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What's Killing Your Wi-Fi?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the jamming-the-signal dept.

Wireless Networking 248

Barence writes "PC Pro has taken an in-depth look at Wi-Fi and the factors that can cause connections to crumble. It dispels some common myths about Wi-Fi problems — such as that neighboring Wi-Fi hotspots are the most common cause of problems, instead of other RF interference from devices such as analogue video senders, microwave ovens and even fish tanks. The feature also highlights free and paid-for tools that can diagnose Wi-Fi issues, such as inSSIDer and Heatmapper, the latter of which maps provides a heatmap of Wi-Fi hotspots in your home or office."

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Badgers (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290330)


Re:Badgers (2)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290458)

It's true. And what's more, honey badger don't give a sh*t!

Re:Badgers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290974)

Wow, already played out

Re:Badgers (0)

refactored (260886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290978)

Damn, why don't I have mod points to mod you up!


Horrible link... (4, Informative)

Azmodan (572615) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290366)

Billions of ads + need to check 15 pages to RTFA... and the article is actually a little shallow...

Re:Horrible link... (2)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290462)

Pc pro is a shit mag; what would you expect? I grew up on mags like pcw - they had assembly columns and maths sections etc. Now it's all recycled press releases and mp3 player reviews. No wonder they're dying.

Re:Horrible link... (1)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290546)

It took me a while to realise that PCW had died :-(

Re:Horrible link... (1)

Jezza (39441) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290884)

But worse, the "web IT press" is actually worse... I miss PCW and Byte. Mind you, I miss the Amiga as well.

Anyway - I'm a "desktop" person, so I tend to just use an ethernet cable... I know, but I'm not carrying these monitors into the lounge, so why does it matter?

Re:Horrible link... (1)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291028)

If the magazine's title described the level of article, the magazine would be entitled 'PCN00b'. Presumably, they believe that their reader aspires to be a PC-Pro and should be gradually helped out of the primordial swamp of n00bdom.

Disclaimer: I say this as a long-time reader of the print version of PCN00b :-(

Analog Video Senders make great jammers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290384)

Three on sale for 15 dollars each, 1 for each section of the spectrum. (essentially channels 1-5, 5-9,9-X.) When I setup my in home surveillance system everyone in about a 200 foot radius was jammed on 2.4ghz. It took a while to figure out, but even a sniffer was pretty much useless, kismet was getting next to nothing.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290494)

I've had pretty much the same experience with cheap analog A/V senders. It was kinda cool turning it on and off - "now you have internets - now you don't."

Microwaves, on the other hand, I've never had any trouble with. I can stand next to it cooking something and troll facebook at the same time.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290566)

What is the actual use of Analog Video Senders anyway?
Is this what is being advertised for start watching in one room and finish in another from various cable providers?

I note that back in 2009 when a dimilar story was posted it was baby monitors [] that were taking the blame, even tho video senders were mentioned back then as well.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290692)

I'm not sure about how it works in the standard US setup, but here in the UK if you want more than basic OTA broadcast reception you'll have a set-top-box - either cable decoder, or sat decoder. That's fine for watching in one room, but how do you watch those channels in another? One way is to rent a second STB, which means lots of money plus pulling new cable through the walls. The other is a TV sender. Takes the STB output, transmits it, reciever in another room gets them and outputs to TV. Only drawback is you can't change the channel remotely, and some will even do that by transmitting the IR signal the other way over radio.

They used to work by just transmitting an analog TV signal that any TV in range could pick up with a loop antenna, but those were banned years ago due to interference issues (And, according to rumor, a few incidents of pornography ending up on the neighbour's TV). The new ones operate up in 2.4GHz band, killing wireless networks.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (2)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290902)

Get an STB which supports streaming over IP such as a dreambox or a custom built linux box...
Then you have a choice, ethernet, powerline adapters, wifi (still using 2.4ghz but in a cleaner way) etc. You can change the channel remotely on them too.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291314)

Why don't you just buy another STB for the other room? Since you're likely to be plugging it into a relatively small TV then cheap crappy SD STB will work just fine. You can pick up an el-cheapo DVB-S STB for about (can't type a pound sign, since slashcode has a horrible regression)10 these days.

