External Antenna

@bravenel and any other Hubitat gentlemen listening. @lewis.heidrick is a gem in the community and performed the external antenna mod for me. Larger home (~6k sqft), around 90 Z-wave devices. I am probably 80% direct now. Network is running very clean. This should be standard feature on the C8!

7 Likes

You just have to order the Heidrick option on the C-7.

7 Likes

Have to agree 1000%. When I was brand new to Hubitat, @lewis.heidrick was extremely generous and patient with his time and expertise to help me out despite my obvious inexperience. Need to have a special award for members like this.

12 Likes

@bravenel @bobbyD can you tell me what happens if i sign up for hubprotect with the antenna mod? I understand I have likely lost my warranty on the C7 itself, but will I still have the ability to migrate all the data (and zwave devices) to a new C7 for whatever reason?

Presumably.

I can answer this. I have been able to take a HubProtect backup from my modified C-7, and restore it on an unmodified backup C-7. Worked perfectly. I also went the other way. Transfer a HubProtect backup from an unmodified C-7 to a modified C-7.

BTW, I am carrying HubProtect on my antenna-modified C-7 simply for the benefit of having a backup of the z-wave radio that. can be migrated to another Hubitat. For me, that alone is like a warranty.

6 Likes

Great question. You get all the benefits listed under Hub Protect in the following diagram, with exception of extended warranty:

8 Likes

I also have this question as 90% of my devices have this wire which has a tendency to go where it wants when tucked away in an electrical backbox.

I would imagine the construction of your wall box, ie: plastic vs metal will have a much larger effect. I drilled a hole in my outdoor metal box to poke out the antenna. This is likely some kind of violation. I later changed the box to plastic

1 Like

Yeah that's the issue. In the UK there are no plastic boxes available for installation in a solid wall - they are all metal. The only plastic boxes are for installation in plasterboard walls. I don't know why this is - there is no reason I can think of that a box in a solid wall should not be plastic. About 70% of my modules are behind switches in metal boxes. Currently (since the Z Wave update) 31-33 of my 42 devices connect directly so I've no big issues, other than one or two devices continually changing route despite having a good path.

I've got some bits arriving tomorrow from Amazon UK to do the antenna mod. I can't get the exact bits in this post so I just hope I don't degrade the performance.

My in wall boxes are made of plastic. I am no RF expert but I can say that changing the device (Fibaro) external antenna did not seem to make a difference for me.

Wow - I just received the bits to do the antenna mod and didn't realise just how tiny that u.fl socket is that needs soldering onto the PCB. I'm not sure I'll even manage to get it out of it's packaging, never mind solder it :astonished:

5 Likes

It's why @lewis.heidrick uses a microscope... When I am ready to do it , I'll just send it to him. Between my eyes and lack of microscope, soldering anything besides pinball machine components is pretty much out for me...

1 Like

Yes, it is extremely small. I had to buy a special tip for my TS100 iron. I think it likely was the smallest item I ever soldered. And when you're applying solder it is very easy to bridge the wrong connections on the board, especially if you don't have a fine tip and very thin solder.

I use a J tip for SMD work, it makes drag soldering and soldering small items much easier.

4 Likes

Exactly the same tip I got from AliExpress, it was a Hakko clone but works perfectly fine

I’ve tried the clone Hakko tips and found they aren’t very thermally stable.

That said, the clone t12 stations are brilliant, I have several of this model with the aluminum handles.

I bought a new Hakko station after 45 years of a Weller. I have a stereo 5x headset and even after 45 years of PC soldering work I still managed a solder bridge on the first attempt.
Fiddly stuff.

2 Likes

Just did this mod, heres the before and after.

If you´re having zwave issues (slow devices, devices dropping off) dont add more devices thinking you'll "make a stronger mesh", do this first and see how you fare.

Do you have a before and after of your LWR RSSI?

1 Like

I'm amazed that mesh even works. The magic of Z-Wave I guess.

2 Likes

Download the Hubitat app