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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
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    Filling Wi-Fi holes in a home network




    BEST PRACTICES


    Filling Wi-Fi holes in a home network


    By Lincoln Spector

    Why is it that the place you most need a strong, consistent Wi-Fi connection in your home is always at the edge of your router's range?
    Here are a few gadgets that might fix your problem. (Spoiler alert: They didn't entirely fix mine — but they helped!)

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/best-practices/filling-wi-fi-holes-in-a-home-network/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
    Lounger
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    While extending your WiFi is clearly important, and I guess potentially tricky (I've been fortunate not to have to worry about it so far) I note that you say that extenders are "...generally easy. For better models, you press the extender's WPS button". This would be the same WPS that Windows Secrets was exhorting us to turn off only a few issues ago, because its security could be easily hacked?

    Regards,
    Stuart

  3. #3
    New Lounger
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    Sounds like you have interference or a huge house.

    Have you taken a look around using Inssider?

    http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider/

  4. #4
    4 Star Lounger SpywareDr's Avatar
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    If you have an Android phone or tablet, WiFi Analyzer shows the local Wi-Fi connections and can help you find a less crowded channel for your wireless router.

  5. #5
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    Hi - regarding the picture of the Windsurfer DIY antenna reflector, have you tried it without the foil on the front folded piece, through which the antenna pokes in your picture? I think it will work *much* better if you only have foil on the parabolic curved reflector section and not the stiffener piece that forms the reflector into the parabolic shape. Pictures and instructions on the original site http://freeantennas.com/projects/template2/index.html are not too clear but theory and the details at http://rchelimenace.wordpress.com/ho...urfer-antenna/ suggest no foil on that middle piece. It would be great to hear if it makes any difference if you re-do the foil and re-test.

    BTW, thank you for showing the Windsurfer link - it is a graceful solution to the problem of making a reflector easily.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for your article. It was helpful. I have tried an early edition of the Amped device. It kept losing it's connection, then deciding that it no longer liked talking to my network. The Amped device was very good when it worked. However, it was also very frustrating to reconnect it. I stopped using it after many attempts to make it work right. After your article, I will try the device again with the latest firmware to see if it is any better.

    I have also reprogrammed an older router with DD-WRT. DD-WRT is router software that can be used to replace factory supplied capabilites for many routers. DD-WRT has a fairly advanced repeating capability. During one winter, the wired connection stopped working between my office and our family room. Using DD-WRT I was able to establish an excellent connection while retaining strong management over how the topology worked. I have not used repeaters for a while - but the wireless signals just don't seem to make it to the far corners of our home. This holiday weekend is the perfect time to add a couple of DD-WRT repeaters to finally have strong signals throughout.

  7. #7
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    Was there a drastic outdoor temperature drop the day the network failed

    I must ask because my first degree is in Electricity and second is Computer Management.

    Was there a drastic temperature drop the day the network failed?
    Wire contracts in size when you have a temperature drop which in turn really affects your network.

    Even if there is no temperature change what you need to do is check the connections in the outlets where both of your devices are plugged into. TURN the power off to the outlets in question. If you are unsure which breaker shuts down the outlet just shut of the whole house to be sure. Take both outlets in question out and tighten all screws that have wires. If this doesn’t clear up the problem do the same to both outlets on either side of the one the device is plugged into.

    In the past 25 years I have had people ready to rewire their whole house because of this type of problem.

    If you are not confident doing the above please call a pro.

    Gary

  8. #8
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    My wired connection that stopped working was CAT 5, mostly strung outdoors. Unfortunately, at the time that I put in the cable, I used indoor wiring. I live in Minnesota. We tend to get real winters. The cable lasted a couple of years. Got brittle and some animal(s) bit through it in several places. Was just not fun to restring the cable when I could be better entertained by creating a repeater to cover part of my home. Once it was spring, I replaced the wiring with CAT 6 cable that is better suited for our environment. When possible, cable is usually a better choice for performance and reliability.

