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eHam Forums => Computers And Software => Topic started by: KE2KB on July 30, 2007, 02:17:36 PM



Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE2KB on July 30, 2007, 02:17:36 PM
Hi;
I am having trouble with weak signals from my D-Link DI-724U wireless router to my PC which has a D-Link DWL-G520 PCI adapter installed.

The router is downstairs at the back of the house, and the PC is upstairs at the front of the house.
The total distance between the two is only about 25ft, but being that the signal has to go through several walls and a floor/ceiling it is being attenuated significantly.

I have tried moving the router around a bit, but there is a limit to how far I can move it due to it's connection to wired ethernet cables.
I do have a second D-Link router (DI-624) which I could use as an access point, and disable the radio on the 724U. This would give me the advantage of having only one ethernet cable rather than 3 to deal with when I position the router. The 624 also has an 'extended range' mode, which the 724U does not, but I have tried connecting the two, disabling the radio on the 724U and turning on extended range on the 624, but it made no difference in signal strength upstairs. The 624 was placed in the same location as the 724U for that test.

The reason I need the 724U at all is that it has a USB printer port, which the 624 does not.

The router has the stock antenna. The PC has an external antenna, with 3' cable, which is a vertical, 3" high. This seems to be 5/8 wave.  The antenna (not sure of the brand) is 'supposed to' have some gain, but probably not a lot.

The signal I get using the Atheros driver and Gigabit utility is two bars at best. Much of the time, it goes down to one bar, and the position of the PC's antenna is extremely sensitive, as I would expect under weak signal condx.
At the same time, I have a Dell Inspiron 8100 notebook with a D-Link DWL-G650 card, and it has no trouble at all with signal strength in exactly the same location as the other PC.


I have been Googling for ways to improve the WiFi range in the house, and have been considering either a repeater or a better antenna.
I prefer the better antenna route, as I have always thought this is the best way to improve range on the Ham bands, so why not for the WiFi band?
Besides, adding a repeater will also make my WiFi signal more available outside the house, and despite my using encryption, more prone to being picked up and hacked into.

With all the online ads for 'hi-gain' WiFi antenna from tubular 'guns' to home-made kitchen variety dishes to simple wall mounted products, I haven't been able to make a qualified decision on what would be best for me.

I have come here because we are hams, and who knows antenna better?
I have to admit I have been inactive on the low bands for many years, and use my 2m/70cm HT's very infrequently, and then it is with the store-bought variety antenna, so I don't have much experience in building antenna.

Is there anything on the market for $50 or less that would work? If not, what about building my own.
I don't want to spend a whole day building an antenna that won't perform any better than a $50 store bought, but if I can make one that will give me superior performance, I will go that route.

Any ideas?
Thanks

FW KE2KB


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE4DRN on July 30, 2007, 06:09:27 PM
hi frank,

what channel are you using and have
you tried a different channel ?

in my area, almost everyone uses the
stock setting channel 6, no security either !

73 james


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB3LSR on July 31, 2007, 01:20:09 PM
You can get a Linksys WRT54G WiFi router and modify it for a higer Tx power.  Only versions 1 through 4 (I believe) will accept the 3rd party firmware.  The WiFi channels are shared with the ham bands, so as long as you use your ham callsign as the SSID (and don't use encryption), the higher Tx power output is perfectly legal.  I put on some 9db gain antennas on my router, that really worked well.  The higher Tx will work wonders though.  The 3rd party firmware can be found at: http://www.dd-wrt.com/


The WRT54G's have a lot of potential when you open them up!


73 de KB3LSR


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE4DRN on July 31, 2007, 02:10:37 PM
hi,

are you using any 2.5Ghz phones in the house ?

changing the channel on the phone may help,
and avoid using channel 6 on the dlink.

are you using the latest firmware for the dlink ?

http://support.dlink.com/products/view.asp?productid=DI%2D724U

73 james



Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE2KB on July 31, 2007, 02:36:11 PM
I was using channel 6, but switched to 11, and there is no difference in signal strength.

