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Improving Indoors Wi-Fi Reception?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the these-things-need-better-antennas dept.

Hardware 76

VirtualUK asks: "I was given a WiFi base station and PCMCIA card for my laptop as a Christmas present so that I could read slashdot...urm I mean work, in any room in the house. When I read the manual it stated lofty figures of being able to work up to hundreds of feet inside office environments, so I felt that it would be more than capable of being able to allow me to stay connected in my tiny house. It seems however that the WiFi gods are against me as I tap this posting in the next room to the WiFi base station, a mere 20-30 feet away, just regular so-thin-I-can-hear-an-ant-fart walls, no kryptonite, no lead cladding and yet still I struggle to get a constant connection. I've found that shifting the laptop to face different directions sometimes helps, but as should it be this hard at such short range? Is there anything I can do to make my WiFi work better in a house environment?"

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Build a new antenna (4, Informative)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171434)

Here, this antenna rocks [] , built one myself and it is well worth the effort and the 10 bucks or so it costs in parts. Heck I can use my wireless down the block (almost).

Brand? (5, Insightful)

cpthowdy (609034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171448)

It would help if we knew what brand your gear is, maybe there are some known issues, firmware/driver updates, etc.

Re:Brand? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5173673)

I imagine its a LinkSys.

They're utter pieces of shit. Tech support doesn't know what they're doing ("I'm sorry sir, you must have line-of-site with the WAP.") and their software is flaky.

I've got a BEFW11S4 WAP/Cable Router that seems to work ok. The WMP11 (PCI Wireless NIC) would drop signal when the WAP was on the other side of the wall. Despite the fact that it was configured for Infrastructure only, it would consistantly pick up one of my neighbor's Ad-hoc "network" and want to use it as its preferred carrier.

And yes, I switched from the default channel, the default SSID, the default IP range, etc. NOTHING was left to default settings. Still, like clockwork, it would drop connection roughly once or twice a month. LinkSys' solutuion was to uninstall the PCI NIC and *reset the configuration on the WAP back to factory default*. Then they expected me to leave it at default settings for a couple of days to see if it cleared up. Uhm, excuse me? Leave my internal network *wide open* to determine which is shittier - your hardware or software? I don't think so.

I finally punched a hole in the wall and simply ran cable.

Next time, I'm going Cisco or DLink. LinkSys isn't getting another dime of my money.

Re:Brand? QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5200104)

Uhm, excuse me? Leave my internal network *wide open* to determine which is shittier - your hardware or software? I don't think so.

Uhm, brain-fuck, no one is sitting outside your house hoping for the chance that your network will suddenly become unencrypted, just so they can steal your porn collection.

Have a fucking clue.

Linksys Helps! (4, Informative)

AllMightyPaul (553038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171465)

Linksys has a signal booster [] . It looks expensive and I've never used it, but it claims to be great.

Re:Linksys Helps! (1)

Judg3 (88435) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173481)

Actually, the Linksys signal booster isn't exspensive at all, Newegg lists it at only $85.00 [] .

it only works on their 802.11b stuff, which is what the poster porbably has.
Also, I have a friend who uses it, and get's access now to his garage (about 70 feet away) even though the WAP + signal booster lies in his basement. So it sounds like a good solution, one I'm using when my mother-in-law moves into the building we live in, so I can give her some cheap broadband.

Buy the Linksys WSB24 Booster Now! Now! (1)

occamboy (583175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179619)

Just got mine today. Signal went from crappy in most of my house to superb everywhere. Totally rocks, costs less than $90. Takes 30 seconds to install.

Suboptimal PCMCIA card design? (4, Interesting)

Nathan Ramella (629875) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171546)

If you notice the orientation of your pcmcia card, your radio signals are radiating out at a 90 degree angle from what would be optimal for talking to your AP.

Could be part of the problem.. Try turning your laptop 90 degress onto it's side. :)

Re:Suboptimal PCMCIA card design? (4, Informative)

Nathan Ramella (629875) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171622)

Sorry, I forgot to include this to back up my argument. htm []

QUOTE.. And this leads us nicely into the real world. The designers of the antennas for PCMCIA cards face a real problem. It is not easy to form antennas onto the small circuit board inside the bulbous plastic cover that sticks of the end of the PCMCIA card. I won't go into the technology here, but below is plotted a typical sensitivity measurement for a laptop equipped with a PCMCIA WLAN card. The effective gain of this antenna is low, less than 0 dBi (typically -4 dBi) and it is very directional.