    Following reading of Lincoln's article, I updated the firmware for my old Amped device (SR300) that never seemed to work reliably. Works much better (for now)! With the Amped device, I have a strong signal on two floors and all corners of my home. I now need to add one more device to have strong coverage everywhere. For that I will add another router that I will convert to a DD-WRT repeater.

    Our home has the challenge that at the time it was built they used foil backed insulation. That effectively blocks signals from various areas that are not linked by wire. I have tried Lincoln's approach with home power gadgets. Never had much success. Slow, interrupted by power surges, still did not get to parts of our home. Seems like such a good idea. After all, the power companies use put signals over their cables.

    To cover our home we now have CAT 6 in several rooms, 2 wireless access points at far ends of the CAT 6, and now the Amped device. I will also be adding another wireless G access point as a repeater, replacing the firmware with DD-WRT. Using an app on my cell phone, I can walk thoughout my home and measure signal strengh. Really helps for optimal placement of repeaters. Performance though all of this is actually quite good.

  9. #9
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    We never have really cold winters where I live, but if we did, I don't believe that the cold would affect my wired network, because all of my wires are inside the insulation, not outside. I did things the easy way -- I punched a hole in the wall on both sides, at the bottom, in the corner, and then passed the wires through the wall. I layed them along the baseboard, behind whatever furniture was there. I then ran the wires to the next room in the same way. I extended my wired network from the front of the house to the back using this method.

    As far as going to a different building, would it be possible to dig a small trench from one building to the other, put the wiring in the trench (inside of conduit), then cover it back up? That should shield it from extreme temperature, storms, etc.

  10. #10
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    At one time I used a Netgear wireless router and had signal strength problems and then tried Netgear home powerline networking and found the adapters failed several times and often just didn't maintain their connection. I switched to an Apple AirPort Extreme, which is not cheap (currently $162 on Amazon) but it has worked powerfully and flawlessly since the day I got it. Far superior to the standard home Wi-Fi routers in my experience and that of my office's IT techs. Well worth the extra cost. It might solve those weak spots without the need for boosters and extenders. Perhaps Lincoln could try one and give us a report.

  11. #11
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    I had two problems to contend with: the outside wiring now goes through my attic. I don't think that will be an issue anymore.

    The other is that my house is not really ammenable for wireless. My problem is that I have a large area, cannot locate the wired routers toward the center of the area, have lots of walls and other obstructions, and lots of walls have foil backed insulation.

    I can always re-wire the whole house - but there are two issues with that: 1 - expensive; 2 - takes away my fun at playing with routers.

    My wired routers are rated as having very good signal strength. I also measure them as being quite strong. At some time in the next year or so, when the standards for the new AC routers are solid and vendors are making reliable products, I will try one of those. The specs seem to indicate that one can pump out a signal much farther than with 802.11g or 802.11n.

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    With respect to Lincoln's varying download and upload speeds in some cases, my question is, doesn't the load on the internet server that is running that end of the tests affect the speeds reported? I guess in general the difference caused by load variations might be very small but I run into very slow internet responses quite often so it seems the reliability of the speed test might be questionable.

  13. #13
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillWilson View Post
    With respect to Lincoln's varying download and upload speeds in some cases, my question is, doesn't the load on the internet server that is running that end of the tests affect the speeds reported? I guess in general the difference caused by load variations might be very small but I run into very slow internet responses quite often so it seems the reliability of the speed test might be questionable.
    If we were talking about absolute speeds, speed tests of any kind over the Internet have a host of issues. But here, we are talking about improving the speed, so all we need are relative numbers for comparison. The vagaries of servers and other factors which affect the absolute numbers should not be much of an issue when we are seeking only relative numbers and looking for significant improvements.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Thanks for the observations. That does make the whole exercise more reasonable.

    Thanks,
    Bill

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillWilson View Post
    Thanks for the observations. That does make the whole exercise more reasonable.

    Thanks,
    Bill
    Did you remove your previous post? If so -- Doing so makes the thread a bit more difficult for folks to follow. If someone's reply makes my post seem irrelevant to me, I occasionally edit my post, but I rarely remove it, so as to maintain continuity in the thread.

    If you didn't remove the post, where is it?
    -- Bob Primak --

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