ATTENTION SLASHDOT JANITORS: YOUR SITE HAS A REGRESSION. I filed a bug months ago. Fix non-ASCII characters, or at least put them back the way they were.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (2)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290754)

Well, I used mine to connect the computer at one end of the (large) living room to the TV at the other end. The device I'm talking about does nothing more advanced than transmit a composite video signal from one point to another, wirelessly.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291030)

What is the actual use of Analog Video Senders anyway?

They're used a lot for half-assed CCTV systems, with applications ranging from video baby monitors, to security video, to hidden pedobear spy cams. The cheap ones are generally pretty ugly unless the planets align just-so, and tend to shit all over whatever band they're using.

There are a few companies that produce more professional versions of such devices, which include very directional, polarized antennas. These play a little nicer with the RF spectrum, but are still bandwidth hogs. They only reason they play nice at all is to avoid interference with other devices of the same type -- not to be nice to Wi-Fi signals. (I've got a few such devices in a parking lot affixed to light poles in a light industrial area, and in this fixed installation they work great. But if that customer wanted WiFi and analog security cameras, there'd be some potential issues...)

Is this what is being advertised for start watching in one room and finish in another from various cable providers?

No. Such installations as that use either Ethernet (802.3 or 802.11), or HPNA (over existing coax or telephone wires), or something proprietary (DirecTV's SWIM system). They're not analog at all (in any conventional sense), and are almost always wired. Installers tend to avoid using wireless for these applications whenever possible (it's expensive, and it's error-prone, resulting in service calls, which make it more expensive yet...).

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290818)

I have.. I can't watch Hulu or anything in the kitchen while I'm waiting for something to microwave. The signal just craps out (stays connected, but there's just too much noise over the signal). That's even with the router less than 25' away down stairs, though the microwave would be about 10' away.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (2)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290878)

Your microwave should not leak any signals/radiation... The inside of a microwave is basically a faraday cage (look at the metal mesh which runs through the glass on a typical microwave door).
If it does leak radiation, then its faulty and you really should get it repaired or replaced ASAP as it can be quite dangerous (wifi cards are typically under 1 watt of power, a microwave could be up to 1300 watts and the full force of one will cook you quite quickly).

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290982)

Sadly there are plenty of crummy microwaves that will cause trouble with your wifi, at least if your access point is near the microwave. I saw this pretty frequently while working tech support a bunch of years back (right around the time when everyone wanted wireless even if their computer was next to their NAT router).

Now, I didn't ever see it be the only source of signal loss but for those who already had a fairly weak signal placing the AP near the microwave did occasionally result in their connection dropping every time they used the microwave.

So I suspect it's more a matter of crappier microwaves interfering just a little, but just a little is enough when you already have a bad signal (and what really bothered me was how few users were able to figure out the correlation between "turn microwave on" and "wifi stops working").

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291210)

A faraday cage attenuates RF. It doesn't eliminate it completely. You'd need perfect conductors for that.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291226)

Your microwave should not leak any signals/radiation...

This is not at all true. There shouldn't be substantial RF leakage, but it would be an impressive accomplishment to not leak ANY RF energy, especially given the high power involved. Even tempest-hardened environments leak plenty. There as here, the main culprit tends to be the power lines... They make good antennas, carrying RF signals from inside the metal box, to the outside world.

And as for danger, sure, it could be dangerous, but we're talking about "touching an electric hot plate" kind of danger, here, and that only in an extreme case, and only if you're very close by... nothing too exotic.

