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Wireless Dilemma at Newton's House?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the tricky-networking-techniques dept.

The Internet 287

netean asks: "Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire, Uk (Birth place and Family Home of Sir Isaac Newton) has an interesting problem that may also be facing many historic buildings around the world. 4 Buildings less than 100 metres/yards apart. All are built from stone or brick and they need to be networked together, somehow. Ideally wireless looks the least disruptive and best option, but it is a Grade 1 listed building and that means no external antennae or high gain aerials are allowed anywhere visible. So will any wireless solution ever work in such situations?"

"The alternative approach just seems silly:

Proposed: Add another 128k ISDN line and 2 ordinary phone lines in one building (for office use) install 2 phone lines in another building (for other use) and continue using the existing 128k line in another building (used for free public internet access) - the network option would come from using the Internet and a VPN (the 4th building wouldn't be connected in this scenario). Hard line (cabled) ethernet cannot be used as it will be both be too expensive and involve digging underground which is not allowed.

Being a charity, The National Trust (the owners) aren't going to invest in some experimental wireless kit that might not work. But surely someone out there in the Slashdot community can help to ensure that it will. It must be possible, surely?"

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FP! (-1, Offtopic)

rfsayre (255559) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100590)


woot (-1, Troll)

linuxrob (572140) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100592)


Buried fibre (0)

devnullforU (588592) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100593)

is a possible solution ....

Read the posting, dumbass (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100668)

Digging is not allowed.

response to the question and Re:Buried fibre (4, Insightful)

n9hmg (548792) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100773)

Before I offer a useful response to the question, I must add a new acronym. RTFP (Read The Fine Post) -
Hard line (cabled) ethernet cannot be used as it will be both be too expensive and involve digging underground which is not allowed.
Oh. You can't bury copper, but you CAN bury fibre?
Now, answering:
The mention of "high gain aerials" points the way.
Find a point in each building where rf-transparent material (glass would be best, but wood sheltered from rain would do (2.4Ghz and water, don't you know)) faces a spot of similar material on a building you want in the network. Finding a trail of thses, connecting the dots, you can then lace the campus together with 802.11 WAPs, pringle-can antennae [] , and some N jumper cables, and you're using 802.11 to bridge the buildings, probably for about $200US per building. Note that the antennae don't have to be at the exterior wall. Inside a nice DRY wooden cabinet, able to see the target through a window, will do nicely. Sure, the wall may block signal, but it's signal you don't care about anyway. I don't know of any WAP that can be both a bridge and an access point simultaneously, so you'd need a second wap in the building if you want to use 802.11 to the nodes. Otherwise, you just hang the bridging WAPs on the wired network.
OOH! Do these buildings have cupolae? If so, enough rf should shoot through the slits to propogate even during mild rain (put the WAP inside a tupperware container or something).

boo ya! (-1, Troll)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100594)

i got ya!

DSL? (3, Insightful)

jat850 (589750) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100595)

If there are existing phone lines, is it not possible to set up some sort of VPN over DSL that does not require the addition of more phone lines?

Also ... why does this historic place need to be networked? :)

Re:DSL? (3, Interesting)

ericman31 (596268) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100744)

I can think of a few reasons off the top of my head:

  • cams to allow Internet visitors to view the interior
  • The groundskeeper or caretaker ought to have Internet access
  • The people who give tours and such could interact with online visitors
  • A security system
  • Cause Sir Isaac would think it was really cool if he was alive today
For a demonstration of how internet cams work in a situation like this, check out VetLinc [] from University of California at Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine.

