Wi-Fire Long-range WiFi Adapter

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October 30, 2008

Wi-Fire Long-range WiFi Adapter
hField Technologies www.hfield.com
MSRP $79

Do you sometimes have connectivity issues using Wi-Fi hotspots in campgrounds?

WiFi is low-power, two-way radio. Just as with any other radio, a better antenna will give you a better connection. Wi-Fi technology was designed for small offices, home offices and coffee shops. Campgrounds and RV parks present difficult challenges for connecting with many obstructions and reflective surfaces.

The Wi-Fire Long-range WiFi adapter is a better radio and antenna than what is built-in to your computer. With it, you can connect reliably from a much greater distance.

Installation Video: (be patient, it can take a minute for the Play button to appear)


The unit combines a high powered Wi-Fi radio with a high gain directional antenna in a four ounce package which can be mounted on a laptop or LCD screen or just set on a table or shelf. A 4’ retractable USB cable connects to both older 1.1 and newer 2.0 ports. It is compatible with 802.11 b and g protocols in the 2.4GHz frequency range (standard Wi-Fi). WEP, WPA and WPA2 security are supported.

Support for Windows XP or Vista and Mac OS X are included on the supplied installation CD. Also on the CD is a Window’s Connection Manager program. Support for Linux is available on the website.

I have been using the Wi-Fire adapter for a week in the RV park where we are staying. I tested the Wi-Fire at several distances from the access points. Our site is 200 feet from the tower. I get excellent signal with the Wi-Fire and good signal with my built-in. Browsing experience is about the same with either adapter inside my RV. I see 3 more APs using the Wi-Fire. Testing again at 330 feet, I can still connect with my built-in, but browsing is slower. With the Wi-Fire, signal is good and browsing is fast. In the far corner of the park 460 feet from the tower, I could still connect with my built-in, but browsing was much better with the Wi-Fire. Outside the RV park at over 500 feet, I couldn’t stay connected with my built-in and the Wi-Fire connected and browsing was acceptable.

List of available networks before installing the Wi-Fire
List of available networks afterinstalling the Wi-Fire

The included Connection Manager software is good and does not interfere with Windows configuration utility, in fact, it works with it.

Not all WiFi hotspots are the same. When you connect using WiFi, you are not connecting directly to the Internet. You are connecting to an access point which is connected to the Internet. If you are close to access point, your built-in Wi-Fi will work just fine. As you put distance and obstructions between you and the access point, you need a better device to connect reliably. This is where the Wi-Fire Long-range WiFi adapter excels.

The mount is a bit clunky and the antenna fell off a couple of times while I was aiming it. Because the antenna is so directional, it takes more time to get the best signal. The retractable USB cable is easily tangled.
The Wi-Fire adapter is a good affordable solution for better connections at WiFi hotspots.

Jim Guld

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  3. Pingback: hField Technologies - Blog » Blog Archive » A “must read” RV Resource for Wi-Fi

  4. There are some other ways to get some real good reception in your RV. If your serious about being hooked up to the internet via WiFi look into purchasing a 802.3 WiFi card with an antenna adapter on it. Mount a 8db + Antenna on the top of your RV (about the size of a cell phone antenna) and you should get decent range of 1000 + feet. There are two reasons your range would increase with this configuration one is due to the unobstructed height of your antenna on the RV and the other is dB gain (decibel gain) of the antenna itself. I am covering this issue big time on my website, including examples and test. WiFi signals are in the gigahertz range and do not transmit well through metal, leaves, or high humidity, no matter what you buy, it will not work unless you meet the basics of high frequency radio communications. More to come.

  5. BigAZbob

    I have been having to deal with the absence of WiFi signals for about 3 years. I am a full timer. I have Direct TV which takes care of that problem. As for WiFi… well I have been a HAM operator since 1963. I went in search of an answer to the problem without having to spend the Obama budget.. I found a device called the RV wave II, by radio labs in Ca. They are on the net. This device is USB driven and allows for a “real” outside antenna. An outside antenna is going to give more signal because most RV’s are aluminum and bloc the signal inside the RV, even at the window. The one I choose is called the Afterburner and is similar to a dish for satellite and has coax and connectors. The interesting thing is I spent 30 mo.s on the Navajo Reservation and my WiFi signal was about 1 1/2 miles away. This device works great. I got 3/4 signal most every day. 1/2 or more consistently. The RV Wave II is not cheap but it works great. I have 35 foot of coax, the Rv II and mounted it outside on an old TV antenna mount on the RV. It is about 16′ off the ground, the higher the better. On a scale of 1 -10, I give this product a 8.8… This WiFire extender is home build-able for about $10. Look under the ham project web site. There are more expensive ways, but the price goes with that… Happy RVing.. BigAZbob

  6. Dave Firth

    I purchased one of these devices to assist me with getting wifi access at my (relatively) remote work location. It does seem to deliver technically, though it was twitchy to get working on OS X Leopard. I had to shut off Airport, re-set up the security settings (do not accept the wi-fire utility’s “do you want to use previously set up settings” dialog, as it doesn’t work), and go into network settings in system preferences and renew the dhcp lease. I was then online. I can see more access points at home, though Airport seems faster than Wi-Fire.

  7. Jim Hamann

    where can I find WI-Fire??

  8. Starr – please comment back here when you get your Wi-Fire, OK?

    John – so glad you’re happy with our Verizon Broadband Access – I agree it *IS* almost too good to be true. Every time I call Verizon to turn it off or on, I tell them how great it works! Just remember, there is a bandwidth limit, and there are still places where it doesn’t work. So, there is still a need for Wi-Fi.

  9. John Speciale

    I haven’t had too much luck with my Wi-Fire, but I haven’t had it long enough to thoroughly test it. You’re right about the cable retractor–mine never did work. Very poor design.

    One of the reasons I haven’t thoroughly tested the Wi-Fire is because of your 10/25/08 “Cell Phone Internet Hot-Spot” article. I’ve been using Verizon’s Broadband Access Connect for about a month now, and I still think it’s almost too good to be true. It costs about $2 per day, but only on the days that you have the service activated. You can turn the service on and off at will with a phone call. Another plus is that it doesn’t count against your phone plan’s minutes. It’s perfect to the RVer!

  10. Jim Burnett

    Thanks for the nice job on the review of this product. Sounds like it can be useful.

  11. Starr Piercy

    Thanks for the WiFire tip. I’ve really been needing this sort of thing. I just ordered one, and I’ll let you know how it works out.