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need to amplify wireless signal

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#1 Farmageddon


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Posted 30 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

Hi, and thanks for reading.

I'm setting up a wireless network on a two stories apartment (the upper one covering the building). The ceiling/floor between the stores is pretty thick. I have the modem on the lower floor and could barely get any signal on the corner of the upper one, where the computer needs to be. The computer in question is connect using a usb wireless adapter (more on that in a bit). I noticed there were many other networks being recognized so I decided to check their channels and managed to make things a lot better by switching it to the least crowded spot (channel 3). It's working now and you can actually browse, albeit kinda slow.

Problem is, some downloads which don't support pausing would halt midway, even smallish ones. So I checked and there's some packet loss between the pc and the modem (let alone any other ip). I checked the signal strength and it's still pretty low, lower than networks from other buildings. I took a notebook to the spot and got mixed results: at one time the notebook had more latency but a few less losses, then it got inversed.

So what I want to do is try and make the signal stronger there. I've relocated the modem itself as much as I could and found it's "sweet spot", but that wasn't enough. Now I have three courses of action on mind (or a combination of them) and I'd like to ask your advice about them:

1. Get a stronger antenna - My modem's antenna, as far as I can tell, is a 2dbi one, omnidirectional (which I need), so I'm thinking about changing that with a 5 or 7 dbi. I've seen lots of people reporting no difference when changing atennas, so I'd like to ask if this is worth a shot, considering these antennas are pretty inexpensive. Also, are there any guidelines for when they might have more of an effect or less?

2. Get a better usb adapter - The one I have is pretty simple. It did work fine and had a great connection when using it on the same floor as the modem. Also it's performance was comparable with the one of a notebook (can't really remember any specifics about it), being better some times and worse some others, and I hear those are generally pretty good. So I'm wondering whether getting a better usb stick, one with an antenna and all, is worth a shot. Any opinions?

3. Getting a repeater - If the above two methods are unlikely to help much (or to help much on their own), then I'd be willing to get another modem as a repeater. I've never dealt with that though, so I'd like to ask a few questions:
-If a modem is said to work as a repeater, does that mean it can receive a wireless signal and then retransmit this signal? Or do I have to connect to the original modem via a cable?
-If it can do either, how much worse is it when it's receiving the signal wirelessly? I suppose it depends on how good the signal is, right? But I suppose the modem is capable of working with weaker signals than a standard receiver so if I can get connection, albeit with packet loss, on a corner on the second floor, should I expect a repeater to work well on a slightly better spot?
-Latency isn't as important as getting the packets, but does this entire system - taking a signal, amplifying and then repeating it - introduce much latency? Should I even worry about that?
-I assume as a last resort I could connect a cable from the first modem to the repeater and that should all but guarantee a strong signal, right?

Of course through all of this I'm assuming getting a stronger signal should alleviate the packet loss. I believe that's the case because the internet works well closer to the modem and making the signal stronger did make things better. Then again, changing the channel did help quite a lot, so maybe interference has some blame to take, but I figure a stronger signal (one that is actually above the other networks, not below or at most similar to them) should help with that too. Still, is there any decent chance making the signal stronger wouldn't help?

I think that's all. Sorry for writing so much and for the number of questions. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.


Edited by Farmageddon, 30 January 2013 - 03:12 PM.

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