DSL depends on exchange in blighty (3, Interesting)

johnjones (14274) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100803)

i presume that this may be read by non-techy people so I repeat what alot of peoplle know that read this page sorry about that but I am trying to convince charitys in the UK to use a cost effective solution and not go wasting their money on PC's and such I would much rather they employ a gardner or handy man to keep propertys in good condition than spend money on upgrading and just use the best solution

yes and you could do it with any modern OS (Microsoft Windows XP, Mac OS X.2 and yes linux )
the cost to a charity would be the decideing factor

I would use Debian [] debian or Redhat [] also look for a local Linux User Group (LUG) these people would donate their time and expertise I am sure (-:
find UK LUG's here []

useing a linux based solution would mean that you may not have to buy any new machines as you could use any that you already have

in terms of presenting information (I presumne thats why you want them networked )

THE best solution is to make a website that as well as you can publish to the world through a website you can also setup Linux box as a kiosk so that you can view nothing else except what you want (just think of the web broser area in full screen ) have a look around www. [] I am sure they have a solution I just cant remember the link (anyone help out ?)

also remember that DSL or ISDN is a bill every month so you might want a private link to cut costs

also if you have a grant that you can only spend on network I would recomend getting a IR link between the buildings (I have a backup link for the fiber that is between two Uni buildings and no these are not like your IR link on your PC but about 1-2Mbps which is pretty good) I cant remember the people that make it anyone got any good recomendations for IR links ?

hope this helps please contact people in your LUG and when you have a solution up and running let slashdot know !


John Jones

Re:DSL? (1)

WalletBoy (555942) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100812)

Also ... why does this historic place need to be networked? :)
For the cash registers in the gift shop silly. ;-)

The walls have ears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100596)

The signal should be able to go through the walls, albeit not as strongly.... A 1Mbit link isn't horrible :)

simple (1)

Squarewav (241189) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100599)

use wireless inside , and cable outside

Lasers... (5, Interesting)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100601)

T'aint cheap, but maybe a laser to laser connection [] set up between buildings. You should only have to point the access points out the window at each other.

Re:Lasers... (1)

drycht (151758) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100630)

Well, I'm sure that the robotic attack dogs already have laser eyes, so this might be a good idea if you could rig them up properly.

Re:Lasers... (1)

MonMotha (514624) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100723)

Or a RONJA [] system might be cheaper albeit a bit more difficult to build due to not being preassembled (or even in kit form), and a definate hack job.

Re:Lasers... (1)

PlazMatiC (11127) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100741)

Ronja! []
The site seems to be down at the moment, but hopefully it'll be back soon.
In any case, it's a 10 megabit optical link that can be built at home from readily available parts.
Slashdot stories here [] and here [] .

Moulding (2)

ajs (35943) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100605)

Don't such buildings usually have some kind of metal moulding somehwere on the outside (along the roof, etc), or a wheathervein? You could connect your antenna to that, I guess.

Also, just putting the antenna in a window with a line-of-site to the target building might be good enough.

how about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100606)

external antennae or high gain aerials...they should work as long as you have line of sight..

Meters or Yards which is it?? (1, Redundant)

tweakt (325224) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100607)

Ahh... its England... must be Yards...

either way.. just toss a few linksys boxes in there tucked out of the way and you should be all set, depending on line of site between buildings. The spec is good to 300ft on standard gear. THough with stone walls, you may need to place the AP near a window to get enough signal through.

Re:Meters or Yards which is it?? (3, Informative)

Zwack (27039) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100711)

Actually 1 Metre is 1.09 yards... Close enough for a rough estimate.

Britain (not just England) uses SI units for most things...

Though for beer we still use pints... And not those American 16 ounce pints, but real imperial 20 ounce pints. And speed is usually in Miles per hour... and distances in miles...


Dry Pair DSL (2, Offtopic)

gokubi (413425) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100609)

If you can run your own copper DSL dry pair [] should be an option.

Re:Dry Pair DSL (3, Informative)

jimmcq (88033) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100690)

Unfortunately, digging underground is not allowed.

GO BACK TO GBS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100612)

god fucking gbs faggots get off my internet

Line of Site (1)

RebelTycoon (584591) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100613)

Do you have Line of Site?

Can you setup access points in the windows, disguish the antennas among the flowers?

A good directional antenna should be able to cover 100m without too much problem...

Now how thick is the bloody glass?

Re:Line of Site (1)

fstanchina (564024) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100696)

Sorry for being pedantic, but please, could we start to spell "line of sight" correctly? ;)

Re:Line of Site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100765)

Yes - we could start tomorrow if you'd like. Or how about next week? Please let us know which works best for you and we shall implement immediately.

line of sight (1)

perrin5 (38802) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100614)

I know there were several companies in seattle that were working on line of sight/laser tech stuff, but couldn't you also have directed antennae that point from inside windows across the way?

