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Wireless Network, Two MACs, Two Repeaters, and 100 Yards...

I'm not at all familiar with MACs, and it may turn out to have nothing to do with those settings, but...

A wireless Linksys WRT54G with two monster antennas at house #1. A Linksys range expander mounted in the front window sill of house #2. A linksys range expander mounted in the eaves of the roof at house #3. A total distance of about 100 yards. Signal is strong, but connectivity is inconsistent to say the least. The PC's at house #3 are both MACs and I know little about their settings options. The router is using DHCP for ALL attached devices, and I'm thinking that may be part of the problem since the connections at house #3 have to get through two range expanders.

Gurus...What is the best way to program this network and the attached devices to assure consistent connectivity??

Thank you!!
Jeff
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Jeff_Burns
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Jeff_Burns
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2 Solutions
 
nprignanoCommented:
put the gateway in the middle house, if its an option.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Keep in mind, wireless is subject to interference - from microwaves, from cordless phones, and a variety of other things.  Best is to use fiber cable to connect the three sites.  When you can't wireless can work, but you may not have control over your neighbors use of the microwave of a 2.4 GHz phone.
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Jeff_BurnsAuthor Commented:
Should I isolate a channel to avoid conflicts with a cordless phone? Some dude here in my neck of the woods set up a wireless network that stretched for a mile, so there has to be a way to go 100 yards and have it work more often than not...
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jacobsstcgCommented:
I have done quite a few installations like this and the problem is most likely (as you suspected) caused be hopping through multiple Range Extenders.  Range extenders work ok if you only use one of them, but one you start daisy chaining them like you have done it just causes to much latency and signal overlap. Your best bet is probably going to be to just setup and High Gain directional antenna and point it at house 3.  A common misconception is wireless is that the signals from house 1 have to make it all the way to house 3, and the signals from house 3 have to be strong enough to make it all the way to house 1.  That is actually incorrect... the signals just have to meet somewhere.  So if you have a high gain antenna in house 1 that signal should make it all the way to house 3 and the wireless card in the Mac's only have to reach about 3 feet or so.
So back to the solution... I would purchase an outdoor high gain directional antenna like this one (http://www.wirelessnetworkproducts.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=857) and mount it on your eave of house 1 as high as possible and aim it at house 3 (line of sight from the antenna on house 1 to house 3 will make a huge difference here).  Setup the Linksys access point in House 1 just as you would any normal access point.  Now go over to house 3 and test your connectivity with the Macs, hopefully if there aren't to many obstructions you should be able to get the kind of wireless reliability you are looking for.  If you are still not getting the wireless signal reliability you are looking for now would be the time to put one Linksys Range extender somewhere inside house 3 on a wall that is facing towards House 1 and that should hopefully do the trick.

In a worst case scenario if you can't get any kind of line of sight and have lots of obstructions between house 1 and house 3 then you will need to setup a true Point to Point wireless bridge with an Access Point and a high gain antenna at both House 1 and House 3.  You have to verifiy however that your current Linksys AP supports Point to Point bridging as some do not (if it is a WAP11 it should work just fine with P2P bridging).  If it does make sure to get the exact same Linksys AP for House 3.  If it does not support bridging then you will have to buy two new access points.  I have used the D-Link DWL-2100AP many times for setups like this and they provide good quality/reliability for the cost.    For a wireless bridge bundle you may want to check out this setup: http://www.wirelessnetworkproducts.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=534.  Anyways I doubt with such a short distance you will need to setup something like this, but I am just adding this option in case.
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jacobsstcgCommented:
Like Jeff Burns mention, 100 yards is not the much at all.  I have done a setup in the high Sierra Nevada for a summer camp with the latter bridge option I mentioned that had two points that where well over 1/2 mile apart with dense forest between them and I was able to get a solid signal.  Also my experience is that the Macs seem to have pretty solid wireless capabilities so I would not blame them for the problem.  A tool like Netstumbler running on a PC would be very helpful for you to as you could see what other channels you where picking up (possible interferences) and you could see the singal strength from your devices (should be above -82db, like -74 for a solid signal)
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scrathcyboyCommented:
"What is the best way to program this network and the attached devices to assure consistent connectivity"

At 300 feet, regardless of range extenders, you probably wont get "consistent connectivity".  We tried a very crucial connect at 1000 feet, and found that NO product on the market, including $150 CAN antennas, would deliver on the promise.  These ranges with wireless turn out to be just plain BS -- it is fraudulent marketing hype that cannot be duplicated in real life.  We couldnt even get good connectivity over 150 feet.  So I have to tell you that with current 802.11g and B specs, this is just a dream, you will never get it.