Re:Suboptimal PCMCIA card design? (1)

Phillup (317168) | more than 11 years ago | (#5174057)

I found it much more comfortable to rotate my base station 90 degrees...

(Just in case he takes you seriously is spite of the smiley.)

Any other 2.4 ghz devices? (3, Insightful)

missing000 (602285) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171570)

like phones or a oft-used microwave?

Re:Any other 2.4 ghz devices? (4, Insightful)

cooldev (204270) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172267)

Or somebody else nearby with Wi-Fi...

Try changing the channel. I had bad range with my Linksys until I changed it to use channel 11.

SpinalTap (3, Funny)

wizzy403 (303479) | more than 11 years ago | (#5175451)

These APs go to 11...

Re:Any other 2.4 ghz devices? (1)

pjcreath (513472) | more than 11 years ago | (#5176467)

Yup. Run a scanner to see who's around. When I checked, there were about 8 networks in range. Six of them (Apple/Lucent) were channel 1 (the default). Two of them (Linksys) were channel 6 (the default). Channel 11 was free for me to use.

Remember, this channel is only the base. You use bandwidth from 2 channels on either side as well. So channel 1 uses bandwidth up through 3. 6 uses from 4 through 8. 11 uses 9 through 13.

In other words, the only 3 non-overlapping channels (in the U.S.) are 1, 6, and 11.

Re:Any other 2.4 ghz devices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5185398)

I think you should have gotten lots of +1 funny's on this one. Best laugh I've had on Slashdot in quite a while (I'm strange). When I set mine up, I changed my channel and everything else security related. The closest access point to mine is ~15 blocks away. There's no risk of interference. I don't think even a high gain system could get through the stuff in the way. Yes, he uses channel 11, SSID: Linksys, and no WEP. I don't know if he uses VPN, but I doubt it.

There's things you can try (4, Informative)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171606)

- experiment with moving the base station around

I've found that some things (water, water pipes, metal of any kind, walls to some extent, some metallised windows absorb/reflect the microwaves extensively. Sometimes you can move the base station so that it peeps around the edge of stuff, and then you can find good coverage over the whole building.

Also, try putting the aerial higher or lower, near a window or door may be good.

- find out if there's any interference

Some equipment, noteably, cordless phones; less likely microwave ovens (get your oven fixed if that's the case!) Bluetooth can also interfere.

- get better equipment

Ultimately I've found some equipment has poor range. You don't say what equipment you have. You may be able to modify the aerial on a base station, but try everything before doing that; it may make your equipment illegal.

I've found ranges of 100 ft or so in a building is quite achievable, although sighting of the base station is sometimes critical.

Re:There's things you can try (1)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5189832)

I've found that some things (water, water pipes, metal of any kind...

Exactly.. it took me a while before I figured out the fridge was causing my problems ;).

I can get full power surrounded by tile in the bathroom, but the damn fridge blocks the bedroom.

Faraday. (4, Funny)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171634)

You might look into a "Faraday Cage," which I hear improves reception tremendously.

FWIW, my little linksys base station gives me solid coverage all over my house, and even outside. Maybe it's the base station or card?

Re:Faraday. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5171721)

Maybe it's the base station or card?

Good call. I was thinking maybe it was the orange juice in his fridge creating anti-WiFi energy.

Re:Faraday. (2, Interesting)

aminorex (141494) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171887)

I also have lousy wifi inside my house. Not quite so bad
when using a dlink dwl-650+ with it's proprietary coding as
using an orinoco card, but still nothing like what I've seen
in office environments. Your faraday cage comment caught
my attention, because my house has steel siding. I wonder
if the walls are some sort of resonant cavity, creating
feedback interference.

Re:Faraday. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5172325)

I have a lousy wifi in my house too. She won't even give me a blowjob.

Re:Faraday. (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177669)

Perhaps she's thinking of replacing her hubbi with a switchi.
It's easy to do with some electrical tape and a pair of dykes.