Better do some homework first. (4, Informative)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100617)

If a half dozen cubicle walls can drop WiFi to background noise, I have _no_ _idea_ what stone walls would do.

Can you beg borrow or steal a 2.5 Ghz cordless phone and see how well it works?

As far as exposed antennae, 802.11 basestations get along with 6" antennae. My unit works a good 1500 feet out the back of my house (wood structure) the unit sits on top of the Fridge, and there are quite a few windows on that side of the house.

Place the basestation on somebody's desk with a good view of the other buildings. I'll bet it'll jump the gap.

A card is less than $100, a Basestation is less than $180(us), have some fun running aroung the campus with netstumbler, it's good for a few days exercize.

Re:Better do some homework first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100675)

At school we had 802.11b running through brick all over the place. Thinking about my room had at least 4 brick walls and 70ft between me and nearest AP. I never once noticed any degration of signal.

I doubt it would be much problem at all.

Also if you are getting that much interference from cubical walls there are 2 options 1: your walls contain alot of metal, 2: your AP/cards are weak. I never once had a problem getting access from 100yd through at minimum 3 brick walls, I had a cisco350, AP's were some top line cisco junk.

Re:Better do some homework first. (2)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100820)

The cubicles are primarily metal, yes.

We also discovered that all WiFi equipment is NOT created equal. The Orinico card I picked up for Netstumbling works a BUNCH better than the linksys stuff we originally purchased.

We'll be rolling out Cisco stuff inproduction due to it's additional (not quite yet standard) security features.

Cisco 350's (1)

MoTec (23112) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100827)

That's the key. Cisco makes some of the best 802.11b access points and pcmcia cards. Some other brands just do not cut it. I've got a Linksys AP and both a Cisco 350 and a Linksys pcmcia card. The Cisco card far, far outperforms the linksys card in terms of range from the base station. In the case of wireless, at least, it seems to be true that you get what you pay for.

That said, the Aironet® 350 Series Wireless Bridge from Cisco is an excellent and tested solution that you could use. Of course they are pricey at around $1500usd. A less expensive solution using other Cisco 350 products and a couple of linux boxes could do the trick, but that wouldn't be a tested (corporate tested, at least) solution.

Not trying to troll... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100619)

... but who really cares?

Carrier Pigeons (4, Funny)

sapped (208174) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100620)

When will people get it into their heads! This is a historical site.

Use the correct solution for the problem, people!

Strap packets to the legs of carrier pigeons and get them to transmit the information between the buildings.


Employing incompetence: $35/h
Fixing the resulting mistakes: $1000's
Employing me: Priceless []

Re:Carrier Pigeons (3, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100719)

Be a good test for RFC1149 [] and RFC2549 [] !!

Re:Carrier Pigeons (3, Interesting)

halftrack (454203) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100787)

This has been tried by the Bergen LUG in Norway with Alan Cox watching. See this page []

Perfect Solution (5, Funny)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100621)

This sounds like a job for RF1149 [] .

No need for antennas, just an open window.

Re:Perfect Solution (3, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100677)

better have bird diapers otherwise you are going to have a "shitty" network connection ;-)

Re:Perfect Solution (1)

fstanchina (564024) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100718)

Ah, you mean the audit trails. No, we want those, please reread the RFC.

Re:Perfect Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100728)

my bad, I just assumed he was talking about the pigeon RFC. Close enough ;)

Re:Perfect Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100752)

Overheard from our IT chief one day:

"Damn it, don't crap in my router!"

If you've ever had a pigeon infestation, you'll understand. Seems the buggers liked the equipment room because it stayed warm in winter...

build antenna into the roof (1)

calarts_nutmeg (545745) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100623)

How about weaving some conducting material such as thin, bare copper into the roofs, also a good antenna inside the house (even if its brick or stone should work). The best way to tell is just to see how good standard radio reception is within the structure. If its very bad, then wireless may not work, but if its ok, the buildings are most likely close enough to not need external antennas, that would only be needed if you were using line of site wireless access, but even in that case antena material could be woven into the roof to give access.