Now with 802.11 - N specs, there is the hope of 500 feet or more, but it is not yet proven, Linksys was the first to come out with a N spec router to get 1000 feet or more, and I put this on expert exchange, but I was howled down by a linksys hater.  So in the end, you will not get *consistent connectivity*, the MAC is not the problem, it is the scamming specs, they dont deliver on their overhyped ranges.
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redgunCommented:
I am not shure about this could be with dhcp, I guess it is a frequency interference problem.
this device uses 11 possible channels but they overlap, each 3 so
1) you can't use the same channel in house 1, 2 and 3
2) you can't use a channel with less than 3 channels of distance, for example if you set channel 6 in house 1 you will receive interference from channels 3,4,5,7,8 and 9 so you should skip to channel 2 or 10.

so why don't you try to set channel 1 in house 1, then range expander in house 2 will receive in channel 1 but retransmit in channel 4, then range expander in house 3 will receive in channel 4 and retransmit in channel 8

also a good idea is how to set the antennae, think those are bipolar and made a radiation shade in form of "donut" with the antenna in the middle, so you have a better coverage and range if it is in an upright possition
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arthurjbCommented:
my experiance is more like jacobsstcg   than scrathcyboy  

You have to have a little understanding of ultra high frequency radio signals, and optimise your installation with that in mind.

When dealing with uhf signals every antenna connection need to be clean and properly tightened, and the antennas must be accurately aimed.  

In the type of installation you describe it is best to use a wireless device that has only one antenna connection, rather than trying to use the common ones that have 2 antennas .

The earlier advice of using netstumbler or something similar to see if there are other networks interfering, is a good idea.  Using that type of tool may also help you find a clear channel that you can lock the extenders onto.  It may also help you clearly find the real problem, rf or network.  (From your description it does sound more like a network, ip assignment etc rather than a signal strength issue.)

Depending on the strength of the signals, you may actually be "interfering" with yoursef.  If the wieless pcs can see the  connecting signals, (not unheard of if your high gain antennas are installed properly), and the local signals, then they may be confused about where to connect.

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Jeff_BurnsAuthor Commented:
Man......You guys kick ASS. Give me a couple days. I'll take your advice and see what happens! Thanks again!
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jacobsstcgCommented:
Yea, have at it Jeff, honestly I have setup quite a few longer distance setups like this with just plain old 802.11B/G consumer equipment and high gain antennas and have had very good luck.  The connections that I have at that camp I mentioned have been up steady for 5 months which have included 5 feet of snow over the winter and they use the links pretty heavily without any problems.  With the D-link radios I would recommend exporting a copy of their config to a file once you set them up, or purchasing decent UPS's to connect them to as they have a tendancy to reset their configurations if they get any power spikes or brownouts.  Just my experience... hope it helps.
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Jeff_BurnsAuthor Commented:
OK...
Signal is good, antenna re-positioned (more 'line of sight', less 'power'). We are connecting at house 3 with no problems, but only for a short period of time. There will be no problems with the connection for an entire day, then it drops the following day. This is why I thought it may have something to do with the DHCP server since the default lease is for 24 hours only. Is this possible or is there some other configuration within the router that needs to be adjusted?
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Jeff_BurnsAuthor Commented:
After several days of 'consistent connectivity', it seems as though the 'higher antenna/line of sight' and 'one antenna' did the trick. jacobsstcg is responsible for the former and arthurjb the latter. Thank you all for your assistance in this matter!!

Jeff
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arthurjbCommented:
Thanks, glad its working for you!
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