Strengthening a signal

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I have a friend who has a Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop with a1515
Wireless-N Mini-Card.  The minicard often can pick up no signal in a RV
campground when my macbook with an airport extreme (also 802.11n)  card
gets a very good signal sitting in the same RV.

At home she gets a very weak signal that fades in and out.  I get a
very strong signal sitting near her.  The airport is set to channel 11
and other nearby networks are set to channel 1,6,or 9.  We cannot move
the airport closer without running a cord where they would be dangerous
and look bad.

 I think I will solve the home problem by buying an airport extreme
wireless router that sends a stronger signal.  I tried to solve it with
a Linksys wireless N network adapter that says it operates in both n
and g speeds.  She is running Windows 7. When we first connected the
Linksys adapter, it blinked indicating it was working.  Within less
than a minute, Windows put up a message that it was disabling the
adapter. I cannot remember the message exactly and it has not given the
message again.  The adapter blinks for a few seconds when inserted in
the USB port and then quits working.

So there is still the campground problem that a new home access point
will not solve.  I read the information on the site:  
<http://wireless.navas.us/wiki/Wi-Fi_on_a_Boat .  It looks like I need
at the least an omnidirectional antenna on the motorhome, and an
ethernet cord running from the antenna to her computer.

Is this right?

Any suggestions?

I do have some difficulty understanding all this stuff and I know
nothing about widows.


Re: Strengthening a signal


On Sun, 29 Aug 2010 20:27:10 -0500, in

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Forget about n -- n will not give you better range than g.  (It might
give you better speed, but only if you have a very good signal.)

Your friend needs a better antenna than what she has now.  Assuming the
antenna is turned on (did you check that?), it actually sounds like the
internal antenna in her Dell might have gotten disconnected from the
internal mini wireless card.  It happens.  I'd look to getting that
fixed before trying anything else.

It that fails, I'd suggest a different g USB adapter, preferably one
with a good antenna or the ability to use an external antenna.

--
John            FAQ for Wireless Internet: <http://wireless.navas.us
                FAQ for Wi-Fi:  <http://wireless.navas.us/wiki/Wi-Fi
           Wi-Fi How To:  <http://wireless.navas.us/wiki/Wi-Fi_HowTo
Fixes to Wi-Fi Problems:  <http://wireless.navas.us/wiki/Wi-Fi_Fixes

Re: Strengthening a signal


On Sun, 29 Aug 2010 20:27:10 -0500, Kathy wrote:

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I have a customer with exactly the same laptop and possibly the same
wireless card.  The RF performance was just fine as indicated that it
consistently works through 3 walls in their house.  If there's a big
difference between the Dell and the Mac, I would look for a problem
with the Dell.  The usual is that the antenna cables going to the
MiniPCI card have fallen off.  I've also seen bad cards, and old
drivers.  

Speaking of drivers, Dell tends to get behind a bit on drivers.  Check
the Atheros web site for the latest 1515 drivers for Windoze 7.  This
might help:
<http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/network-internet-wireless/f/3324/p/19273604/19482108.aspx
If she wants to do some hacking:
<http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/topic/15297-atheros-modded-driver-for-windws-7-vista-and-winxp/
Some of the postings can't seem to decide if the Dell 1515 wireless
board is Atheros or Broadcom.  Make the determination before
attacking.

Unfortunately, getting to the card is a mess.  Download instructions
at:
<http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins1545/en/SM/SM_en.zip
Uncompress into an empty directory, and run "index.htm" for
instructions.  Also, be sure to check the Dell support site for the
latest Wireless drivers.  These are NOT installed automagically with
Windoze Update.

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The network on Channel 9 might interfere with your use of Ch 11.  If
it's a really strong signal, you might try 1 or 6 instead, despite
being occupied.