Breaking News About The White House +1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100625)

Read about the Top 10 Conservative Idiots []

Included is a discussion of John Ashcroft's
internment camps.

--As the bumper sticker proclaims:

Proud To Be An Amerikan (or more correctly,
a citizen of The United States of Amerika).

There are several countries that comprise
America: Canada, Mexico, United States, Costa
Rica, Venezuela, Paraguay, etc.

Re:Breaking News About The White House +1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100732)

The conservative/liberal thing is a fools game so long as bribery is allowed to dominate the political spectrum of the United States. You gain no power by playing into the long impotent idea that these two completely corrupt parties represent the people.

In the past, the two groups may have stood for various things people could benefit from, but no longer. New parties, and new safegaurds against corruption will be required if this nation is to survive in the coming decades.

If you view yourself as a republican or democrat, you are nothing more than a tool. It's time to start demanding politicians stand for things and follow up on them. Otherwise they become incorporated into the bribery machine and forward the ruin of the country.

A couple of ideas (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100626)

Have you verified that there are no locations _within_ the buildings (attics perhaps, close to a window) that would be suitable for antenna mounting?

If not, could you set up two wireless access nodes _outside_ the building (again in some discreet location), and then run cable from each into the respective buildings?

Blend in with the Surroundings. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100627)

Why not use a standard antenna which can be hidden within the natural surroundings of the building.
There are many styles of antenna that do not look like radio, or satellite.
There is also the possibility of using a smaller directional antenna that can be placed within an office within line-of-site through a window.

al pacino (-1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100629)

So slashdot is advertising some stupid Al Pacino movie.

Did you ever notice that no matter what movie Al Pacino is in, he's playing the exact same character? The guy has all the breadth of a pubic hair.

Fuck you, Al Pacino. I'm on to your scam, and I don't like it one bit.

A Joke (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100631)

An Irish man is sitting in a pub one night when three Englishmen walked in. The men sit down, and start to talk about how they can anger the Irishman...

The first man says, "Watch this..." He gets up, walks over to the Irishman, and says, "Hey man, I hear your St. Patrick was an homosexual." The Irishman just replies, "Oh, is that so now?" The Englishman, goes back to his seat perplexed, when his friend jumps up and says, "Here, lemme try that."

So the second man goes over to the Irishman and says, "Hey man, I hear your St. Patrick was a transvestite!" The Irishman only replies, "Oh, is that so now?" So the Englishman, frustrated goes and sits down with his friends.

When the third Englishman jumps up and says, "Well, now, I gotta try that!" So he walks over to the Irishman and says, "Hey, I hear your St. Patrick was an ENGLISHMAN!" And the Irishman replies, "Aye, that's what your friends were sayin."

a Newtonian Answer (4, Funny)

Astrorunner (316100) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100635)

IP Over Apples Falling From Trees. I'd have to look up the RFC -- I don't have it handy.

concealed aerials? (2)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100637)

Mount the antenna externally, but design an enclosure [] that will blend in with the exterior?
Yes, I realize the example link is for an accent light, not an 802.11 antenna. Use some creativity.

Hidden Wireless antenna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100638)

I have seen some wireless antennas that are flat and can be hidden. Armstrong which makes ceiling tiles had a ceiling panel that looked like a suspended ceiling panel but supported a wireless antenna.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100640)

All are built from stone or brick and they need to be networked together, somehow. Ideally wireless looks the least disruptive and best option, but it is a Grade 1 listed building and that means no external antennae or high gain aerials are allowed anywhere visible.

First off, why say wireless is the best option and then list the major reason why it is not the best option? Wireless is obviously not the best option.

Do these buildings share plumbing? How do they have phone service? What is wrong with running copper wires?

First Negro Post Yall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100641)

Done be dissin da brothas. Yo go round moddin me down and Ize bust a cap in yo honky behind.

Dig it?

silly question (3, Insightful)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100642)

This is an absurd question. The person asking this question knows the answer and even nearly admits it in the question.

