I have an older, brick, plaster-walled house. There are two stories and a finished basement. I have a Linksys BEFSR81 router in a room on the second floor into which the Comcast cable comes and my main desktop PC lives. This room is wired to 2 bedrooms on the second floor, one room on the first floor, and the main living area in the basement. In one of the bedrooms on the second floor, I have a Linksys WAP54G with the 7dB antennae. I put the WAP in a bedroom because the room with the cable has a ton of electronics. The room on the first floor has not been good for the WAP because it's built on a concrete slab and really is apart from the rest of the house. That room has the family computer, wired to the BEFSR81.
I have 2 daughters in college who use their laptops when they are home for breaks and the summer. They work in a room on the first floor that gets good, but not great, signal. I'd like to get better signal in that room.
On the first floor, just below the WAP, I have a TiVo and a music device (SquuezeBox) that essentially plays music from the internet. I don't use it to connect to a music server in the house. I also have an iPod Touch and a cellphone with wifi that I like to roam with. We have an outside porch and I get no signal there. In addition to better signal for the kids' laptops, I'd love to be able to get signal on the porch.
I have tried the Linksys range expander. It worked well for signal to the laptops (but not the outside porch), but kept disconnecting from the WAP. I kept having to reset it.
Definitely not. Indeed, as 802.11n APs has a natural coverage advantage (due to technology) vendors are building them with an average output power lower than traditionally found 802.11g AP (not a rule, but it is for sure a tendency). So replacing your G AP with N AP will - very likely - reduce your 802.11g devices coverage range.
OK. That's great that you have ethernet everywhere already. I'm not totally clear on the setup, but close enough, I think, to offer suggestions and comments:
First, consider the 7dbi omni antenna on your existing WAP. It radiates in a disc for 360 around the antenna. Because it's 7 dbi, it's actually a narrower disc than the doughnut shape of a stock 2dbi omni. So, ff you have it pointed up (normal) on the second floor,then anything above or below it is in the dead zone. Or weak zone. Tilting it down so that the side of it points to your most distant area (porch) may help. Putting a reflector on it should help even more:
Try it with your old stock antenna as well as the 7 dbi one to see which works better with the reflector.
But I wonder if upstairs is where you want the WAP. Is there any client upstairs that connects wirelessly? If not, more it downstairs and you can even try a reflector there towards the porch. Anything in the room with the AP will probably work no matter what you do with the antenna pointing, so you are looking for improving the most distant point that needs to connect to the router.
If this doesn't work or you need to keep that WAP upstairs for some reason or another, add on another inexpensive wireless G Access Point or router to your ethernet in a strategic location downstairs - closer to the porch. Because you have brick construction, it's going to have to be pretty close to the porch to work, but you'll see. Play around a bit. The reflector may allow you to place it a little further if you point towards the porch.
Location in the room is important. Higher is often better for distance to other rooms, as there are less things in the way.
I mentioned getting a wireless router because it can also act as an AP and has the advantage of acting as a switch and allowing you to connect 3 more items to the back, thus multiplying one ethernet cable. The ethernet from your main router connects to one of the LAN ports, not the WAN on the additional router-as-AP.
To find a decent router, just go to Newegg.com and start with the cheapest until you find one with good ratings by a lot of people. Or just get a Linksys since you already are familiar with the interface. The WRT54GL (L important) has several advantages over the plain WRT54G, so get that if you are willing to pay $60.
Come back with setup questions or whatever else here.
Thank you very, very much for the detailed information.
I do have the 7db omni antennae on the WAP54G. In addition, I have the do-it-yourself "WindSurfer" parabolic reflectors on the antennae. I have done some very limited testing and am pretty convinced that the reflectors offer a small, but real, improvement.
The reason the WAP is on the second floor is that the only wired room on the first floor is the awful (for signal) built-on-a-slab room. It's just not a good place for the WAP. (The outside porch to which I want to get signal is just outside that room.)
I have set something up that now gets very good signal to the porch.
I resurrected the Linksys Range Expander and placed it on the first floor, at the opposite end of the wired-room-with-no-signal. It is behaving well and getting great signal to the laptops.
In the first floor room next to the porch, I added a Netgear wireless router configured as a repeater of the Linksys WAP54G. It's giving me great signal on the porch.
But ... I'm more the "tweak it until it's as good as possible" rather than "don't fix what ain't broken" kind of guy. And I don't mind spending a few more dollars.
So ... would I be better off using the WRT54GL in place of both the WAP54G and the Netgear? Or replace the Netgear with another WAP54G configured as a repeater (since they'd both then be Linksys)?
I don't need the extra ethernet ports of a router in any location. Is a router configured as a WAP better than a dedicated WAP? It seems counter-intuitive to me.
Finally ... it seems the best configuration given the constraints of my house are ... the WAP in a middle room on the second floor, a repeater/range expander at one end of the first floor, and a repeater at the other end of the first floor (in the "dead" room). Which device(s) do you recommend for the 3 locations? Three WRT54GL's, one configured as a WAP and the others as repeaters?
