Pepwave Surf Soho MK3 and antennas on Airstream

Hello all,

I’ve just purchased a Pepwave Surf Soho MK3 that I thought would solve my problem, but now that I’m in the UI, I’m not so sure.

I’ve got an Airstream which is made of Aluminum making it a bit opaque to Wifi. I’ve got a Poyting MIMO-3-17 Antenna to be installed which has 2 wifi antennas on the roof.

I want to use Wifi as Wan whenever I can.

I had thought how this would play out is I would assign the individual antennas in the Soho to tasks, so Antenna 1 would be Wifi as Wan, while antennas 2 and 3 would just act as access points for single channel wifi, one for inside the trailer with the included antenna, one for outside the trailer on the remaining antenna.

I dont see any way I can assign them as such; and I also don’t see information in the documentation I need to make sensible decisions.

if activate Wifi as wan, will that always use one of the antennas or whichever of the 3 is strongest?

If I set the channel widths to 20, will all three antennas still be used?

With this scenario, should I set the channel widths higher to force more antennas to be used?

Thanks for the help!

The Wifi WAN shares the radio with with the LAN Wifi on the SOHO. The SOHO actually has two WiFi radios, a 2.4 Ghz and 5Ghz and they both share the 3 antenna ports.

I have a Panorama 5 in1 rooftop antenna with 2 cellular and 2 wifi and have tried various combinations of WiFi with my SOHO and its just seems to use the 3 ports simultaneously picking up the signal from all 3 and combining which is what MIMO does. So you can do 2 inside 1 outside or 2 outside 1 inside depending on whether you want better interior or exterior function.

To really do what you want you need a dedicated wifi wan radio for outside and separate inside access point. Some of the much more expensive Pepwaves have this (HD2) or just get a dedicated interior access point and let the SOHO only do WiFi wan.

This has other advantages as there can be some issues with the radios being shared both performance and Pepwave in particular have a high scan rate when not connected to wifi wan that cause packet loss on the lan side if you leave WAN on. I have to remember to disable wifi wan if not connected to a network to keep the lan running well.

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May I add a couple more comments to the good advice @jharrell passed along?

Good luck. Tremendous concept but in practice you’ll find this to he highly variable. The times we’ve tried it we’ve found the host systems to be not so good – over-subscribed, low throughput and very high latency. This is not a “router issue” – just a fact of life. You “get what you get.”

Yes. In an environment where there are few other stations/systems there is no reason not to set the channel wide. Ceteris paribus, wider channels = greater throughput. Where there is a lot of contention you’ll probably want to do some experimentation as it is virtually certain there will be mutual interference between users. For one explanation see … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WLAN_channels .

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this is what i did, let the peplink handle the wifi as wan with an external antenna and setup a separate AP inside for LAN.

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I definitely understand, if I want reliable 3x3 mimo inside, I would need to get an AP for inside in addition to the AP outside; but it seems overkill for what’s likely to be at best 4g lte wifi. It’s not quite like I can get fiber to the airstream while camping. Seems a single 2.4g or single 5g will likely be unable to push that much bandwidth anyway.

I have the same question as you … thanks for posting this. I actually AM parked at a spot where they have fiber in the house, and I want to maximize the bandwidth. I don’t love the idea of getting a second AP just for inside the tin can, because I want to keep the power draw low and generally less complex. I’m hoping to wire the router directly into the airstream’s 12v DC power rather than use AC outlets / inverter.

@mystery Do you use the supplied antennas, or do you use 3 external antennas?

I use a single external cellular and single external wifi for my wifi as wan. i terminated the remaining open ports.

If you’re looking at this post, technically it did work, but I ended up losing signal in odd spots.

To follow up, I’ve moved on from this strategy. I picked up a CAT 18 Pepwave MAX Transit, and wired up all the antennas to it. It’s above the radio in the cabinet.

Next I picked up a AP One Rugged, and installed it on the side of the cabinet.

I’ll use the MK3 for hotel / car trips instead.

I went from one bar on my Netgear Nighthawk to 4 bars of LTE in the same spot. That was the biggest change and a win all around.

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