Straightforward out-of-the-box solution for extending WiFi range

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My grandmother, in another state, has the same problem that everyone else has, which is that her standard home broadband wireless router just isn't powerful enough to feed the entire house.
So she asked me if she needs a new more powerful router.
Googling, I find *this* AP device, which purports to solve the problem: http://www.rakuten.com/prod/microcom-unifi-long-range-access-point/246806871.html?listingId &3046258
Before I ask her to buy it, does anyone have experience here with that problem (of extending range inside a house)?
The option to move the router from the basement doesn't exist, due to the hard wiring, so, it has to go up two floors.
The out-of-the-box suggestion is because she's not going to do much configuration. I can do some of the configuration for her, but, it mostly has to be *designed* to extend the range of a WiFi router.
Currently she has a Linksys WRT54G so, maybe, an N router will extend her range. But that's why I ask what her options are.
Any other suggestions for improving range that a noob can perform out of the box (i.e., she's not gonna make a can'tenna).
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On Fri, 13 Dec 2013 01:48:52 +0000, Danny D'Amico wrote:
UPDATE:
After many hours of trying to get the settings just right, just now I was able to tremendously extend the WiFi range of my laptop, as a test, simply by connecting a Ubiquiti NanoBridge M2 feedhorn (sans dish antenna) to the Ethernet port. Here is my signal strength at the feedhorn, as seen through the laptop:
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2869/11399128184_ebab5e1de1_o.png
Notice the noise is a tiny at -99dBm while the signal strength is huge at -44dBm (with a SNR of -44 - -99 = 55, if I did the math right).
This gets me 130Mbps between my Linux laptop & the home broadband router.
Here are the network settings that were necessary to make this work:
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2854/11399127954_02139418fd_o.png
And, here are the access-point specific wireless settings to make it connect to my home broadband router's SSID:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3733/11399100445_af45bef4c0_o.png
With the dish antenna, that Nanobridge M2 has a gain of 41dB (i.e., 23dBm transmit power + 18dBi antenna gain), which is far too powerful.
Since that calculates (if I did the math right?) to over 12 Watts, I had to lower the gain by removing the dish ... which dropped the gain down to 23dBm + 3dBi, or 26dB (which is a 0.4 Watts).
Even that was far too powerful for use in my house, so I dropped the transmit power of the feedhorn radio down to 6dBm, so with the 3dBi feedhorn-only gain, the screenshots above are at 6+3B (0.008W) EIRP.
Even with the gain reduced as low as I could make it, I still got a connection strength of -44dBm and a connect speed of 130Mbps, so, it's at least a proof of concept that this is one way to extend the WiFi range of your laptop.
My goal will be to try to connect to my home broadband router from a mile or two down the road... so that's what I'll try next.
PS: Jeff Liebermann should be proud of me!
Here's the howto I wrote up ... (it can also be used at coffee shops!) BEGIN: How to use a Nanobridge M2 as your laptop wireless NIC!
0. I reset the Nanobridge M2 radio to default settings as per this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-h48wELJtw

I connected the POE to the Nanobridge M2. I reset the Nanobridge M2 back to factory defaults by holding the reset button down for 10sec (until all LEDs flashed)
1. I set the Nanobridge M2 to be the Linux laptop wireless NIC as per this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIRHEwDOD5g

