Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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What is a good wifi extender solution for Windows laptops in Europe?

My college-age daughter is traveling in the summer to visit old-school  
relatives in Europe who are still on dialup, but they live next door to  
my sister in law who owns the apartment next door with basic WiFi but it  
has a very weak signal at the grandparents location.

My inlaws (her grandparents) are fine with dialup access, but she (my  
daughter) will be bored to death if she has no laptop wifi access without  
visiting my sister-in-law in law next door (which is effort, especially  
since she is working while the grandparents are pensioners).

My daughter's phone is T-Mobile, which has 2G wifi access in Europe,  
which is dog slow, and which is not complete and it's not a laptop  

So, I'm trying to work out a good solution for the Windows laptop.
Maybe a router for the apartment?
Maybe a wifi extender for the computer?

Is there something I can plug into her laptop which will give her much  
better access to the weak signal from my brother's router in the next  
apartment over?

Or, is there something I can leave with the grandparents, like a router
which will pick up and amplify and repeat the signal from next door?

The SSID and password aren't the problem.  
The problem is getting a better signal strength.
The distance is about 20 meters through thick concrete walls.

I won't be there to set it up, but I'm looking for a good device to have  
my daughter pack on the trip to Europe to extend the wifi range of the  
laptop any way we can.Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for  

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
On 5/14/2015 4:47 PM, Werner Obermeier wrote:
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Just google for wifi repeater or wifi range extender and take your pick.

BTW, when using T-Mobile overseas it is possible to buy a short-term data  
package which gets you a quantity of high-speed data over and above their  
normal slow roaming data. I used this when I was in Ireland last spring and  
it worked out very nicely and the coverage was superb over most of the  
country. I don't know if this could be used to tether a phone to a laptop  
but it seems likely that it might work.

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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I think bot of those devices work by extending the range of the wifi
in the apartment building.... there's also the option of using an
antenna with her laptop to boost the signal only at her end.

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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It's a nice option to tether, so that leaves 3 suggested options in toto:
1. WiFi extender on the laptop (about $50)
2. Extend the range of the home broadband router (probably around $50)
3. Tether the cellphone to the laptop (using the data plan)

Here in the states, I can either USB tether or set up as a WiFi hotspot  
both the T-Mobile iPad and iPhone, but, T-Mobile told me that, in Europe,  
the hotspot and tethering features won't work.  

So, I think we're left with the first two options.

I like #1 because it can be used when back in the states by my daughter  
(e.g., in her dorm room or while studying outside).

I like #2 because it's a gift to the grandparents, which they can use  
forever, which is where I'm leaning because it has value to them.

#2 is harder to set up though, from afar.

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
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USB dual band 2G / 5G  (~$30-$50) on a long USB cable extender so you  
can position/rotate for the best reception.

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Replace the router with Amped R20000G  ($120 amazon) high power router  
or equivalent.  I have this one and it is good.

Unfortunately range extenders (e.g. AP20000G) have problems!  Do not  
use.  I tried and some of my WiFi devices will NOT connect through the  
range extenders.  So I had to reposition my R20000G.  Remember the days  
of TV rabbit ears?  They're back ...   lol

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battery drain if it works.


No signature

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
Werner Obermeier wrote:
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There are regional differences. USA is Channel 1-11, with 1,6,11 giving
nice non-overlapping coverage. Europe allows usage of Channel 12 and 13.
A visitor from USA to Europe, if the European router is set to
Channel 12 or Channel 13, then a USA Wifi adapter may not be
able to connect (immediately). So don't let a failed result
cause you to conclude it cannot work.

A user here has a solution. While there is the notion of a Region setting,
according to a person here, an amendment allows the Wifi system to use
country information to select channel range. And remain compliant with
the RF emitter rules of the country you are in.

What I found weird, is I could find lots of instances of "1-6-11" information,
for the rational North American choices, but I couldn't find examples of
how the Europeans choose their default channels when they have two more channels
total available.


The grandparents could experiment with a laptop or mobile
device, in the apartment in question. If the sister-in-law
has a Wifi router, then the sister-in-law has some Wifi
device she uses. Take that device and use it for a site
survey, in the apartment in question. If a "normal" device
works fine (i.e. the device is already primed and set up
to work with the router anyway), then there is no reason
to panic and look for ways to augment the USA laptop
(except for the details of region setting or enabling 802.11d).

If no signal is available through the concrete wall,
since it's an apartment, you would be looking at balconies
as a way to pick up a signal.