I have seen a real improvement over stock antenna. A 2dbi omni with a windsurfer works better than a 7 dbi omni on a Linksys I have setup. When I put the windsurfer on the 7 dbi, it helps a bit too, but the
2dbi is better for the reflector, I think. I only used one antenna and disconnected the other when using the reflector.
The slab is bad because you need the signal to get thru below it? I don't see how it would hurt if not trying to pass through. For side to side it should be fine. Only you really understand the layout, but it seems a waste to have the WAP upstairs. Again, tilting the antenna side towards intended hot spot helps.
These range expanders have reliability issues as you saw before. Also, can you get it to do WPA (which you should be using) security? =46rom experience and advice from experts here, I'd avoid them, but if I had one, what the heck. It does seem to work.
Actually as a repeater, or as a wired AP? Again, wire it if at all possible. Really.
Not better or worse by nature, just cheaper and more possibilities when setting things up or expanding. And routers that take replacement firmware can operate as a router/repeater/ AP/ Wireless Client. The wireless client mode is particularly useful not only as a client but with a wireless client feeding an AP, you can make superior two-radio repeater.
So you have a good working configuration ! Very good.
Again, it's hard to second guess you from here, but IF I was starting from scratch, I'd probably do it this way:
Router/WAP in both ends of first floor (different channels) connected to main router by wire. Forget wireless upstairs. Forget simple repeaters.
For the room without wiring, I'd either run powerline networking (Netgear XE103 is fast and reliable) from the router to it that room and then go into the WAP from there, or...
Instead of using powerline you could make up that two radio repeater using one device in client mode and another as AP connected by a short ethernet cable to each other. You can optimally position the client to see the nearest AP and even use a directional on it (reflector or panel antenna). The AP would probably have just it's stock omni for best coverage in the local area.
Your Linksys WAP or Netgear router might take DD-WRT and could be the client bridge side of the "two radio repeater". Check here:
Find links from there to see all the great setup advice on their wiki. Ask here for advice on making a repeater from two wireless devices.
Don't particularly recommend Linksys (not bad choice though) and nothing in simple repeater mode. Again, just talking for fun (you have it working !), if best range is your priority, then the Buffalo Whr-HP-G54 is probably the winner for under $100. They are no longer legally sold in US, but find one on Ebay. Used to be $60, but scarcity raised the prices. It beats out the Linksys L, and also takes DD-WRT.
It's cheaper little brother, the Buffalo WHR-G54S is still perhaps better than the Linksys L and close to the Buffalo HP (high power) once you install DD-WRT and raise the power output a bit. Buy on Ebay also.
Besides the Linksys L, the ASUS WL500G line has USB ports, gets great reviews and takes DD-WRT. Check at Newegg.com
As you can see, I wouldn't buy anything that didn't take DD-WRT. The Linksys do too, of course.
But, you already have a bunch of gear and you have at least one solution already. All good.
Glad to be helpful, I've benefitted a lot here and elsewhere myself.
OK. Looks like the Linksys range extender will do WPA when using with WRT54G. From a Newegg customer review:
WPA and the WRE54G, May 27, 2008 By S. Mcneill (Northern Virgina) - See all my reviews OK this is how I setup the Range Expander:
Connected my laptop directly to my Linksys WRT54G router via CAT5.
Plugged in the WRE54G extender into the wall and hit the reset button.
Log into the WRT54G router, 192.168.1.1, and set wireless security to "disable".
Unplugged the WRE54G extender from the wall.
Connected the WRE54G extender to the WRT54G router via CAT5.
Plugged the WRE54G extender into the wall.
Hit the Auto Configuration button on the WRE54G extender; should get two blue lights.
Log into the WRE54G extender, 192.168.1.240, (password: admin).
From the WRE54G configuration menu select "Edit Security Settings".
Select "pre-shared WPA".
Create a WPA key; then highlight and copy. Change the group renewal key to 3600.
Hit save settings. Should get settings saved reboot required in your browser.
Log into the WRT54G router and select wireless security and change the security settings to WPA, paste the WPA key you created in the extender into the router field. Ensure the group renewal key is set to
3600 and save settings.
Should have two blue lights on the extender. Unplug and move to the desired final location.
Why does one antenna work better than two? If you remove one, does it matter which one?
No, the slab isn't bad in and of itself. It's bad because the room must have been added, at some point, to what was the ouside of the house. The walls of the room are more like exterior than interior walls. I've tried it and the signal doesn't really get outside the room to the rest of the interior of the house - but does do well enough on the porch just external to that room.
I plan to get rid of the range expander as soon as I get my Provantage order (see below).
Sorry ... yes, as a second wired AP. I put the main WAP on the second floor on channel 11 and the Netgear (for now) on channel 1. The only function of the second WAP is to get signal to the porch, which it does well. Because of the physical boundaries of the room and the wide separation of channels, I think I'm OK with 2 wireless networks. Although I'm going to ask about that in a few paragraphs.
Not an option ... the "slab room" is the only wired room on the first floor. My wife will kill me I mention wiring another. One WAP has to be upstairs.
I tried it and it didn't work well - the speed was awful and I blamed the old wiring in the house.