Re:Analog Video Senders make great jammers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290914)

If you really want to have fun, get your ham radio license -- hams can run up to 1.5 Kilowatts on the lower part of the 2.4 GHz band!

microwave (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290392)

microwave knocks ours out. Router 200-300 feet away, and microwave much closer to the computer endpoint.

Re:microwave (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290500)

Weird, mine doesn't. Are you sure it's safe?

Re:microwave (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290568)

ditto. take a fluorescent bulb to microwave and shut off light sources. If the bulb starts to glow replace the microwave.

Re:microwave (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290852)

Mod parent up interesting. I knew that light bulbs light up in the microwave, but I never put it together so you could test leaking microwaves with it.

Also if the microwave is leaking hard, the light bulb may explode (as if you put it in the microwave), but this takes a lot of energy or time, so turn it off immediately when a positive leak test result is found.

Re:microwave (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290936)

    Have you ever taken a flourescent tube and held it under high power transmission lines? Something like this [] .

    Depending on the current load and the height of the lines, you can get it to light up pretty close to the ground. I've done it while standing on the ground (tube at 3 to 5 feet AGL). Sometimes it required standing on the car and holding it straight up (tube at about 8 to 10 feet AGL). You'd be surprised to find out what's there, that you can't see.

Re:microwave (2)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291064)

Have you ever taken a flourescent tube and held it under high power transmission lines? Something like this [] .

You mean something like this [] ?

I have a friend who works at a large bakery. They use big microwave ovens to make cookies. One of his favorite tricks, before all glass was banned from the floor, was carry a fluorescent tube around near the ovens to scare the new guy. I guess they light up pretty brilliantly. :)

Re:microwave (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291240)

    Nice pictures. :) Obviously the lines are too low, or under a heavy load.

    For reference, in case anyone wonders, it's not necessary to put them to ground (neither electrically and physically). When I did it, I held it in my hand, holding it by the glass part of the tube. The only reason for doing that was that the metal part isn't really all that big. :) Standing on the car, I was insulated from the ground by the tires, but since the metal ends weren't touching anything at all, it didn't matter.

    That must have really taken some dedication to get them all arranged like that. I followed the link to the creators site, and he has more pictures. You can see that the tubes are all perfectly vertical, and perfectly spaced. He used 1,301 tubes in 3,600 square meters (38,750 square feet or 0.89 acres)


Cell phone (2)

mrops (927562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291184)

put the cell phone in the microwave, close the door, if you call and it rings, u have a leak

another trick on smartphone is to install some kind of wifi analyzer and put it in microwave, close the door and watch signal strength

Re:Cell phone (2)

mrops (927562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291206)

Forgot the disclaimer, Do not turn on the microwave while the phone is in.

Re:microwave (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290540)

Watch a spectrum analyzer when there's a microwave running. Entire channels just annihilated by the noise from it.

Crappy portable phones are fun to watch too. Not the full scale nuclear armageddon of the microwave but I'd say noisy enough to be tac-nukes.

Re:microwave (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291086)

Several years ago, I had two pairs of cordless phones (house line and business line), and my wireless network. The house itself was very quiet as far as RF went. We were fairly isolated, with only one house adjoining us, and they didn't have anything wireless.

      The house line and cordless line ran perfectly happily together at 2.4Ghz. Then I bought the new phones for the business line. It too was 2.4Ghz. As soon as I plugged it in, it killed the network and house phone. It was like a big kill light switch, and it didn't matter what channel I switched the wifi to. I had to return it to the store, and picked up a 5.8Ghz phone instead.

    All of the equipment were good brand name items. They were all digital, frequenting hopping, so there should have been no interference. Some just don't play well with others.