The higher the frequency, the poorer the penetration
capability. For example, at 5GHz, you definitely won't
go through multiple concrete walls. At 900Mhz (a frequency
used by the fire department for radio equipment), they
stand a better chance of going through concrete (but
not, say, a web of steel beams). In the office building
I used to work in, absolutely no signals used to go through
the windows with the aluminum frames, and the steel framework
of the building. Only the multitude of 100MHz base clocks
for computers could be detected (in other words, the
RF leakage from computers inside the building, presented
a powerful carrier at 100MHz of the FM band).


If you want a wacky solution, if you're in an apartment
building, the Wifi may still work if there is an adjacent
building across the street, and you can "bounce" the signal
off that building. After all, if multipath can affect
Wifi negatively, it could also work positively to
connect two devices.


You can use powerline adapters, but it depends on how
electrical distribution is done in the buildings, as
to whether the signals imposed on the power wires, will
"reach" the other apartment. For example, in North America,
when this first came out, some people were screwing around
with bridging the two phases on 230V AC with a small capacitor,
so that a powerline adapter on one phase in the house, could
communicate with a second powerline adapter elsewhere in the house.
(The capacitor is selected so as to not conduct significantly
at 60Hz.) Apparently, European power distribution is done
differently than here, and it changes the best practices
for using these.

Ham radio operators hate those things, and really, given
their crude design, I don't blame them. That's why I picked
an article which discusses the issue.


There will always be at least one person in the crowd
to recommend one of these.

Unlicensed operation of Wifi devices, works in terms
of this measure.

When you slap a parabolic antenna on the Wifi device,
it squirts the power out into a "beam". The power is
more concentrated in the center of the beam. The Wifi
regulations use the power in the center of the beam,
to set the limit. The Wifi normally comes with a low
gain (omnidirectional) antenna, so it doesn't beam
very much. The transmitter can use more power at its
level, because the antenna has no large gain to speak of.

When you use the parabolic antenna, now the signal
is a hundred times stronger in the center of the beam.
Without too much effort, you can exceed the unlicensed
limits. Now, end users never worry about this, and in the
real world, it takes a "complaint" to a radio regulating
body, to have someone kick down your door. No radio
amateur would expect to pass a signal at the same frequency
as Wifi, so the only person who might care about your
excessive power, would be another Wifi user who cannot
use their gear. So for the most part, "you're safe".

If the router had a dish like that, and the laptop had
one, you might get some signal through the wall. But
a better prospect, would be pointing both antennas
at the building across the street, and using it as
a reflector.

The higher the gain of an antenna like that, the
narrower the beamwidth. I built my own antenna
for OTA digital TV reception, and it had a beamwidth
of 15 degrees or so. And it was a bit hard to "aim"
at the TV transmitter and get the signal level
maximized. If you use two antennas, and try to aim
them at one another, it can be tricky to complete
the alignment process. You really want a signal strength
meter that works in real time, and gives good feedback
as you wave the things around.


Personally, for a person traveling, I would only consider
a tech solution that fits in the laptop bag, as a candidate.
And I don't really see any solution that is *guaranteed*
to work when you get there. If the people living there
can do the site survey and setup of a technology solution,
then that would work for a traveler. But expecting to
bring half of Radio Shack in your suitcase, and try and
cobble a solution together when you get there, you know
that's not going to work.

You could look at what it would cost to set up a wired
service in the apartment in question. Like, could a broadband
modem be rented and service set up with a local provider
for two months ? If so, that may be a more practical
solution than playing "radio engineer".


Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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This is a great point that the European bands might be different, which  
has to be considered.

I have set up, in the past, a router for WISP, and they always ask the  
first time what country you are in. I called up Ubiquiti once and asked  
why, and they said that is so that the laws are never broken.

That is, you can *set* the power to anything you like, but, it won't  
*transmit* power any higher than the laws in that country allow.

So, the trick, of course, if figuring out whether the laws allow for  
higher or lower transmit power in Europe than in the USA.  

Googling, this web site says the maximum power in the USA is 1Watt (30  
decibels) while in Europe, it's a puny 250mW (24 decibels).

Given that the USA allows four times the power that Europe allows, it's  
probably best to set up a radio for the USA, but, we'll lose the two  
channels you're speaking of as a trade off against that power gain.

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
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Just to be pedantic - that's dBmW, i. e. decibels relative to 1  
milliwatt; decibels express a _ratio_. (It could also be expressed as
0 dBW and -6 dBW.)
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A factor of 4 (6 dB) surprisingly often isn't that significant with  

To the person who was wondering how we handle having the extra two  
channels when defaulting - from what I've seen, we seem not to; most  
routers here still seem to default to channels 1, 6, and 11.
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G()AL-IS-Ch++(p)Ar@T+H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

What has happened since 1979, I suspect, is that the spotting of mistakes has
become entirely associated with mean-spiritedness, snobbishness and
judgementalism. But...can be...funny and interesting.
Lynn Truss, RT 2015/2/21-27

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
J. P. Gilliver (John) wrote:
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In principle, I see


as viable options. Which is why I asked.

