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Laptop wireless has HORRIBLE reception in basement. Get different router, or change to USB wireless adapter?

Posted on 2006-05-05
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Last Modified: 2013-11-29
I just installed a Netgear 802.11g wireless router in a house. I went with the Netgear because they've been pretty good and it was only $40. I also picked up an 802.11g wireless PCMCIA adapter for the notebook while I was at it.

The connection itself is fine, if you're upstairs with the laptop. However, when you're in the basement, which isn't really all that far away from the router, the connection strenght is generally very low and drops quite a bit.

So, would you reccomend I go get one of the Linksys routers with the dual antennas, or should I take back the PCMCIA card and replace it with a USB adapter?

I just want to do whichever will get me the better reception.

Oh, and I did try changing channels with the router, and according to my Pocket PC's nifty wireless scanner there are no other wireless networks around. Ah, and they don't have any 2.4 Ghz phones either. One is 5Ghz, and the other is 900Mhz.

Suggestions?
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Question by:Sootah
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by:jhance
ID: 16618290
Try aiming the antenna on the access point DOWN in the direction of the basement.
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by:Sootah
ID: 16618341
These routers use omnidirectional antennas, as far as I know pointing them does nothing.
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by:krazieintent
ID: 16618353
Hey Sootah,

Wireless technology is not very good at propagating through walls. One of the major issues when it comes to wireless reception is where the wireless access point is mounted. The radio technology is not very good at traveling up or down and between dense floors.

Obviously you have a multi floor dwelling. On which floor is the router located? I do not think that your hardware may be faulty as this is always a problem when it comes to using wireless networks on different floors, all spanning from one router.

The signal output, although omi-direction, is just not strong enough to transfer well through desnse floor and walls. I recommend extending the reach of your wireless network by either one of the two option:

If you have a wireless router, add a wireless access point to your network and place it in your basement. A wireless network works best when there is line of sight, or the computer is very near the access point. These are fairly cheep around $30-$40 from some places.

Or you could by antenna extensions, if the model of your wireless router supports it. Using these you can have a longer reach of your network, by extending the placement of the antenna. These simply are extensions that plug into the back of the router and allow you to run a longer antenna cord.

So to sum up, I dont think your hardware is faulty, or that you should swtich your set up. I believe your problem is location of the components. Once this is taken care of, I doubt youll have a connectivity problem

I hope this information helps,
Kevin
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Skyccord earned 1600 total points
ID: 16618365
I frequently install wireless routers/adapters.  Go pick up a Linksys WRT54G and you will be fine.  You do not have to change the network card as it picks up signal fine but the Router itself isn't pushing out enough power.  You won't be disappointed.

Stanley Louissaint
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by:Sootah
ID: 16618452
I'm thinking the same thing as Skyccord currently.

The Linksys's antennas are twice as big and there are two of them to boot, plus I can get large boosters for them as well. The WRT54G also has the option of installing some open-source firmware where I can jack up the signal strength quite a bit. (I imagine this voids the warranty, but it's cool)

I'll give that a shot.
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by:Skyccord
ID: 16618456
You don't want to try that software on the new 4.0 firmware I've had some bad experiences.

Stanley Louissaint
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by:Sootah
ID: 16618475
And, for any of you that have experience with the open source Linksys firmwares, do you have a reccomendation on which one I should use if it comes to that?

I use a WRT54G in my own home but have never had the need or desire to try out one of the other available firmware devs.
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by:Skyccord
ID: 16618487
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by:hfern
ID: 16618689
Be careful with the WRT54G. It may not be a solution.
I had a WRT54G, and disappointing results with vertical connections. The WRT54G was located on the 2nd floor and I had lousy reception on the ground floor directly underneath the router and on the 2nd floor directly above the router. Reception was ok when moving away from the router.. WiFi is simply not good at vertical connections.
I ended up with an additional WAP54G router configured as a repeater. That solved my problem.
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by:Sootah
ID: 16618802
I'd like to use a repeater or whatnot, but I guarentee that the dude I'm doing this for won't want to fork out the cash for it.
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by:jhance
jhance earned 400 total points
ID: 16618957
>>These routers use omnidirectional antennas, as far as I know pointing them does nothing.

Omni only in the sense that you get a 360 degree radiation pattern.  It's shaped like a doughnut.  Tilt the doughnut toward your laptop in the basement and you'll get improved reception.

Making a true omnidirection (i.e. SPHERICAL) radiation antenna is quite difficult.

What have you to lose anyway?  All the other solutions involve spending money.
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by:hfern
ID: 16619314
> I'd like to use a repeater or whatnot, but I guarentee that the dude I'm doing this for won't want to fork out the cash for it.
There is one other thing that you could try, which is moving the AP to a far corner of the house, so that the radio waves can go diagnally down, rather needing to go vertically. As Jhance says, onmi directional antenna's work in a 360 degree radiation patters, ie normally in a horizonal plane. They do not work vertially, but may have some 'leakage' diagonally..
BTW, a consequence of putting the antenna's horzontally, in order to get them working in a vertical plane, will be that you converage in the horzontal plane may be less....
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by:Sootah
ID: 16619336
The router is tethered to their desktop via a CAT-5 cable. I can't move it anywhere.
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by:Skyccord
ID: 16623137
What ended up working for you?

Stanley Louissaint
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