Re:Faraday. (1)

kableh (155146) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173909)

I have a few APs here at work, a pro grade 3Com and a couple Cisco AP350s. All of them work great, great range, good data rates, the Cisco especially. I bought a 3Com "Home Wireless Gateway" about a year ago on sale for my home, and was very disappointed. I could barely get into the next room before my signal started going in and out.

Tore the AP apart to look at the antenna. It doesn't even have a diversity antenna, and the antenna as it were is a PCB that is horizontal. The connector was something proprietary.

I found an antenna with a similar connector and a length of coax from another AP at work. This is a proper antenna with a knuckle, no gain really. Just installing that on my access point gets me 5.5-11Mbps across the house. Works like a charm now.

The point? Antennas in home equipment like that Linksys gear is crap. A decent one will do wonders.

Position of your hand affects 802.11b on laptops (1, Redundant)

oakwood (602181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171675)

I found with my laptops that the position of my hand with respect to the antenna affects link quality.

On one laptop, the PCCard slot is toward the rear of the machine, so there is normally no effect unless I move my hand way over.

On the other laptop, the PCCard slot is toward the front and I have to watch that I don't have my hand resting over the antenna when I am not typing.

To check this, pull of the Link Info screen of your Wireless LAN Configuration Utility and watch the bar graphs as you move your hand.

Filing Cabinets? (3, Interesting)

jayrtfm (148260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171765)

I had the same problem at a friend's house. Turned out it was a few filing cabinets that would block the signal when the ethernet adaptor (SMC2670W) was placed on the floor.

tall omni's are good for yardage (4, Informative)

ubiquitin (28396) | more than 11 years ago | (#5171767)

Check out the telex 2.4ghz antenna page [] for some antennas which will get you some serious signal. I had great luck with their 9.5dbi omni and have strong signal (5 bars on a tibook) at about 30 meters, which is enough to cover my back yard. (Remember that decibel is a logarithmic scale.) They apparently don't advertise these things, but they should.

I recomend.... (4, Funny)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172097)

The judicious use of a sledgehammer!
The removal of a few walls (I recomend avoiding weight-bearing walls)
Really improved my signal reception!

WARNING: you MAY not get your security deposit back


Laptop Antenna (3, Informative)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172106)

It could be your laptop's weak Wi-Fi antenna. A friend of mine has an Orinoco card, and I have an AirPort card. I tend to get better signal, which I believe is due to my PowerBook's internal antenna.

I don't know how practical a solution it is, but you might be able to make/buy an antenna to attach to your laptop to improve signal.

Re:Laptop Antenna (2, Interesting)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172653)

Wierd :)

I have an airport card in my powerbook, but i use an orinico card in the pcmcia slot because it has 3 to 4x the range!

The airport card barely works around the house.

The orinoco card works down to the street, past the 4 units out the front (we're a house behind 4 units).

Really amazing how much further that little orinoco can go. And i have several orinocos (gold, bronze, white), they all have that range.

Airport sucks.


Re:Laptop Antenna (1)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173376)

Maybe it's my friend's PB 1400. :)

Re:Laptop Antenna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5173850)

My iBook works all over the house, upstairs and down, and my base station is up on top of a bookcase in the back of the house. I found that just tweaking out the config on the base station did wunders. As I type this, it's downstairs and across the hall and I've got full signal strength.

Re:Laptop Antenna (2, Informative)

iuyterw (255460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173941)

I don't know a lot about Macs but I did find this post on a MacNet bulletin board when I was looking for some info on 802.11b, maybe this would fix your airport card problem if you use a tibook.
Making this quick, I just got off the phone with Apple tech support. I called to ask if there's anything I can do to improve my Ti's Airport range. After some questions about distance and interference like microwaves, cordless phones, and walls, the tech told me to shut down my powerbook and flip it over. I was next instructed to eject the battery and look at the right side wall of the battery compartment where I was supposed to find an approximately 5 cm long plastic strip. (My particular powerbook doesn't have this visible -- instead, there is a plate with the serial number, etc...) Still, he told me to firmly press the side wall of the powerbook against the frame, just slowly and firmly pressing along its length several times for about 10 seconds. Next, he told me to replace the battery and start her back up. I can't believe it, but my Airport's range is now like my iBook's!! I never could have done this from out here by the pool before, but here I am.

Higher (2, Informative)

Zelet (515452) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172282)

The higher the better. Always put it above 6' at least. Mounting from the ceiling works well too. Also, make sure that when you go through a wall it is straight not catycorner (sp?).