The restriction against high-gain antennae is prohibiting typical aesthetic eyesores from being attached to the building. Wireless networking antennaes are nothing like digital sattelite dishes, or big tv aerials. Wireless networking antennaes are essentially invisible and wouldn't violate the restrictions mentioned. The could even be obscured from sight within faux lamposts, etc.


Window, Flower Bed, FlowerPot, Facade (3, Interesting)

Sean Clifford (322444) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100646)

Is there any way to disguise the antennae in a flowerpot, flowerbed, or in part of the facade? Are any windows available that face each other (just 2 buildings). Be creative.

EDITORS: Can you post a picture of the buildings, diagram? A VRML or other CAD file? Notes and diagrams on existing wiring would be enormously helpful.

Can you run fibre through the plumbing system?

I'm sure we (as a community) can come up with something inexpensive and innovative.

Re:Window, Flower Bed, FlowerPot, Facade (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100717)

Yagi antennas have great gain, are flat, and can be concealed inside furniture. Completely stealthy, compact, and cheap too. I got mine from Hyperlink [] .


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100647)

seriously, lasers would prolly work great. here at UMD they've been testing such stuff, and it works pretty well

In the rooves! (3, Informative)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100649)

On the assumption that you can't concentrate a 802.11 signal strong enough to punch through the brick walls...

I seriously doubt the roof is made of brick, too :) Assuming that the rooves are slanted, it would be no effort to put a high-gain (directed) antennae in the roofs to point to one or two other buildings. It might even be possible to use omni-directional antenna, and cut down on the number of antennae needed.

There are also 802.11 amplifiers available. In the US, you're allowed to pump them up to 1W before the FCC come knocking. That should be plenty, even with an omnidirectional rather than directional amtenna.

Re:In the rooves! (2)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100789)

The roof is probably made of lead...

I'd reckon you have a better chance trying to get through the brick.

A tried and true solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100651)

Obtain a large quantity of empty coffee cans. Then, obtain a large quantity of string. Lastly, obtain a large quantity of nails.

Using a sharp object, pierce a small hole in the center of the base of the cans. Now tie a nail to the end of a string. Slip the string through one can, then anotehr can in another building. Tie off the other end to a nail and pull the string tight.

You are now networked, old school, as Sir Isaac would've liked it.

Re:A tried and true solution: (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100770)

I wonder how well modem noise (forgot the term...) would go through that...

Out of site, out of mind? (1)

thinmac (98095) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100655)

What if you have an external antenna, but keep it out of site? Not like the 'pine tree' cell towers, mind you, but you could put a dipole antenna under the eaves or something allong those lines. Possibly you could put it behind bushes, allong the inside of a door frame, all sorts of hidden away, but non-invasive places can be found to put a simple dipole, especially in an old building like that. Windows in rarely-used parts of the house (like an attic) work well, too. Just put the antenna allong the bottom of the panes of the window (windows are usually pretty radio transparent), and nobody will notice.

802.11 or existing power lines? (2, Interesting)

juanfe (466699) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100656)

Sure, it sometimes has problems with walls, but for the kind of situation you're describing, and from my own anecdotal experience, a few strategically located access points may work even without additional booster antennas.

Think of it this way. If these houses share a wall, and one access point can "see" an access point on the other side of the wall, then you could theoretically have two access points talking to each other, and then a third talking to the second, and so on. Within each of the houses, computers could access the network enabled by that point through whatever means (cable or wireless within the house) were deemed appropriate.

Read this writer's [] own experience with multiple walls over 100 meters for some insight.

You could also try using existing power lines to build a network. I don't know which of these tools are approved for use in the UK, but I imagine there are at least some solutions that can make use of existing cabling.

Why? (2, Interesting)

Alpha State (89105) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100657)

and they need to be networked together, somehow.

Why on earth would these buildings need networking? I assume they are tourist attractions, what could be needed that can't be done stand alone? I assume they don't even have phones ATM (or you could use those lines).

Re:Why? (2)

moonsammy (65351) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100737)

Proposed: Add another 128k ISDN line

I imagine that while these might be historical buildings, they are housing some form of office environment. Even if they are tourist attractions, they would still almost certainly have administration, advertising, tour management, etc etc, so having a need for networking isn't all that absurd.

