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Old 01-18-2013, 01:42 AM
Kevin G Kevin G is offline
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Default weak wireless in parts of house

Hello. My wife received an iPad for Christmas (which she loves) but we're having a hard time getting a strong wireless signal upstairs. We have a cable modem/router (Motorola 6580) ethernetted to our iMac in the office downstairs, but the signal weakly makes it.

I have an old Motorola 901 collecting dust on the shelf and was wondering if it can be converted to act like a bridge/repeater or another AP?

Should I scrap the Motorolas all together and start over? Or is there a clever solution using the equipment I have. I really appreciate the experience and knowledge that this group has. Thanks for the help.

Kevin
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:40 PM
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The Best Way To Get Whole House Wireless Coverage
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin G View Post
Hello. My wife received an iPad for Christmas (which she loves) but we're having a hard time getting a strong wireless signal upstairs. We have a cable modem/router (Motorola 6580) ethernetted to our iMac in the office downstairs, but the signal weakly makes it.

I have an old Motorola 901 collecting dust on the shelf and was wondering if it can be converted to act like a bridge/repeater or another AP?

Should I scrap the Motorolas all together and start over? Or is there a clever solution using the equipment I have. I really appreciate the experience and knowledge that this group has. Thanks for the help.

Kevin
You won't see a large improvement changing WiFi router brands. Tim's link is a good one.
Common way to improve (TWO-WAY) signal strength is to add an Access Point (AP) to you home network, located nearer the weak area. The AP connects to the WiFi router via either
cat5 cable if practical to run under house, in attic, etc.
HomePlug - essentially cat5 cable alternative that uses home's power wiring.
MoCA - same idea as HomePlug, but uses existing TV Coax - if there's one in a room near the weak signal area.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:29 AM
Kevin G Kevin G is offline
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Default AP

Great article! I've bookmarked that one. Just a couple of quick questions (hopefully)...
Can I use the SBG901 as an access point?
If I use the power line networking does it matter if the plug ins are on the same circuit?
Thank you. I feel like I"m getting closer.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:24 AM
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As long as you can disable DHCP and assign an IP number to it so that it is in your LAN range, you can. You will have to determine that.
How To Convert a Wireless Router into an Access Point

Current powerline products work across phases and circuits. You do need to be aware of AFCI breakers and noise sources. Cellphone chargers are one of the worst noise sources that can reduct powerline throughput.

SmallNetBuilder's Powerline FAQ

Consider something like this (paired with a powerline adapter to connect your router), to make your job easier.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:44 AM
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Must be huge house? My house is 3000 sq. ft. 2 story including basement. The router and modem is located in the open loft upstairs at certain spot after careful experiment regarding WiFi coverage in/around house. I can access router from either yards patio , from any room in the house. IMO, location of router and antenna stick orientation matter a great deal to have a good coverage.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:18 PM
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The layout of the home plus construction materials matter.

I live in the tropics and my home is solid concrete with rebar. To get maximum download speeds in all rooms I found it necessary to install multiple APs.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:41 PM
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Indeed.
Tile floors, or carpet over concrete builder-board over plywood (good houses do this to avoid noisy floors) - are RF unfriendly. In commercial buildings, floors are sometimes poured concrete in a steel pan.

Even my small townhouse (1800 ft, 2 stories) works poorly on the opposite end of the 2nd floor (despite the indicated signal strength). A smart phone's low power WiFi won't work there, or does so very poorly with high error rates = very low speed.

The key is that WiFi coverage is NOT just the from-WiFi router signal strength displayed on a laptop or phone. The to-WiFi router signal is most always less, esp. for phones and tablets and other battery powered devices.

Some few routers display their received signal strength by client. Of course, this varies a lot by where the phone/tablet is, orientation, body-block, etc.

Don't assess WiFi coverage merely by looking at the received signal strength at the client. Instead, run speedtest.net and pay attention to the UPLOAD (not download) speed. In real usage, when you are web-surfing, if the upstream (to-router) signal is too weak, you'll see failed web page requests with spinning icons on the browser, etc.

In engineering terms, there are TWO wireless coverage viewpoints (coverage RF clouds): The downlink and the uplink. In most all wireless systems, the uplink coverage is often half that of the downlink, in area or sq. ft. - because of the lower transmitter power of the battery powered devices.

Last edited by stevech; 01-19-2013 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 01-20-2013, 01:00 AM
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My house isn't that big (2200 sf) but my office where all the stuff is located is in the far corner of the basement (concrete foundation). We get 40+Mbps downloads and 2+Mbps uploads in our rural neck of the woods.

Sounds like the power line might be the way to go.

Do I need to replace my 6580 with the 901 in order to make the conversion? (i.e. does the 901 have to be connected to the cable in order to make the conversion or can I just tether it to my ethernet hub?)

There's quite a bit of technical options in the Network Control Panel in OSX 10.8 and I might be getting in over my head. Would it help to post a screen shot? Am I on the right track or am I about to demolish my system?

Last edited by Kevin G; 01-20-2013 at 01:46 AM. Reason: updated info
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Old 01-20-2013, 02:37 AM
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I've not used this product, nor any like-kind from competing vendors.
It is a pair of devices that plug into AC outlets. One goes near your existing router, or near an ethernet switch (sometimes called a hub, but not correctly so).

The other goes near the weak signal area, in an AC outlet. This one creates a WiFi access point in that area. It exchanges data traffic over the home power wiring with the one near the head-end switch/router.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...?EdpNo=3836244

Again this uses two paired units communicating via HomePlug and the home wiring. The AC wiring sometimes doesn't work well if you have certain items plugged into the same outlet as the network device - so choose AC outlets carefully.

Another approach to improving coverage is use of a WiFi Range Extender which is marketing-speak for what techies call a WDS device. It's a simple radio repeater. You put the WDS device in a place where it can get a decent signal from the WiFi router and retransmit that to create a new WiFi service are "bubble". And vice-versa. Problem with WDS is that vendor A's WDS product may not "pair" properly with Vendor B's WiFi router. And, being a repeater, the data rate halves - which for handheld WiFi may not be a problem. I don't recommend WDS for the lay person. Here's a link to one of many WDS devices:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...53472&csid=_61

Last edited by stevech; 01-20-2013 at 03:00 AM.
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