Wireless networking question (mostly 80211b vs. 80211a) - need RANGE!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 9, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I have a desktop computer with cable modem
    broadband access.
    I bought a notebook computer (Sony Vaio) about
    two months ago.
    I wanted to be able to have the cable broadband
    signal transmitted to my notebook computer so
    I could use it inside or outside my home without
    wires.
    So, I bought the Linksys WAP11 wireless
    router that uses 802.11b technology, and a
    SIEMENS PC CARD for the notebook.
    Spent about $200 for this setup.
    It works rather well, except for the fact that
    I lose range very quickly. At approximnetely
    a distance of 40' (through walls and a 2nd floor)
    the signal is rather poor.
    Frankly, I am looking for something that will
    deliver a STRONGER signal and let me go further
    distances, like outside.
    What are my best options?
    I see there are the 802.11a wireless networks
    that claim to be higher speed and stronger signal.
    It promises to be 7 times faster than what I have
    now.
    Do any of you have the 802.11[/b]a[/b] products
    and do they broadcast a much stronger signal and
    give faster cable access speeds?
    I have also heard of the home wiring network
    option where you go through your home electrical
    outlets. Though it is wired, this method is
    supposed to be the fastest.
    If you have solutions....
    Anything you could suggest would be helpful.
    Please mention specific product names and
    models in your reply. If you know where it
    can be had at the cheapest rate, please provide
    a link to a site.
    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

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    Ron,
    Sounds like you simply need a better access point, or you need to place it in a better location in your home. I live in a townhome, with my Apple Airport Base Station on the second floor near a window. I have coverage all throughout my house, and outside. The Linksys WAP11 doesn't have the greatest range in the world, but you should be able to position it to give coverage through most of your house (although I don't know anything about your house design).
    Back in 2000, my coworkers and I did a test of a bunch of wireless access points. It was printed in Network World. Check out http://www.nwfusion.com/research/2000/0410feat.html?nf
    I haven't done any testing of 802.11a yet. All of my exiting products are 802.11b, and 802.11a is incompatable with that stuff. Reading a little bit about it, I don't think it's as robust as 802.11b.
    I don't know anyone who is actually using HPNA (the data through power cables). Sorry.
     
  3. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    Or just get a second access point, put it on your second floor, running the cable from that down to your main switch.
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Shayne,

    Can this be done without wires?

    In other words, is there a device that
    will act as an additional relay to extend
    the signal range?

    My setup is this...

    Computer -> Linksys Wired Router to second
    computer -> Wireles WAP11 network (wired to
    Linsys router).
     
  5. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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    Ron - I've got the exact same router.
    I just got a Sony Vaio w/ built in wireless (pretty cool I must say.) I was having poor coverage with the router walking around my apartment. it would work in the living room, but only On the coffee table - which is basically line of site to the wap 11. If I sat on the couch, it would lose signal, as it's behind a wall.
    I spent a day or two looking at buying an omnidirectional antenna, but they are pretty pricey. Then I finally decided to do the hack:
    http://www.maokhian.com/wireless/wap11.txt
    Man - it took about 2 minutes to do (download, install, edit the ini and then boot it up!) and it works GREAT!!!!!!!!! Basically, you can boost the output of the WAP11 to 100mw, instead of the 30mw that it's configured for. I did this on my channel and it works great, even with encryption and MAC filtering turned on!
    I can open a command prompt and run a steady ping (ping -t) and I don't drop packets anywhere in the house (moving slowly, pausing for a few seconds in each part of the house w/ the laptop in hand)!
    Definitely the way to go - no need to sell your access point or anything. I have heard that the Orinico based cards are more tolerant of distance as well - you may want to look into that. I've got one on order from dell for about $60 or so.
    Also, IIRC, most 802.11a stuff I've seen doesn't have ebtter range than 802.11b, just better throughput. I don't know if that's true of the technology in general, or just the current implementations ot it.
    IIRC
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Dave,
    This sounds too good to be true!
    This is an easy hack to do?
    All I do is download the software and
    edit it?
    Can an idiot lime me do this easily? [​IMG]
    Also, where is the best place to buy an
    Orinico card?
     
