External antenna - connection points?

I know this has been asked before, but I also know necro threading is generally frowned upon, so I thought I would ask fresh.

I can see in that thread that Wizard’s official response was rightly ‘might work, but not my thing, so can’t help all that much’. …and then a few folks posted some things that are a bit beyond me at this point, if I am honest.

I think my challenge is based on me not understanding how one could apply more general ESP8266 advice to the Pixelblaze…like…my question is as basic as ‘what ports does one antenna to?’.

I see links to the Pixelblaze output expander…but again, I am not just joining the dots…

If someone could possibly just help me understand these basics, I might be able to roll into the more complex ‘may or may not work’ extrapolation.

Let’s start one step earlier and ask: Are you experiencing any WiFi signal strength issues with a Pixelblaze? What’s your environment and install look like?

The current Pixelblaze v3 is based on a ESP32 and uses a similar board antenna to the ESP8266-based v2. So if you find a good article about someone who hacked a better antenna onto an ESP8266, it might work for a Pixelblaze v3, and we’d love to know what you find!

I’m a little confused by the question “what ports does one antenna to?” - is there a typo there maybe? The antenna is integrated, physically connected to the ESP32 module. When building a Pixelblaze, we buy them as one integrated module, so it’s not something we know how to hack apart so we could integrate a connector for a proper external antenna.

The skillset for RF engineering tends to be pretty specialized and different from the skills that @Wizzard has picked up to design and layout printed circuit boards.

The output expander is mostly about letting you run more strips of LEDs from one location. In other words, a star topology rather than one big linear run of all your pixels. It also provides a speed boost for projects with many WS2812-type pixels. The expander doesn’t do anything with WiFi signal strength.

Hope this helps!

Let me just note that although it is theoretically possible to attach an external antenna to a Pixelblaze 2 or 3, I highly recommend not doing it.

I tried on another IoT ESP8266 device a few years ago. It’s terribly easy to ruin the antenna traces - I killed two “practice” boards trying to attach the coax cable - and in end, the resulting gain was, at least in my case, minimal. (Though this was possibly due to the length of the antenna cable. There’s signal loss there too.)


It is possible, but it’s not that easy (for me) and you are definitely risking your PB in the process. I’ve done this on a V2, but not a V3. The antenna wires are ridiculously small and difficult to solder. Especially with my gorilla hands and crappy soldering iron. It does improve the signal, but like @zranger1 said - there are variables like antenna cable length that come into play. I initially did this for an outdoor install and all I had was a metal enclosure. In the picture you’ll see the original, where the cable had broken (pulled a little hard on it when removing from the enclosure). Then you can see where I attached a longer antenna cable. Also, you can see the before and after for signal strengths (my SSID = Stoneage).

Here’s the tutorials I used when I did this.


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Thanks guys. Bright idea cancelled :wink: