Ironwood WiFi antenna?

Steevo

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Does anyone know where the WiFi antenna is located on the Ironwood D2 WiFire grill?
I crawled underneath the hopper and looked, but nothing is visible other than the ventilated bottom cover of the auger and electronics housing.
It seems that if the antenna is inside there, the surrounding metal would surely impact connectivity negatively.
 

BlackBetsy

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Does anyone know where the WiFi antenna is located on the Ironwood D2 WiFire grill?
I crawled underneath the hopper and looked, but nothing is visible other than the ventilated bottom cover of the auger and electronics housing.
It seems that if the antenna is inside there, the surrounding metal would surely impact connectivity negatively.
Following.
 
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Steevo

Steevo

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Ok, so today I removed the ventilated panel from the bottom of the hopper/auger housing, and found that no Wi-Fi antenna exists in there.
So then , I unscrewed the control panel from the front of the hopper housing, and pulled it out to see what was in there.
No antenna external to the circuit board exists in this setup.
Apparently, the only WiFi antenna this setup has is embedded on the circuit board.
This (along with Traegers arcane use of legacy 2.4ghz spectrum) probably explains why connectivity with these grills is often such a problem. I don't understand why they felt leaving off the external antenna that every other WiFi pellet grill maker uses would be beneficial?

The only plus to this exploration was that I discovered the wiring for the pellet hopper sensor is already in place, with only the sensor missing. Unless the firmware for the Ironwood lacks the pellet sensor capability, this would mean only the sensor is required to add this function.
 

RemE

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Ok, so today I removed the ventilated panel from the bottom of the hopper/auger housing, and found that no Wi-Fi antenna exists in there.
So then , I unscrewed the control panel from the front of the hopper housing, and pulled it out to see what was in there.
No antenna external to the circuit board exists in this setup.
Apparently, the only WiFi antenna this setup has is embedded on the circuit board.
This (along with Traegers arcane use of legacy 2.4ghz spectrum) probably explains why connectivity with these grills is often such a problem. I don't understand why they felt leaving off the external antenna that every other WiFi pellet grill maker uses would be beneficial?

The only plus to this exploration was that I discovered the wiring for the pellet hopper sensor is already in place, with only the sensor missing. Unless the firmware for the Ironwood lacks the pellet sensor capability, this would mean only the sensor is required to add this function.
Bummer that they didn't use an external antenna like the Timberline etc. as that could be very helpful since there are cheap high gain antennas out there. Guess you will have to play with grill orientation or get a WiFi repeater and locate it nearby to get good connectivity.

Regarding them using 2.4Ghz and not 5Ghz Wi-Fi is not a bad thing or arcane. 2.4Ghz has better penetration and range than 5.8Ghz and since this application doesn't need any significant bandwidth there is no good reason to use 5Ghz here. This is pretty common with many outdoor products, like Ring doorbell cams etc.
 
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Steevo

Steevo

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Understood about the 5Ghz/2.4Ghz thinking. It's just that so many things are using that spectrum nowadays, from doorbells to baby monitors and thermostats, that it can cause issues.
 

RemE

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Understood about the 5Ghz/2.4Ghz thinking. It's just that so many things are using that spectrum nowadays, from doorbells to baby monitors and thermostats, that it can cause issues.
Ya, but I have a single story house spread out, with 4 access points with tons of devices thermostats etc. with no issues. A good thing to do is to use 5ghz for computers and phones, and 2ghz for everything else. Lastly, use switches and wired connections wherever possible as nothing beats a hardwire.

But you probably do that already.
 

bluecrab

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I just pulled mine off and had a look too. Here's what I found.

My Ironwood 885 uses the ESPRESSIF ESP32-WROVER WiFi module. According to the schematics for the ESP32-WROVER, there is supposed to be a U.FL connector located at J39 on the circuit board. That U.FL connector would allow the connection of an external antenna, but it's MISSING on the module that Traeger is using. So, there is no way to connect an external antenna.

Now, the built-in (PCB) antenna is located above the module and will only pick up a signal from the FRONT of the grill (i.e., your grill must face the direction of your WiFi router) because the only thing between the PCB antenna in that direction is the plastic controller faceplate. In all other directions, the steel hopper will block the signal.

I hope this helps someone.

Image shows the PCB antenna (the black rectangle), it also shows the missing U.FL connector at J39.

IMG_1505.jpg


Schematic shows that J39 is for the external antenna (ANT2). But, with no U.FL connector, it's impossible to connect one.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 3.38.51 PM.png

The above schematic is for the ESP32-WROVER-E (it shows J39 as "NC" or not connected). The ESP32-WROVER-IE shows the connector in place, so the Timberline grills must use the IE version.
 
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SpartyBBQ

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This explains my experience. I had the grill with the back facing the house and had very low signal. The grill was only 10 ft from a Meraki AP and only separated by a glass patio door. Once I moved the grill to the other side of the deck so it is facing the house, the signal is now excellent even though the grill is 2x the distance to the house.

Really stupid that they did not make use of an external AP or at least provide the option.
 

bluecrab

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Really stupid that they did not make use of an external AP or at least provide the option.
Yeah, really stupid indeed. I understand the need to offer less expensive grills with fewer options, but basic functionality should not be one of those options. All of their grills should be equipped with the same external antenna as the Timberline series, it would only add a few dollars to the price of the grill and keep the customer support calls to a minimum. Shame on them for skimping on such an essential component.
 

ronnasboy

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from what I understand, the Timberline is the only one with a separate external antenna.
 

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