satellite router advice needed

I'd like some advice on setting up our new satellite internet system.

I need to connect 3 computers to a satellite internet modem.

Computers 1 and 2 are in a building with steel siding, within 25' of one another and in two separate rooms. Computer 3 is in a separate wood-sided building 350' away in direct line of sight.

Here's my current plan:

Place a draft-N (or would g be better?) wireless router (connected to satellite modem) next to computer 1 and connect by cat6 cable to computers 1 and 2.

Roof mount directional antenna above computer 1 (12' distance to roof) and aim it at the building 350' away where computer 3 is located.

Questions: Which router do you suggest that will connect to an external roof antenna on the roof?

Which directional antenna do you suggest?

What other product recommendations or setup ideas do you have to make this network work?


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Damn, and you got my hopes up that you were making a sweet ass darknet going.

Are they all in the same direction from the point of view from any location close to where the router could or will be?

Between draft-N and G. Personally, I'd go with G, only because I'm a "go with something that's stable before jumping into something that says "draft" in it" type of guy. I might also point to 802.11g?s early release before ratification by the IEEE, it too was a bad choice at the time, and I would have equally said go with B then as I'm saying G now.

As for computers 1 and 2, would it be functional to place CAT-6 in that room? You can always toss a switch in it's way before it hits the machines, to avoid running 50' rather than 25'. Not to mention the added bonus of upgrade-abilities for the future if a third machine were to enter the fray.

Why above computer 1? 12' is not an issue, but is the location of where the router is supposed to be direct line of sight? Also, if computer 1 and 2 are in a room, away from the Dish, modem, and router... what prevents you from moving the router, and perhaps even the modem to that room? Then, use the the router as a wireless access point as well.

A 12' antenna, grounded of course, is not at all a big issue. Assuming you know what to buy. I think Hawking sells a pre-wired antenna cable system that would work just fine. An early revision of a WRT-54GS with DD-WRT would be my first choice for Router. Although, others may disagree. I just like the fact that I can tweak up the output by a little (do not go full blast it will ruin the router, and doesn't necessarily make it better or go farther).

I would go with a helical on this one. It is directional, but if you protect it correctly for outdoor use (birds like to land on antennas and ruin them) it's quite a nice antenna. A backfire antenna is also a good choice. You can buy pre-made ones of either or be like me. The helical and backfire don't suffer as much from the directional-ness of a parabolic, and cantennas are not the best for static use in my opinion. A properly enclosed biquad would be another choice for me because its got more coverage area, hence making it easier to set up, but I don't know of any commercial biquads.

If you're a DIY-kinda-guy:

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That's pretty much it. Just make sure you don't spend more time trying to be cheap and get the "best deals". Typically, that ends up where you save a little money up front, get bad gear, and have to replace it later when it dies. Make sure you do your homework before slapping down plastic or paper.

Ground your antenna. Outdoor antennas don't just collect radio waves, they can also act as lightning rods. You'll fry your equipment (including computers) if you aren't careful. Use low loss cable, with good shielding, if you can get pre-crimped stuff, and don't have to buy an adapter, you're golden. Typically you'll want SMA or TNC (reverse polarity, look into this carefully) on the router end, and N connector on the antenna end. Do research on this before buying. Give your antenna some slack on the cable. You wont loose that much gain from your antenna from that extra foot. If you go with 802.11B/G make sure your antenna is attuned to 2.4GHz. I didn't mention this to a kid once, and he ended up buying a 5GHz antenna. He obviously didn't research the materials.

The router is important, make sure you're getting a good one. Don't skimp, don't let some salesman/rep sell you on something because they're getting commission off Netgear rather than say... Belkin. Do your own research. If you're shopping online, reading reviews does help, but also, use forums or newsgroups to help you as well. It's important to find out what computer enthusiasts, hackers, and otherwise professional computer geeks use for their personal home router/wifi rig. I've already stated mine subtly.

Good luck.

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Thanks for taking time to offer such good information. I've never set up a network of any kind so this is quite an adventure.

The router and modem could be next to computer 1 or 2. They both will be 30' from the dish.

That's the conclusion that I've been nearing after doing research and reading all the reviews I could find.

Yes, router will be right next to one computer and I could run a cable

25' to the other.

Shortest route from the router, which will be next to computer 1, to the roof. From the roof, the antenna will be in direct line of sight to the building where computer 3 is.

I'll check that out

An early revision of a WRT-54GS with

That's one that's high on my list, mainly for the fact that it has a detachable antenna, which makes me think it will be simple to connect the roof antenna cable to the router antenna jack. It seems to me that the WRT-54GS rated pretty low for long range signal (CNet), but I'm hoping the antenna will compensate for that. You think?

Great site! Thanks for the lead.

Homework in progress.

Luckily, I have an 8' copper rod in the ground next to the building left over from an electric fence charger ground.

Do you know of a surge protector I could put between the antenna and the router?

One other question: Computer 3 will be inside a wood sided building 350 feet from the roof antenna. I am thinking of using a USB Wireless G adapter on that computer (I've read they actually pick up better than internal cards). What do you think the chances are of picking up a good signal with that setup.

Thanks again for your excellent comments.

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Are you kidding, this is fun for me too... Playing with 802.11 stuff can be very fun!