Good luck.

Or lower (1)

Black Perl (12686) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173777)

I drastically improved my signal when I mounted it under my basement stairs. I think the key is the degree of displacement from horizontal.

WiFi Vendors (3, Informative)

vandel405 (609163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172315)

I've got a good deal of WiFi equipment, a linksys AP, a netgear AP (two locations), a Netgear PCMCIA card, a microsoft USB WiFi adapter, a Netgear PCI card, an AirPort card in my iBook, and two Orinico (Lucent WaveLAN) cards.

I run windows XP/2k and Mac OS X. It is my experience that the Microsoft and Netgear products are worthless as far as client adapters are concerned.

The microsoft USB device seems to JAM my net everytime i set it up. If i turn it on, no new clients can join the network. Both netgear adapters can't keep a TCP connection for more than a minure (with 100% reception).

Now, the Lucent stuff is GREAT! it work everywhere flawlessly, same for AirPort (although i think that they use the same chipset). Both the netgear and linksys APs work great.

So, cheapo client adapters are a no go. Stick with Lucent stuff.

Re:WiFi Vendors (1)

thempstead (30898) | more than 11 years ago | (#5181351)

hmmmm .... I'm using a Netgear PCMCIA card with a Netgear access point from a laptop running Windows XP and it works fine. Where i normally use it in the house i get aprox. 70-80% signal strength and am able to access the network for many hours in this way.

I think its less of a case of staying clear of "cheapo client adapters" but more 'your mileage may vary' ....


Increase line of sight (1, Redundant)

Craigj0 (10745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172475)

The simplest and most enjoyable way is to simply increse the chances of line of sight.

Step one find sledge hammer
Step two move hammer at rapid velocity at wall
Step three Come up with good excuse for spouse/land lord/parents
Step four enjoy incresed range of WiFi

Had the same problem. (3, Informative)

Maller (21311) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172639)

I had the same problem (Linksys AP, Linksys PCMCIA, and Ambicom PCMCIA) where tilting my laptop made my reception noticably better. Moving the AP (higher) was the biggest no cost boost. Changing the antennae config helped, too. Getting better antennae, however, is the way to go (at least in my house). I got some off an old Proxim rangelan base station and now I get great reception all over the house. These may not have been the originals, as the AP was donated by my old CS department for Robocup 98.

Change Channels (2, Informative)

okie_rhce (224078) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172669)

I had a similar problem with my setup when I first installed it. I would get strengths below 50% and frequent drop offs. The first thing I did was change the channel the gear was using and my probems went away.

Multipath problems? (3, Informative)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 11 years ago | (#5172940)

There's a terrific graph in the 802.11 Handbook [] (the IEEE companion guide to the 802.11 standard) which simulate the signal strength of the signal in a typical environment by using raytracing techniques [] .

Basically, it's not necessarily the wall right in between you and the AP, but other potential radio reflectors that are affecting your signal. Moving the access point up, down, left, or right by a few inches could make all the difference. So move it around!

Use the same standard.... yeah read on... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173004)

Some of the newer APs and cards use a completely f'ed up version of 802.11b which they claim gives you 22 MB throughput instead of 11 MB (the standard). These will NOT work with any standard-compliant 802.11b 11MB device, AP or Card. The 22MB devices just don't play nice and compliant devices will drop every other packet, thereby completely killing any signal you might actually be getting.

So if you already have compliant devices, stay away from non-standard devices.

Hope this helps someone who may have had a confusing experience because of this.

Re:Use the same standard.... yeah read on... (2, Informative)

snowtigger (204757) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173284)

Just to state a counter-example, I'm using a D-Link 614+ (22Mbs) which works perfectly with my iBook (airport - 11Mbs)

The access point has got two external antennas and gives me a great coverage in the whole house. I was thinking about getting external antennas before, but I'm not going to need it =)

Now everything I'm waiting for is for the 22Mbs cards to get supported under Linux. The drivers are out, but I prefer knowing they work well before buying the hardware ...

Back to basics (1)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173184)

Are you certain that the AP has a reliable power source?

Does anyone in your local area use WiFi? Try changing the channel the AP uses.