Re:Why? (1)

Alpha State (89105) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100823)

Sorry, it's early here. I still want to know why it's needed.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100830)

and why not?
Even if just for the challenge...

Just because they 'may' be tourist attractions (the buildings, that is), it does not mean that there may not be any real need for them to be networked.

I.e. people working on some of the floors (not open for tourists) on different buildings; After all, it is four buildings we are talking about.
(And yes, they could use existing lines. The poster seems to want to know if there are other possible solutions, including wireless...)

The logical answer (2, Funny)

BMonger (68213) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100658)

Measure the distance between the buildings. Let's just work with two buildings here in this example.

You have house A and house B. They are 100 feet apart from each other. Now we know that the average width of a midget is about 2 feet give or take. I don't know about UK labor laws but in the US 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week is your typical.

Soooo... we're gonna need 50 midgets to go between the buildings providing they stand shoulder to shoulder. If you want to cut down on costs have them extend their arms and hire the ones with the widest armspan. But we'll stick with 50 midgets for one shift.
Well we need them there 24 hours a day so we'll need three shifts so 150 midgets. Then you have weekends and vacation, sick time, and other stuff so maybe hire two more shifts worth. Then you can just run straight cable through the sleeves of their shirts.

If class A buildings aren't allowed to have midgets you can dress them up as lawn gnomes and get them taxidermied. It's cheaper that way too. You only need one shift and maybe need to replace them once a year or so.

The best part is, people will come to see Newtons house and to see the midgets too!

Re:The logical answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100691)

OMFG, lame and lame again. Please don't ever leave your parent's basement.

Re:The logical answer (1)

majorero (572108) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100721)

Ohhh whatever! Get a sense of humor. LOL. I was rolling while reading this one.

Oh those clever cell phone towers! (4, Funny)

BlueJay465 (216717) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100659)

I know! I know! You know how in some major cities they use cell phone towers that are disguised as (yuk yuk) evergreen trees? why not do the same technique with bricks!

Go get the local high school drama club to make up some mock bricks out of styrofoam that carrier waves can easily pass through. All they really require is a weekly paint job to keep them looking authentic since they would need to stand up to the elements...

...ok, ok I give up! stop hitting me!...

Re:Oh those clever cell phone towers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100811)

In Arizona our cell phone towers are disguised to look like palm trees.

Re:Oh those clever cell phone towers! (1)

plugger (450839) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100826)

I recently finished working at Hutchison 3g [] , they are currently building a 3rd generation mobile telecomms network in the UK.

One of their contractors specialises in this stuff. They visit a site, inspect and photograph the material they are going to mimic, and produce custom shrouds for cables and antennae.

They are the same people who created the sets for the Wallace and Gromit animated films. Their website is at , unfortunately, the linux flash plugin goes crazy on this site, but windows will view it ok (although it is still very flash-heavy).

pdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100669)

Wireless [] cost benefit analysis done by a university.

I'm assuming there's electricity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100671)

if they're using computers there.
I think there was something posted a while back about
networking over power lines.

Make the antenna out of wood. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100681)

If that fails, fabricate an antenna that looks like one of those weather chickens that have the points of the compass on them. The chicken can be the vertical, and the compass points can be the ground planes.

No distance problem... (2)

topham (32406) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100685)

I have a USB based LinkSys 802.11b network adapter. The antenna is attached using a MCX (?) connector and can therefor easily be extended to move the antenna atleast a few inches closer to the outside. Also, the antenna is quite small. If you painted it and blended it in with the stonework I doubt you would actually see it from 10ft away. It can easily transmit a couple hundred yards in the open. (I think it is rated for 250Meters, but there newer stuff is about 400 meters).

You could put it in the window as is and test 2 of them quite easily.

what? (1)

FFON (266696) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100688)

morons.. friggen bust a brick out, open a window, put it on the ground whatever.. antanee don't need to be on the freeking top of the building....
also try cat5. its cheep and plentifull.. why is everyone so bonerfied over 802.11b? lazy peeple who don't wanna run cable or krimp rj-45 ends...thats who likes the wirelesss

Aw C'mon (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100689)

Can't a Pringle's can be made to look like a drainpipe?


