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Wifi Boost

Posted on 2014-03-04
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Last Modified: 2014-03-07
Hi, does anyone have any ideas to boost wifi signal over a larger area without using a repeater setup.

My Issue is that we use wireless barcode scanners that do not roam fast enough so if they are half way through a job and move to a repeater area they effectively lose connection and rejoin the new station which is breaking the connection back to the server.

The Scanners are just running a http web page to collect and send info.
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Question by:metroit
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19 Comments
 
LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 39902972
You have several options, this article is a good one to start with.

1) Location, Location, Location!
2) Change the Channel
3) New Firmware
4) Antenna upgrade


How to Boost Your WiFi Signal (Part 1)
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/tech/computers/how-to-boost-your-wifi-signal-part-1

How to Boost Your WiFi Signal (Part 2)
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/tech/computers/how-to-boost-your-wifi-signal-part-2

Thanks
JC
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39902984
I have tried locations, but it is covering quite a large area and some walls are 1m thick.  It is already in a clear channel, there is no saturation issue.

The scanners do not support any firmware that roams any better than the current, but they are already upto date.

We do have some high gain antenna's already in place.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 39902993
Did you try a wifi bridge or wifi repeater?
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39903017
yes, but as I said, the scanners do not roam from station to station fast enough to maintain the connection.  I guess what I am looking for is specific advice on antenna/power boost
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 39903022
Can you change the wifi router out?  do you have a map of the location to send?
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39903029
I have tried quite a few different routers, the issue is the building.  1 doorway between two warehouses.  The walls are 1m thick.  In one warehouse there is a lot of metal racking.

Putting repeaters in works just fine, until they need to move to the other part of the warehouse, then the scanners swap to the new zone too slow to allow the system to work.  If they did not move from the area then they would be perfect.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 39903030
One more thing.  YOu might want to run the free tool to see your wifi map

HeatMapper
Free Wi-Fi Coverage and Mapping Tool

http://www.ekahau.com/wifidesign/ekahau-heatmapper

Thanks
JC
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 39903037
Can you run a cable to the new location and if so what is the distance?  If you can you might be able to get a 2 anttena WIFI AP and extent one antenna to the new location.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 39903047
AMPed Wireless has a good High Power 700mW Dual Band AC Wi-Fi Router

http://www.ampedwireless.com
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39903204
I have already completed a Mapping of the wifi signals in the complete building.  I have sited the two high gain antenna in the best possible positions but they still leave some dead zones which would need a repeater to cover.

I have ordered some 17db omni's to see if that improves upon the existing setup.

Thanks for the link to amped, I will have to check what the output of my barcode network (draytek 2830n)
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LVL 46

Expert Comment

by:Craig Beck
ID: 39904121
What type of authentication/encryption are you using?  If you're using standard pre-shared key authentication you'll never be able to roam without disconnecting even if you cover your area completely with wifi.

To achieve this you'll need to use RADIUS-based authentication.
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39905822
The AP uses no auth, it is OPEN and just uses MAC address's to allow connections.  There is no security risk as even if someone cloned a valid MAC, they would not have access to anything as the AP has no access to the internet and only allows clients to connect to another firewall on a single port.

By the way, suggestions of getting a router with a higher output can not be considered as an option.  In the EU we are limited to 100mw output.

So far it seems that I have already covered most of the options available so either these new 17dbm antenna will do the trick or I am stuck for anything further to do?
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LVL 46

Expert Comment

by:Craig Beck
ID: 39905964
Ok that makes things a little easier somewhat.

Have you tried using static IP addresses on the scanners?  That will reduce the time taken to complete the roaming process and may also mean that the application doesn't terminate the connection due to the NIC needing to reobtain an IP address.
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39906073
Thanks craig, I thought that would be the answer but alas not.  I went off after setting one of the handsets to static to test, after it was forced to roam to the stronger signal, the connection dropped so that did not work :(
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LVL 46

Expert Comment

by:Craig Beck
ID: 39906139
Hmmm, what APs do you use?
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39906244
I use a Vigor, tech have confirmed that they do not produce any units that exceed the EU maximum output of 100ma.

Next thing is to test the 17dbm antenna's, if they do not fix the issue then I have just found out about something thats not new, but new to me, Leaky Cable :)
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LVL 46

Accepted Solution

by:
Craig Beck earned 2000 total points
ID: 39906289
If your problem is not roaming quick enough between coverage areas I don't think adding more power (gain) is going to solve anything.

If you have your transmitter set to 100mW you're already breaking the ETSI rules regarding maximum EIRP.  20dBm is the maximum you can put out of the end of the antenna, so unless your antennas have no gain (which is impossible btw) you're over the regs anyway.

If you connect a 17dBi antenna to a transmitter which is set to put out 20dBm you're looking at around 36dBm EIRP (assuming 1dB cable loss).  That's in excess of 1W - over 10x more power than you're allowed!
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Author Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39906369
The power output is not adjustable but I assume Vigor will have set them to max power available for the stock antenna.


The idea behind increasing the antenna is that I should then be able to cover the area rather than have 2 x repeaters


I really should sit down and learn this Dbm stuff.
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Author Closing Comment

by:metroit
ID: 39912252
Although the issue is not fully resolved, Craig has at least given me enough information to know that there is little more that I can do, especially with regards to the legalities with upping the wattage.

If the new 17db antenna do not fix it, I will buy the Leaky Cable
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