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External Z-Wave antenna. Share your results and method.


KSaccullo

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I see lots of chatter on using an external Z –Wave antenna. Some solve some don’t. An external antenna solved my problem.

 

Problem is my ISY is mounted in a steel structured media cabinet in the garage.

 

Using the internal antenna I could only get my Schlage door lock to work with the cover off of the steel cabinet. Even then standing in front of the lock or cabinet (block line of sight) the operation became marginal. Distance about 15 feet.

 

I was originally going to roll my own antenna but figured I try an off the shelf one first.

 

The antenna is mounted on the ceiling (vertical, pointing down) directly above the steel cabinet. The antenna lead wire is run through the wall, and then routed through a small hole in the garage ceiling. It is a magnetic base mount antenna but currently using dual lock to attach it to the ceiling.

 

Results are excellent. I get near instantaneous responses, supper fast query’s (before it would take up to 5 seconds). 

 

There is another modification I want try (just to see if I can max out the range). Mounting a steel plate above the antenna (remember it upside down). Not sure if this ground plane would help or hurt but it will satisfy my curiosity.

 

   Parts List (Purchased from Data-Alliance in Arizona)

  • RSf3iUFL U.FL to RP-SMA pigtail, 3 inch
  • BASE Magnetic Antenna base with 6½ cable RP-SMA
  • A9D5RA 860 to 960 Mhz Dipole Antenna RP-SMA
Kevin

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I see lots of chatter on using an external Z –Wave antenna. Some solve some don’t. An external antenna solved my problem.
 
Problem is my ISY is mounted in a steel structured media cabinet in the garage.
 
Using the internal antenna I could only get my Schlage door lock to work with the cover off of the steel cabinet. Even then standing in front of the lock or cabinet (block line of sight) the operation became marginal. Distance about 15 feet.
 
I was originally going to roll my own antenna but figured I try an off the shelf one first.
 
The antenna is mounted on the ceiling (vertical, pointing down) directly above the steel cabinet. The antenna lead wire is run through the wall, and then routed through a small hole in the garage ceiling. It is a magnetic base mount antenna but currently using dual lock to attach it to the ceiling.
 
Results are excellent. I get near instantaneous responses, supper fast query’s (before it would take up to 5 seconds). 
 
There is another modification I want try (just to see if I can max out the range). Mounting a steel plate above the antenna (remember it upside down). Not sure if this ground plane would help or hurt but it will satisfy my curiosity.
 
   Parts List (Purchased from Data-Alliance in Arizona)
  • RSf3iUFL U.FL to RP-SMA pigtail, 3 inch
  • BASE Magnetic Antenna base with 6½ cable RP-SMA
  • A9D5RA 860 to 960 Mhz Dipole Antenna RP-SMA
Kevin

 

Ground planes usually help when you are using a half wavelength antenna and the ground plane reflection of the 1/2 wave becomes the other half of the wavelength.

 

To calculate the wavelength, divide your Zwave frequency into 300M,  for the wavelength in metres.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

I see lots of chatter on using an external Z –Wave antenna. Some solve some don’t. An external antenna solved my problem.
 
Problem is my ISY is mounted in a steel structured media cabinet in the garage.
 
Using the internal antenna I could only get my Schlage door lock to work with the cover off of the steel cabinet. Even then standing in front of the lock or cabinet (block line of sight) the operation became marginal. Distance about 15 feet.
 
I was originally going to roll my own antenna but figured I try an off the shelf one first.
 
The antenna is mounted on the ceiling (vertical, pointing down) directly above the steel cabinet. The antenna lead wire is run through the wall, and then routed through a small hole in the garage ceiling. It is a magnetic base mount antenna but currently using dual lock to attach it to the ceiling.
 
Results are excellent. I get near instantaneous responses, supper fast query’s (before it would take up to 5 seconds). 
 
There is another modification I want try (just to see if I can max out the range). Mounting a steel plate above the antenna (remember it upside down). Not sure if this ground plane would help or hurt but it will satisfy my curiosity.
 
   Parts List (Purchased from Data-Alliance in Arizona)
  • RSf3iUFL U.FL to RP-SMA pigtail, 3 inch
  • BASE Magnetic Antenna base with 6½ cable RP-SMA
  • A9D5RA 860 to 960 Mhz Dipole Antenna RP-SMA
Kevin

 

 

 

Hi,

 

I'm considering installing these items in order to help improve response times as it did for you.

 

You picked a magnet mount antenna base and aren't really using the magnet part.  What other kind of mount did you consider?  

In order to get to the antenna connection on the ISY, did you have to disconnect the internal antenna?  Is there some sort of strain relief for the cable coming out?

 

Thanks

PhanTomiz

Hi,

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In order to get to the antenna connection on the ISY, did you have to disconnect the internal antenna?  Is there some sort of strain relief for the cable coming out?

