Sudden troubles with wifi strength and connecting to the cloud


I’ve encountered some strange issues regarding the wifi-strength of the photon.
For the last few weeks I have been using photons in my garden. Everything worked fine. It almost never had problems connecting to the cloud. It did it within a few seconds, after waking up from deep-sleep mode. Also, the wifi range was easily over 17 meters, with only glass in between.

Problems started when I updated my code and added some new things to my payload. A few days after that at 02/27 trouble started and they had problems connecting to the cloud to the extent that they didn’t connect at all, after waking up from deep-sleep mode.

During the amazon server problems, I didn’t use my devices, so I can’t tell whether the real bad problems started there.

However, Friday I wanted to use them again and ran into some real odd issues.
The photons now have big trouble connecting to the cloud. Their wifi range sometimes shrunk down to only 5 meters within direct line of sight. I have been trying to connect the photons from the same spots from the weeks earlier and it never succeeded.

Using the WiFi.RSSI() function I have measured up to 20dB difference in the strength of two different photons at the same spot.
I have tested several photons with varying code. The only thing that seems to help a little bit is using the 0.6.0 firmware instead of the 0.6.1.
I have also tried to restart the router (fritz!Box7490), it didn’t help at all.

Do you have any solution how to fix this problem and what might have caused it?

Though everybody likes to believe their code doesn’t influence anything, it does. The major thing that changed to cause issues was a change in your code, and as such, that’d be the first place I’d look.
Try flashing Tinker and see how that runs?

I have already tried different code. This includes tinker and several smaller particle example apps. Their was no significant difference. The only mentionable difference was with the older 0.6.0 firmware. But it still hasn’t gotten anywhere near the range of two weeks ago.

Is it possible that the code has such a significant influence on the reconnection to the cloud after waking up from deep-sleep? If yes, then how can stop the sudden “decrease” of effective wifi-range?

@sebdom, perhaps there are environmental factors that have changed. Are you using an external antenna?

The environmental factors haven’t changed much, it has gotten a bit warmer.
I’m not using an external antenna yet, but I have already ordered one. It will take a few days, but I hope it helps.

Additionally I have tried using a different wifi at a friends house and have gotten similar results. Only about 8-10 meters of maximum range, using simple Code.

Maybe the antenna setting got accidentally changed? You could try manually setting it, just in case.


And you do actually have the white chip antenna on the Photon, right? One person had the antenna come off the board, which really reduced the reception!

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Thanks for the tip, I have added the command to a simple code measuring the WiFi-strength using the WiFi.RSSI() command and saving it in a particle variable.
Sadly it had no effect.

The chip antenna seems just fine, and I have encountered the problem on several Photons, which should eliminate the hardware as the source of the Problem.
My test-code:


int strength;

void setup() {
Particle.variable("WiFI-signal", strength);


void loop() {
    strength = WiFi.RSSI();

I am now using an external antenna, it helps to compensate for the loss of WiFi range. But I have still not found an explenation for why it dropped so drastically. Furthermore even with the antenna the WiFi range fluctuates several meters over time.

After using the external antenna for two days now, it seems that the power consumption of the photon is much higher than without. Beforehand a 1.5 W solar cell could power the photon for several days in a row without problems and charge a LiPo-battery at the same time. Now a half full 800mAh LiPo was drained dry within 10 hours although the solar cell was in direct sunlight the whole time.
This is strange, because the photon was in deep sleep mode most of the time. Can the external antenna use that much power while the photon is in deep sleep mode?