WIFI connection issue

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WIFI connection issue
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pjbealer
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November 12, 2008 - 12:15 am
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A friend just purchased a new EMachines laptop with integrated wireless 802.11a/g. He is unable to connect to the City's access point because he is apparently at the fringe and only gets a 1 bar(poor)signal. Our guess is that he is about 500 feet away. If he gets a USB adapter I feel he should get one with an external antenna of 8dbi since I believe the standard is 2dbi. Most adapters that I have researched are also 2db but I found one with an extra 8db antenna. My question is will this override his internal card and will he be able to use it indoors? This is a standard 3 bedroom home and he will use it mostly in his bedroom on the side towards the access point. Do you think it will work by just connecting it via a USB port? I should point out that the City says the normal range is up to about 500 feet depending on obstuctions. We took it out to his backyard to get the 1 bar signal. We are looking at a LINKSYS WUSB54G IEEE 802.11b/g USB 1.1/2.0 Wireless-G Adapter Up to 54Mbps Data Ratesmimo wifi Linksys WUSB300N Wireless USB adapter WEP Encryption, WPA Security, CCX 2.0 - Retail It Only has a 2db antenna but we thought that because it is external it may pick a stronger signal. We are also looking at a mimo wifi Linksys WUSB300N Wireless USB adapter with 2 antennas claiming to provide a 4X signal. Another one is a 500mW Alfa USB Wireless-G Adapter w/ 8 dBi ANTENNA kit. Your thoughts will be appreciated.

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pjbealer
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November 12, 2008 - 12:36 am
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I should have listed his OS as Vista Home Basic.

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David Hartsock
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November 13, 2008 - 5:12 am
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Hi PJ.
There are several ways to go about this. A higher db antenna is a possibility, but may not be the entire solution. For those who don't know a 0db antenna broadcasts in a circle. As db, or gain, increases the radiating lobe begins to flatten from the top and bottom. You can visualize this as the circle becomes more oblong in a horizontal direction. This is why a higher db antenna may be able to reach a further distance. Since the pattern becomes more horizontal this would be a problem for situations requiring vertical transmission (think a large multi-story home with a router in the basement and pc in a far upstairs room).

Now back on topic...
500 ft is pretty far for an ordinary wi-fi connection, even under optimum conditions. If you know where the originating antenna is you could try directional antenna. This would be the least expensive solution, but the limitations are going to be heavy - Antenna will need to be in a fixed position, getting internet to other computers becomes very convoluted, computer will have a limited location based on antenna location.

If it were me I would look into using aftermarket firmware in a cheap/standard router. Firmware like [url=http://www.dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv3/index.php:1aw6u3yd]DD-WRT[/url:1aw6u3yd] will let you turn a common Linksys or Dlink router into a powerhouse. One of the important features is the ability to put the router into "bridged" mode. This basically turns the router into a super wireless card (has the ability to receive from another access point and output the connection through the WAN port). Another feature that most aftermarket firmware has is the ability to increase transmission power.

I would fine be a cheap Linksys WRT54G router and flash it with DD-WRT. Buy some high gain antennas. Put it in the attic as high as I could. Set this router to bridged mode and increase the power a tad. Take the WAN port on the bridged router and connect it to the WAN port of a normal router, which will become your in-house wireless gateway.

This has several advantages:
1. Will allow wireless throughout the home.
2. Will likely get a slightly better signal just from being higher in the structure, not counting the high gain antennas.
3. Will be have more reliable communications with the higher power output.

If the above method doesn't work you will have to get directional antenna's, which focus almost all of the output and reception in one direction. You would then have to find the general location of the transmitter and fine tune where the antenna point by hand.

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pjbealer
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November 15, 2008 - 12:15 am
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Thanks for the comprehensive reply. Just what I was looking for. BTW I didn't get email notice of your post. Doesn't this Forum do that? Never mind, i just realize that I have to put a check mark for this under Options below.

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dav
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December 7, 2008 - 8:47 pm
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My experience:
I live within the fringe area of a hotspot (Public Library) 300 ft away
My Dell laptop will pull in 4 bars of 5 signal strength (wireless G) no problem.
My Compac laptop will get 1 bar if located "just right". big problem
I connect my Compac reliably using a D-Link DWL-G132 usb adapter plugged in thru the 6 ft extension cable which came with it. I used D-Link but any similar usb wireless adapter would likely work just as well. This solution was cheap and painless for me.

As far as I can figure there is no easy way to connect an external antenna to a laptop itself?
There is obviously a big difference between the built in wireless adapters in various laptops. Both of mine are cheaper models.

Different topic: I was able to considerably increase the range/strength of my D-Link DI-624 router (G) by replacing the antenna with a $15. rubber ducky style 9db gain antenna which fitted the original mounting threads. Slight drawback is that the replacement in about 4 times larger.

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