The higher output of the Linksys sounds interesting, but I wouldn't want to use an unencrypted network, since this is the primary connection to the Internet for 3 computers in the house.

I believe the firmware is up to date, but I will check.

I think a better antenna is still the best solution.
Perhaps I should construct the "Pringles can-tenna"

Thanks

FW


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE2KB on July 31, 2007, 02:37:44 PM
Oh, forgot to mention about the cordless phone. Yes, there is one in the house, but I'm not sure what freq it operates on.
Can I assume that if the phone is in the cradle that there would be no transmitted signal from it?

FW


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB3LSR on July 31, 2007, 07:11:48 PM
If you use the Japanese drivers, you can use up to channel 13.  That is within the ham band, but outside the scanning range of your average computer.  I used this for a while without any problems.  Some devices wouldn't work on channels that high, so I had to revert back.  Use 3rd party WiFi scanning software to see what channels are heavily used near your location.


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE4DRN on July 31, 2007, 07:49:56 PM
hi frank,

download this no cost utility from Eeye Security
Retina WiFi scanner, great tool to have on any pc.

http://www.eeye.com/html/downloads/index.html

see what other home networks are using in your area,
bet many are on ch 6 w/o any encryption and wide open.

you can buy a better antenna at walmart,
linksys has them not too expensive, worth a try.

linksys now has version 5 and higher, you can't
run third party s/w on it, they changed the processor.
Increasing the output power level won't do it for you,
if you only have 20 % with full power.

73 james


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE4DRN on July 31, 2007, 07:52:50 PM
hi frank,

the phone may put out a signal, most newer models can have additional handsets added to the base phone.

or a neighbor could be using a phone in that range.

good luck

73 james


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KF6RDN on July 31, 2007, 09:54:01 PM
"At the same time, I have a Dell Inspiron 8100 notebook with a D-Link DWL-G650 card, and it has no trouble at all with signal strength in exactly the same location as the other PC. "


This statement makes me suspect the card in your PC is perhaps weak.
Perhaps before trying different routers and such, try a different NIC.

25 feet even through walls shouldn't be a problem unless there's alot of metallics in the walls/floors.


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE2KB on August 01, 2007, 06:34:26 AM
Our cordless phone is an older model, probably 900mhz. I have a freq counter that I could use to check it, but that equipment is temporarily unavailable to me.

It is quite possible that a neighbor has a long-range cordless operating around 2.5G.
What I really 'need' is a spectrum analyzer<g>.

I am going to look around for a better antenna. If that doesn't work, I will run a long ethernet cable so I can place an access point in a different part of the house. I think that would do the trick, as it would change the dead spot that I am now in.

I did check into the possibility that the wireless pci adapter in the pc is weak. But after removing my whole computer to another room in the house, I get an excellent signal.

Perhaps I'll erect a 30 foot tower in my backyard. On it I will put a tri-band yagi or quad, wifi, and cell.
Then I will get a good lawyer<g>

FW


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: N4RLL on August 01, 2007, 02:54:22 PM
Two things to consider:

1. The gouge about phones is 100% correct if it's a 2.4GHz phone. You may have to play around to find the best. A WiFi scanner program will show you what channels are most open to use.

2. A gain antenna is great - but one thing about them is that they have a lower takeoff angle and "flatter" radiation pattern. If you imagine a vertical antenna element, the radiation pattern generally will resemble a doughnut, with the element sticking up through the hole. If the "doughnuts" aren't in roughly the same plane, there's a LOT of loss. That factor is exploited on towers with transmitters and receivers operating in the same band to reduce interference and receiver desense.

Possibly using a stock antenna or orienting the antennas so that they are parallel will help you out. Another option might be to elevate the router so you can bring the doughnuts into alignment.

Good luck!