2. I turned off the wireless NIC inside the laptop with the hardware switch. Note: I could just as well have run this command on Ubuntu 13.10: $ sudo ifconfig wlan0 down
3. I set the IP address of the laptop to be on the 192.168.1.XX subnet. $ sudo ifconfig eth0 192.168.1.99 $ ifconfig (make sure eth0 is 192.168.1.something & that wlan0 is not up)
4. I physically connected the Nanobridge M2 to the eth0 port of the laptop.
5. I pinged the Nanobridge M2 $ ping 192.168.1.20 PING 192.168.1.20 (192.168.1.20) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=1 ttld time=0.572 ms 64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=2 ttld time=0.460 ms 64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=3 ttld time=0.286 ms etc. (control C to escape)
6. I logged into the Nanobridge M2 $ netscape 192.168.1.20 (ubnt, ubnt)
7. I set the "Network" tab as follows: AirOS:Network Router (default is Bridge) WLAN Network Settings->DHCP (default is DHCP) LAN Network Settings->IP Address->192.168.10.20 (default is 192.168.1.1) [x]Enable NAT [x]Enable DHCP Server Range Start2.168.10.100 Range End 2.168.10.200 Change->Apply
8. I rebooted the Ubuntu PC (with the wlan0 card still turned off)
9. I set eth0 to be on the same (new) subnet as the Nanobridge M2: $ sudo ifconfig eth0 192.168.10.101
10. I pinged the radio: $ ping 192.168.10.1 PING 192.168.10.1 (192.168.10.1) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from 192.168.10.1: icmp_seq=1 ttld time=1.15 ms 64 bytes from 192.168.10.1: icmp_seq=2 ttld time=0.255 ms 64 bytes from 192.168.10.1: icmp_seq=3 ttld time=0.310 ms etc. (control + C to escape)
$ ping 192.168.10.20 PING 192.168.10.20 (192.168.10.20) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from 192.168.10.20: icmp_seq=1 ttld time=1.71 ms 64 bytes from 192.168.10.20: icmp_seq=2 ttld time=0.308 ms 64 bytes from 192.168.10.20: icmp_seq=3 ttld time=0.242 ms etc. (control + C to escape)
11. I logged into the Nanobridge M2: $ netscape http://192.168.10.20 (ubnt, ubnt)
12. I set up the "Wireless" tab to connect to the home broadband router SSID: AirOS:Wireless SSID->Select (I sorted the signals by signal strength & encryption) I selected my WPA2-PSK encrypted network SSID. I scrolled to the bottom & hit select. Change->Apply
Note: I also had to set the DNS server by turning off DNS proxy Primary DNS server = 8.8.8.8 Secondary DNS server = 4.4.4.2
Voila!
Once I set up DNS (which wasn't described in the video), I was able to connect to the Internet, and, in fact, am using this connection to type this up to help myself (in the future) and others.
END OF: How to use a Nanobridge M2 as your laptop wireless NIC!
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On Mon, 16 Dec 2013 09:04:08 +0000, Danny D'Amico wrote:

Of course, that 130Mbps is only between the laptop and the router.
The actual Internet speeds from my rooftop antenna to the Internet, about 20 miles away from a real wire, is almost ten times slower than those speeds, at about 10ms ping, 19 Mbps down, & 18 Mbps up:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3743/11399640063_f0187217bd_o.png
One mistake I made that I just corrected is that I hadn't enabled the NTP time server on the Nanobridge M2, which I hadn't used for months, so the time & date were off in the prior screenshots.
Here's the latest, with the power dialed down as low as I can possibly make it, and even then, I get -39dBm signal strength from my laptop to my home broadband router, across floors and walls in the house:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3746/11399676383_5ca5354629_o.png
I can't wait until daylight to see how far I can go to connect my laptop to my home broadband router.
ADVANTAGE: This method should extend the WiFi range of the laptop up to a few miles (depends on the antenna & access point though).
DISADVANTAGE: 120V power is necessary to run the POE, so, I can't do it on foot; but I can test it a mile or two away from the house in my car with an inverter.
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Danny D'Amico wrote:

Hi, Do you work fpor Ubiquiti? Nothing new you are doing there.
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On Mon, 16 Dec 2013 06:53:35 -0700, Tony Hwang wrote:

Hi Tony,
Two things I've always wanted to do: 1. Increase the range of my wifi signal *inside* the house 2. Connect to access points which are miles away
What I was documented is the first step, which is to increase the range. The second step is to connect to an access point that is miles away from that laptop.
I haven't done *that* yet, but, the potential now exists.
First, I had to be able to connect to an access point, period. It took me a long time to figure out *how* to do that.
Now that I've done that, my *next* test is to see if I can connect to my home broadband router from a couple of miles away.
It will be fun, to see if I can do that (but I need to find my inverter because this particular solution requires 120volts).
I'll report back if/when I'm successful.
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On 12/16/2013 07:12 AM, Danny D'Amico wrote:

There's a store in Chicago that specializes in DX WiFi. They are called 3gstore.com They also have forums for wireless hacks. Very busy boards.
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On Mon, 16 Dec 2013 06:53:35 -0700, Tony Hwang wrote:

Naah. I *wish* I worked for Ubiquiti though, as I really like that they make equipment that is *powerful* and easy to use!
I'm really salivating now over the UniFy access point wifi extender: http://www.rakuten.com/prod/microcom-unifi-long-range-access-point/246806871.html?listingId &3046258
A friend and I installed one at a neighbor's house today, and the WiFi range was FANTASTIC! It went to every single room in the house!
We even turned off the SSID from the Netgear home broadband router, because it was no longer needed, except to be used simply as a wired switch for the access point and desktop computer.
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On 12/21/2013 1:59 AM, Danny D'Amico wrote:

I bought these for a customer to connect two buildings because the labor to run an outdoor aerial cable was more than installing the wireless link. ^_^
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
http://preview.tinyurl.com/m22nu7u
TDD
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The Daring Dufas wrote:

You mean you turned the radio off? SSID can be hidden or broadcast. I never heard turning off SSID> Unify is pretty new models. Another DIY source is Mikrotek which may cost less.

