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Old May 28, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Default *Help* Wireless router config for maximum coverage/strength

I'm headed out to my in-laws in Alberta this weekend and I need some advice on networking. They run a business out of their home, and they have a very shitty networking setup that I'll be looking to fix/upgrade for them. Here's the situation:

The run their business from a small 'office' that's situated in a small coach house on their property. The primary Telus connection runs to this office, and it is setup using one of those crappy Telus 'all-in-one' modem/router combos. (I'm already having them check if they can swap it for a regular modem) That single Telus wireless router also supplies wireless internet to their house, which is situated about 75-100 feet away from the office. As you can imagine, the wireless in the house is near non-existent, and the basement is a complete dead zone.

They have a spare basic Linksys router at the house. (not sure what model) And I have a spare Lynksis e2000 loaded with DD-WRT that I'll be taking out there with me. My plan is to lose the combo unit from Telus, set up one of the routers as a primary wireless in the office, then set up the second router as a repeater in the house. The repeater would have to be set up over wireless, as hard lines are impossible in this situation.

My questions are as follows:

- I know the e2000 is a solid router, but has limited range. I've recently added DD-WRT to it, but I've not been in a position to really test it's range yet. If I boost the signal in the firmware, will I get much of a difference in signal strength from this router?

- IF I'm able to get a stronger signal from the e2000 using DD-WRT, is it possible that it would be strong enough to cover the office and the entire house from the office? (large rancher with basement) I know this might be optimistic, but I'm really not sure exactly how much extra you can get from routers using the boost. I've never used this feature, but I've heard stories telling boosts using DD-WRT that are enough to push their wireless coverage to an entire residential block. I assume those are exaggerated though.

- If I repeat the signal using a second wireless router, I'm thinking it will be better to use a second SSID for the home vs the office. This is to prevent devices like mobile phones from 'sticking' to the weaker signal until the lease expires or it completely drops off. This way, they can manually select the SSID they want to use and force the changeover. I've never set up a repeater over wireless with a second SSID. I can't imagine it will be a problem, but not sure?

*EDIT*

I've added a VERY crude picture showing the lay of the land as it is now. As I mentioned, distance between the two buildings is 75ft or so. No trees or obstructions between them. Just the building walls.


Last edited by Caldezar; May 28, 2013 at 10:17 AM.
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Old May 28, 2013, 10:49 AM
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Unless the router has external antennas unlike that e2000 trying to get ANY range will be next to impossible.

I would either find a way to run a line between the buildings or invest in a good router with antennas and hope that you get the distance.
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Old May 28, 2013, 11:09 AM
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The repeater should be situated so that it has at least half signal strength from the base station, so it may be best to swap ap's around and see which one is strong enough to give the repeater a good signal. Optimally you could run a burried cable to bridge the 2 buildings, or 2 directional ap and bridge like EnGenius 802.11 A/N 5GHZ 300 Mbps Outdoor High Power 400MW Client BRIDGE/AP
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Last edited by odis172; May 29, 2013 at 05:02 AM.
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Old May 28, 2013, 01:20 PM
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The best solution in terms of support would be to run Superior Essex Cat5e OSP (or similar). But, a Point-to-Point solution like the EnGenius client bridge could also work.

However, I assume the office is fed of the homes power, maybe via a subpanel but a powerline Ethernet transceiver might be your best bet for keeping costs low and not having huge issues troubleshooting over the phone.
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Old May 28, 2013, 02:22 PM
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Unfortunately, running any kind of cable underground is just not feasible at the moment. Edmonton area is not weather friendly for a shallow trench, and we certainly don't have the time to be digging deep trenches. (And likely won't until at least next summer.)

I never considered an EoP option actually. I don't know if they are powered from the same circuit or not. If they are, that could be an excellent option. Although isn't there severe limitations to EoP for range as well?

I may look at picking up a longer range router with external antennae to run the main connection. Then use the e2000 to repeat throughout the house. If I go this route, any suggestions on a solid wireless router (preferably under $100) that has good range and penetration for insulated walls? I see a member has a Linksys WRT350n for sale. I've never used that router though, so not sure on performance?

*EDIT*
Just found out the spare router they have at the house is a D-Link DIR-615. It's on the DD-WRT compatible list, and has external antennae. Although reviews peg it with medium range. Thoughts?

Last edited by Caldezar; May 28, 2013 at 02:29 PM.
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Old May 28, 2013, 07:26 PM
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There should be no need to change the SSID's. By design, WiFi clients are configured to "roam" to the best signal AP it finds. I would keep the SSID's the same and ensure both routers at either end are WDS compatible. It would likely be best to use 2 identical routers with DD-WRT/Tomato.

If money allows, I would go with dual ASUS RT-N66U's. I find the signal strength on them to be the best thus far. The cheaper RT-N16 might work well enough too, but I never found it's wireless to be overly strong.

A slightly cheaper solution could be the Amped Wireless brand of products. Never personally used it and not sure if it lives up to it's claims, but if it is truly 600mW, it should have decent coverage.
Amped Wireless R10000 High Power Wireless-N 600mW Smart Router
Amped Wireless SR10000 High Power Wireless-N 600mW Smart Repeater and Range Extender

And of course, try to position the routers as close to each other as possible (corners of each building).
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