That much channel spacing is needed, according to this article.
I wish they'd shown the skirt overlap with the final channel
choices. If they'd jammed four assignments in there, the
thruput would drop in the city (competition).


Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
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My experience had previously been at my friends' in Newcastle, a fairly  
dense urban area; there, I found channel occupancy (using the excellent  
Android graphical utility) was mostly on 1, 6, and 11. I've just looked  
here (small cluster of homes in a rural area - put TN27 0DD into Google  
Maps), using WirelessNetView from (I don't have my  
'phone on), and it's found 3 on channel 1, 6 on channel 11, and 1 each  
on channels 6 and 7, with none on any of the others! (Including mine,  
but as I'm about 3 yards unobstructed from the router ...)
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G()AL-IS-Ch++(p)Ar@T+H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

If a cluttered desk is characteristic of a cluttered mind, what does an empty
desk mean ?

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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Thank you for clarifying for those not familiar with WiFi decibel  

As you noted, decibels are a ratio against an agreed-upon standard,  
which, for antenna decibels, is a theoretical perfect antenna, while the  
agreed-upon standard for radio power is 1 milliWatt.

The key takeaway is that if we set up a 2.4gHz WiFi repeater to USA,  
we'll get four times the power with the same equipment. If we set it up  
for Europe, we'll not get the benefit of two additional channels.

I'm not sure if we lose any channels at 5gHz though.

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I agree that, in most cases, it's not significant at all if you are  
getting a signal that is 20 decibels above the noise, but, when the  
signal is only a few decibels above the noise, antenna gain and receiver  
sensitivity could make all the difference.

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In this case where gain is critical, the loss of two channels would be an  
acceptable tradeoff.

Do the European channels also differ from the USA on the 5GHz band?

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
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Hams for years have been subverting Linksys routers to form ad-hoc mesh  
networks. The 2.4 GHz band where (some) WiFi happens is shared with the  
hams. They've built high-gain antennas and amplifiers to hook to the  
Linksys open source routers. All legal.  

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
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"Very weak" suggests it is just about detectable (presumably using the  
laptop's built-in aerial), so we're not on a total loss trying to use  
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Or, less bulky just a Yagi (seem to be about  
$10), or even less a minidish .

Note that any of these that terminate in just a screw-plug are just  
aerials, and you'll need something to connect them to; the wifi built  
into most laptops doesn't have an external aerial socket. You'll need a  
wifi dongle that has such a socket. The cheapest "From USA" one I could  
find is (you'd discard the aerial that comes with  
it). Or, some of the little dishes actually include the wifi adapter ; I found the little Hawking one quite  
satisfactory (with an old [Windows 9x!] laptop that didn't have its own  

Note you'd need to figure out how to turn off the laptop's internal wifi  
(at least I think you would).

Any of these would remain useful to the laptop owner.

Having such a gain-improving device just at the laptop end will still  
help; also, putting one at both ends (even assuming SIL's router _has_  
an external aerial socket - many, I'd say most, don't) would make the  
signal in the rest of that household weaker, which wouldn't be wanted.

You'd need to know how to move around to find the best signal.  
Unfortunately I haven't found anything _graphical_ to run under Windows  
that comes anywhere near what's available for Android 'phones (that  
might be useful in finding the best spot, using the 'phone); I've only  
found tabular things (that show you a table of what networks it can see,  
with their strengths and channels). (Often provided as part of the  
driver for the dongle/dish.) There's also a lag: you have to move the  
aerial, then wait a few seconds for the software to refresh. But for the  
application you're considering, this'd only need to be done once to find  
the best spot and orientation.

I'd say, if a weak signal _is_ detectable, then some sort of gain aerial  
- probably one of the little dishes-with-dongle, since that avoids  
needing to buy two things - will work. Ethernet  
cable via the balcony will be the best solution in terms of performance,  
but both the grandparents and SIL may not be too keen on the idea, and  
it wouldn't be that useful afterwards.
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G()AL-IS-Ch++(p)Ar@T+H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is.

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
J. P. Gilliver (John) wrote:
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They also make imaginative patch antennas.

And there is no end to how you can build these.
I don't know if 4NEC2 would do a good job on
something like this or not. The surface finish
could be important. Without too much effort, your
design could be way off frequency.