  7. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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    yes, it's very easy to do...
    [​IMG]
    Once you've got the SNMP connecting fine with your linksys software (I assume it is), it's a snap. Here are the basic steps:
    1) download the software
    2) install it
    3) you may have to reboot your machine that you installed it on - I used the computer that is wired to the network
    4) go in and edit that .ini file as it's specified - it's just a little text file.
    5) boot the configuration app, find the radio settings section (easy to find)
    6) change the value for the channel you are using (default is 6) to 100mw.
    7) save the settings and you're done!!!
    The dell PCMCIA card is a lucent orinico card - you can but it from dell home peripherals - currently running a special for 20% off - that's the best price I found for an orinoco GOLD (capable of 128-bit WEP) card. go through ebates for another 1-2% off and I think techbargains.com has some more coupons that may work. I think I got 50% off shipping too, and no tax!
    Let me know - I was really skeptical but it REALLY works!!!
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Dave,

    Will try this early tomorrow morning
    and let you know.

    I lookedd on Dell's site for a PCMCIA
    card and here is what I found:

    Wireless NIC; Truemobile 1150 mini-PCI Wireless PCMCIA Nic Card for Inspiron, Latitude and M40 Notebooks
    Manufacturer Part# 3N238
    Dell Part# 430-1303


    Is this the one? $55.20 is the price + 50% off
    shipping (not bad)
     
  9. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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    Good luck! the best thing about the hack is that it doesn't cost you a cent - can't beat that.
    That's the card I've ordered - I don't have any experience w/ it yet, but it's the best deal I could find on an orinoco based card. check out this chart:
    http://www.freenetworks.org/moin/ind...iveSensitivity
    The Orinoco's about the best out there.
     
  10. Glenn

    Glenn Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi,

    >>The Orinoco's about the best out there.

    Orinoco does make some of the best wireless equipment but I doubt that using one of theirs with no other changes will solve Ron's problem. Orinoco does have a feature that might also be of a big benefit. They sell an external antenna that will connect to their card which can really help in receiving the signal. That is not a great solution for a laptop though if you plan to move around at all.

    Glenn
     
  11. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Dave,

    Just sent you a private email.
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    First off, I did thed hack. Performance
    did improve, but only by about 10%. Realize,
    I am on another floor separated by walls.

    Saw the Orinoco EXTERNAL ANTENNA. Looks
    like a great option as it plugs right into
    the Orinoco PCMCIA card.

    Only thing that concerns me is that I think
    (if I understood what I read) you need to
    connect these antennas at BOTH ends of the
    network -- one on the card side and one
    on the hub side. Please correct me if I
    am wrong.

    Also, I wonder if the antenna will work
    as well with the Orinoco PCMCIA card and
    a Linksys WAP11 hub.
     
  14. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    Ron do you have 2.4Ghz phones in your house? How about a microwave between your base station and where your trying to get a signal? Both of those supposedly can cause problems. Also depending upon what the floor and walls are made of this will cause problems also. 802.11a products are REALLY expensive. They use the 5Ghz range and advertise more area and faster speeds, but it won't be compatible with 802.11b products. 802.11g is in the works and sounds like its got the best of both a and b in it, but it won't be out for at least a year and who knows what the price will be.

    You can setup roaming if you get another access point, but it must be physically connected to the rest of the lan. So unless you got cable stringing to the other side of your house thats kinda out of luck.

    There are a ton of sites out there about this topic. Just try google and searching for 802.11b.
     
  15. Glenn

    Glenn Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Ron,

    >>Only thing that concerns me is that I think
    (if I understood what I read) you need to
    connect these antennas at BOTH ends of the
    network -- one on the card side and one
    on the hub side. Please correct me if I
    am wrong.

    You can use only one antenna at a time or you can use two for the max benefit.


    >>Also, I wonder if the antenna will work
    as well with the Orinoco PCMCIA card and
    a Linksys WAP11 hub.

    I don't think that you will be able to use the Orinoco antenna with your Linksys access point without some changes to the access point. Does the Linksys have an external antenna plug? I don't think it does but I don't have a Linksys access point.


    Something else that seems to be new on the market is D-Link AirPlus which they claim boosts the speed of a wireless network. It does not mention any added range though so it probably is not a solution for you.

    Glenn
     

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