How Can I Extend the Range of My ARS Signal?

Modified on Fri, 09 Jul 2021 at 06:51 PM

When you're in a situation that requires your ARS computer to be hiding behind the scene (stage), or when there's a great distance between you and the first row of participants in the room, you need to employ some creative methods to extend the range of your receiver.

RELATED: 2.4 GHz Interference and Its Effect on EZ-VOTE Voting Systems

RELATED: How to Get the Best Reception for Your Keypads?

Extension Options

If you don't have an Ethernet-enabled receiver, you'll be a little limited in how far can a USB 'stick' or Extended Range Base Receiver reach, but there are still ways to extend the cable by at least 100ft. Here is what you can do...

If you need to accommodate your ARS hardware setup for a large room, or slightly inaccessible space, you may need to 'detach' the USB receiver (base) from the computer, so that you can effectively extend its range.

If you need/want the polling to happen from behind a wall (or multiple walls), or even on a different floor from where the observer/ARS operator will be, you may have a few options:

1) try to vote from a distance of up to 400 feet. The thicker the walls, or if other physical obstacles are present, the shorter the distance that the RF (radio) signal will travel.

2) extend the range of your USB receiver by detaching it from the computer. Here's a good one (but rather short) that lets your USB base 'stand upright." You can get up to 6-6.5ft away from the computer this way. This solution will be most effective for smaller rooms, or when you just want to elevate the USB receiver to gain some height and increase 'line of sight' between the USB base and the audience keypads.

However, you might need to go farther than 6ft and then you'll have to use a long extension cord instead. Make sure that if the length is over 12ft, the cable you're buying is 'active' so that it can power the Base Receiver via USB, instead of using an additional power supply. The USB 'stick' base doesn't have this option - it MUST be powered via USB.

3) if you need to extend the range of the USB receiver beyond 6ft and up to 150 feet, you must use a CAT5 (also known as Ethernet) cable. You will need a USB to Ethernet adapter on each end of the cable. The CAT5 (Ethernet) cable itself looks like this. You can also get one that's flat, if that works better for your setup.

4) elevate your Base Receiver by using a tripod. This mostly applies to the Extended Range Base Receiver, but you could tape the 'stick' base to the tripod, as well. Many microphone stands will have a screw on top that the EXT Base Receiver perfectly screws onto. We like the Pyle products or this Pro Air, heavy-duty collapsible stand.

You should be able to get each of these at any computer store...or on Amazon (hence the links).

Using the USB to Ethernet adapters

One piece of the two black, similar-looking units can only fit into the computer (it's the flat, standard USB port that you would recognize anywhere).

That end goes into the computer and you will attach one end of the CAT5 cable to it.

Run the cable as far as you need to (up to 100 - 150ft).

Attach the other end of the black adapter to the end of the CAT5 cable.

The USB port on this end will allow you to plug the USB "stick" receiver directly into it.

If you need to plug in a different Meridia base, just use a regular USB cable to connect the adapter to the base.

Here are some pics to help you visualize how it's all connecting together

These are the two ends of the USB-to-Ethernet adapter that you'll get on Amazon (or wherever). You cannot plug them into the wrong port, don't worry:

This older USB Base Receiver requires an additional (regular) USB cable to be connected to the already extended cable setup:


This is our standard USB device (USB "stick") that can be connected directly into the one end of the USB-to-Ethernet adapter:


If you really need to, you should be able to extend the Ethernet (CAT5) cable a little bit further with an additional 'upright' USB extension cord:


And this is what the Extended Range Base Receiver, mounted on top of a tripod looks like, while connecting via USB-to-Ethernet adapters and Ethernet cable:

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