Range problems with Linksys WRT54G and D-Link DCS900W

I have a Linksys WRT54G v3 fw 4.00.7. I also have a compaq nc8000 laptop and a D-Link DCS 900W wireless webcamera.

I have my Linksys at one corner of my single level house where I keep my office and my desktops are wired into the WRT54G.

The WRT54G is set up with mixed (b & g) mode because the 900W is a b-only device. I use WEP 64bit.

The problem is the 900W seems to have terrible range. Barely 30 feet. If more than one internal wall is in between, forget it. Setting it up out side forget it.

The laptop however, seems to make do. I can operate it clear on the other side of the house, maybe 70 feet or more and several at least 2-3 walls. XP shows "Low" power at that distance.

I have tried at least a 6 different channels without any discernable improvement. I elevated the WRT54G following the Linksys guidelines. The only thing that seems to have some effect, is that power cycling the Linksys seems to increase for a short period of time 10-60 minutes. However, sometimes I do not get this effect when power cycling. the Linksys. Power cycling the 900W has no effect. Neither vendor technical support has been much help. D-Link being the worst, basically stating their equipment works best with D-Link routers and suggested I replace the Linksys. They then refused to consider the other evidence I described above.

Anyway, at this point I a fishing for ideas. Running CAT5 to the camera is not the option I was thinking of when I bought it.

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Thanks for supplying models and numbers in addition to exactly what you're trying to accomplish. It's a welcome relief to read an intelligently framed question.

I think you've successfully demonstrated that the WRT54G is working correctly. 70ft through 2-3 walls is quite good. I suggest you verify the range with a line of sight outdoors test. The official range to a laptop is about 300ft, but I consider anything over about

150ft to be normal operation for what the manufacturers use for antennas.
6? The only non-overlapping channels are 1, 6, and 11 in the USA. If you use a channel between these, you run the risk of getting interference from users of both "adjacent" channels. I suggest you stick with 1, 6, and 11. Also, I don't think there's any interference as it would have also shown up with the laptop test.

Generally, get the antennas clear of any clutter that might absorb RF. However, the disparity in range is sufficient to suspect that performing positional exercises isn't going to help much.

Linksys has a problem with "large file transfers" that was allegedly fixed in 4.00 firmware. I don't believe it was as reports of problems sending large amounts of data still persist erratically in various forums and mailing lists. You might want to search the Linksys forum on DSLReports for "large file transfer" and "large file copy" for details:

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think this is what you're seeing with the WRT54G as sending continous streaming video is similar to sending big files. Unfortunately, I don't have a guaranteed fix. Aparently the alternative firmware I find most useful, Sveasoft Alchemy shows reports of the same problem. My office Linksys WRT54G v2.2 moved about 3GBytes last week without any slowdown, so it apparently has some hardware dependencies involved.

However, none of this has any relevence to the range problem, which is quite independent of the slowdown problem. The only thing I can suggest is to test each part independently. The WRT54G could use a bit of high traffic testing to verify that it doesn't slow down.

The camera can turn into a bit of fun. Setup the camera to get a DHCP assigned IP address, and take it to your local wireless internet cafe. Use your laptop to talk to the camera, but go through coffee shop's wireless router. If they do NOT have any form of client to client isolation enabled, you should have no problem with this test. If they have enabled client to client protection, it won't work. Anyway, get the camera streaming video and go for a walk with the camera. You have a limited amount of time to do this test as the other denizens on the coffee shop will surely notice that you're guzzling their bandwidth and probably try some violent countermeasures. Be prepared to run for your life.

If they knew what they were doing, and were allowed to use outside materials for researching problems, then you might have gotten a real answer or clue.

You may not have a choice if it appears that the camera does not have sufficient range. Once the lack of range is verified with either another access point or a coffee shop hotspot, the only real options are:

  1. Tear it apart and try to fix it.
  2. Tear it apart and add a bigger antenna.
  3. Tear it apart and smash it against the wall in disgust.
  4. Add a stand alone ethernet client radio (DWL-900AP+, WAP11, WAP54, WRT54G with Alchemy firmware, various game adapters, etc) and plug it into the camera ethernet port.
  5. Run the CAT5.

Digression: I got sick and tired of the crappy images I was getting from USB, network, and wireless cheapo cameras. As the price of digital cameras (with CCD imagers, not CMOS imagers) was dropping, I decided to investigate using these with either the video or USB outputs. It was a world of difference. Much better pictures, even from the cheapo cameras. All of them have auto focus and auto iris. The butchered camcorders have really good zoom. Some have full remote control features but are usually too expensive for me.

I made a real ass out of myself at the local Office Max store by dragging in a portable digital video recorder, and walking down the line of their demo cameras trying the video output. I later compared the results and picked the best bang for the dollars. I gave a demo at a local security company comparing their 1/3" CMOS imager security cameras with my 1/2" CCD imager. You could actually recognize people, unlike the typical bank camera, where everyone looks like a blur. These days, I use various NTSC video data links and digitizers and rarely bother with cheapo "web" cameras.

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Jeff Liebermann


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and others on the same page, add patch antennas to wireless cameras. Some of this is for radio-controlled airplanes, but the thought applies.

The author uses galvanized steel for the reflector which might be better as a piece of aluminum or copper-coated PCB.

And, there's always a free and easy try, the Windsurfer EZ-12 reflector, that you could put at the WAP end.

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I printed the pattern on 10mm photo paper, glued aluminum foil to the sail, and I see a nice improvement.

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I just looked at the DCS900W. You could put a reflector on that antenna. If it's removable, you add any number of aftermarket antennas.

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The answer to the last question is probably no. The WRT54G only uses one of its antennas at any given time. So, if it has good reception with one, it should use that one more than the other.


Reply to
Yves Konigshofer

I manage a technical support team, so I practice what I preach :)

Thank you for this, I am clueless in this regard. I in fact have tried these and am using channel 1 right now. And yes, inference does not sound like the problem.

I built a windsurfer EZ-12 and tried it on the 900W, to not much good effect. For grins I put it on one of the WRT54G antennas and moved things about a bit. I struck precarious gold and have a good connection at least to where I want the camera for now.

Would two Windsurfers, one on each antennas do any better or give me more that my "wiggle position" coverage?

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