advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home

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My router (3-4 year old Gateway router) is in one room, and my pc will
be located against the wall in my living area.  Estimated distance
about 25' on the same floor.  At present, I'm using an Edimax USB wi-fi
adapter on a Linux/Ubuntu setup.  The wireless connection drops too
often.  Signal strength is around 48%.  If the pc is next to the
router, signal strength is 100%.

I'd like to get things set up so that I don't have the disconnects, but
don't know what options I have.  The only given is that the router
stays where it is now.  I'm trying to keep my cost down.

The ideas that have crossed my mind are:
1.  buy something to boost the signal from the router to the pc
2.  new router
3.  replace the USB wi-fi adapter (whatever I replace it MUST work with
Linux/Ubuntu out of the box)
4.  revert to a wired connection and run wire from the router to the
pc.  Not really interested but have to keep it in mind.

In layman's terms, does any one choice stand out?

Thanks,

John

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
wrote:  

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I improved WiFi coverage by installing a second access point.

I was able to do that with minimal effort because I already had a wired
network connection available where I wanted to put it.  

However, from the way you describe your installation, if you had a wired
connection available where your PC is, you'd probably be using it rather
than a USB WiFi adapter in your PC.  

I've always used wired connections for fixed devices, like our PCs.

I have 3 PCs, a printer, my ham radio transeiver, a satellite STB, and a
Blu-ray player on my home lan using wired connections. My laptop, our 2
iPads, the Roku box and our phones use WiFi.  

--  
bert@iphouse.com    St. Paul, MN

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
Bert wrote:

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My situation is similar.  I use wire to connect my main pc and stuff.
My roku tv uses wi-fi and sits in my living room far away from the
router.  The tv is not 'smart', and I started wanting to surf the net
using the tv as a display.  So I last month I built a pc intending to
use wi-fi to connect to the net.  I run an HDMI cable from the pc to
the tv.

I've had no reason to get very familiar with wi-fi before now, so it's
completely new to me.  The tv has wi-fi capability built in, and it
worked as expected from day one.

John

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
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If the router has more than 1 antenna, have you tried rotating the
router?  Changing its antenna angle(s)?  The antenna on your adapter and
the antenna(s) on the router should be at least somewhat the same
orientation (vertical, horizontal; relatively perpendicular is what to
avoid).  Just something easy to try...
 -WBE

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
Winston wrote:

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There's no external antenna on the router that I can see.  It's a
Gateway router provided by AT&T as an enticement when I originally
switched from DSL to their internet service (about 4 or 5 years ago).
I have it sitting horizontally but it can be placed in an upright
position.

John

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
I previously replied with suggestions that began:
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[If you feel like posting the model number, it'll be easy to see whether
 it's supposed to have an antenna, etc.]

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[You might try that, just to see if it makes any difference.]

Look on the back of your router.  Is there a screw-on connector where an
antenna is supposed to be attached?  If you've lost the antenna, you can
buy one fairly cheap: search for "replacement wireless router antenna".

Lots of routers have removable external antennas.  Some have internal
antennas.  I don't know of any (intended to have any decent range) that
have no antenna.  The main ones with internal antennas that I see are
the tall, cylindrical shape routers, although there are routers like the
TP-Link TL-WR840N that have internal antennas and sit horizontally.


[In a separate article, you said your adapter was an Edimax "nano"-style
unit]

If there's no antenna at either end, I'd expect the distance at which
you can get any connection at all to be limited, and the connection
speed to drop off rapidly with distance.

If all else fails, there are lots of Wireless nano USB adapters, some
with antennas and some without, for under $10 at both Newegg.com and
Walmart.com, among other places.
 -WBE

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
Winston wrote:

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Unable to answer your question about the router.  It was provided to
entice switching to AT&T internet service.  AT&T chose it, not me; for
all intents and purposes, it's a black box to me.  AT&T was pretty
closed mouth about it.  I know where and how to change aspects of its
operation, but not the manufacturer.  It has no discernible antenna.
Both the Ethernet ports and the wi-fi component work.  I have a Roku tv
that uses the wi-fi signal.  It is situated next to the spot where I
plan to put the pc .  I have not noticed wi-fi reception problems on
the tv.

Getting another USB adapter is not in the cards until I feel
comfortable understanding the wi-fi tech and can make a more informed
choice.  I'm getting there but not yet.

Anything that goes on the pc must be supported by the manufacturer to
work with a Linux/Ubuntu 16.04 LTS O/S.  The adapter I have is the
second one I've gotten for this pc.  Regarding the first one I bought,
I found quite a few posts from users who got that make and model to run
under linux and Ubuntu; the posts described how they got it working.
Sadly, I discovered that they didn't work, and I'm still too new to
programming and the linux and Ubuntu environment to implement the steps
they took.  I chose the Edimax because users and the company both
confirmed it was explicitly supported for Linux.  That was a good
decision on my part because it worked straight out of the box with no
special tweaking needed on my part.