I've spent some time the past couple of days reading the DD-WRT wiki and plan to flash the firmware of a WRT54GL (see below).
OK ... I ordered 2 WRT54GL's from Provantage. I'm going to replace both the WAP54G and the Netgear WPN824 with them. I love Newegg, but have had great experience with Provantage as well. They also have a distribution site in Harrisburg, PA, about 10 miles from me. I get stuff the next day when I pay ground shipping.
I ordered Linksys because I'm comfortable with the interface and I'm confused enough already.
So, I will have 2 WRT54GL's. I plan to flash one ar both with DD-WRT. I have 4 7dB antennae that I can use (or not). One WRT54GL *has* to go in a second floor room wired to a Linksys BEFSR81 router. The second, I believe, has to go in the only room on the first floor wired to that same router, the "slab room" next to the porch. Ideally, I'd like to have only one wireless network (so I don't have to switch when I go out on the porch), but can live just fine with 2.
What do you suggest for the two WRT54GL's relative to (1) flashing with DD-WRT, (2) type/number of antennae, (3) relationship to each other, ie, none (2 networks) or a repeater. I plan to eliminate the range expander from the equation.
Once again, thank you very, very much for your time and patience.
OK. I'm back. Concerning the powerline networking, as I said, there are various standards and some are more robust than others, it seems.
You say the linksys was only 9Mbps, which makes me think it's an older system. Still, how much speed do you need for internet? Apart from streaming/transferring video around the house, 9 Mbps should be good enough.
Netgear has an older, cheaper XE102 that is only 14 Mbps, but reliable. I picked up a pair of them for a bit over $25 each on Amazon.
's the pair:
I bought them used from netdirectbargains seller.
You may still want to consider this as a solution for downstairs instead of repeating. Avoid the high speed Netgear, I heard, and go with the XE102 for internet or XE103 if you need medium speed. Of course there are other brands. Just suggesting what I know.
Thank you very, very much for all the help. You've been extremely kind.
I do, in fact, want pretty good speeds because I am primarily using wireless for media - music streaming and TiVo transfers. The Linksys Powerline was "rated" at 100 Mbps and didn't really work well for me. I don't think I need it though, as I have come up with what appears to work great. I only set it up tonight, so I'll wait and see.
I got my two Linksys WRT54GL's and flashed each with DD-WRT. I set the power of each to 80 and put one on the second and one on the first floors. I set the SSID of each the same, but put one on channel 11 and the other on channel 1. (This is how it was described in the "Roaming" section of the DD-WRT FAQ to move from one are to another without changing networks. I think.)
Anyway ... so far, so good.
One remaining peculiarosity ... the short antennae that came in the box give better signal than the 7 dB antennae I have and I get better signal when I don't use the WindSurfers.
Once you go directional, whether reflector or panel antenna, I don't think two help, so I prefer to reduce clutter. I kept the right one (looking at the front). DD-WRT has option to turn antennas off, I forget about the native linksys firmware.
Gotcha. Makes sense.
Sounds you are doing it the right way.
But you used the Linksys..xxx. They aren't all the same, several different speeds and standards. Somehow I think your wiring is not so bad.
Consider trying powerline again, with Netgear XE102 or XE103 pairs. Unless you think you are gonna stream HD video, that is. If doing video, then find a recommended brand that uses the better standard- no advice, but I think it's there. The Hi speed standard Netgear chose is said to be problematic. But the 85 and 14 mbps they use seem solid.
I've bought from them and been happy too. The Linksys should be good. I'd keep the WAP as well - did you figure out if it takes DD-WRT also?
DD-WRT is very similar to Linksys interface, just way more buttons. Most of it you can ignore. As an aside, they say the Tomato interface is very nice, less powerful, but enough for most users. You may want to look at that one.
I'd flash em both for consistency. As for placement, etc, it depends on if you do want to check out powerline again or not. Either case, you put one in the slab room. If you use powerline, then the other router or AP can be optimally placed to fill in the rest downstairs - and you decide if you still need a third one upstairs. No repeating needed.
If no powerline, then make a two-radio repeater, I suppose. Run one of the DD-WRT boxes as a client with a reflector towards upstairs AP and run any other router or the WAP cabled to it with omnis. Two box repeater allows you to optimize the antenna and placement for each side of the link - point-to-point on the client side and point-to- multi on the AP side.
Use a single reflector or small panel antenna for the upstairs- downstairs link (if no powerline). Might use a reflector or panel for the concrete room towards the porch and also to keep interference with other downstairs network down. Probably want to use omni for the main downstairs AP if it's relatively centered in it's coverage area.
When using straight omnis (no reflector), might as well use two stock ones if close to target area or two 7 dbi if more coverage needed.
I would keep everything on the same subnet, the same network. The router upstairs handing out the addresses in all cases. What I don't know is if you can keep the same channel downstairs and have them overlap for roaming or if need to run different channels. Don't know. Maybe somebody else will jump in.
But if you must still do the upstairs-downstairs link, then that should be on a different channel than the downstairs broad coverage.
Hope that helps. It sounds like you are into it - you can play around with antenna placement and stuff.