Depending on the (3, Interesting)

Y Ddraig Goch (596795) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173488)

age of your house you may have metal studs in the walls. This could cause problems. All of the other sugestions are great too. You may just have to play around with the position of the WAP and it's antenae.

Re:Depending on the (2, Informative)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 11 years ago | (#5176240)

...age of your house, you might have plaster walls with wire mesh in them! My house was built in '55, and the recption is poor due to the metal mesh over the lath strips.

Which brand? (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173759)

You don't mention which brand of WiFi card you use.

While there doesn't seem to be TOO much difference between APs. (Or at least, even cheap APs like those from Linksys, D-Link, etc. perform far better than even high-end client cards), some client cards are MUCH better than others. While Lucent Orinoco cards are not specced as having much higher transmit power than your run-of-the-mill Prism2 (Linksys, D-Link, Belkin, etc etc.), their receiver is much more sensitive. As a result, with the same AP, an Orinoco gets much better range. I have both D-Link DWL-650s, a Belkin Prism2 card, and an Orinoco Silver. The Orinoco beats the other cards, hands-down.

If you want the best range possible at all costs, most Cisco cards have 100 mW transmit (as opposed to 20-25 for most others) and the highest receive sensitivity of the mainstream cards. The only better card I've seen is the Demarctech Reliawave (One of the few good Prism-based cards - Best receive sensitivity AND the highest transmit power I've seen.) Ciscos are also the most likely to work in an office environment if you want to bring it to work, since many corporations only trust LEAP and none of the other 802.1x solutions so far.

Orinocos are now $50-60 if you search hard enough. Get one. You won't regret it. If that doesn't work, THEN look into boosting the AP signal with a Linksys booster, but the most important is to have a good client first.

It's your card (2, Informative)

Spackler (223562) | more than 11 years ago | (#5173764)

Plain and simple. It's the card.

I say that, because I had the exact same problem when I got my wireless setup (linksys card and router). Sitting on the couch (about 25 feet from the AP), I would have to tilt the laptop on my lap, just to get a signal. It was quite awkward, and I was REALLY unimpressed after reading on the box that I should get hundreds of feet, and yet, it lost connection if I put it down on the coffee table.

I read some online forums, and saw people who had much better luck with Orinoco cards. I called where I had ordered it from, and got an RMA for the linksys card, and bought a brand new Orinoco silver card. I can now be anywhere in the house, and 300 feet down the street with perfect signal.

This made wireless just what I thought it should be. Stable, and good signals everywhere. I kept the linksys AP, because that seemed to work great with the Orinoco card.

Find a friend who has an Orinoco card, and try it on your laptop. You will buy one that night.


Try changing the channel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5174036)

It could be that the channel the AP is operating
on has too much interference. Try changing the channel, and check your manual to make sure the channel you switch to is legal to use in your country.

Also, microwaves only interfere when they're being used, same with 2.4 GHz telephones. So that probably isn't it.

Watch out for mirrors (2, Interesting)

TravelSizedMonkey (585629) | more than 11 years ago | (#5174086)

I've had to troubleshoot this one a few times and I know that a mirror can seriously screw with wireless reception. It was a simple setup; a student had a laptop on a desk directly across from the door to their dorm room. With the door open, the signal was perfect, full strength. With the door closed, the signal was gone. On the back of the door? A tall mirror. Taking down the mirror solved the problem.

Re:Watch out for mirrors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5175378)

You don't know much about mirrors. While the front of the mirror is glass, it isn't the reflective part. Most glass isn't very reflective.

On the back of the glass is a thin, high-quality reflective layer of aluminum. It's not very durable, so they mount it on glass.

If you look very closely at most mirrors, you can see a weak ghost image. That's the reflection of the front side of the glass. Since there's a few mm thickness to the glass, the offset creates the ghost image.

Scotty, you need more power!!!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5174283)

Unfortunately, many of the "bargain" Wi-Fi access points have rather low power outputs compared to the more serious brands like Symbol, Cisco, Lucent. But, don't dispare, I have found a solution.

It's a simple cheap hack that makes a world of difference. First, run down to your hardware store and pick up a three pronged, twist lock electrical plug. they run about $7. Next replace the wall wart on your access point with the new twist lock plug. Finally, locate your access point in the laundry room and plug it into the twist lock receptacle next to your clothes dryer.

That's all there is to it, you'll be able to roam all over your block with a good solid signal.

