Straightforward out-of-the-box solution for extending WiFi range

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by Danny D'Amico, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. My grandmother, in another state, has the same problem that everyone else
    has, which is that her standard home broadband wireless router just isn't
    powerful enough to feed the entire house.

    So she asked me if she needs a new more powerful router.

    Googling, I find *this* AP device, which purports to solve the problem:
    http://www.rakuten.com/prod/microco...cess-point/246806871.html?listingId=263046258

    Before I ask her to buy it, does anyone have experience here with
    that problem (of extending range inside a house)?

    The option to move the router from the basement doesn't exist,
    due to the hard wiring, so, it has to go up two floors.

    The out-of-the-box suggestion is because she's not going to do much
    configuration. I can do some of the configuration for her, but, it
    mostly has to be *designed* to extend the range of a WiFi router.

    Currently she has a Linksys WRT54G so, maybe, an N router will
    extend her range. But that's why I ask what her options are.

    Any other suggestions for improving range that a noob can perform
    out of the box (i.e., she's not gonna make a can'tenna).
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 13, 2013
    #1
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  2. Danny D'Amico

    miso Guest

    It is 18dbM and still needs a router. That is, the device is just a wap.
    So you need to turn off the wifi on the Linksys, then run a POE to the
    Unifi LR box. So you will need a POE device too.

    Why not get a Buffalo N450 and junk the Linksys box? You get 24dBm and
    DDWRT.

    Most of the time when people have trouble with wifi, my first question
    is are you using Apple gear as a client. Their wifi is shit. Ipad,
    iphone, doesn't matter. Wifi just doesn't seem to be a priority with Apple.

    Incidentally, the higher speed modulation techniques tend to work at
    shorter distances. It is like they obey the Shanon principle. ;-)

    Some homes will never work well for wifi. Steel studs for instance. ICF
    with rebar.

    I've used buy.com in the past (now Rakuten). They are reputable, but
    just try getting off their spam list.
     
    miso, Dec 13, 2013
    #2
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  3. Hi Miso,
    I didn't know that the WiFi had to be turned *off* on the router!
    I'll have to google if that's truly the case (I would have figured
    both SSID's would work at the same time).

    Also, I'm surprised if it's only 18dBm, which is about the power of
    the Linksys home broadband router.

    I googled for the EIRP of the UAP-LR which seems to be 36dBm (4 Watts!)
    This is the legal limit in the USA.

    I got that number based on this post in the ubnt forums:
    http://community.ubnt.com/t5/UniFi/Power-Output/m-p/149929#M1730
    Where it says the Ubiquiti UniFi AP Long Range (UAP-LR) is
    27dBm transmit power + 9dBi antenna gain = 36dBm EIRP

    That's huge!

    Legally, the most you can have is 30dBM transmit and 36dBm EIRP, so,
    the UAP-LR *seems* to me to be the most powerful thing I can find.

    The POE comes with it, although this review intimates (at 2:35 timepoint)
    that it's a *special* POE (which I find hard to believe):


    I consider that a plus, as we won't have to run power wires to the ceiling.
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 13, 2013
    #3
  4. I have no experience whatsoever with Apple products, but, yes, she is
    on an iPad most of the time.

    If what you say is the case, then she needs the most power and sensitivity
    I can get for her, at around the $100 price range.
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 13, 2013
    #4
  5. I had to google that.

    Is this it?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon

    The enemy knows the system?
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 13, 2013
    #5
  6. Danny D'Amico, Dec 13, 2013
    #6
  7. Add stucco to the list -- think chicken wire covered with dried mud.
    You end up with an RF cage -- especially if you have "Low E" windows.

    Tho', it could be a blessing -- if you want to keep everything _inside_
    the house.

    Jonesy
     
    Allodoxaphobia, Dec 13, 2013
    #7
  8. Danny D'Amico

    Char Jackson Guest

    Rather than focusing on a single AP with the highest possible power, what
    about adding a second AP in another area of the house? Or a third AP if two
    still don't cover the area adequately?

    You can join the AP's to the main WiFi router via power lines, phone lines,
    TV coax, or by running good old Ethernet cable inside walls or through the
    attic/basement.
     