Re:Aw C'mon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100779)

Gosh darn it to heck for your mind reading prowess! I was going to say that.

Pictures of the house, a solution... (4, Insightful)

Greg@RageNet (39860) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100715)

A few pictures of Woolsthorpe Manor are here [] . I would propose putting the arials inside, against the windows in the attic (no tour groups go through there I would venture to guess). The 2.4Ghz signals could pass through the glass unimpeded and would not blemish the exteriors of the structures.

-- Greg

antennea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100716)

how about sticking that large antennea.....up your ass?

dick lickers, you all are.

Quite Timely, actually. (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100730)

I just read something on I, Cringely [] that just might do the trick. It was in one of my Slashboxes this week.

It's a nice little technology called HomePlug [] and it might just be what you're looking for. In a nutshell, it's several tens of megabits over electrical copper and works on one side of the transformer. If the buildings are anything like a modern set of tract homes, they probably share a transformer. Simply use these babies and you get a nice little network via the already installed electrical lines.

Good luck!

Walls n stuff (1)

Munra (580414) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100731)

I live in a old (pre-Victorian) house with very thick walls. Unfortunately I have no idea how thick the walls are that we (or you) have but I haven't found walls to be a great problem with our wireless setup. The biggest problem I've found is our large metal radiators, TVs/microwaves and trying to keep access points discrete.

Although it limits the range, in general there should be a sufficient signal strength (even a full 11MBps) to transmit directly through a wall, with a receiver/transmitter on either side (or thereabouts).

I suggest you try borrow a Wireless PCMCIA card (and laptop, if need be) and a Wireless access point from someone, and try them on either side of a wall. If the buildings are all within line of sighs, repeaters on each building's roof should enable decent signal strength between buildings (once again a quick test with a wireless card a a base station should prove sufficient).

It obviously depends on the size of the building, the distance from the nearest point on the building to adjacent buildings and the position of where you need the PCs to have access, as well as the distances between buildings but you might be fine with simply a repeater on each building (a ring network of sorts, positionally anyway), and access points inside. If they're strong enough through the walls, and have line of sight to each other on adjacent buildings, I don't see that you'd have any problems.

Well, as long as nobody nearby has chalk, anyway...


ISDN (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100735)

The phone lines probably go through some conduits in the ground, so why not route the Ethernet cable through the same conduit?

What do you need this for (1, Redundant)

FattMattP (86246) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100736)

Pardon my ignorance, but what reason do these historic buildings need to be networked together for? Are they historic office buildings?

Re:What do you need this for (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100797)

Isaac Newtons ghost wants to play Q3 over LAN with neighboring ghosts.

alvarion (1)

gambitdis (444468) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100743)

You might want to check out some Alvarion gear ( or They have some nice high powered indoor units (SU-R7). Depending on walls, etc, you may be able to get by with those. They're at least worth checking out. It is not WiFi (which is both good and bad). It is FHSS.

--derek []

Phone line networking (1)

pslam (97660) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100753)

There's already phone lines installed in all the buildings (I'm guessing), so how about using something like HomePNA [] ?

I'm not sure if it'll manage 100m, and you may have to play about with the wiring at both ends so there's as little as possible in the way, but it might do the trick. Besides, it's pretty inexpensive to try out. I've played about with PNA on relatively complex networks and the obstacle is usually the number of splitters/connections and not the distance travelled. I've never tried it as far as 100m, though :)

It sounds odd to me that you can't just pull some CAT5 through where the existing phone lines are. Or, replace a phone line with a CAT5 and use an unused pair for the phone line it replaced. I think 100m is around the maximum that ethernet will go down CAT5.

If cost is no object, you could peg up a GPRS link using a mobile phone :)

Me, I'd try PNA, seeing as that needs no extra messing about with cables. If that fails you seriously need to think about dragging CAT5 through where you've already got your phone lines installed. You might even be able to get ethernet down the phone cabling - I believe (UK) phone cable is still twisted pair, just not screened (or is it the other way around?). But I don't know enough about the issues there to comment more.

