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Should I purchase an magnifying antennae, repeater, and USB 2.0 PCI Card to improve wireless signal strength?

Hi Everyone:

       Due to very low signal strength from my wireless, I have decided to invest in some hardware to hopefully improve this situation.  I have several options such as a magnfying antennae to attach to the 802.11-g wireless broadband router and a repeater.  Since the 802..11-g wireless network adapter is interfaced with a USB 1.1 port, I am wondering if investing in a USB 2.0 PCI Card might help the signal strength.  Perhaps the older USB 1.1 port has nothing to do with the very low signal strength.  But, I don't want to rule it out either as being a possible culprit.

        Any thoughts or suggestions regarding this question will be appreciated.  I look forward to reviewing everyone's feedback.

        Thank you

        George

       
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GMartin
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GMartin
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4 Solutions
 
Galtar99Commented:
It may do well to discover what your environment is like.  How many nodes are on your WLAN?  How far are you from the AP?  What obstacles exist between you and the AP?  How much do you move around?  Usually a site survey is done with a floor plan showing where users are, distance to AP, obstacles and devices that may interfere with the signal (electrical wiring, microwaves, other wireless devices)  Once you have determined all this you can then purchase the right equipment. (Omni-directiona/directional /dipole antennae, amplifier, etc.)  Sometimes you just need to relocate interfering devices or the AP to get the best results.
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GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi

      Thanks for your suggestions.  The distance between the AP and the wireless is about 50 feet.  I thought the 802.11-g Linksys Wireless Broadband Router could transmit at that distance.  Also, there is a wall separating the AP and the wireless.  Both are on opposite ends of the house.  We do have chordless phones, but, they are using a 900Mhz frequency instead of a 2.4Ghz frequency.  

      With regards to your question about how many nodes are on the WLAN, I am not sure how to answer this.  I am not sure I understand what nodes on a WLAN are all about.

       Any further information will be appreciated.

       Thank you

       George
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Galtar99Commented:
Just as a preliminary step, make sure your wireless card and your Linksys access point are both running the latest drivers and latest firmware.  Bugs are constantly found and fixed and making sure both are on the latest version ensures they both as close to current standards as possible.  

The wall will be a problem depending on what is inside it.  If it's just drywall, that should be fine.  If it has metal, wiring, or is concrete, that's going to attenuate the signal some and the wiring will cause some interference.  You might try relocating the access point and/or your workstation/laptop to see if the signal strength improve.  Trial and error will be your guide.  50 feet should be fine as 802.11g works out to 90' at 54Mbps.  It can work out to a max distance of 410' at 1Mbps, that's unobstructed of course.

A node is anything connected to your wireless access point wirelessly.  So if you and your wife each have a laptop using wireless, then you'd have two nodes on wireless.
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GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi

      Thanks so much for the followup information.  Theoretically speaking, is it possible that an older USB like 1.1 can cause the wireless 802.11-g adapter to have a very low signal strength?

       George
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Galtar99Commented:
I don't believe so.  The USB 1.1 has a slower data rate (12Mbit/s) than the 2.0 (480 Mbit/s), but most people have internet connections that don't reach those speeds so you would probably never notice.  If you're doing large transfers from wireless computer to wireless computer on the same LAN, then you might notice.    I think relocating the laptop, wireless access point or both may help you.  Changing the channel on the access point may help too.  Particularly if there are other access points on the same channel or overlapping channels or if the interference bleeds only on the channel you're on and not the others.  Try my suggestions and watch the signal strength meter as you do.
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GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi

      I have gone through and tried each channel.  Of all channels, Channel 7 seems to have the most promise.  Basically, the signal strength is very low on this channel, but, it is stable meaning the signal does not get completely dropped like it does on all other channels.  

       As far as the locations, I am interested in finding a fix for this problem without having to relocated the AP or wireless.  Everything at the moment has its place which other members of the family do not wish to disturb.  If it was up to me personally, I would start relocating thins.  

        If you think it would help, I can go ahead and make arrangements to either purchase a repeater or magnifying antennae.

       Thank you

       George
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Galtar99Commented:
If your AP has an external connector for an antennae, you can add amplifiers (check with manufacturer first!) and a more directional antennae if you can aim it where your laptops and other devices will be.
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GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi There:

        Thank you for your recommendations and breakdown of this rather technical question.  I found each of your answers easy to follow and certainly logical to understanding the possible precursors of the current very low signal strength of the wireless.  Using the information contained here in conjunction with doing a visual of our house, it appears that the distance between the AP and the wireless is the problem here.  As I understand from the Linksys technical support specialist, the 802.11g router transmits a signal up to 30 to 35 feet which matches the performance of the the older 802.11b router.  I had the misconception the transmission range would be determined by the series or generation  of the router.  Howver, that is really not the case.   Outside of the environmental and software factors you outlined, antennaes determine most of the transmission range.  

         As a solution to this problem upon recommendation of the LInksys technical support specialist, I went ahead and ordered online a Linksys Wireless - G Range Expander for the WRE54G V.3 router.  As I understand the science and technology behind this device, it is suppose to take the existing transmission range of the router which is 30 to 35 feet and extend it another 30 to 35 feet, thus, giving me a total transmission range of 60 to 65 feet and possibly 70 to 75 feet.  This should work out just fine.  

           In closing, many thanks once again for a job so well done here.  

           George
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