I'm lucky, I have a lot of friend/co-workers who are totally into "hacking the planet" as we call it, where wifi plays a big part in. If you have a chance, you might want to look into finding a Computer User Group in your local area. I prefer Linux User Groups (LUG), those tend to be the geekiest of the computer social gatherings. Computer clubs are full of people like me who are more than willing to help... especially if beer is involved!

I'm sure the LNB and the modem have no problem being 30' apart. Most are. The modem and the router is typically kept together seeming how it's easier to do some physical troubleshooting if necessary.

I was under the impression that computer 1 and 2 were together. But that's fine. 25' Cat-6 is shelf bought easily.


I'll link you to that later.

Well.. here's how I'd do it.

First, I'd figure out a way to grab an early revision of the WRT-54GS (mine is a v1.1). Next I'd go to

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they have a spectacular Wiki in there and a great forum as well. The DD-WRT firmware is basically replacing the Linksys firmware with an open source one. In layman's terms, it takes a sixty some-odd dollar router and turns it into a thousand dollar router. There are some really slick wireless trick you can use in there to help you get the best possible configuration.

I'll give you an example. Today, I was doing some range testing on some antennas I built out of cookie cans (4"x7"), placed one on my roof, drove up the hill from where I live, had a simple laptop card with a pigtail antenna adapter hooked up to an identical cookie can antenna on a tripod pointing down to my antenna which I set up to point to the location I was at, and managed to get a decent signal. I calculated the distance on Google Earth to be approximately 1.24 miles. The settings on DD-WRT was simple. I just made the wireless signal transmit and receive on the same antenna jack (right one in this case, since it's soldered on the board) and turned up the power to 100 mW from the default which is around 24 mW I think... Anyhow. As you can see, 1.24 miles is much more than 350'.

Pros of doing it this way: -- You can show off to your buddies your uber wifi hackery skills. -- You have more options in DD-WRT than you do in any other router. -- The range will be well over what you require. -- Giving you total control over your network's potential capability.

Cons of doing it this way: -- Harder to setup, DD-WRT will require some networking knowledge. -- Total overkill, 350' is not all that far even with a wood wall. -- Costs a little more in parts. -- DD-WRT compatible routers are not easy to find.

The most professional way (and off the shelf) of doing this is getting a good router, doesn't really matter if it's a Linksys, just so long as it has at least one antenna jack. Acquire a mast, similar to one you'd find a VHF/UHF television antenna stuck to. Run a cable with the grounding adapter (I'll link you to it later), to a pre-built omni directional antenna with at least 9dBi gain. A directional antenna is almost overkill for 350' and limits mobility. The omni should not be as high as you can go, just something that gives it line of sight, or close.

This really isn't an exact science. It'll be hard to screw it up. I promise.

Mind you, getting a pre-built antenna will yield the same or similar results due to the proximity of your third computer. Just be sure it's weather proof.

This is a first... most people I talk to, don't really care to do the necessary reading and whatnot.

This is a good example of what I was talking about. Just be sure you can adapt your cable to utilize this equipment.

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This is a good question to ask. Depending on whether the computer is a desktop with a free PCI slot which you can open the case and install yourself, or a laptop which you can get a PCMCIA/Cardbus, or either which could use a USB dongle; results may vary.

1) Desktop with a free PCI slot. This requires you understand how to upgrade a component of your computer. If you feel comfortable doing this, this would be my first choice. There is a card called the Netgear WG311T which is an absolutely outstanding card hardware and driver wise, (and supports higher speeds if bought with a 108 "turbo" whatever it's called Netgear router. It's got an SMA-RP connector which makes life easy. 2) Laptops are tricky. Typically they come with an onboard m-PCI card which has a built in antenna which I helped someone just today who wanted to adapt a cable from that (in this newsgroup as well). PCMCI cards with an external jack is hard to come by. Most of which are not 802.11G. This is a poor choice but sometimes necessary. 3) USB dongles are kinda hit or miss in my opinion. First of all, there are some companies like Hawking and Edimax who make USB 802.11G adapters with SMA-RP connectors, and yield decent results. The drivers are stable in Windows, and Mac/Linux machines can run them as well with little mess usually.

Now... I have all three of these situations as you may have guessed. My first choice is clear with the Netgear WG311T PCI card. My other choice if you must go USB would be with the Edimax EW-7318USg (Hawking has an equivalent, which looks identical but white instead of black).

As far as an antenna on this end. If the stock antenna does not work, I would recommend you try a higher gain omni before trying a directional. There are a lot of desktop stationary omni antennas. I wouldn't keep the antenna behind the machine. Raise it as high as you can ascetically, there shouldn't be a need to make an additional reach for that last bit of hight. The base station (router antenna) is more important in this case it seems.

My pleasure. I hope this works out for you in the end. If not, let me know right away so return policies are not voided.

Make sure when you do get any equipment, you do as much common sense experimentation as possible. Try out locations for antennas to see if you can get significant signal gain. Play around.

Hell, I'm just typing way too much helping you answer a question which I could have summed up in a paragraph and done about the same job. But for you, because you seem interested in learning, which I admire, I figure what the hell. Right? Plus, I'm bored... and I'm off work today.

Like I said, this is not an exact science. Your needs are not all that extreme... almost basic enough to the point where you don't have to do all this mounting antenna on roof action and whatnot just to get a signal to propagate to the third computer. But you sound like the kind of person who is somewhat willing to go all out to get the best quality the first time around.

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