    I've helped people identify wifi problems. I have seen some troublesome microwave ovens. I've seen a lot more problems where an appliance is in the "line of sight" (through the wall) between the AP and the client. It's usually the refrigerator. They're amazed when I can move the AP a little to the side, or raise it up, to reduce their interference. I try to explain, when you have the AP, shoved behind the computer, with their UPS on one side, and a steel file cabinet on the other side, you've blocked the signal. Once I've moved it, they complain that the AP is ugly and they don't want it on their desk or on top of the file cabinet. {sigh}

Re:microwave (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290592)

I'd have that microwave looked at, because I have no problem streaming video right next to my microwave to a wifi tablet.
Maybe you have a leak? Any appliance store has detectors, most will rent them to you.

Re:microwave (2)

Jezza (39441) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290896)

Ahh, but what frequency is your Wi-Fi? (Is it 802.11A, 802.11G or 802.11N?) Makes a HUGE difference.

Re:microwave (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290956)

Yes. This is part of the goodness of the new N standard - it works on both 2.4 GHz (like normal WiFi) and at 5 GHz. If your microwave is anywhere near 5 GHz, I'd make a run for it.

Re:microwave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291196)

i work with microwave ion sources for ion beam experiments, and whenever we turn ours on, the wireless in the whole shop goes out. we have leaks, but they are undetectable unless you get the sniffer right up next to them. even then, theyre not anything that would damage a person. we use the b/g spectrum, and a 2.4 ghz microwave generator. apparently ultra small amounts of leaked microwaves will screw with a wireless network.

Re:microwave (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290702)

Do you mean your microwave oven? Contact the manufacturer and make them send someone out to run a microwave leakage test. The service center is required to have a properly calibrated one. The test may not be free but they should not charge more than a service call but see if the manufacturer will cover this test.

Switching power supplies used in these microwaves can cause trouble regardless of the FCC warning on them. You can get noise from the supply and noise on the power line even though it's not otherwise failing.

An older version of Tripp Lite's surge suppressor could filter this crap off the power line. It sold for around $70 in the '90s. Without the testing I could do back then I won't recommend them now.

From Crisco []
"Jupiter Research reports 67 percent of all residential Wi-Fi problems are linked to interfering devices, such as cordless phones, baby monitors, and microwave ovens."

Re:microwave (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290850)

I don't have to worry about the baby monitor part.. ours are in the 434MHz range, and I know that because I can hear the remote start signal every time I remote start or lock/unlock the doors lol

Re:microwave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291004)

Mine doesn't. I live in a very small apartment, I'm usually 25~30 ft away from the oven when my girlfriend turn it on to make some popcorn, never noticed anything.
Even if I place my notebook right beside the microwave oven, whatever inferference it's emitting isn't enogh to make a noticeable difference. Actually tried this downloading something from the internet on 10Mbps cable through WiFi, not a single hiccup. Haven't actually tried to move files to another computer on the same WLAN though.

Linux (0, Offtopic)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290438)

In every PC I've had with WiFi, getting it to work under linux has been a complete disaster. Broadcom and Realtek alike.
Nowadays it's not anymore a work-not work issue, but a work-at-full-speed-and-suddenly-drop-to-a-few-bps-range issue. I've given up.

Re:Linux (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290532)

1.) You must have had some bad luck there, which sucks for you, but Linux actually has pretty good WiFi chipset support.

2.) Have you tried using the manufacturer supplied drivers (which you may have to compile yourself), instead of the open source ones? I have seen this fix things on some Broadcom models. Also note, if you have installed these, I have experienced Ubuntu writing over these with the old drivers when it "updates". You can probably blacklist this.

Re:Linux (2)

itamihn (1213328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290558)

Have you tried using NDISwrapper? I haven't tried it myself, but if you are able to use the same driver as in Windows, everything *should* work the same way.

Re:Linux (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290740)

Have you tried using NDISwrapper? I haven't tried it myself, but if you are able to use the same driver as in Windows, everything *should* work the same way.

It does work the same way - badly!

Re:Linux (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290606)

Nothing in this story talks about Linux.

