Wifi Conundrum – sensible answers only please…

So, a few years back we bought a Ring video doorbell – and despite the early promise of Great Things the reality has been that the whole thing’s a bit pants. Ever the masochist, I decided to figure out what the problem was and then come up with a gameplan to make it better.

From our router logs I can see that our doorbell is uploading some bizarrely high amount of data to the cloud every day. This used to be Really, Really Horrendous – however I’ve mitigated it somewhat through use of camera zones. It still sends a LOT of data – however we’re not able to get a lot of the package features as there’s a bit of a signal strength issue. So the only thing more useless than a data-hogging doorbell is one that doesn’t actually provide you any benefit.

The doorbell’s mounted on the front brick facade. There’s a small porchy-vestibuley thing enclosed by glass doors, then there’s the wooden front door (surrounded by tasteful glass from the 1970s). As the incredibly well-produced diagram here indicates, our mesh wifi disc mounted in the stairway delivers a pretty decent signal to the front door. The vestibule’s signal drops off fairly badly, and then the signal on the front step is total pants.

It was installed by a quarterwit, although reading through forum/reddit posts it seems I’m not the only one facing this conundrum and there’s no out-of-the-box way to hardwire this thing to a network.

Here’s a photo of actual reality, in case that’s more helpful.

The things I’ve tried so far were:

  1. Ring Chime Pro 2 – from reading the copy my first impression was that this thing would establish a beefed-up Ring-specific network and potentially act as a gateway to the wifi inside. Upon trying it out, the signal strength was worse than the wifi, and further reading shows that it’s just another wifi extender. So that went back.
  2. Netgear AC1200 Wifi Extender – I bought this thinking that I might be able to detach one of the antennae and affix a cable & somehow get an antenna into the vestibule through a small hole in the wood panelling. The antennae did not come off, and the thing kept losing connectiong to the mesh network anyway. So that was useless.

As far as I can tell my 3 possible solutions are:

  1. Solder a longer cable/antenna into the doorbell unit and feed it back through the hole into the vestibule and/or wood panelling into the house. The main drawback being that I have no discernable skill at soldering (or, indeed, own a soldering iron) and it seems like breaking into the innards of the doorbell unit is the most cockup-prone approach one could take. I found *a* reddit post hypothesising that you could do this, but the bloke talking about it hadn’t actually tried.
  2. Somehow get a network antenna into the vestibule. This was what I tried with approach 2) above – I suspect where I went wrong was mainly buying the wrong gear, but it was only about a tenner on eBay and seemed worth a try. Hooking a “traditional” wifi extender into a mesh network seems wrong – however I’ve no idea how else I’d go about it as there’s no power sockets in the vestibule and therefore not possible (even if I wanted to) to fit a wifi disc out there.
  3. Install an exterior Wireless AP wired into the main network. Presumably this’d be something fitted under the roof overhang or similar; theoretically I’ve got a switch that has a couple of PoE ports, but that’s down the back so then we’d be talking running a long LAN cable along the outside of the house, or getting another switch that does PoE somewhere… and then there’s the whole part about me not knowing anything about outdoor AP’s.

Any ideas?

Or – do I have to ask someone who deals in this sort of thing? It’s going to cost a few bucks no matter what, isn’t it.

I suppose it could be worth a go to stick a mesh disc in our bay window upstairs – that’d mean a single double-glazing to get through? Might be worth a try… fuck it, I’ve written the blogpost now so am happy to hear what anyone else comes up with.

Wifi Conundrum – sensible answers only please…
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