WAP - does it matter which way the antenna points?

MichaelD

Lifer
Jan 16, 2001
31,529
3
76
My apartment has really thick concrete walls and I was barely getting a signal in my living room (WAP is in the back of the apt), so I bought a signal booster (100/200/500 milliwatts selectable). Here it is. The reviews seemed very positive.

At 500mw, the signal is better but not great. I now get a weak signal over the entire living room, whereas before I had barely anything at all.

The booster came with the same little stubby (4"?) antenna that my WAP has. I currently have the booster's antenna pointing straight up. Should I "aim it" towards the living room? Maybe I need a bigger antenna?

Relocating the WAP is not an option, unfortunately. I'd then have to run a piece of CAT5 all the way to the back of the house AND buy a switch. So it's gotta stay put.

Any advice is most welcome. :)

*edit*
Well, I pointed the antenna AWAY from the target area and the signal went from -73db to -69db. Better but still not where I want it to be. 500mw is quite a bit of power; I should be able to cover a 2,000SF apartment w/o too much trouble. :confused: It's gotta be the concrete walls, man. FWIW, the apartment is a long rectangle, with all the rooms off a central hallway and the livingroom at one end of the rectangle.
 

skyking

Lifer
Nov 21, 2001
22,004
4,760
146
Can you connect consistently?
If so, then don't fret about the numbers.
The trouble with any signal boosting equipment is, you need it at both devices. Being able to "see" the AP and being able to successfully use it are two totally different things.
 

JackMDS

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 25, 1999
29,471
387
126
Booster and Better Antenna concoctions do not work well in many indoor environment.

If there is heavy obstructions, it block 30mW signal and 500mW as well.

Since you do not want cable then you only other choice is to buy few additional units that can do WDS and create a WDS system.


Buy a Pair of Wireless Routers that can do WDS (Zyxell, SMC, Belkin have models that do WDS as is out of the Box.

Linksys WRT54GL can do WDS when flashed with DD-WRT firmware.

Using a Laptop loaded with ith Netstumbler, do a Wireless survey in the house, http://www.netstumbler.com/downloads/

According to the Netstumbler's signal strength reading, identify spots that have strong signal. and spot with weak, or No signal.

Evaluate how you can cover the space and start placing WDS units.

Additional Wireless Routers in WDS Mode (Wireless Network - Configuration Modes. ) has to be placed in spots were the signal is good about Half way to the dead spots.

How many WDS units are needed? It depends on your specific environment (that is a good the reason to buying WDS units one at the time, try it, and decide on the Next step).
 

QueBert

Lifer
Jan 6, 2002
22,392
722
126
I have a ton of experince with walls and wireless, I have tried about 4 different routers, a dozen PCI/USB cards and external antennas. I can say the Buffalo external omnidirectional antenna I bought off Mwave has worked the best. The next best setup I tried netted me a connection that hovered @ about 5% and dropped often. With the new one I get about 20% constant, with some unexplainable drops from time to time. But they're not very often at all, maybe once every few days and for a few seconds. I haven't done any real testing to see how good my actual connection is, but it seems to be alright. I've been trying to figure out how to boost the 20% to 40% or so but pretty much have given up.

I don't have a concrete wall between my wireless and the routers, but there are probably 5 solid house walls in between. Not sure how this compares against a thick brick wall, but I have about the max range + obstructions you could hope to never have. I'm also not sure how much a signal booster will kick up your dBi range. The antenna I bought is here

I recommend you listen to JackMDS, he's the Moderator here for a reason and is ridiculously smart when it comes to networking. I just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents on this because I have battled with a piss poor signal for a year now and have tried tons of things to improve it :)

 

spidey07

No Lifer
Aug 4, 2000
65,469
5
76
Yes it matters. Omni antennas have their worst gain on the poles of the antenna. This means if you "point" the antenna at the client this is the worst power there is from the antenna.

