellows.

  • @Pascal, it was 18km with 70% signal strength

  • 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. 

    ESP8266 WiFi Access Point and MAVLink Bridge. Contribute to dogmaphobic/mavesp8266 development by creating an account on GitHub.
  • 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.

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

  • $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.

  • Moderator
    I would be playing with LoRa modules these days for max range.
  • 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.

  • Developer
    BTW, I think this module with built in regulator fits best the autopilots http://www.dx.com/p/esp-07-esp8266-serial-wi-f-wireless-module-w-bu...

    You can also add easily a better antenna using the connector
  • Developer
    You are using a cell phone, they where using a base station which was better sensitivity than a phone.
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