I think I mentioned it, but just to set things straight.  The Edimax
adapter works albeit not to my satisfaction.  It's a small dongle that
fits into the USB port.  It has no place to attach an external antenna.
When I first used it with the pc in the spot where it will be
"permanently" situated near the tv, the linux command reported signal
strength was 48%.  Some users reported a problem with disconnects,
which is what I was experiencing.  I moved the pc to a spot next to my
router for more testing.  The linux command reported that signal
strength is now 100%.  The frequency of disconnects has dropped to
practically zero.  The video streams perform comparably with those on
my main pc which is connected to the router via wired Ethernet.

The intent of my original post was to learn what things I should
consider and be aware of when I read manufacturers' ads and technical
specs in order to select equipment.  I've only been more serious
learning about wi-fi since I built the pc within the last month or so.
It's unknown territory to me, and definitely a lot of new verbage and
concepts to juggle.  I'm starting to get to the point that I can narrow
down what I need to know in order to evaluate how I might connect the
router and the pc and what to watch out for.

John

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
A few articles back, John posted:
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to which I replied:
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He replied:
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Is it a modem+router, or just a router?

Isn't there a label somewhere on it that has the model number?  Most
routers I've seen not only have a label with the make and model, but
also have labels listing its LAN Ethernet address.

If there really is no label, can you access the router's web pages or
TELNET to it?  [Use the router's LAN address (your computer must know
it).]  If even that doesn't find anything and it's a cable modem, try
http://192.168.1.100/ (Time Warner Cable's cable modems used that).
 -WBE

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
Winston wrote:

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AT&T said the Gateway Router I have was a modem router combo and that
the wi-fi was 2.4 GHz.  They did not provide more details than that.
The only other comment made was that it would be a 50-50 chance whether
a third-party wi-fi router, if I hooked it up to the Gateway Router,
would work.

John

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
On Tue, 20 Dec 2016 23:57:06 -0000 (UTC), "Yes"

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Unfortunately, it's apparently located in an area of the house that you
don't have access to. That puts you at a disadvantage.

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If you can't find the device to read its label, you won't be able to
find it to connect anything to it. If you were able to find it, however,
you could connect a third party WiFi router to it and it would work.
Worst case, you'd have two routers in the path, which is not ideal but
also not fatal, and best case you could put the at&t router into bridge
mode and have a single router in the path.


Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
wrote:

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    My mind boggles when I think of all the possibilities of where
they installed it.
    I suppose the tech guys don't have access to it, which is why
they can't check it.
    ;)
    []'s
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--  
Don't be evil - Google 2004
We have a new policy  - Google 2012

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
Winston wrote:

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If you define a cable modem as using a coaxial cable to deliver the
signal in, then it is not a cable modem.

It uses a two wire cord plugging into a port on the back that resembles
a phone jack.  So on that basis, I think it's a router.  I've owned and
used it for a number of years now.  My notes enable me to know where
and how to change some software-type settings.  If it came with a
user's manual, I've long since lost that.  Sooner rather than later
I'll be going to the horse's mouth (AT&T Tech support) to ask specific
questions because I need to clarify what I can do with it, e.g.,
upgrade it to something current, replace it with a third party router,
but right now I've taken it as far as my energy has let me.

Until I contact AT&T Tech support, I'll wait;  Everything's working,
just not up to my expectations and satisfaction with respect to the
wi-fi.  Their answers to my questions will drive what decision I make
going forward with respect to the wi-fi aspects.

John

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
I commented:
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John replied:
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I asked:
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John replied:
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Sounds right.  Note that I avoided using the word "cable" and just said
modem.  :)

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Your description sounds like an ADSL modem + router.  ADSL (Asymmetric
Digital Subscriber Line) is how phone companies convey data over phone
lines.  If it were just a router, it'd have Ethernet for both WAN and
LAN.

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 -WBE

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
On Mon, 19 Dec 2016 20:34:33 -0000 (UTC), "Yes"

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If it's the standard type of equipment that att hands out, it's a combo
unit consisting of a DSL modem, router, access point, and switch.

If you can find the actual physical device within your house, I have no
doubt that it has a label affixed to it. It may be hard to read, but you
can probably stick your cell phone back there and snap a photo, which
you can then view at your leisure. That label will have info including
make, model, MAC address, default password, and more.


Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
says...
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Do you have the adaptor plugged directly into a port on the computer? If  
so, then try connecting it in using a USB extension cable of suitable  
length.  This will allow you to get the adaptor out of any radio shadow  
caused by the PC or any equipment near it and place it in a position to  
get the best signal from the router, which can be found by trial and  
error.
It may not improve things much, but it costs little and is worth a try.




Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
UnsteadyKen wrote:

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It's plugged into the USB port on the front of the pc.  I had cleared a
space and put it on a table next to where the TV sits; no accurate
measurements here, but the distance between the TV and pc is about 1
foot away.  When I first plugged in the USB adapter, I put it on the
rear, but realized quickly that the rear was a lousy place to put it.

The adapter is from Edimax.  It is a very small dongle that fits into
the USB port.  IIRC, Edimax describes it as "nano" technology.

