Wireless Range Extender for Mac Mini?

My 93 year old mother lives about 2000 miles away, so I don't have a lot of access to the setup for experiments. She is on dial-up, and doing anything but text based email is painful, if not impossible. I can read my web-mail faster by driving 5 miles to the library and back.

She has some wonderful neighbors, who have offered the use of their wireless network IF we can get a decent signal. The Mac Mini she has contains another piece of Apple's crap antenna engineering, and it can't see a thing. My cheapo netbook can get one & sometimes 2 bars in the same room. The room the Mac lives in is on the side of the house facing the neighbors, and there is a window out of which you can see their house, maybe 60 feet away.

So, the plan is to get a range extender or its functional equivalent. I figure the best bet is to get a dual antenna box (for multipath mitigation) with removable antennas. That way if the box won't do it by itself, we can upgrade the antennas for more gain.

The info I've found from a cursory search is pretty vague. From a theoretical standpoint, I can see two options:

1) Get what amounts to a wireless adapter that I can plug into the Mac with a long enough cable to get across the room to the window. That would have to be Mac compatible.

2) Get a box that communicates on one channel with the neighbor's wireless system, and then talks to the Mac on another channel. That's what I would consider a "repeater", and presumably it wouldn't require anything Mac specific to get it up & running.

The two brands I've found with upgradable dual antennas so far are the Amped R10000, which as gotten a lot of good reviews on Amazon, and the Hawking HWREN2, which has a lot fewer reviews, several of which are pretty scathing.

There is also an upgradeable single antenna box specifically for Macs:

formatting link

It connects via USB, and is presumably just a highpower wireless adapter.

Can anyone clarify exactly what is meant by a "range extender" (i.e. are they all basically just repeaters?)?

Any specific suggestions about good boxes to get or avoid would also be appreciated.


Doug White

Reply to
Doug White
Loading thread data ...
[snip... regarding a Mac Mini that's missing hitting an access point by "that much"]

If both houses are fed by the same transformer, a poweline adapter set might be a good option.

For some reason there's a heavy amount of resistance to using them, but they do often work.

Another suggestion that you did mention was using an external WiFi unit. THat is, in fact, what I was doing in a similar situation. I have a Hawking, something or another, about the size of two cigarettes wrapped together, that plugs into a USB port on my Mac. I then have a 15 foot USB cable which lets me stick the Hawking over by my window.

So yes, those can succeed. But... you won't really know until you try it.

Reply to
danny burstein


60ft is quite close and well within range of wireless. However, the internal wireless and antenna in the Mac Mini (which flavor??) may be too small to even make it out of the room. Therefore, an external wireless client would be required. It could be a "wireless ethernet client bridge" but could also just be a USB wireless client.

Range extenders and store and forward repeaters suck. Avoid if possible.



Put your money in the antenna not the radio. You don't need a high power xmitter for 60ft. Instead I suggest a simple USB radio with an external antenna connector, such as: Toss the small antenna, and attach it to a real antenna such as: You'll also need at least 5 meters of USB extension cable. Officially,

5 meters is the limit, but you can probably go another few meters without difficulties as long as the radio doesn't draw too much power.

Also, 60ft is well within the limits of WIRED ethernet. It would probably be much easier, faster, and better to run 60+ft of buriable and waterproof CAT5 between her Mac Mini and the neighbors router.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

The resistance is usually just due to their inherent unreliability, plus the fact that you never really know if they'll work until you invest.

For example, if your house is fed by two 120V circuits on different phases (designed to offer 240V to specific appliances), it will only work on half of a single house, and half of your neighbour's house, despite being fed from the same transformer.

That's not to say they're an inherently bad solution, it's just less than ideal.

Reply to

DevilsPGD wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com:

I actually used to have a powerline system in my house to get from my office to the basement. The basement has an "expanded metal lath" & plaster ceiling, which makes it like a Faraday cage for wireless. The hardware I got was a Homeplug 2 system from Netgear. It was a pain to get working, and the hardware was unreliable. After having 3 pieces die (only one in warranty), I said to heck with it & snaked an ethernet cable up into the attic, across the house & down a utility chase into the basement.

Between the variability cited about powerline phases between two houses, and the flaky hardware, I never gave it any thought for my Mom's problem. I suppose another brand's hardware might work more reliably, but the USB wireless adapter sounds like the way to go.

Doug White

Reply to
Doug White

Cabling-Design.com Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.