A successful DIY attempt to build an Exterior Access Point

This time, it all started as a relaxing moment in my garden. While laying down in a hammock I grabbed my phone to read the news and unfortunately, it was at that moment I realized that I didn’t have a proper wireless connection in my backyard.

Like any normal person, I started to look for an affordable yet functional, exterior-rated, wireless access point. However, during my search, I perceived that affordable and exterior-rated don’t combine.

Devastated, I started thinking about some DIY alternatives. Then I remembered that I had an old but functional interior access point that maybe I could use. The DIY adventure had just begun and the final result is in the image to the right.

In order to achieve a good result, I traced out a plan and identified the requisites of the final product. Those requisites are a good wireless reception in my backyard, a waterproof enclosure, a waterproof Ethernet connector, working with POE+ (Power over Ethernet +), and if possible give a new use to an old piece of equipment.

The old router I have is a TP-Link TL-MR3420. To what it matches perfectly my outside Internet needs because it is 2.4Ghz based, which is plenty sufficient for an outside long-distance connection. The only catch it had was its firmware, but that is never a problem when you are a download away from installing dd-wrt. For those who don’t know, dd-wrt is an open-source firmware that exists for some router models. It achieves a better interface, more configuration, and open-source mindfulness. Unfortunately, this router has no POE+ capabilities.

To add POE+ to the router and to waterproof the Ethernet connection two new devices were needed. After searching the WEB I found two suitable devices, that had a good price/quality ratio. One of them is a POE+ 12v 2A splitter with a suitable DC Power Jack for the router. The other is a waterproof Ethernet connector.

Those two devices were bought from AliExpress with the respective links being:

  • https://pt.aliexpress.com/item/1005001603855512.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.7e25b90aiRHyaI
  • https://pt.aliexpress.com/item/4000800661000.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.7e25b90aiRHyaI

Now that almost everything is traced out as it should, it is necessary to find a waterproof box that houses everything. For that, I chose an already made waterproof box, that its purpose was for electrical connections. In order to choose a suitable one, only the dimensions of the old router PCB were a constraint.

After careful thought and proper placement of the components, the next task in my hands was the creation of a little teeny-tiny Ethernet cable to connect the POE+ splitter to the waterproof connector. After that was done almost everything was ready. I tested the hardware, flashed the firmware, and configured all the settings. The only thing left was some way of securing the antennas on the outside and the Ethernet connector, while maintaining both waterproof. In order to accomplish that, I designed and 3d printed some adapter pieces that with the help of epoxy can perfectly plug the downward holes of the box.

Assembly and good waterproofing made the last step, and after screwing the box lid everything was as ready as a simple project like this can be. Its final resting place was as high as I could reach in the TV antenna pole. Unfortunately due to some height fear it stayed at that position, ideally I would love to get it higher.

In the end, everything worked out as planned, which shows that good planning and accurate computer design can speed up and help developing new things. Now I have a backyard wireless connection with great quality and reception. Also, I am leaving the CAD designs here to download if you are interested in doing your own wireless access point project.

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