The reason I chose it was because the first one I had (one from
Rosewill) quickly became too complicated to get to work under
Linux/Ubuntu. I bought it because I found users who said they got it
working in Ubuntu 16.04.  However, When I searched for how other people
got theirs' working, it was bewildering.  By the time I threw in the
towel, I found perhaps six or seven fixes.  Each one was different and
had at times contradictory instructions and required serious attention
to editing config files and re-compiling source code with no guarantee
that it would work.  I want'to get back into 'toying' with programming,
but I wasn't ready to do that straight out of the chute.  I did make
sure that it worked by plugging it into a Windows laptop I have.

That experience (getting it to work under Ubuntu) was too frustrating,
So I bought the Edimax adapter because their ad literature and users
both said it would work with linux.  It does.  I plugged it in and
Ubuntu immediately recognized it as part of the hardware.  If it turns
out that I buy a wi-fi adapter for the pc, I will definitely make sure
it works with linux :-)

John

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
On Fri, 16 Dec 2016 21:36:00 -0000 (UTC), "Yes"

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Well, in my oinion, wired is really far and away the best option. I
have a wired connection to two switches, 3 desktop computers, two TVs
and an AP. I use wireless only for laptops and tablets and phones
(basically anything portable). Anything fixed, like desktops and TVs
are hard wired.

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
On Fri, 16 Dec 2016 21:36:00 -0000 (UTC), "Yes"

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    Depending on your USB adaptor/Router, you can buy a cheap
higher gain antenna for either. Depends if they are screw-in or fixed
Might make the difference.
    Worked for me.

    Something like this:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CMWTC0M?psc=1
    []'s
--  
Don't be evil - Google 2004
We have a new policy  - Google 2012

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
On Fri, 16 Dec 2016 21:36:00 -0000 (UTC), "Yes"

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Ok.  I guess we don't deserve to know the various model numbers and
Ubuntu version.  It really does help to be a bit more specific by
supplying numbers instead of vague descriptions.

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Dropouts are usually NOT due to lack of signal strength.  Most
commonly, they are due to interference from other Wi-Fi systems,
EMI/RFI from non-Wi-Fi sources, or broken wireless drivers.  You can
usually tell what's happening by monitoring the SNR (signal to noise
ratio).  A really low SNR is a sure sign of some kind of interference.

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Well, he best option is to troubleshoot the problem before throwing
money at it.  Do a site survey with a wi-fi analyzer program to see
what sources of Wi-Fi junk you have out there.  If your wireless
router is sitting in a window, and picking up junk from all over the
neighborhood, it might help to hide it behind a wall.  If that doesn't
play, find a ham radio operator with a spectrum analyzer and see what
non-Wi-Fi junk is in the neighborhood.  I've found odd sources of
interference, such as microwave ovens, plasma TV's, wireless door
bells, RF dryers, RF lights, LED lights, etc, that have caused
problems.  Even an ordinary switching power supply or charger, located
close to the wireless router, can cause interference.

Also, check if you have the latest firmware in your wireless router.

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I'm not going to pass judgement on the quality of your unspecified
model 3-4 year old Gateway router until after you deliver a model
number.

I pay about $40 for decent routers.  Look for factory refurbished. For
example:
<http://www.ebay.com/itm/Linksys-EA6300-AC1200-Dual-Band-Wi-Fi-Router-Manufacturer-Refurbished-/301761532464

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Switch to wired ethernet for the desktops, printers, routers, and
devices that don't move.  Wired is faster (gigabit), more reliable,
more secure, and easier to deal with than wireless.  Use wireless only
for devices that move, such as smartphones, game controllers, tablets,
and laptops.

Be wary of signal boosters, repeaters, and range extenders.  They can
be made to work under specific circumstances, but in general, are a
PITA and are really slow.  I have some examples of performance graphs
with and without a range extender showing the effect.  Bug me if
interested.


--  
Jeff Liebermann     jeffl@cruzio.com
150 Felker St #D    http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann     AE6KS    831-336-2558

Re: advice sought - improve wi-fi connection in home
Jeff Liebermann wrote:

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Not sure what the Ubuntu gversion number has to do with a piece of
hardware other than to make sure a specific piece of equipment will
theoretically work in a Linux/Ubuntu O/S.  FWIW, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.  For
now, I'm not trying to hone in a a specific brand and model.  I'm just
trying to understand what my options are.  I've only been dealing with
the ins and outs of a wi-fi network set up for about two months now.

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I don't know my neighbors that well to know if there really is anyone
who has either those skills or equipment like you're describing.

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I'll have to see what I can do there.  Getting support from AT&T is at
times like having a tooth pulled.


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<http://www.ebay.com/itm/Linksys-EA6300-AC1200-Dual-Band-Wi-Fi-Router-Manufacturer-Refurbished-/301761532464
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My primary set up is already as you suggest.  Has been that way for
literally 10+ years.  I only turned on the wi-fi component of the
router in order to connect the Roku TV to the internet.  The laptop I
have I only use its wi-fi connectivity when I would go to the library.
At home, ran ethernet from the router to the laptop.

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I'll be wary of that type of equipment.

John

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