-- Jason


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB1LKR on August 07, 2007, 06:42:01 AM
<quote>
The WiFi channels are shared with the ham bands, so as long as you use your ham callsign as the SSID (and don't use encryption), the higher Tx power output is perfectly legal.
<end quote>

Um, *some* of the 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g channels (1-6; 2412-2437 MHz) are shared w/ the (US anyway) 13 cm ham band (2300-2450 MHz). US channels 7-11 (and 12-14, also allowed in Japan and perhaps elsewhere) are outside the US amateur allocation.

Also, depending on your distance from other 2.4 GHz WiFi users (your own wireless 2.4 GHz cordless phone included) you may want to use Ch1 or Ch6 over Ch2-5, as 1, 6, & 11 are the only three with spacing  far enough from each other to avoid adjacent channel interference due to overlap, as the occupied bandwidth is fairly wide for WiFi.

The other issue w/ running higher part 97 power levels vs part 15 power levels is the prohibition  on encryption: so I don't believe you can legally transmit encrypted WEP or (better) WPA keys, even w/ your call in the SSID as a result you'd have an unsecured network (with extra range!).

The other angle to look into is buying/building very directional antennas (yagi, tin can waveguide, etc.).


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE2KB on August 07, 2007, 08:29:22 AM
I have solved the problem by placing a second wireless router (as an access point) at a different location downstairs. This involved only running a long cat5e cable between the main router and the second one.
I set up the second router with a different network name, but on the same channel.
I am now getting a "very good" signal upstairs instead of a "very weak" or no signal.

FW


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB9RNS on August 07, 2007, 02:56:26 PM
htt://www.hyperwrt.org/ this is the link for the firmware for the linksys wrt54g router, it allows you to turn up power output,gives more channel selections,offers more security options, there are outher updates that will allow you to link wireless routers! this router is linux based and is free licensed[anyone can use or change the program]software is usually free, the wrt54GL has more onboard memory than the wrt54g.


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KE2KB on August 08, 2007, 06:13:01 PM
Correction:
One router is on channel 11, while the other is on ch 9.
I had them on the same channel at one time, but I think it might have been causing some interference, so I changed one of them.


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB9RNS on August 09, 2007, 01:54:20 PM
http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Universal_Wireless_Repeater  http://www.fab-corp.com/home.php?cat=269 2 interesting links for extending wi-fi range!


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KI6CFW on August 18, 2007, 03:14:33 PM
Only channels 1, 6 and 11 should be used in a WLAN.  If you have two access points, pick two of these channels for them (after checking for neighboring channel use as several have pointed out).  The SSID should be the same for all access points if you want to be able to roam between them.  Differing SSID will allow you to control which you connect to if desired.

2.4 GHz telephones and other wireless devices are a problem - minimize or eliminate them.  5.8 Ghz phones can still be a problem as many of them use 2.4 Ghz for handset to base communications (save battery and provides enhanced range).  DECT phones are best as they operate at 1.9 Ghz and do not interfere at all.

Hawking makes a USB wireless adapter with a integrated 6 dBi gain antenna - is excellent for providing increased range and data rates in the home.

Rgds,
Vince


Title: Extend WiFi range
Post by: W2DAB on January 30, 2008, 11:08:13 AM
I live in an apartment with very thick walls and have had good luck with this antenna. Other two issues with cordless phone interference and channel numbers also very important in my experience.

DLINK ANT24-0700

http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=416

73

David


Title: RE: Extend WiFi range
Post by: WB8ERJ on April 19, 2010, 08:19:02 AM
I have sucessfully built and used what is called a <a href="http://www.mikestechblog.com/joomla/networking-section/wifi-wireless-category/58-extend-wireless-wifi-network-building-24-ghz-cantenna.html">wifi cantenna</a> using an aluminum dryer vent for about $10. It gives me about 17 DBi of gain, and I can hit my Dlink router from about 1/2 a mile away.