We had a hardware designer at work, who designed
stuff operating at 10GHz, and everything he
added to his PCB designs was an "art-work".
So rather than R,L,C discrete components, there
were lots of little chunks of copper plane.
Filters of various sorts, were designed out of
copper planes like the one in the previous picture.
It kept our CAD librarian amused, adding all these
weird copper drawings, so they could be placed in a
layout as a "filter" element in a schematic. The
library was constructed, from his collection of
journal publications from universities.


Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
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I suspect these are a little beyond what the OP is after (-:
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What line of work are you actually in? (Electronics here, currently  
mostly avionics.)
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G()AL-IS-Ch++(p)Ar@T+H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

If a cluttered desk is characteristic of a cluttered mind, what does an empty
desk mean ?

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
J. P. Gilliver (John) wrote:
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It was a networking box (cubic meters sized, not desktop).
And I was an ordinary digital designer. But the core of
the box was a "physics project", and the guy working at
10GHz was doing analog gain to get enough signal
to drive into the physics project at the core.
So the entire project was multi-disciplinary,
with the design community looking like Noahs Arc.

To give some idea, the networking box probably
would have costs millions per unit, if it was
ever finished. And much of it was ready (mechanical
framework finished, many circuit packs finished, and
so on). I know the mechanical bit was finished,
because I helped lift it one day :-( But like always,
there would be years of software to write. Not to imply
they were behind or anything. Just that, there's a big
difference between having a "gleaming car in a showroom window"
versus having "just finished the engine". We were
almost to the point of "getting the first smoke out
of the engine". It probably would have taken two
more rounds of funding, to ship one out the door.
And the investors were having none of that.

The main circuit board for the project, had four
times as many electrical signals inside it, as
your motherboard. To give some idea of the
complexity. The poor designer tasked with that
design, needed around an extra four to six
months to finish it, because of the mass of
signals involved (many many data buses).
"You can't click your mouse fast enough, to keep up".
I'm surprised the guy didn't suffer hair loss :-)
The CAD tools require you to write scripts to do
your job, and that's just to reduce wear and tear
on the mouse. You can do one whole data bus, if
you write a good script for it. By scripting it,
if you bumble something, it's just a script change
and rerun it, to fix the issue.

It's a challenge just thinking of imaginative names
for all the bus signals.


Projects like that, don't come along every day.
Especially in Canada (our main product now - flaming oil
tanker cars). This is what we're good at now.

We Canadians have a weird sense of humor. To illustrate
this, just the other day there was an article about
a diamond mine. The company digging the diamonds out
of the ground, paid $226 dollars per year in mining
royalties for the right to dig them out. So our government
coffers are being richly rewarded for our resource-based
economy. What's not to like. Why, that's enough money
for around 40 Happy Meals. The profit from one diamond alone,
would neatly pay the bill.


Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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I haven't checked in a while, but I used to use InSSIDer freeware on  
Windows all the time.

It gave you the nice color-coded graphs with channel on the x axis and  
decibels on the y axis, with the BSSID highlighted for the connected SSID  
(which is very useful for hotels and homes with WiFi extenders).

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)
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Sadly, it seems to no longer be freeware:

(There seems to be a freeware version at , but I don't know  
if that site adds PUPs. I've tried installing it [XP], but it crashes  
for me.)
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G()AL-IS-Ch++(p)Ar@T+H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when
you make it again. -Franklin P. Jones

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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That's too bad because it was the best freeware bar none, for graphical  
identification of the network, especially when there were multiple SSID's  
of the exact same name (as in a hotel or a home with a wifi extender).

On Windows, I used to save *every* installer file (in the same hierarchy  
that I used for my installation and menus); so I'm pretty sure if I can  
find that DVD disc, I have the freeware version saved.

On Android, I use Infolife LLC App Backup & Restore freeware, which saves  
what's effectively the ZIP file onto your flash card at the time of  
installation. That way, you can back up your flash card to DVD disc, and  
you have an automatic copy of every APK installer, in case they no longer  
are available in freeware.

Re: Traveling in Europe (need good WiFi extension for Windows)

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I should mention that it's the same hierarchy, but not the same  

That is, I saved all my InSSIDer installers to:
c:\software\hardware\wifi\inssider\(various versions go here)

I installed the programs into:
c:\apps\hardware\wifi\inssider\(various exe and dll files go here)

I added a link (shortcut) to the menu at:
Start Menu > hardware > wifi > inssider.lnk

I do realize most Windows users ...
a) Don't save the installers, and,  
b) Don't create a separate start menu, and,  
c) Don't create a separate app hierarchy.

I realize this is a philosophical take on how to organize every computer  
you've ever used (since the tasks are always the same on all computers),  
but, I just wanted to clarify the statement that the installers, menus,  
and programs are always installed to the same hierarchy.

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