One note of caution, with this increased power output, your neighbors will also be able to use your signal. So, make sure that you turn on the high security features of WEP on your access point. TTFN :)

Re:Scotty, you need more power!!!!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5175388)

For those that are really thinking about plugging your AP into a 220v dryer outlet... don't do it.

You'll just end up being listed in the Darwin awards at worst, at best you'll likely start a fire.

Firmware (2, Informative)

Savafan1 (3969) | more than 11 years ago | (#5174552)

I had the same problem when I first got my SMC wireless router, and upgrading the firmware fixed the problem.

NYC Wireless (2, Informative)

kfs27 (261031) | more than 11 years ago | (#5174783) has a good intro to setting up a hotspot and what equiptment can extend your rage, i'm sure all of this info can also be applied to an indoor setup.

give it a try

generated field (1)

Brett333 (261105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5175719)

I set up a linksys access point in my house. Orrigionally I had put the access point on the 2nd floor and I had been working on my laptops and desktops essentially below the access point. I tried moving the antennas but that seemed to have no affect. A friend mentioned to me that the wireless field is affected by the earth's magnetic/gravitational field. This seemed really strange and I didn't really believe the explanation, but I tried moving the access point down to the basement. I was then able to recieve great reception throught the entire house. I have since then replicated this same experiment and found the same results. Below the access point has bad reception and above has great reception.

Re:generated field (1)

Trebuchet (98044) | more than 11 years ago | (#5176373)

The behaviour you noticed is because probably the antennas are optimised to transmit the signal in a half-sphere. If you had mounted the AP upside down on the ceiling, or turned the antenna upside down (might or might not be possible on your AP) you would probably see the same results as having the AP in the basement.

Try a new card (1)

Hidyman (225308) | more than 11 years ago | (#5175776)

If you don't want to add an antenna, you may want to try a card from
They offer client cards that run at 200mw, about %50 more range (theoretically) than a Cisco card (which is also very good at 100mw).

Aluminium foil? (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5176043)

Has anyone tried sticking pieces of aluminium foil on the corners of their room or wherever that works?

The idea is so the signals between the AP and your WiFi card have a better chance of bouncing off the foil and around walls and other obstacles. If you can find some inconspicuous areas it might not look too ugly.

This apparently helps for IR remote controls. Not sure if it works for WiFi.

Horozontal Polarisation... (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 11 years ago | (#5176415)

is always good to try. This is where the antenna is parallel with the ground.

Horozontal antennas tend to be much better at transmitting/recieving at low angles when they are fairly close to the ground when compared to vertical antennas.

One disadvantage is the fact that there are two nulls. These will be off the ends of the antenna, so you have to stay around the front or back of the antenna (front would be looking at the antenna so it is at it's widest. like ---------.

Just something to try.

Yeah, but will it go through trees? (1)

tommck (69750) | more than 11 years ago | (#5176781)

I have asked this before, with no solid results...

I have two buildings I'm trying to bridge...
I have 2 WAP11 v2.2 units... tried to bridge them
THey houses are about 400 feet apart... there is a row of trees in between.

What are the odds that I can get that to connect without trenching fiber? Hopefully some wireless guru can help me


Re:Yeah, but will it go through trees? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5181400)

Make a pringles can antenna (well two, actually.) Google it.

400 feet is nothing for one of these once you get em built and pointed at each other. I think the record using shotgun antennas (what the pringles can antennas emulate) is like > 100km.

Re:Yeah, but will it go through trees? (1)

tommck (69750) | more than 11 years ago | (#5181446)

How about someone makes them for me and sells them? I don't have the time to tinker with all this crap.


Still looking? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5197478)

These guys make / sell the stuff. I haven't had any experience with them so YMMV. They don't list the pringles can mod, but have some other things for sale. co m/projects/WiFi%20Antenna/

That site also has a list of mod'ers at the bottom, maybe one of them will build you a set :)

Re:Still looking? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5197617)

This guy has a killer tutorial. Enjoy.

Re:Still looking? (1)

tommck (69750) | more than 11 years ago | (#5199273)

My problem, actually, is less where to buy something than how I need to set up everything, because I'm going through trees. I don't want to buy something worth $200 and then have it not work. I need someone to do a site survey at my house to determine what will actually work (well).


