Which antenna ports on wireless card?

  • The card I'm going to use in an Alix box is pictured below on the left, it's an AR5008/5416 card with 3 antenna connections. Two of them are clearly labeled as Main and Aux, i don't know what the third is intended to be used for (because its marked in Chinese…), other than that it should be connected while using 802.11n mode (where software supports it, of course).

    So given that I know what the other 2 connectors are, what is the third? What are the 3 typical connections on an 802.11n card and which ones need to be connected when using the card in 802.11g mode?

  • I'm not sure whether there is any certain requirement for which one(s) you use.  On the cards themselves, I don't think they are even labeled as main or aux anymore on 802.11n cards – instead they use 0, 1, and 2.  802.11n cards that have 3 connectors use it to allow receiving on 3 antennas at once and sending on either 2 or 3 of them at once (usually only 2 at most).  You may not need all 3, but you should probably connect at least 2.

    Which version of pfSense do you intend to use with this?

    By the way, the card on the left will probably work with 1.2.3, but the one on the right wasn't supported until FreeBSD 8.0, and thus only supported in pfSense 2.0.

  • I've ordered the one on the left (from china, not here yet), and the Alix currently has pfSense 1.2.3 on it (nanobsd version).

    As I don't currently have a wireless card installed in the thing, i've never seen the pfSense wireless config screen. Is there an antenna selection item on it?

  • There isn't any antenna selection option in 1.2.3.

  • In case anyone finds this info useful, i got the card today (the atheros 5416) and connected 2 antennas, one to the main connector, and one to the connector pointed to by the red chinese characters. The aux connector remains unconnected, but i plan to install a 3rd antenna at some point. Signal strength is very strong indoors, in the 30-40dB range as tested by a Ubiquiti Airview stick.

    The pfSense version used is the march 20th, 2010 build of 2.0 and the card works fine in 802.11g mode, with a few (6) errors listed on that ath0 interface.

  • you should connect your two antennas to main and aux ports. the third port in the middle most likely is for wireless n mimo

  • It might not really matter which you use on that card.  They are probably labeled 0, 1, and 2 and I would probably end up connecting it to 0 and 1 if I had one of those.  My 5416 only has two connectors, though, which are 0 and 2.  It has a space labeled 1, but there is no connector soldered there.

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