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Repeater? Bridge? Access Point? Which One Do I Need?


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#1 easycigarman39

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 01:39 AM

I want to tap into my local library's wifi signal from my home as some people are able to do that live as far as two residential blocks away are able to using standard equipment. I live four blocks away and cannot reach it, but my mom lives at a middle point between the library and myself. From her home, an old laptop I have with what is most likely a dated wifi adapter can reach the signal and once I enter my library account info, I'm connected--not with great speed, but it's still faster than dial-up.

Wifi is something I'm just starting to learn about, so needless to say I don't know much about what I might need to acquire the signal, wether it's a bridge or repeater situated at my mom's home. Is this what might make it work--a repeater? Or is what I need a wifi bridge? I want something that is a stand-alone unit, that is, not hooked up to another computer, but maybe I'd need a computer to set it up and running. I still don't understand the difference between some of this stuff--bridge, repeater, access point. It all sounds like it does the same thing, but again, I would want a stand alone unit not relying on another computer.

I ordered a certain D-Link "high powered" pci wifi adapter and will soon be ordering a Yagi directional antenna to hook up to it. I'll have fun playing around with it, but I don't expect to be able to connect to the strong wifi signal that my library provides. Yes, I already got confirmation from them that it's ok for me or anyone to connect to their wifi service outside of the library, so won't be breaking the law or anything.

So, is it a repeater o bridge that I need and, can a directional antenna be hooked up to those devices?

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#2 Cyb3r_Ninj@

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:55 PM

You can't use a signal repeater or a bridge in your case. You would have to have access to their physical connection media (meaning the cables, network and routing equipment) in order to link a Bridge or a Repeater from your home to the library. Not likely that the Network Administrator is going to allow you or help you do so, not to mention the cost in cable run would get expensive over four city blocks.

What you probably want to do is get yourself a high-powered WiFi NIC and or high-powered WiFi antenna - that will boost the range which your computer will be able to detect and connect WiFi signals. Four city blocks away is a pretty long distance to detect and connect, but this doesn't mean it is impossible. You have to keep in mind that between your computer and the WiFi access point is not empty space, there are physical barriers (buildings, walls, etc.) and interference between the signal the WiFi access point (or Router) is broadcasting and your computer which is receiving the broadcast.

I would look into getting a USB WiFi adapter which is N-1 rated, that will provide you with WiFi detection and connection capability with the greatest range on your machine. This can be more secure in that you are only giving the extended range to one machine, rather than your entire network infrastructure (i.e. with a Wireless Range Extender, you will be boosting the signal strength of your DSL/Cable modem and/or your Wireless Router - allowing other people to detect your network over the airwaves). With a USB WiFi adapter that only plugs into your machine, its just your machine that is transmitting and receiving the signals. A USB adapter is preferable if you are seeking portability and ease of use.

Example of USB N-1 device:
http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage...oduct_Id=299142

Another route you can go is to get yourself a WiFi Cantenna and see if that sufficiently boosts your WiFi signal detection range. For this to work on a laptop, you will need to obtain a PCMCIA WiFi adapter which has an external directional antenna that is screwed onto the adapter itself. Much like a PCI card on a desktop machine, there are PCMCIA WiFi adapters available for laptops which use a directional screw-on antenna. You simply screw off the dinky weak-signal antenna and screw on the WiFi Cantenna for instant signal range boost. Now because the Cantenna is an external device which is cylindrical, it is positional able and you can aim in the direction you want to detect signals. The drawback with the Cantenna is that it is external and it is cumbersome and it requires additional hardware in order to work with your laptop. However, for desktop applications it is great and with the advantage of being able to aim the Cantenna, you have 360 degrees of sight in order to detect WiFi networks in all directions.

Example of EtherDesigns Cantenna:
http://www.etherdesigns.com/cantennaskits.html

One thing to remember is that that WiFi signals are susceptible to interference and signal attenutation. As the signal leaves the beacon (Router, Wireless AP) its strength is reduced over time and distance - unless there is a WiFi repeater to regenerate the signal along the path. Also, keep in mind that many WiFi Routers and AP's operate in the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz - nowadays, so do many cordless home telephones; therefore, the signals from these devices which may lie within the physical barriers between your machine and the WiFi AP can and will interfere and thus contribute to signal attenuation as the signal travels from the AP to your WiFi adapter.

I would also guess that there is at least one WiFi AP within close enough proximity to your home that may be even closer than the library in your case. If it is not configured with a WEP key for encryption, you can jump on to any WiFi AP that is in range and configured for open access. Word of caution, when you are connecting to a WiFi AP that you do not control, just remember that the network traffic is able to be monitored, tracked, and cut off if you abuse it.
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#3 donuteh

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:46 AM

"You can't use a signal repeater or a bridge in your case." I've recently been playing with Cisco wireless access points and they can be set up as Repeaters, they don't need to be hardwired in to the network you only need a wireless signal, I was playing with it but the downside is if you need to change something on it, you need the special cable or you have a difficult time trying to access it's settings. of course these run at around $1000 but I'm sure there's a cheaper solution then that because repeaters are not new technology. The wireless N adapter is a good idea but I found that their not much better unless your connecting to a network that is N rated itself, most are only b/g, I know this from experience as I tried the same thing at home, when I tried to access my home network from work (they were only around 400 yards apart at the time with a few obstructions) but even with a N rated Wi-fi card, I was not able to connect without having the router to go with it. of course it sounds like the library has a more powerful access point than I do. My thought is if Cyb3r_Ninj@'s suggestion doesn't work, fire off an email to Netgear, Cisco, Linksys, Dlink or whatever brand you prefer and ask what they recommend and they'll be able to tell you exactly what you need as well as help you get it up and running. if you still need more range there's no shortage of instructions online for how to make powerful antennas. After I spent $300 on a new router I discovered I could have spent $20 on a can of pringles some wire and a few pieces of hardware and get more range then my N router (yes I did try this because it looked fun). so you might think about that too as it might be useful.
The speed of sound is defined by the distance from door to computer divided by the time interval needed to close the media player and pull up your pants when your mom shouts "OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!"

#4 Michael-Anthony

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 02:42 PM

this is what you want to get ahold of. 49.99

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yes, or you could go the cheap way



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to get the parts for the last one click here

Edited by Michael-Anthony, 21 May 2008 - 02:55 PM.





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