Re:Yeah, but will it go through trees? (Depends) (1)

Red Storm (4772) | more than 11 years ago | (#5189373)

It depends on the tree... If the tree has needles like a pine and those needles are the right length they will absolutely kill all wavelengths for which that needle is a harmonic of. I have heard of stories from RF engineers in Seattle that there have been problems with designing PCS (1900Mhz) netowrks up there because the needles on the tree are perfectly matched and absorb the signal.

Re:Yeah, but will it go through trees? (Depends) (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5190920)

I think those guys were pulling your leg a bit but it is true that VHF television signals will go through pine trees that stop UHF tv signals dead.

A really stupid 802.11b question. (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177325)

I admit. I am an 802.11b idiot. Like all idiots, I have a question. If I have an 802.11b base station, and my neighbor has an 802.11b base station, can we communicate between our base stations? (Any particular configuration trick?) Or is only an access card designed to talk with a base station? (For that matter, can two access cards just communicate with each other?)

Re:A really stupid 802.11b question. (3, Informative)

man_ls (248470) | more than 11 years ago | (#5178983)

[[If I have an 802.11b base station, and my neighbor has an 802.11b base station, can we communicate between our base stations?]]

Yes, set the APs to bridge to each other's MAC addresses. You've created a wireless bridge between two networks.

[[For that matter, can two access cards just communicate with each other]]

Yes, this is called "Ad-Hoc" mode. It's a checkbox when you're setting the network up; in Windows XP it reads something like "This is a computer-to-computer (ad-hoc) wireless network that does not use an access point." At which point you just worry about SSID and WEP keys if any.

Try updating your drivers (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179517)

I had this exact problem. The signal wouldn't reach 15 feet (through two interior walls). I downloaded the latest drivers from Orinco's website and my reception improved drastically. I guess the older drivers were buggy or something.

I have the same problem (2, Informative)

leftism11 (177941) | more than 11 years ago | (#5180020)

I have the original Linksys WAP11 access point and use Linksys WPC11 PCMCIA cards. I have a small 1-bedroom apartment, and can barely maintain a signal when I lay in bed with my laptop (the access point is on the other side of my apt in the living room--total distance
I was shocked and seriously disappointed with the horrible signal strength, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot that I can do without modifying the equipment. I know that rotating my laptop so that the PCMCIA card is pointed towards the AP helps, but of course, when I am in bed, the antenna is on the 'wrong' side.

Raising the height of the AP, along with rotating the AP (so that the antennae are towards the center of the apt.) seems to help a little, but it is marginal.

A friend (also with a WAP11) purchased an antenna that claimed to boost the signal, but it simply didn't work with the WAP11. They also refused to reply to his e-mails asking for a refund. So I've been reluctant to purchase a replacement antenna that claims to increase AP power.

At this point, I would say that making my own is the only thing I would be willing to try.

Simple (1)

tkrabec (84267) | more than 11 years ago | (#5181185)

Make sure the AP is not located near bunches of metal like say a computer or lamps or any stray electrical chords

-- TIm

Guaranteed to work... (2, Funny)

jakedata (585566) | more than 11 years ago | (#5184857)

Run RG6-QS coaxial cable between your base station and the pc card. The cable is a little stiff, but you get awesome reception.

Re:Guaranteed to work... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5190984)

But seriously folks, are those things made to drive a 75 Ohm or a 50 Ohm load? (One of these days I'm gonna slap a couple of "rubber duckie" antennas on some old 10base2 cards and see if that works.)

Brush up on antenna theory (1)

Woodrose (607437) | more than 11 years ago | (#5193660)

Have a look at the ARRL handbook (Radio Shack used to carry it) -- ham radio operator's bible from the Amateur Radio Relay League. Old copies ok. There are people who send RF to the other side of the globe on 1 watt transcievers, using clever antenna design. Good antenna design can make up for low power devices.

You may be up against... (1)

Webmoth (75878) | more than 11 years ago | (#5199927)

One of my customers had an office set up in a tiny little house. 802.11a reception was crappy at best, even when the AP was directly the other side of the wall from the laptop. We concluded there were two things going against us: plaster and lead-based paint. (Plaster often is mixed with sand as an aggregate.)

Eventually the company moved to larger, more open offices with sheetrock walls and only one layer of modern latex paint and everything is much better.
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