    Char Jackson, Dec 13, 2013
    #8
  9. I realize your grandmother lives in another state but does she have
    other relatives or friends that can do a little physical research for
    you? Reason I ask is that many older homes have a chimney that goes
    from the basement through the roof. True they are supposed to be fire
    block but many older homes still are accessible for low voltage cables
    using this avenue. Many times when researching a problem just like
    yours I am able to go up into the attic, move some insulation from
    around the chimney and then shine a flashlight all the way down to
    someone else looking up the chimney access in the basement.

    If we we can "see the light" we are then usually able to run an
    electricians fish tape down or even better one of those fiber glass
    extendable units down or up the chimney access in order to get an
    Ethernet cable up to the attic from the basement.

    With that done it's simple to put a suitable wireless access point (WAP)
    in the attic and provide power to it using power over Ethernet (POE)
    from the basement. Hook it into the existing network and go on from there.
     
    GlowingBlueMist, Dec 13, 2013
    #9
  10. Thanks for clarifying the name. I was wondering why it was called Microcom
    when it looked just like the $100 Ubiquiti UAP-LR access point!

    As for the power ...

    The power of a normal home broadband router is something like 15dBm
    into an antenna of something like 3 to 5dBi, so that's an EIRP of less
    than about 20dBm (1/10th of a Watt).

    This Ubiquiti UAP-LR access point puts out 27dBm into a 3dBi antenna
    according to the datasheet, so that's an EIRP of 30dBm (1 Watt):
    http://dl.ubnt.com/datasheets/unifi/UniFi-AP-DS.pdf

    So, for the same $100, we can either transmit 1/10th of a Watt with
    a standard home broadband router, or we can transmit ten times that,
    at 1 Watt, with the Ubiquiti UAP-LR.

    That's why I asked my question. It seems too good to be true.

    PS: Where is Jeff when you need him! :)
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 14, 2013
    #10
  11. I may be wrong, but if I understand it correctly, that server software
    (i.e., the controller) is only needed for the initial setup if we
    only use one access point.

    That is, the access point doesn't need the control software to run;
    it just needs it to be set up because the access point doesn't
    have its own web server.

    So, the access point only knows SSH commands. So, if I understand
    it correctly, the control software is used only as a web server
    to send SSH setup commands to the access point.

    That is, if I understand it correctly ... (Please correct if I err!)
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 14, 2013
    #11
  12. Yes. Plenty of relatives live near her. The only reason I'm involved
    is I'm supposed to be the "techy geek" in Silicon Valley. I'm not as
    techy as they think I am ... but I'm trying to play the role as best
    I can since they asked for the help.
    That's an interesting idea, to go through the chimney passageways.
    Thanks for suggesting that as an alternative to the stronger powerful
    radio transmitter.
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 14, 2013
    #12
  13. Just to make things a little clearer for those who might be easily
    confused. The Ethernet cables goes outside the chimney itself, between
    the chimney and the walls as it were. ;)

    An alternative way to get the wire up the chase is to use fishing line
    and a large fishing weight covered in electrical tape. You bounce the
    weight down along the chimney until you get to the bottom or loose the
    weight on an obstruction. If that happens I just start over with
    another fishing weight on another side of the chimney.

    The fishing line is actually safer than using a metal electricians fish
    wire in case the house is old enough to still have working knob and tube
    wiring going up beside the chimney. Something that was quite common in
    many parts of the country when the knob and tube wiring was used.
     
    GlowingBlueMist, Dec 14, 2013
    #13
  14. Danny D'Amico

    NeilG Guest

    Danny,

    I'm no expert, but if I understand your problem, it is
    similar to the situation at my house. I solved it with two
    routers in a repeater bridge setup using DD-WRT firmware.
    The base unit is an ASUS RT-N66, on the ground floor, and
    the repeater is a Linksys WRT160N, one floor up. Both are
    available as AP's, but the Linksys connects to the ASUS for
    WAN access. This connection cuts the Linksys speed in half,
    but no one notices.

    The DD-WRT wiki has step-by-step instructions at the
    following page:

    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Repeater_Bridge

    It's not an out-of-the-box solution. However, once you
    install DD-WRT on both routers, the instructions are fairly
    simple, and the system has run with no significant
    interruptions at my house for almost five years. Installing
    DD-WRT can be intimidating, but it is actually not too hard,
    either. But you will need to have someone on site who is
    slightly tech savvy and very detail oriented, or go there
    yourself to do it.

