When i first got my CyberQ WiFi, I was having WiFi related issues due to a low signal level in the backyard. I contacted BBQ Guru Customer Support with several questions including a WiFi related one. This tip is based on the reply I received and covers two WiFi related topics you may find helpful in your own use of the CyberQ WiFi. I also mention something I noticed myself in setting up my CyberQ, Since I only tried it twice I can’t exactly call it overwhelming evidence, but I will mention it as something to try. If you want to read more about the CyberQ WiFi, I will provide links at the bottom of this tip to those blog entries. But lets talk WiFi:
WiFi SIGNAL STRENGTH DISPLAY: I discovered there is a WiFi Signal Strength menu item located near the bottom of the Network Setup Menu. This is what you see in the picture above. The CyberCook iPad software I use gives me all of the information I need about the various temperature readings right in my Kitchen.As a result I really don’t need to see the food or pit temps out at the grill, since I have it available from the comfort of the Kitchen. So I have taken to leaving the WiFi Signal Strength menu item displayed on the CyberQ’s Display. I am told this item is not something accessible to CyberQ software developers and is only available on the display of the control unit. CyberCook DOES give me alarms if I lose network connectivity, so I am covered indoors in that way. After I set up my CyberQ, I leave the WiFi Signal Strength menu item on display so I can check my signal strength when I make trips out to the grill. The WiFi Signal Strength displays a two-digit number. At first I was getting a reading between “6” and “10”. One of my questions to BBQ Guru Customer Support was whether this scale was using some known units and whether the scale was linear or logarithmic. On a linear scale 4 is twice s strong as 2, whereas on a logarithmic scale a change of scale is some factor larger. The type of logarithmic scale people are probably most familiar with is the Richter scale. Each number on the scale is a factor or power of 10 larger than the previous number. So an earthquake measuring 5, is 10x greater than a 4; 6 is 10x greater than 5 and 100x greater than 4 etc. Logarithmic scales are used to track a large range of values using a relatively small range of numbers. Signal strengths often use a logarithmic scale, hence my question. My response from BBQ Guru Customer Support stated the numbers display on the WiFi Signal Strength are not calibrated to a particular scale. They indicated 40 represents a high signal level, 10 is marginal and the 6 I was getting at times was not always strong enough to get or hold a connection. A level of 12 or above represents a stable connection. This matched my real world experience. If I have a signal strength of 6 for very long, I usually lose my connection. A value of 10 was stable about 95 percent of the time. When doing setup with the CyberQ located inside my house, I typically get a reading for 40. After learning what the numbers meant, it showed me I needed to get more signal out to the back yard. I added a Linksys Signal Extender to my network. This got me up to readings between 13-16 with and occasional 20. This doesn’t sound like much of a boost, but it represents the difference between a stable signal and an iffy connection. Remember my house is wrapped with foil face sheathing which is death to WiFi signals. So armed with the knowledge there is a WiFi Signal Strength menu item and what represents a stable signal, you can now check your own CyberQ WiFi.
WiFi INTERFERENCE: BBQ Guru Customer Support also mentioned something that I find helpful and interesting. They mentioned a way to get some more signal strength was to NOT use the metal mounting bracket/stand to support the unit. They said the metal holder actually blocks the antenna. They also suggested keeping the controller unit in general and the bottom of the unit (where the antenna is located) in particular , away from large bodies of metal. This is helpful information and I was prepared to stop using the mounting bracket if the WiFi Range Extender solution didn’t work. One of the things I found interesting about this is why the unit doesn’t just come with a high strength plastic mount in lieu of the metal. Also why don’t they make it available as an accessory. The other thing I found interesting is many of the smokers the CyberQ WiFi ARE large bodies of metal and the controller unit will be located nearby. Why don’t they make an add on antenna unit that can be located a few feet away from the controller?
AD HOC VS. INFRASTRUTURE MODE: The CyberQ WiFi has two networking modes. The simplest to set up is the Adhoc mode creates a direct connection between the CyberQ WiFi and a single WiFi device and is very easy to set up. Infrastructure mode puts the CyberQ WiFi on your WiFi network and gives you a lot of additional capabilities and advantages. My intention from the start was to use Infrastructure mode. Several times when I was first starting to use the CyberQ and was suffering signal strength and WiFi network issues, I was unable to get on my WiFi network. This happened twice when I was actually starting a major cook and I didn’t have time to mess around, I decided to try Adhoc mode as a temporary quick fix. It was easy to get my iPhone to make an Adhoc connection with the CyberQ, but the signal only worked out in the back yard. As soon as I got into my Kitchen zero signal. Even opening the Kitchen door so I had a 20’ (6m) line of site to the BGE didn’t help. Plus I had zero intentions of keeping my Kitchen door open with the 0 degree (-18C) air temps this day. I tried this on the next cook when I was still having issues with Infrastructure mode with similar results. Here is my take-away on what was going on: In Adhoc Mode you are using a broadcast antenna built into the CyberQ Controller unit. It may not be as good as the antennas in the base stations (transmitters) on your WiFi network. In Adhoc mode it either has the range or it doesn’t. In Infrastructure Mode you have options to boost your signal, such as repositioning your base stations (transmitters) to boost the signal in your yard. You can also add an additional WiFi Signal Extender if needed. So even if you wanted to use Adhoc mode, try getting the CyberQ on your WiFi network and use Infrastructure Mode. Besides the additional options you have for boosting the level of your WiFi signal, you gain other features and capabilities.
CONCLUSION: If you are having connectivity issues with your CyberQ WiFi, hopefully this blog will give you some additional things to look at and try. The first thing is to go to the WiFi Settings menu and display the WiFi signal strength. If you are getting a signal strength of 12 or less, you will need to take steps to get more signal to your grilling area. There are a few things described here that may help with that as well.
SOME RELATED LINKSHere are some links to a series of blog entries about the pit controllers in general and the CyberQ WiFi unit in particular, plus a link to the a blog entry about the CyberCook / CyberCook Mini software I use to control the CyberQ Wifi.