Re:Linux (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290790)

Which is why I only use Atheros chipsets. Rock solid Linux support since the 2000's using madwifi drivers. Such a same that Broadcom is cheaper, so most integrated chipsets/cheap hardware use it. Intel's wireless is ok on Linux. Not as good as Atheros (prone to firmware resets on my Thinkpad, but with no noticable loss of connection, as it resets immediately) but perfectly usable.

This doesn't help you now, but for future reference (and for other readers), stay the hell away from Broadcom for Linux. Useless wireless drivers (their hardware is kinda useless as well, especially their gigabit ethernet hardware).

Re:Linux (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290952)

You've had unlucky experiences, or your trolling...

On all of the machines i've tried in the last couple of years (atheros, broadcom, realtek and ralink chipsets), wireless has worked out of the box under Ubuntu (and in some cases i have used gentoo successfully with wifi), whereas Windows hasn't always supported the wireless card out of the box (which makes downloading the drivers a pain), and other weird problems like the drivers supporting wep but not wpa (i thought it was up to the os rather than the drivers to dictate encryption support).

The performance has generally been better on the linux drivers too, not to mention that most linux drivers support rfmon mode while i'm not aware of any windows drivers that do.

Re:Linux (1)

green1 (322787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291356)

I find that wireless works fine out of the box on kubuntu. as long as you aren't trying to connect to a hidden network with a space in it's name... I have yet to find any way to do that under kubuntu except manually on the command line, and even that's hit and miss. This goes for the past 3 major releases.

Access Points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290464)

Why don't people talk more about using a wire to an access point to get the wireless where you want it ?

Re:Access Points (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290614)

Why don't people talk more about using a wire to an access point to get the wireless where you want it ?

Because of the difficulty of stringing wires thru finished construction, especially when you rent.

Re:Access Points (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290800)

"stringing wires through finished construction" might cost a bit, but it is not difficult at all. If you want to do it yourself, any of the electrical books at Lowes or Homedepot will show you the steps involved.

You can also go the cable-company route, leave the wires exposed, and staple them to the wall.

Tools for OS X and Linux (3, Informative)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290468)

Both InSIDDer and Heatmapper are Windows-only, AFAIK. For Linux, there's the awesome Kismet [] and its cousin for OS X, KisMAC [] .

Re:Tools for OS X and Linux (2)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290528)

There is an InSSIDer for linux in alpha.

It does seem to work in Linux at least for me, it is alpha so YMMV. []

Re:Tools for OS X and Linux (2)

mfraz74 (1151215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290602)

Yes it works in Linux, but it is one of those awful mono apps.

Re:Tools for OS X and Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291320)

I refuse to ignore an app because of the language it was written in. If it installs, and works as expected I don't care if its written in a pig latin dialect of cobol.

Re:Tools for OS X and Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290548)

There's an alpha version of inSSIDer for Linux here []

Re:Tools for OS X and Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290824)

# iw phy phy0 interface add moni0 type monitor
# ip link set moni0 up

Then use wireshark on moni0. Statistics -> WLAN Traffic.

Re:Tools for OS X and Linux (1)

Rigrig (922033) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291062)

There's inSSIDer for Linux [] , although Kismet is nice, it doesn't output pretty pictures :p (Seriously though, the graphical overview of networks is a nice addition to just a textual list of networks and their strengths for each channel, especially for seeing the overlap if they're using something besides the three standard channels)

The one killing your Wifi is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290472)


Heatmapper got slashdoted (2)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290508)

Yup (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290512)

I've got some Wifi problems in my apartment. In the room with the AP, everything is fine. In the next room, transfer speeds are in the toilet. I used 'WLAN AP Grapher', which gives a graph of signal and noise over time, but that indicated no change in the S/N ratio between rooms. This rather surprised me. If there's interference, there should be noise in the frequency range used by the WLAN.

And on that note: anyone know of a tool for OS X that shows WLAN speeds in a graph ?

