Does GoPro WiFi work underwater? If you’re like me, you assumed that the GoPro WiFi works underwater. But it doesn’t. In this post, I’ll explain why it doesn’t work and two ways to work around it.
Why doesn’t GoPro WiFi work underwater?
It has to do with the radio waves and how well water absorbs 2.4GHz waves. Water absorbs radio frequency so well that a microwave (also 2.4GHz) can heat a glass of water with them.
How deep can a GoPro go before losing the WiFi connection? I’ve yet to test it, but many users give a range of 5 inches to 2 feet of water before the connection is lost.
GoPro acknowledges that this will happen:
“The connection between the Wi-Fi Remote and Wi-Fi BacPac will be lost when either device is underwater, but the connection is automatically re-established once both are above water again.” – GoPro.com
In this post, you’ll learn how to make GoPro WiFi work underwater.
Check out: How to use GoPro underwater (12 Tips)
How to Use GoPro WiFi Underwater
To transmit the signal through the water (from your mobile device to your GoPro) you’ll need a cable. The cable is a conduit to carry the signal through the water and back to your mobile device.
Specifically, you’ll want a coaxial antenna cable for WiFi frequency. The most common is RG 174. You can either make your cable or buy a premade one. In this post, I’ll cover both options.
In the following video, you’ll see how to DIY a WiFi cable for your GoPro.
1. How to DIY an Underwater GoPro WiFi Cable
(Although the video is 8:30, the tutorial is just the first 3:40 – and the remaining five minutes is just underwater footage.
How much of the wire should be stripped? I found this point interesting.
I’ll let Paul Illsley explain:
The amount you remove is important; for a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal, which has a wavelength of 12.5 cm (4.92 inch), you need to remove 6.3 cm (2.5 inches) of casing from each end (1/2 the wavelength). You could expose the entire 12.5 cm on each end but 6.3 fits perfect on the back of the GoPro and it works fine. You can leave the white plastic shield around the inner cable and add some glue around the open ends too seal it from water (if you want to use it for an extended period of time).PaulIllsley.com
Here’s another tutorial for DIY solution.
2. Underwater WiFi Extension Cable for GoPro
There is at least one commercial WiFi cable available.
GoPro accessories manufacturer Cam-Do makes an underwater WiFi extension cable specifically for GoPro. It comes in lengths from 20 to 250 feet (and ranges in price from $160 to $603).
When GoPro livestreamed a shark swim on Periscope, they used the Cam-Do WiFi cable.
Check out the footage:
GoPro Shark Swim on Periscope with Underwater WiFi
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Here’s the Cam-Do video showing their WiFi connection cable. Unfortunately, the audio is awful and a little hard to listen to.
There are a couple of videos at the end of the post that was filmed using the Cam-Do WiFi cable setup.
But first, you might be wondering when you would use this setup.
Here are a few applications:
3 Best Ways to Use GoPro Underwater
There are a few reasons you’ll want to connect via WiFi to your GoPro underwater.
- Use it as a fish finder: You’ll be able to see live video feed under the surface. This is great for filming and knowing where to drop your fishing line.
- Improve composition: Now you won’t have to wonder if you “got the shot”. You’ll see the composition and be able to make adjustments. This can save lots of time – and possibly not getting the shot.
- Change settings: I’m not 100% sure about this, but it makes sense that it would also work. To be able to change settings (switch from video to photo, for example) would require a signal to go the other direction. If you have experience with this, please let me know in the comments.
Here are a few videos shot with a GoPro and an underwater WiFi extension cable.
Under the Ice: Coho Salmon
“I filmed Under the Ice using my CamDo setup because the water temperatures were around 30 degrees F and the air temps hovered around 15 F, causing the river to freeze over and the fish to seek shelter in the back waters,” said Ricketts, “I made a custom pole to allow the camera to extend out and under the ice and capture some pretty unique images of these fish during the final chapter in their lives. I did a fair about of snorkeling during these sessions to place the cameras.”Russ Ricketts of River Snorkel
Crab Trapping with GoPro and WiFi Cable
Hauling up a crab trap in a canoe is not the most stable thing I’ve ever done, so I was glad when we checked the second trap with the wifi cable and found only a small crab in there, and then decided to keep it there again overnight.Todd, Cam-Do
So, does GoPro WiFi work underwater? The answer is yes. But you’ll need to make (or buy) an extension cable. And you’ll probably want a solid selfie stick for most applications – something to attach your cable to.
What setup are you using for underwater WiFi connection? Have you changed your settings via a WiFi cable?
Please share your questions and comments below!
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is co-founder and blogger on GudPixel. We cover action cameras and outdoor photography with a focus on GoPro cameras.
He is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel and co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.