    If you go the DD-WRT route, be sure to check the forum for
    which version of DD-WRT to install. Their installation
    database is not always up to date.

    Neil
     
    NeilG, Dec 14, 2013
    #14
  15. Danny D'Amico

    miso Guest

    Maybe I found the wrong datasheet. Put a link to the manufacturer data
    sheet rather than a vendor or forum so we can be on the same page.

    I suppose you don't have to turn off the linksys. Just put it on a
    different channel and SSID. I'd find that annoying, but perhaps using
    two different channels at the same time has some advantage. Just don't
    use auto on either device.
     
    miso, Dec 14, 2013
    #15
  16. Danny D'Amico

    miso Guest

    On 12/13/2013 11:16 PM, NeilG wrote:

    I like this solution rather than just blasting a signal.

    And everyone should run open source firmware on a router. Not just
    because of worries about the NSA hacking, but rather to eliminate the
    morons at these router companies that have put in back doors. Who would
    have thought they would use the useragent as a backdoor to get around
    passwords. What the hell were they thinking?
     
    miso, Dec 14, 2013
    #16
  17. Danny D'Amico

    miso Guest

    It is like a law of thermodynamics, but for information theory. If you
    exceed the Shannon limit, people will shout FRAUD! Well at least the
    patent office would do so. OK, I hope so. You never know with the patent
    office these days.

    Not so much in wifi, but some of these fancy satellite comm schemes are
    really getting close to the limit.
    This knowledge and two bucks will get you a 16 ounce coffee at Starbucks.
     
    miso, Dec 14, 2013
    #17
  18. Danny D'Amico

    miso Guest

    Netgear is junk. Actually, now that you mention it, most dual band wifi
    routers have terrible reception. There are compromises in making a box
    cover two bands. That could be part of the problem.

    I think the Buffalo ERP is already after the antenna. That is, they
    don't spec the transmitter power but rather the effectiveradiated power,
    which combines TX power and antenna gain. They don't expect you to put
    on a different antenna, so they spec the power of the whole signal path.
     
    miso, Dec 14, 2013
    #18
  19. Danny D'Amico

    miso Guest

    On 12/13/2013 5:02 PM, Danny D'Amico wrote:

    " Specks are in overall dBm. They do not specify radio power and antenna
    gain separably ."
    Hopefully this clears things up. The antennas are integral, so the power
    spec is the effective radiated power. Pretty much what I figured.

    So it is 3dB more than the N450. But the key here is the long range unit
    that you are looking at is single band. Just 2.4G. Being single band
    helps a lot because the receive circuitry works so much better.

    That said, I think you will find the N450 will work well. High power
    really doesn't save your arse because your client is not high power.
    Being powerful in one direction isn't very useful.

    I still like that suggestion of using two DDWRT routers. The N450 is
    half of that equation since it has DDWRT right from the manufacturer.

    Ipads and iphones are deaf. They pretty much work when the router is in the room, but that is about
    it. Apple has been known to edit their user forums on rare occasions
    (mostly because they have caught shit when caught), but they don't even
    bother hiding the fact their wifi is crap. Hey, they have the biggest
    app selection, nice high res screens, and a loyal fan base. Apple can
    get away with selling devices with really shitty radio performance.
    Probably the best radios on earth are in Nokia phones, and look how they
    sell, or more correctly don't sell. ;-)
     
    miso, Dec 14, 2013
    #19
  20. Danny D'Amico

    Chris Davies Guest

    You're referring to the wireless signal, presumably.

    Leave it exactly where it is. Go buy a pair of powerline adapters
    (assuming they're legal in her country/state), one of which has a Wireless
    Access Point built-in. Plug that one in at the top of the house - or
    whereever is required - and connect the other to her router with a short
    piece of ethernet cable. Configure the WAP on the powerline adapter to
    use the same SSID, passphrase, and encryption mode as on her main router,
    but use a different channel.

    Chris
     
    Chris Davies, Dec 14, 2013
    #20
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