Re:Yup (1)

bedouin (248624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291258)

I live in an apartment building constructed with concrete and steel beams. Although it's not a huge place, the signal would die outside of the AP's room. A cheap, probably $30 repeater fixed everything,

Look into the nitty gritty technical specs before you buy one though. The box may say, for example, that it supports WPA2 -- and it does, but only when acting as an access point. If repeating you may be stuck with WEP; that means your entire network must be downgraded to WEP. Read the manual on-line before buying if possible.

Its their fault (5, Funny)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290534)

My wifi was going great... until the neighbours decided to secure their network

Re:Its their fault (5, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290686)

You have the Really Long Cable option if they haven't secured their door.

Weak signals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290542)

Stations in the same channel with lots of retransmissions at 1 Mbps will kill your WiFi.

...and even fishtanks... (2)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290644)

and even fishtanks

I knew that goldfish was up to something!

Re:...and even fishtanks... (1)

munozdj (1787326) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290766)

I knew that goldfish was up to something!

I think you're watching way too much of American Dad

Microwave at 50m (4, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290654)

Research from the Farpoint Group suggests that data throughput can fall by 64% within 25ft of a microwave, and Farpoint analyst Craig Mathias said the firm had even “seen problems at 50m”.

I'm sorry but if this is the case you have far bigger problems with your microwave then simply WiFi interference.


Re:Microwave at 50m (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290750)

I guess it depends on how old the microwave is. Some really old microwaves really kicked out EM fields.

Re:Microwave at 50m (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291016)

My parents have a working microwave from the early 80. It will kill any kind of transmission in the house but my parent wont replace it as any replacement they had was not as fast as this 2500W monster.... My current 1100W microwave kill the signal only if my laptop is resting at about 6 inch of it....

Re:Microwave at 50m (0)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291268)

2500 W? Where do they plug it in?

I suspect the reason they can't find another one is that most people want to put their microwave oven in the kitchen rather than the laundry room...

Re:Microwave at 50m (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290842)

Couldn't it be the microwave shielding causing the absorption (as opposed to reflection) of the radio waves that's causing the problem rather than escaping radiation?

Re:Microwave at 50m (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290988)

Not really. WiFi signals are very weak so it doesn't take much interference to degrade throughput.

Re:Microwave at 50m (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291104)

Access Point power: 100mW (max)
Microwave power: 1000W

That is 5 orders of magnitude. If the microwave leaks only 0.1% it is still 10 times as strong a transmitter than the wifi signal.

1 watt won't kill you. it may warm up your nuts a bit if you are sitting on top of the leak of the microwave in question but that's about it.

Re:Microwave at 50m (3, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291178)

I thought most Slashdotters had a basic understanding of science? Non-ionising radiation is basically all the same. It doesn't matter if it comes from the magnetron in a microwave oven or your Wi-Fi AP. The only issue as to whether it will cook you is the power you absorb. Microwave ovens tend to run in the range of 500-1000+ watts of power, your AP probably puts out below 5 watts. It doesn't take much to figure out that minor and completely safe levels of leakage from the microwave will heavily interfere with Wi-Fi.

Of course I have actually had RF burns from playing with radios so I am not terrified of non-ionising radiation like luddites are.

Early 20th Century (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290662)

affinity for lathe and plaster.

What is killing my wifi (4, Interesting)

hackus (159037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290670)

Crap firmware and products.

That is what is killing my wifi.

I would also like to add:

1) Wall Street fascist pig CEO types who need that 5th mansion and stupid Board directors and shareholders who let him get away with it while the companies network infrastructure rots to hell.

That doesn't help my wifi either.

2) Closed proprietary crap hardware primarily by CISCO that makes it impossible to produce decent firmware via a 3rd party even after you bought the damn thing.

Apparently in a fascist system you really don't get to own anything you buy and can go to jail if you try and figure out how it works or make your own improvements.