There is a software setting to choose between the ceramic patch antenna built onto the board an an optional external antenna, changing the setting may require a hard power cycle to be effective.   See this old thread: http://forum.universal-devices.com/topic/17067-external-antenna-for-z-wave/

 

The Z-wave module has a surface-mount U.FL antenna connector on the board, you can use a standard adapter to go from this connector to an antenna connector through the small knockout in the side of the case, uses a nut to secure it to the case, these come in various lengths and look like this:

fdemig.jpg

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Hi,

 

I'm considering installing these items in order to help improve response times as it did for you.

 

You picked a magnet mount antenna base and aren't really using the magnet part.  What other kind of mount did you consider?  

In order to get to the antenna connection on the ISY, did you have to disconnect the internal antenna?  Is there some sort of strain relief for the cable coming out?

 

Thanks

PhanTomiz

Hi,

 

 

You can use the ISY to select the internal or external antenna, but UDI is no longer selling the Z-Wave module with an external antenna connection.

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What do you think is their reasoning?

 

I suppose the bottom line is that it doesn't comply with FCC regulations if an external antenna is attached. Devices are Fcc type-accepted as submitted, not with modifications. UDI would have to go through a separate FCC certification for the ISY with Z-wave module and external antenna attached, and I would guess also it would then exceed ERP limit anyway. (Though perhaps they could reduce power when external antenna connected.) I think basically too much trouble for just a few users.

 

Note that UDI never sold this combo complete. You had to order the cable and antenna separately. I think that even selling all 3 under the same roof with a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge!" was too close for comfort, as I've found through the years UDI as a company is a straight-shooter.

 

Besides that, they say they did testing that indicates that - in most cases - the internal antenna works better.

 

I do have the Z-wave module and the external antenna. Same metal-box issue. But for now, the antenna is removed, since I never found a Z-Wave device that I actually wanted to buy, and the more I read about them here, the less attractive they are to me.

 

(Originally, it was potentially for a lock - and we know what the prevailing opinion here is about locks and home automation systems, and I agree - they don't go together! - and for a Fibaro LED strip controller, which is not supported.)

 

You can still certainly order an antenna and cable from a third party, and drill a hole in the case. Wink, wink, nudge nudge!

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In most cases, the external antenna actually deceased performance because it's highly directional. I don't know if the new board even has a connection for an external antenna.

 

Edit: There is no FCC restriction for the external antenna.

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(Originally, it was potentially for a lock - and we know what the prevailing opinion here is about locks and home automation systems, and I agree - they don't go together! - and for a Fibaro LED strip controller, which is not supported.)

 

I have three Z-Wave locks (one installed so far).  It is somewhat slow to react and is about 3 m (10') away and through one interior wall.  I would like a faster response to help with the "wife approval factor".  That being said, as far as the prevailing opinion here on locks is concerned, in my situation where I live, crime and B&Es are not a major factor.  If I were to live in a major metropolitan area with higher crime, then I may not install HA locks. 

 

Considering that I have installed 3 Z-Wave operated vents throughout the house, 2 Aeon Sirens may be a better, but more expensive choice.

 

Thanks

PhanTomiZ

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I suppose the bottom line is that it doesn't comply with FCC regulations if an external antenna is attached. Devices are Fcc type-accepted as submitted, not with modifications. UDI would have to go through a separate FCC certification for the ISY with Z-wave module and external antenna attached, and I would guess also it would then exceed ERP limit anyway. (Though perhaps they could reduce power when external antenna connected.) I think basically too much trouble for just a few users.

 

Note that UDI never sold this combo complete. You had to order the cable and antenna separately. I think that even selling all 3 under the same roof with a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge!" was too close for comfort, as I've found through the years UDI as a company is a straight-shooter.

 

Besides that, they say they did testing that indicates that - in most cases - the internal antenna works better.

 

I do have the Z-wave module and the external antenna. Same metal-box issue. But for now, the antenna is removed, since I never found a Z-Wave device that I actually wanted to buy, and the more I read about them here, the less attractive they are to me.

 

(Originally, it was potentially for a lock - and we know what the prevailing opinion here is about locks and home automation systems, and I agree - they don't go together! - and for a Fibaro LED strip controller, which is not supported.)

 

You can still certainly order an antenna and cable from a third party, and drill a hole in the case. Wink, wink, nudge nudge!

 

It had nothing to do with FCC compliance - UDI simply found it didn't offer better average range in most installations and thus removed the option from the kit package. As others noted installing an external antenna will offer more directional reception.

 

Where as the easiest thing to do is simply elevate the ISY Series Controller from its current placement. Others have simply used a old school technique and placed a pie plate behind the controller in offering similar RF broadcast / reception gains.

 

Key thing here is if the controller supported Generation 5 chip set that in itself may offer greater distance, speed, and security for all. Besides that people will have to accept Z-Wave / ZigBee requires mesh repeaters like any other consumer grade device out there.

 

Lots of folks knock on Insteon including myself but given it offers two paths for communications instead of one. I'll take dual band over single band RF any day.

 

Good luck finding a filter for possible RF issues . . .

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