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Longer Range Wireless Connection Needed

Posted on 2011-10-10
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-12
Hello All,
I'm helping a local church with their wireless connection. They are on a VERY small budget. I'd like to get this done for less than $100

There are 3 points that need to connect to the network. We'll call them points A----B----C. The modem and wireless router (linksys WRT54G) are at point A, point B can reach the wireless signal just fine, but point C is out of range of the wireless. Points B and C are in a different physical building next to point A.

1. I have to use wireless.
2. I cannot move the Modem/Router from point A.
3. Maybe a Range Expander (Linksys WRE54G)? But it seems like this has a < 50% satisfaction rate. I've set one up before so I'm not worried about the set up problems people are having.

Replaced the "VMware" zone with the "Wireless Technologies" and "WLAN" Zones.

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Question by:GWitek
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36942812
Is your modem router a MIMO model with detachable aerials?  If so the answer is to replace one of them with a directional antenna.  Even if it isn't MINO, using an external antenna will improve range as it reduces problems with walls.



Expert Comment

ID: 36942874
If point C can "see" some signal, but not sufficient for a reliable connection, one possibility would be to connect a beam antenna and point it towards the router - see e.g:


15dBi gain would amount to around a 30-fold improvement in signal power over an isotropic antenna, or slightly less than that compared to the standard antenna.

Also connectiing an antenna, having some "gain" over the stock quarter-wave antenna, to the router should give some additional improvement:


Additionally mounting the antennas clear of obstructions will help.

LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36943702
I did consider suggesting a directional antenna with my first post, but by doing so with only one aerial you are going to have problems with B as, although the signal is increased to C, it will, of course reduce the signal to B.  You would be better off going for a omni- directional solution with a generally increased gain.

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Author Comment

ID: 36943865

I think the directional might work because all devices are in a pretty straight line.  Assuming they are in a straight line would you suggest the directional antenna?
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36943928
Are you saying that C is directly beyond B when viewed from A?  If that is the case, and there isn't a great deal of deviation then you are going to be okay with a directional antenna.  However, how are you going to service the users at A?

There is quite a useful resource here: http://www.radiolabs.com/Articles/wifi-antenna.html

also here: http://www.connect802.com/antennas.htm

Let us know how you got on.



Expert Comment

ID: 36944419
If the three points are in a straight line, and A is the wireless router, there is a chance that signals from B might interfere with C's reception of the signals from A. To test if this is the case, turning B off should provide the answer.

If there is still no connection, does C connect to the router at point A if if is moved much closer to the router?

Another thing to consider is the presence of interfering devices. Bluetooth, some wireless cameras, wireless microphones, cordless telephones and baby monitors may share the same band and can interfere.

LVL 44

Accepted Solution

Darr247 earned 2000 total points
ID: 36950608
If at all possible, the best results will be obtained by running cat5e from point A to point B or C and adding another wireless router there. You should be able to get the cable, a package of RJ45 plugs (should be cat5e also) and a crimper tool for under $100.
e.g. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00006RVVG

To turn the router into an AP at the 2nd location, just connect to one of its LAN ports (instead of its WAN/Internet port), and in its setup menus, disable the DHCP server... while in there change its LAN IP address to instead of the default (which the first WRT54G is likely already using). The default DHCP scope on the WRT54G starts at, so you shouldn't have to worry about first router's DHCP server handing out that address to another device. I'll bet a note on the bulletin board would get another WRT54G donated to the cause, or you can pick (a working) one up on auction sites for $10 to $20. (I think the donated route would be the way to go, though.)

2nd best solution, if points B or C get their power from the same service entrance as point A, would be Powerline Networking.
e.g. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0039NM5SK
Connect a cat5e cable from the first router's LAN ports to a powerline adapter and plug it into a wall outlet at point A.
Connect a cat5e cable from the new router's LAN ports to a powerline adapter and plug it into a wall outlet at point B or C.
You may need to try a few different outlets to find one on the same pole, and the adapters may need to be configured so communication between them is encrypted (recommended!).
Turn the new router into an AP as noted above.

3rd best is a directional antenna.
e.g. http://www.l-com.com/item.aspx?id=21878
That may need an extension pigtail (RP-TNC female to RP-TNC male) to get to where you want to mount it...  but the connector on the back of the WRT54G is a RP-TNC... if you twist the plastic cover a little it will slide off the knurled housing so you can unscrew one of the antennae. You can replace either one of them with a directional antenna and the remaining rubber duck omni will continue to function.
You'd have to ask them if those could be painted with interior latex or wrapped with, say, woodgrain contact paper, without affecting the signal.

4th best is a range extender.

In my opinion.

Expert Comment

ID: 37215836
The range extender will halve your available bandwidth and introduce unnecesary collisions.
You can put a splitter/combiner to link the router to two directional antennas pointed to each B and C locations. That's the best way to isolate the locations to avoid colisions and to gain the most signal strenght.

Expert Comment

ID: 37252584
I've used not too expensive network bridges in the past to span distances where I needed to bring a network connection further than an wireless signal will go - maybe you consider going this route.


Expert Comment

ID: 37259470
set up a repeater at point B: some of the best are made from routers running DD-WRT.
Alternatively, upgrade the aantennas as others have suggested.

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