weak wireless in parts of house

Discussion in 'General Wireless Discussion' started by Kevin G, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    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
     
  2. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,494
  3. stevech

    stevech Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Messages:
    5,420
    Location:
    San Diego
    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.
     
  4. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    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.
     
  5. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,494
    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.
     
  6. TonyH

    TonyH Very Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Messages:
    935
    Location:
    Calgary AB Canada
    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.
     
  7. CaptainSTX

    CaptainSTX Very Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Messages:
    647
    Construction

    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.
     
  8. stevech

    stevech Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Messages:
    5,420
    Location:
    San Diego
    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: Jan 19, 2013
  9. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    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: Jan 20, 2013
  10. stevech

    stevech Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Messages:
    5,420
    Location:
    San Diego
    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/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?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/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=753472&csid=_61
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  11. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    I get how the power line adapters work (mostly). Can the second adapter serve as an AP? or will I need to get an AP and tether it to the adapter?

    I was wondering if there is a MacOSX tutorial for converting a modem/router (Motorola SBG901) to an AP? I saw the tutorial for the PCs but it was difficult more me to convert the directions to MacOSX.

    I think if I get the Powerline adapters and can convert the SBG901 to act like an AP, I'll be in business.
     
  12. CaptainSTX

    CaptainSTX Very Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Messages:
    647
    Power line adapters in their standard configuration just extend wired Ethernet connections using the AC wiring in your home. One unit is plugged into an AC outlet near your router and an Ethernet cable goes from this unit into a LAN port on your router. The other unit(s) would be plugged into in the area where you need an Ethernet port. You can then plug a device into this port directly or plug a wireless AP into the port. It is possible to purchase Powerline adapters with four LAN ports. It is also possible to have multiple Powerline adapters in your network.

    That being said there are a few combined Powerline adapters and wireless APs as well as combination WiFi and Powerline enabled routers.
     
  13. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    I'll look for the joint power line adapter/AP. In the meantime does anyone have a MacOSX tutorial for converting a motorola modem/router into an AP?

    Thank you all!
     
  14. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Since I have to get the powerline adapters, I think I'm going to take a chance on the Linksys PLWK400 kit which includes a wireless AP. (I guess the SBG901 is destined to sit on the shelf!) I'll let you know it works. Thank you.
     
  15. stevech

    stevech Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Messages:
    5,420
    Location:
    San Diego
    Several brands have the WiFi AP built into the HomePlug device.. TP-Link and many others. Most are on newegg.com or TigerDirect.com
     
  16. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    I just received the Linksys PLWK400 but it's not working over two circuits. Their online tech support confirmed that they don't support these devices over more than one circuit.