Here is the link for building a <a href="http://www.mikestechblog.com/joomla/networking-section/wifi-wireless-category/58-extend-wireless-wifi-network-building-24-ghz-cantenna.html">cantenna</a>

-- Mike


Title: RE: Extend WiFi range
Post by: N8EKT on May 11, 2010, 12:21:09 PM
You should be able to simply mount a reflector behind the stock antenna and get the coverage you need.

However, if you want the BEST performance for under $50 dollars, I would suggest
purchasing a ALFA networks AWUSO36H Long Range USB Adapter

It is only $34.99 from DataAlliance.com and will GREATLY extend your range

I use one every day and can access my router over a mile away


Title: RE: Extend WiFi range
Post by: AA4HA on June 07, 2010, 01:15:33 PM
Due to equivalence laws (reciprocity) on signal loss you would need to increase the power of your laptop so the WiFi signal would have some symmetry on signal levels in both directions. That will not be as easy a proposition as using OpenWRT or some other wireless router tool. OpenWRT is not going to make the wireless router receive any better.

At the frequencies that 802.11 wireless systems operate, the propagation is due to either a direct path or reflections off of other objects. If you put enough things between the two devices or end up depending upon the signal bouncing off of too many objects it will be attenuated below the level of operation.

The best solution would be to install a new access point where you need it (as you did). A second choice would be to install a better antenna, similar to what you see in many businesses.

I am not a fan of using more power "because we are hams and can legally do it". If we wanted to play that game then we must recognize that the other rules also apply about the commercial use of ham spectrum, station identification and that an OP must be present at the station whenever it is in operation. We cannot have it both ways.

Flame me as you wish, them's the rules.

Tisha Hayes, AA4HA


Title: RE: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB1LKR on June 12, 2010, 09:33:05 AM
"You can get a Linksys WRT54G WiFi router and modify it for a higer Tx power.  Only versions 1 through 4 (I believe) will accept the 3rd party firmware."

Alternately buy a new WRT54GL (note the "L") w/ same internal H/W as 54G ver 1 thru 4 (or so) and run third party firmware such as Tomato or DD-WRT. These among other things will allow output power adjustments, don't go too high or you may have performance problems, but a modest increase may do what you need. Keep multiple wireless networks at least 3 channels apart, as they overlap their neighbors (1, 6, 11 triplet are the common/standard choices, though I've seen 1, 4, 7, 1, or something like that advocated for multi-storied building applications where, going up, the channels are 1, 7, 4, 11, 1, etc. IIRC, w/ antennas oriented vertically for max sensitivity in the horizontal plane -- but this is a specialized case for high rise hotels, apartments, businesses and probably not applicable here).

If you use channels 1-5 you can also operate under part 97 (vs. part 15) if you ID (name your Wireless w/ your callsign and turn SSID broadcast on, but beware of ยง97.113(a)(4)  which probably forces you to operate unencrypted. I'd stay part 15 I think.


Title: RE: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB1GMX on June 19, 2010, 04:14:18 PM
Here my experience and howto.

I use a Linksys wrt54gl to replace a Actiontec (garbage)  as wifi access
point. Range unmodified is 100ft (covers 1/2 my property) from inside the
house in a closet.  Range difference is 2:1 compared to the cheapie.

First forget higher power unless both ends can do it, it's also a regulatory pain.
If you run unencripted at least use MAC address filtering. However the problem
is the entire network has to be firewalled to keep personal traffic out and secure.

Use directional antennas aimed at each other.  I did this with a pair of 14db commercial
yagis for an installation to get from one building to another 800ft away.  Worked 100%.
of the time and it was more secure as you had to be in the path (visible to building
occupants) and the buildings acted as a shield.  Antenna gain is cheaper than power
and easier to use,  Power it's hard to get more than 10db.

Note any cable used for antenna is severely lossy at 2.4Ghz, minimum used is best.

Most noteboots/netbooks/portables have crappy antennas compared to the access
point.