Poor WRT guys, how they must suffer. Even though they work really hard, their firmware still sucks because the binary blobs they get with the radios suck it and my Wireless N router (WRT600N) still, has to auto reboot every 24 hours or it just plain stops working.

3) Finally I would like to thank all of the fascist members in Congress for creating laws that pretty much guarantees our wifi will suck.on a country wide basis, insuring intellectual property nonsense will continue to make wifi blow.


Re:What is killing my wifi (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290764)

Consumer-grade wireless is shit. We use Cisco 1130 AGs and they are the shit. No problems, ever. They are light-weight access pionts that you can use indpendantly or have many of them with a controller. I have on in it covers all 4000 sqft of my house (3 floors). Can watch Netflix in HD over it, have a laptop, two iPhones, an iPod, the Wii, microwave, and a bunch of other stuff running w/o a single issue. We've deployed maybe 100 of these and they are fucking rock solid. However, they cost like $600.

Really great link. NOT! (1)

pro151 (2021702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290706)

PC Wiper Mag. Crashed Google Chrome browser. One of very few websites able to do this. No stars, I give this post 10 toilets.

Obligatory XKCD (3, Funny)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290788)

Nachos []

Absolutely agree about Microwave Oven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290816)

We were running a trial with Axis wireless cameras. Nice cameras, but the link was unreliable, mostly around lunch time. Nobody believed me until I set up tcpdump, walked over to the microwave, hit the 30 second button, and down it went, never to return.

dwarf toss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36290854)


5GHz, or wired (3, Informative)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290870)

Go 5GHz with WPA2 and 802.11n -- you'll have great performance until all your neighbours do the same.

Go wired (gigabit) when you can -- that's faster and more secure.

If you're forced to run on 2.4, don't expect great things in crowded (spectrum) areas. Do spectrum scans, and if you can't work with one of the non-overlapping 2.4GHz channels (1,6,11), and can't use a directional antenna (you can build your own corner reflector or parabolic reflector for under $1) try 3 or 8 and don't worry about HT (high throughput) datarates.

Take up arc welding as a hobby.

Re:5GHz, or wired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291088)

Nah bad advice,

Because the bands are only regulated by POWER and not WHAT you put over them, modulation wise.

Just swap your router and wifi card to Middle Eastern channel spacing, (different regions of the world have different channel spacing) then set it to max throughput.

All interference problems solved (modulation wise). But. nobody within 200 meters of your router or laptop will be able to get a signal anywhere :)

No laws broken, you are still pumping out the below or on the legal power limit.

I did that to my neighbour cuz he was pissing me off with his loud music. Set my laptop to ME channels and adhoc peer. My networked fine. He was kicking and yelling and screaming about his internet, I even saw a wardriver go past with netstumbler on his laptop on the passenger seat :)

CRT interference? (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 3 years ago | (#36290928)

The CRT part was interesting; curious to see further documentation on that.

popeye the sailor man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291080)

do fish eat semen?

Er... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291130)

My 8 year old Airport base station dying, that's what killed it.

Bad/cheap routers is another problem (1)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291140)

Not mentioned in this article was the problem of people operating poor quality routers. Ironically enough that they quoted a rep from Belkin in the article, cheap $30 routers from the likes of Belkin, D-Link and such from the local Wal-Mart electronic section tend to have a bad habit of "dropping out", or freezing traffic to the point to where the only solution is to power off and power on the router. On some bad quality routers this happens nearly 100% of the time under heavy traffic loads (2 or more computers watching Netflix, for example).

The solution to this is to invest more than $30 into a home router.

Buffalo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291386)

Old, early generation Buffalo 802.11g router, purchased from Worst Buy for $39 when they were being cleared out of inventory during the patent lawsuit several years ago... I've got it plugged into a UPS battery backup now and it's been running non-stop for over two years without a reboot.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291174)

@sillivalley: I agree. 5GHz with WPA2 is my preferred choice. I always run better when I'm using that setup. Then again, my closest neighbor is 40 miles away from me. iphone 6 []

I would like to know too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291198)

Because otherwise the only conclusion is that resonably priced consumer Wi-Fi hardware, routers, dongles, and built in chips are cheap crap that doesn't ever work as fast as claimed. A lot of enterprise-grade stuff's no good either.

