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Internet, Networking, and Wireless Discussion of networking, internet, and wireless including Apple's Airport products.

Weak wireless signal... best way to boost?


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DunnInLA

 
Member Since: Nov 21, 2008
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Hello all.

My daughter is happily using her 1 yr. old Macbook Pro she got for Xmas. 2.16 speed, 120gb hardrive... that one.

Our home is 2 story. Her room is upstairs, opposite the Time Warner modem/wireless router from Netgear. We can get signal just at her doorway to the upstairs foyer, but in her room on her bed the signal drops after a few minutes. The same is true of the Dell laptop her sister has, so it's not the computer, simply the signal strength.

Time Warner Level 3 told me they could have a technician install a repeater/booster, but the guy came out today and reported Level 3 didn't know what they were talking about! I need to buy my own booster/repeater and install it on my own.

OK... on to research! I found two repeaters on Amazon, one by Belkin Amazon.com: Belkin F5D7132 Wireless-G Universal Range Extender: Electronics, one by Hawking Amazon.com: Hawking HWREG1 Wireless G Range Extender: Electronics , plus another product by Hawking called a signal booster Amazon.com: Hawking HiGain Signal Booster version 2 - HSB2: Electronics

The reviews on each of these seems to be either great ***** or terrible *, with not much in between. Apparently it is 95% an issue of knowing how to configure the repeater as a 2nd router ... The Time Warner install guys did the configuring when they came out last year and I couldn't repeat it if I had to... I don't know my IP address, don't know what encryption is used, don't know what security it is running (though I do know it is identified by the Mac as a "secure network".

Which of the three above products is the most popular to use for someone not router savvy, to simply get a weak or intermittent signal to a distant part of a house?
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chscag

 
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Have you thought about buying a new router instead of a range extender or repeater? Newer routers with 802.11N already have extended range and offer greater speed. Your daughter's MBP supports 802.11N and if the other daughter's Dell doesn't, it will default to a lower speed. (802.11G)

I would also try re-locating the Netgear router to see if that helps to obtain a better signal.

Regards.
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ralphguay

 
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I have a MacBook Pro which I use in conjunction with a neighbor's wi-fi signal; with his approval of course. Using Airport, I get absolutely NO signal. I purchased a usb wireless adapter from afterthemac.com and now have a great signal. The device comes with a dongle, so one can move the adapter about to enhance the signal strength. I hope that this works for you. Good luck.

rb
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Mudbug

 
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To extend the range you need a range extender ( Linksys make one ) or a bridge. The bridge talks to the wireless router, wirelessly, and expands the coverage area. I understand that the Apple Airport Express can be used as a bridge with the Airport Extreme. I am not sure that it can be used as a bridge with other brands of routers.

Buffalo made good router/bridges but they were sued and lost. They no longer sell those in the US.
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DunnInLA

 
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Thanks for your replies.

I took the advice of chscag above, and couple of websites that suggested simply repositioning the router/modem to see the effect.

I lifted the router/modem six inches off the desk, and repostioned the antenna which I noticed had drooped sideways (parallel to the desktop).

Those changes seem to have done the trick. The signal is 11mbps and pretty consistent in both upstairs bedrooms on the other side of the house. I know this because the dell always tells you the signal strength when you put the mouse pointer over the connection icon. I haven't figured out how to tell the signal strength on the Macbook Pro. Anyone know how I can tell on the Mac?

So far then, I think I don't need to make any hardware changes. What a relief.
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cwa107

 
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I'd avoid the range extenders. They can be very finicky to get up and running and aren't always necessary. A single wireless router should easily cover a typical 2 story home of 2000 square feet or more. If it's not, you're either running into interference or your router is poorly placed.

Most of the time when I see this complaint, I find that the router is installed in a basement or inside of a cabinet. Placement is absolutely crucial. The router should be central to the home (as much as possible) and typically, the higher up it's sitting, the better.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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jaymac5684

 
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Also try buying a USB wi-fi booster. I use one called the Wi-fire from hfield technologies.. I am able to pick up many more wireless networks that are available and maintain a strong signal. It works great. their website is hfield.com
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