Ants, Bees, Genomes & Evolution

@ Queen Mary University London

Getting a good internet connection from out in the boonies

Ok so Covid made Yannick et al head for the woods. But what about internet access?

It took some time but I figured it out. It is now fast and reliable. Low ping. Fast download. Fast upload. Amazing.

I suspect others in remote places could benefit from what I learnt. Two things were needed.

chateau.png

A high performance 4G/LTE router

The MikroTik Chateau is incredible.

Put a SIM card inside, and its already much faster than:

  • a phone,
  • a mifi hotspot,
  • or a “simple” 90 euro 4G/LTE router like the Dlink DWR 921.

But plug in a dual antenna and it’s crazy fast.

fast_speedtest_chateau_lte_mimo.png

FYI, those 180 Mbps are despite having only 3 bars of reception.

It turns out that this router is Category 12 LTE, which means that it connects to the cell tower 3 times. So you get more combined bandwidth, and more resilience to interruptions - say if one of the cell tower’s were to become overloaded or fail.

MikroTik design and build these in Latvia. Most of their stuff is geared towards professionals. So the user interface offers immense flexibility - but is not easy to use. And it didn’t just “plug and play”.

FWIW the router is ~200 GBP in UK.


A Yagi MIMO directional antenna on the roof

This had to be pointed at the nearest 4G phone tower - which I located using this handy map.

This made a huge improvement in cell reception.

(FWIW, I paid ~100 GBP for the antenna)

coflex_mimo_lte_antenna.jpg

MikroTik Chateau configuration

Every small thing you could want to imagine can be tuned on this router - and bazillions of things I am not even close to imagining (!).

However, it didn’t work right away. I had to specifically:

1. Set the APN

Following MikroTik’s help documents, I did this in the Terminal interface:

/interface lte apn add apn=internet.it use-network-apn=no
/interface lte set lte1 apn-profiles=internet.it

2. In the Quick interface

  • Specifically tell it to use both antennas
  • Rename network, add password
  • Update the OS to the latest development version

3. In the WebFig interface

  • Tell it to accept incoming SMS

Now I just need to figure out how to correctly ground the antenna


July 24, 2020