For example, with various affordably priced domestic WiFi routers I have tried the internal LAN switching is usually garbage or the throughput between the built in wireless AP is bottlenecked to the wired switch, or the AP is flakey crap or a combination. Many seriously underperform, even if the signal performance turns out to be good. Even with excellent signal and all 54mbps+ wifi, the best I may get is ~10mbps. Connect two WiFi devices and the internal LAN transfers between them will total 10mbps, even if one is on wired. Change the router, change the devices and not much may improved. Borrowed a high-spec corporate grade AP from work, got much more speed, although the thing still flaked out. Unplugging interference sources and hoping channels has always made little difference. Flashing to DD-WRT got no benefit either, it was garbage hardware.

I resisted switching from ethernet until I had no choice (renting can't exactly wire cat-6 through the walls). So maybe if I spent twice as much on a router I'd have a chance of respectable performance.

Baby monitor kills mine (3, Insightful)

TAZ6416 (584004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291214)

Once my daughter goes to sleep and my wife turns this bad boy on, my wireless network totally falls apart. []

Seems quite common, I work in IT and now and again I get asked do you know why my wiresless network is so crap and a lot of the times they've just had a baby.

Netcraft confirms it: wi-fi is dying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291272)

A eulogy and service will be held tomorrow at Cisco Cemetery.

Gold Dust! (4, Funny)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291280)

In my carefully controlled laboratory (the basement of my parent's house), I decided to try things that would enhance the wireless connectivity. "Scientists" tend to only focus on the negative. Who wants to read something that very craftily calls us idiots? Summary of article the article I didn't read: "Want better wireless? Get rid of the microwave, dumb ass!"

I'm going to write a paper. But my parents want me to clean up the basement first. I don't feel like it ...... so its going to take a while. :)

In writing this more positive paper, I felt gold dust would be the best stuff to sprinkle in the air to enhance wireless signals. After all, this stuff works *MIRACLES* for stereo cables and computer cables. Why not wireless signals?

So I installed some fans in the basement to blow the gold dust around while testing my wireless network. I tried 3 different gold samples. 1) Gold bought from Dollar Store. 2) Gold bought from Pawn Shop. 3) Gold extracted from Monster Cables.

Total cost of materials (gold): $2000*. Acquiring gold from the first two sources was much cheaper than the 3rd (see Marketing Materials as reference).

I'm not going to bore you with the methodology. "What was the purity of the samples?", you might ask. I trust I'm getting 100% Gold from all my sources. They told me it is.

Suffice it to say, my paper will conclude (I'm not done looking at most if of the results just yet and don't think I need to) that sprinkling gold dust in the air boosted wireless signals up to 2 x 10 ^ 3 % (this is a scientific study so I must use scientific notation!). I'll leave the reader to conclude which of the 3 sources resulted in the best results. Frankly, I lost track.

Bufferbloat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291282)

One issue that continually makes wireless far worse than wired connections on home routers is bufferbloat. See and and and and ...

here's some things that jam wifi (2)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36291300)

xbox 360 controllers.
ps3 controllers.
electrical motors for ceiling fans.
cordless phones in the 2.4Ghz range.
cheap RC cars/planes/helicopters.
Your paper shredder, while it's running.
your 5 neighbors' wifis all on channel 6.
CFL bulbs. (They tend to absorb radio signals.)

All of these will interfere with wifi. Perhaps you should switch to 5Ghz 802.11N

Nothing anymore... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36291362)

...replaced my 802.11b/g/n access point with a 802.11a/n access point and now all my troubles seems so far away...
5 GHz is empty in residential areas.

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