All antennas have radiation/gain patterns, so it depends on that patter how the antenna should be oriented. But for omnidirectional it is always the worst on the poles. You always have the exact same power available (the radio), all an antenna does is focus that power in a certain patter.
 

MichaelD

Lifer
Jan 16, 2001
31,529
3
76
Thanks very much, Skyking, JackMDS, QueBert and Spidey07. I have to make a decision on what to do. The cheaper solution is to run cable, but what a PITA that would be. :(

QueBert: Sounds like you've had the exact same frustrations and unexplained stuff that I'm having. It's so frustrating to spend the money trying this and that and having none of it work!

JackMDS: Thanks much for the detailed explanations and how-to. :)

The main issue is that I don't get consistent connections. Some days I connect and get an IP in 10 seconds. Others, I can barely connect and it takes 5 minutes to get an IP. The signal will go from "very low" to "good" and back down 100 times an hour. Surfing along and suddenly being disconnected is not cool, particularly when you're IMing.

It's slightly better with the booster, but it's obviously not enough. Oh well. $60 down the drain, I guess. I'll evaluate my options. At least now I'm better informed. :)
 

JackMDS

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 25, 1999
29,471
387
126
Originally posted by: MichaelD
The main issue is that I don't get consistent connections. Some days I connect and get an IP in 10 seconds.

Wireless communication is all about Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR).

Strong signal and good Antenna do Not help much if the core signal SNR is above a certain level.

You can not control the Electrical noise in your environment unless you turn it into a "Faraday Cage". Noise is Noise it comes, it goes, and it fluctuate. It affects your Wireless that have to adopt to the noise and does it with it own fluctuation.

Your environment must be extra noisy since the Booster did not help either.

BTW. Did you tried another Access Point, Some time the noise can be generate by the Access Point it self.

If you can borrow, or put you hand on a Proxim Access Point you can see how a professional AP does in this environment.

It ain't cheap, http://www.dealiverable.com/ss...uct.asp?pf_id=10287470
 

QueBert

Lifer
Jan 6, 2002
22,392
722
126
Originally posted by: MichaelD
Thanks very much, Skyking, JackMDS, QueBert and Spidey07. I have to make a decision on what to do. The cheaper solution is to run cable, but what a PITA that would be. :(

QueBert: Sounds like you've had the exact same frustrations and unexplained stuff that I'm having. It's so frustrating to spend the money trying this and that and having none of it work!

JackMDS: Thanks much for the detailed explanations and how-to. :)

The main issue is that I don't get consistent connections. Some days I connect and get an IP in 10 seconds. Others, I can barely connect and it takes 5 minutes to get an IP. The signal will go from "very low" to "good" and back down 100 times an hour. Surfing along and suddenly being disconnected is not cool, particularly when you're IMing.

It's slightly better with the booster, but it's obviously not enough. Oh well. $60 down the drain, I guess. I'll evaluate my options. At least now I'm better informed. :)

yeah there's nothing like the random noise when dealing with wireless. Like you I have periods where I can stay connected for 3 days and download torrents at a pretty high speed. Then, the next day I will have trouble staying connected for 2 minutes.

I think we should come together and develop some magic antenna we could get RICH! I know a lot of people suffer from our plight of being just far enough to f*ck with our connection, but it still works off and on. Have you tried a Cantenna? I've heard these suckers work wonderfully at pulling signals out of the air. I've never see a B&M store that carries them or I'd probably have tried already.

google Cantenna if you haven't they look interesting.
 

MichaelD

Lifer
Jan 16, 2001
31,529
3
76
I haven't tried another AP. My AP is also my DSL router/gateway. It's not a piece of junk. It's a US Robotics 9108. Not a Proxim ($$$!!!) but not one of the phone-company-giveaway boxes either.

I'm debating trying a bigger/better antenna before I start moving things and running cable. Maybe that Hawking corner-mount one. I dunno.

As of last night, the wife stayed connected the entire evening (6+ hours) in the living room. The signal was weak, but it didn't drop at all.