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I have a bad attitude about the Airport Extreme N.  It works just
fine, but because it does spatial diversity 802.11n, all the antennas
are internal, with no provision for external antennas (which would
require 3 antennas).  Otherwise it's just fine.  If you "aim" the
Airport with the front panel pointing in the general direction of the
users, all 3 antenna come into play.  See internal photos at:
<http://www.vonwentzel.net/ABS/Dissection-Extreme-n/index.html
Otherwise, try turning OFF the 802.11n feature.  802.11n is all about
speed.  You don't need speed, you need range.  

It's also possible that the Aiport Extreme is connecting to your Mac
at 5.6GHz, while her 1515 card only supports 2.4GHz.  That might point
to a defective 2.4GHz section on the Airport Extreme.  

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What home problem?  Is it the same as the different ranges between the
two laptops you previously described at the campground?

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If you changed routers and had exactly the same problem, it's highly
likely that there's something wrong with the Dell Insprion 1545.
However, if the unspecified model Linksys was a dual band router, you
may have duplicated the problem where she connects at 2.4Ghz and you
connect at 5.6GHz.

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You have to install the drivers BEFORE you plug in the USB device.
Please read the instructions.

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Something like that.  The shielding from the metal body of the camper
is the main problem.  I don't like omnidirectional antennas.  Instead,
I suggest a directional panel antenna with about 8dBi to 14dBi gain.
See:
<http://www.fab-corp.com/home.php?cat=255
A dish would also work, but is more critical to aim.

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A boat has a problem you don't have.  It drifts at anchor and moves
around in the water making antenna aiming a problem.  That's why an
omnidirectional antenna is preferred.  You don't have that problem.
Land the mobile home, deploy the antenna, point it in the right
direction, and you're done.

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Which model MacBook do you have?  Dual band wireless?

The AirPort Extreme N has an irritating problem.  If you use the same
SSID for both the 2.4 and 5.6Ghz SSID, you cannot select which one to
use when you connect with the MacBook.  Set them for different SSID's,
and try connecting your MacBook to the SSID on the 2.4Ghz side.  If
you get the same crappy performance as the Dell, then there's
something broken in the AirPort Extreme N 2.4GHz radio.  

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You don't learn anything new by using things that "just work".
Learning comes mostly from fixing broken computers and systems.
Welcome to Windoze.

--
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: Strengthening a signal


wrote:

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Oops.  It's not a mess, it's easy.  Just unscrew the "base cover" on
the bottom of the machine, and the wireless card is easily accessible.
I was looking at the Bluetooth card, which is a mess because it's
buried under the keyboard.

--
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: Strengthening a signal WOW! Thank you Jeff.


On 2010-08-29 22:03:42 -0500, Jeff Liebermann said:

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That took a lot of time to help me with all that.  I will try the
things you suggested.


Re: Strengthening a signal


On Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:59:21 -0700, in

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And if you don't, it can be hard to get rid of the mess/damage.

--
John

"Assumption is the mother of all screw ups."
[Wethern’s Law of Suspended Judgement]

Re: Strengthening a signal


On 2010-08-29 23:09:17 -0500, John Navas said:

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She did install the drivers from the CD before plugging in the adapter
to the USB port.


Re: Strengthening a signal



<snip>
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This is true of most thing Windows. You install the Drivers and then
shut down and install the device (if internal) or restart and then
plug in an external component.

Turns out, in everyday life, Windows gets confused if you install/plug
in the device and Then add a driver for it.



TBerk
Are we really better off than two soup cans with a taut string between?

Re: Strengthening a signal


On Tue, 31 Aug 2010 22:56:18 -0700 (PDT), in

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It's a good idea, because you'll have a better chance of getting the
latest/desired drivers that way, but not necessary in most cases other
than USB -- if Windows can't find an appropriate driver, it will offer
to search online or for a local driver disk.  The unique problem with
USB is that Windows may install and get stuck on the wrong driver.

--
John

"Assumption is the mother of all screw ups."
[Wethern’s Law of Suspended Judgement]

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