It's easy (2)

aminorex (141494) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100756)

Either 1) make an extern antenna invisible,
as for example by replacing a facade stone with
a simulacrum with an embedded antenna, or
2) put the antenna inside. A pair of matched directional yagis (or pringle's can, for pete's
sake) can treat a glass window as effectively

Why are you so adamant about wireless? (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100760)

These buildings are within 100 metres of each other. They're not going anywhere. (Buildings tend to be stationary.)

I see no reason at all to even consider a wireless network here.

Powerline might work... (1)

colenski (552404) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100766)

...just take one of these [] and some of these [] and as long as you are on the same phase, you should be good to go.

Call me crazy but ... (1)

SurfTheWorld (162247) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100780)

How about the plumbing? In the US, most homes come with a 3/4 inch aluminum pipe from the street to feed water. Are they the same where you live? Usually, the location that the pipe enters the house is underground and in a utility room or furnace room. You could use that room to drill another 3/4 inch pipe parallel to the water pipe out to the central sewer / water tunnel.

In the furnace room of each house, install an access point. Generally, 2.4ghz bounces off of concrete (but has a tough time going through it). Once you get the signal inside the house, it shouldn't be hard to get it from the basement to the attic.

It sounds to me that the jump between houses is the hard part. Solve that and you've got your problem licked. Perhaps the sewer system will work...

May I intrest you in a shrubbery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100781)

You have mentioned that this is a Grade 1 listed building and that means no external antennae or high gain aerials are allowed anywhere visible. So could the solution then be to make the high gain aerials invisable? I don't know how different plants affect the aerials (pine trees are horrible at disrupting signals) but it seems that a nice full shrubbery may fit the bill just fine.

": If you do not tell us where we can buy a shrubbery, my friend and I will say... we will say... `Ni!'. "

Disguise it. (1)

pkwijibo (592473) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100790)

Just put the antenna on the roof, and put an encasing around it that looks like ... oh say a chimney stack. The encasing of course would have to pass electromagnetic signals rather well though. I will leave that to some emag engineers.

Easy! (2, Informative)

mstrebe (451943) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100791)

This is an easy problem. 2.4GHz sees through Windows like they're made of glass. Just get a pair of linksys WAP11 WAPs with the stock dual antennas, configure them in bridge mode, and place them in the windows of the various buildings such that they have a clear view of one another. These devices run about $170 in the U.S., and are trivially easy to configure. I've used them for building-building at distances >100m without external antennas and had no issues.

Grade 1 (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100800)

I'm not from GB, what is Grade 1?

Simple, and Poetic. (1, Redundant)

Spencerian (465343) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100802)

Newton discovered gravity through an apple. Now Apple Computer can perhaps discover a solution.

Apple's AirPort base station [] is unobtrusive, is 802.11b and works with any other PC wireless card. The base station can be hidden under a thin, balsa wood box and painted to look like an artifact. You don't need a Mac to use it--Apple offers a Windows version of the Admin software for the base station. []

Likewise, any other base station should be able to take some camouflage. The info didn't say if the computers themselves had to have their lines hidden.

Leased lines (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100810)

Turn the phone lines into leased pairs, buy some CSU/DSUs, router/gateways, and go to town. Low speed, but effective and reliable. Do point to multipoint or multiple point to point connections, centralize into the building that needs the highest speeds out. Bring in ISDN,DSL,etc into the one building.

This arrangement allows for 56K between the buildings and then however fast you need out of the group.

Don't Forget (1)

cliffiecee (136220) | more than 12 years ago | (#4100814)

To warchalk the buildings when you're done... Or will that violate the 'no visible technology' rule?

Why not WAPs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4100829)

100 meters/yards is really not far. I'm sure someone already said this but you can easily build this with off the shelf wireless access points. I like the Belkin ones (lifetime warranty). Just put them in infrastructure mode and put them on the window sill inside the window. They should go at least 150 meters. If you need more reach, you can either amplify them using some home-made components or bury one out in the yard in a water-proof housing. Now all you need to worry about is security ;)
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