Use the WRT54G or GL, but standard power or better access points as the common
cheap way out is lower power out.  Expereince is any of the known networking names
like Linksys, Netgear and all.  I've encountered some cheap wifi routers that when
tested did less than 1/4 the range of the better ones unmodified.

Always use the quietest channel!   Every Fios install around me has an
Actiontec on channel 6!  Getting off 6 an on 11 got my range from almost 25ft
to almost 75ft.  Dumping the Actiontec  for wrt54gl as the WIFI doubled that.

There are point to point bridges available, Linksys is one I've used and
seem to be decent.

If you can find a set of the old Orinoco 900mhz bridges they are very good
but the software can be a pain.

If the systems are on different floors the antennas are not in the same plane. 
The higher should have the antenna upside down and the lower right side up.
This avoids the overhead and under use blind spots.

Cheap wifi is exactly that usually.

If you can wire is better, and secure and it's not that hard to run a 25 or 50ft
segment.


Allison


Title: RE: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB0OXD on June 22, 2010, 12:28:03 PM
The other issue w/ running higher part 97 power levels vs part 15 power levels is the prohibition  on encryption: so I don't believe you can legally transmit encrypted WEP or (better) WPA keys, even w/ your call in the SSID as a result you'd have an unsecured network (with extra range!).
Which could not only result in your system being hacked into but you run the chance of getting a rather unpleasant letter from the FCC as well.
Quote
The other angle to look into is buying/building very directional antennas (yagi, tin can waveguide, etc.).
And sticking with the encryption as well.  Using your callsign vs. some other name as the SSID is irrelevant.

Cheers & 73 :D


Title: RE: Extend WiFi range
Post by: KB0OXD on June 22, 2010, 04:20:43 PM
<quote>
The WiFi channels are shared with the ham bands, so as long as you use your ham callsign as the SSID (and don't use encryption), the higher Tx power output is perfectly legal.
<end quote>

Um, *some* of the 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g channels (1-6; 2412-2437 MHz) are shared w/ the (US anyway) 13 cm ham band (2300-2450 MHz). US channels 7-11 (and 12-14, also allowed in Japan and perhaps elsewhere) are outside the US amateur allocation.
It is because of this that I made a change in my network settings to my callsign as the SSID (It had been something else before).  This way, if I discover I need a booster of some kind, I'll have the "Protection" of my ham call since I will essentially be TXing in the 13 cm band :D

And switching from Channel 6 to Channel 4 seems to have made it more secure (The indicator in the sidebar had been sitting at 99% normally.  Now it sits at al solid 100% WITH A WEBCAM STREAMING no less).  Strange as to how such a switch can make such a huge difference like that.
Quote
Also, depending on your distance from other 2.4 GHz WiFi users (your own wireless 2.4 GHz cordless phone included) you may want to use Ch1 or Ch6 over Ch2-5, as 1, 6, & 11 are the only three with spacing  far enough from each other to avoid adjacent channel interference due to overlap, as the occupied bandwidth is fairly wide for WiFi.
My problem was ON Channel 6 (Kept losing Internet connection & sometimes, though rarely, I would also lose the ability to see my desktop from my laptop even though the desktop is fully functional & not frozen & the wireless indicator was ON), hence the switch to Channel 4.
Quote
The other issue w/ running higher part 97 power levels vs part 15 power levels is the prohibition  on encryption: so I don't believe you can legally transmit encrypted WEP or (better) WPA keys, even w/ your call in the SSID as a result you'd have an unsecured network (with extra range!).
Well since routers aren't Part 97 type-accepted TXers anyway, this point is moot unless you're causing interference to other radio services or do something else to get the attention of the FCC (Hence my post above)
Quote
The other angle to look into is buying/building very directional antennas (yagi, tin can waveguide, etc.).
That wouldn't be a bad idea worth considering either.

Cheers & 73 :D

Pat, KB0OXD