    [2013-01-30 20:09:48] Kevin G: I just received the PLWK400 to help extend the wifi to remote parts of our home.
    [2013-01-30 20:09:58] Amerkhan M. (25017): I see.
    [2013-01-30 20:11:02] Amerkhan M. (25017): Is your home using only 1 circuit breaker? The PLWK400 needs it to be located on the same circuit to distribute its signal.:(
    [2013-01-30 20:12:41] Kevin G: No. I was told that it didn't need to be on the same breaker. Seems like a single breaker would get past a single room.
    [2013-01-30 20:13:08] Kevin G: would NOT get past a single room.
    [2013-01-30 20:13:52] Amerkhan M. (25017): Oh. As long as they are running on the same circuit, the powerline kit will work on your home.
    [2013-01-30 20:14:54] Kevin G: Does cisco have any products that can do the same thing but on other circuits?
    [2013-01-30 20:15:58] Amerkhan M. (25017): An alternate for poweline would be a range extender or a wireless bridge and to connect to your modem/router if it has a wireless signal on it.
    [2013-01-30 20:17:45] Kevin G: Does cisco make such an item?
    [2013-01-30 20:18:37] Amerkhan M. (25017): Yes. The model for the range extender is RE1000 and the model for the wireless bridge is WES610N (with 4 port switch) and WET610N (for only 1 Ethernet port).
    [2013-01-30 20:19:33] Kevin G: I've heard that wifi range extenders actually cut the bandwidth in half. Is that true with your product?
    [2013-01-30 20:20:42] Amerkhan M. (25017): Yes. As a wireless repeater, it is a trade-off between extending the wireless range of the router by cutting off the bandwidth by half.
    [2013-01-30 20:21:15] Amerkhan M. (25017): If you are concerned about the bandwidth of the wireless network, wireless access points that is wired to the router is your second option.
    [2013-01-30 20:21:56] Kevin G: Can I share my setup and problem and have you suggest a solution?
    [2013-01-30 20:22:52] Amerkhan M. (25017): Sure thing, Kevin. I'll do my best to provide you the best solutions for your networking needs.
    [2013-01-30 20:25:23] Kevin G: OK. I have cable internet service that comes into the SBG6580 modem/router. The 6580 is a good router to the iMac, Sonos system and provides decent wifi except for the farthest point in the house. I'm trying to find a solution that will allow me to get a strong wifi signal into that hard-to-reach area. What do you think?
    [2013-01-30 20:27:35] Kevin G: I currently have 32Mbps download and 3.0 Mbps upload speeds.
    [2013-01-30 20:29:24] Amerkhan M. (25017): If you can afford to have an Ethernet cable run through the house at the center, you can use a wireless access point to distribute the signal for your home. If some parts of your home still gets weaker signals, using a range extender would be beneficial as the wireless bandwidth of the network will just be cut in half (~150 Mbps or less at most) so a 32 Mbps connection would not suffer.
    [2013-01-30 20:33:17] Kevin G: OK. So I string the ethernet cable from the router through the house into the center/farthest part of the house. Then I connect a WAP to the ethernet cable at that point. This would not jeopardize the bandwidth speed?
    [2013-01-30 20:34:28] Amerkhan M. (25017): With using a wireless access point (WAP), no. Using an Ethernet cable to connect them would not result in a decrease of bandwidth for the wired or wireless network.
    [2013-01-30 20:36:08] Kevin G: OK. So that's a hardwire solution. The other two options are (1) powerline and (2) wifi extender. Are there other options?
    [2013-01-30 20:39:18] Amerkhan M. (25017): The other options are available, but it is no longer cost effective as it will be using more than 1 device to extend the network. Using a wireless access point that can be hardwired to the router would be the best one as it can be placed anywhere on the house, as long as you have the cable to supply the connection to it.
    [2013-01-30 20:41:21] Kevin G: So which Cisco WAPs do you recommend for this configuration? I do not plan to add additional cables to this AP.
    [2013-01-30 20:44:08] Amerkhan M. (25017): We have the WAP610N that I would recommend as it will only take 1 slot on your modem/router for the connection. You can then place it at the part of your home that gets lower signal.
    [2013-01-30 20:44:53] Amerkhan M. (25017): You can also configure the WAP610N to use the same name and password as your router so wireless devices can easily connect to either devices without manually connecting to it. It will be on "roaming" mode afterwards.
    [2013-01-30 20:47:07] Kevin G: OK. I think I'm resigned to pulling wire through the house to solve this problem. Have you ever heard of powerline adapters transcending a single circuit? I read a lot of forum chatter about cases where it was possible. But maybe that was just bad information. :(
    [2013-01-30 20:49:35] Amerkhan M. (25017): A power line device will use the power cables of your house as an Ethernet cable. You can place a power extension cable and it will work when it is connected on both ends.
    [2013-01-30 20:52:45] Kevin G: But only on a single circuit? I had read that it works within a single "drop" into a house and can work through multiple circuits. (Most wifi signals will extend farther than the typical extent of a single circuit.) I guess I'm not sure why the powerline option is really a serious option?
    [2013-01-30 20:55:53] Amerkhan M. (25017): The power line will need it to be on the same circuit on your home for the PLE400 and PLW400 (on the power line kit) to communicate. An instance where powelines are a great help is when a part of the house, when covering large distance, still use the same circuit, the connection could easily disregard the walls of your home.
     
  17. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,494
    Depends on how you are defining "circuit".

    If you have standard U.S. split phase 110/220V service, as the diagram in FAQ #6 shows, powerline should work.

    If parts of your home are on different distribution transformers, it won't work.

    So how is your home wired?

    Have you plugged the devices into outlets in the same room to ensure that they work at all?

    Make sure you are plugging the devices directly into the wall outlet, not into outlet strips or extension cords.
     
  18. Kevin G

    Kevin G New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    OK. I got it working! After being on Cisco tech support with an excellent representative we got it working. Key takeaways: initially plug the AP into a nearby (to the modem/router) outlet to set it up (not sure if you HAVE to) but it sure made it easy to check its status. Also, re-start the computer after the configuration. This was not an easy plug and play unit.

    That being said, after a week now it works smoothly even on other "circuits". In fact the powerline AP seems to actually have better bandwidth than the modem/router which doesn't quite make sense.

    Bottom line: It's fast and works great even if you have to find the right tech support person. (I'm not a techie!)
     

Share This Page