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On Sat, 21 Dec 2013 08:00:33 -0700, Tony Hwang wrote:

We used the Unify $100 6 Watt (yes, 6 Watt!) access point (they call it Long Range). It gave 5 bars to all the Apple equipment for the first time ever, in that house, anywhere they wanted it.
Turned out, we moved it, so, now they changed the router setup to have both the SSID from the router being the same as the SSID from the access point.
That the access point overpowers the signal of the router (which is on a different non-overlapping channel) doesn't seem to adversely affect them.
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Danny D'Amico wrote:

Hi, Do you use inSSIDer pro version or even free version? I think having same SSID is not good. Won't it create confusion when connecting?
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On 12/21/2013 09:37 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

Maybe we should broadcast something so people don't land on a used channel. 6 Watts spread spectrum? Maybe. Unifi?
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On Sat, 21 Dec 2013 22:37:03 -0700, Tony Hwang wrote:

Hi Tony,
So far they haven't reported any problems.
The Unifi AP-LR was set up at a neighbor's home, so, I don't have a scan for it (that scan above is from my home, because I was looking for a distant WiFi channel 9 interference source that was showing up in a spectrum analysis run from my rooftop radio):
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7310/11427413806_21e93b109b_o.jpg
What I like about the Ubiquiti equipment is sheer POWER! Those access points are 6 Watts! Compare that to the puny 1/10th of a Watt of your typical home broadband router.
And, these access points mount like a C02 detector, either on the wall or on the ceiling, and, they don't need anything but an Ethernet cable connected to them (as the power supply is at the other end of the Ethernet cable).
So, for extending WiFi range at home, I am learning all I can about these things, since they seem to be the right price and power and they seem to kick consumer equipment's butt! :)
As for the Android tools to track WiFi access points and SSIDs, I have InSSIDer freeware on my Android phone and on the laptop.
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7364/11445566476_38a0cdf3b1_o.gif
On Android, I also use WiFi Analyzer, which, I like better than InSSIDer. There's also "WiFi Signal Strength", which gives tabular reports.
Unfortunately, I don't seem to have the technical expertise to get WiFi Stumbler (aks Kismet, I think) & pcap capture working to tell me useful information yet inside those packets grabbed over the air, so, that's my next WiFi project when I get around to it.
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On Sun, 22 Dec 2013 05:39:51 -0800, dave wrote:

6 Watts only goes so far ...
The houses out here are on 40-acre zoning, so, if you have 79 acres, you can only build one house. Even though it's Silicon Valley, it's way up in the mountains above, so, the 6 Watts "shouldn't" be a problem for this neighbor (who is on over 25 acres and her neighbors are similarly far apart).
As for those 6 Watts ...
I know that *my* rooftop radio has a 28dBm transmit power plus a 24dBi antenna gain, which gives me an EIRP of 52dBm, which is a whopping 158 Watts!
So, we're all radiating out here ... :)
In fact, most of my neighbors have the same equipment as I have, and, even with all that power bouncing around, my spectrum analysis scans show signals which all seem to be in the low 10% usage range...
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7310/11427413806_21e93b109b_o.jpg
I'm not sure what that really means to someone who knows what they are doing, but, I *think* it means that our bands are not crowded, although it would be nice to see what other people get for % Usage.
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There are pros and cons to both arguments: using the same SSID on multiple AP's (on different channels, of course), versus using different SSID's.
When I set up systems for other people, I use the same SSID much more often than not because it reduces confusion. Most of the people I deal with are 50-90 years old, so having a single SSID to remember is easier for them. Mobility, as in roaming, is usually not a consideration because they tell me they always use their laptop in THIS room and they always use their tablet in THAT room, etc.
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On Sun, 22 Dec 2013 13:44:52 -0600, Char Jackson wrote:

Makes sense. These people are like that also. Apple users. :)
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If the underlying networks are bridged, this is a supported configuration and it allows client machines to move between the access points seamlessly.
If the networks are not bridged, this will cause IP conflicts and other problems.
--
I walked into a bar the other day and ordered a double.
The bartender brought out a guy who looked just like me.
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On 12/23/2013 6:23 PM, DevilsPGD wrote:

I call it dueling routers. ^_^
TDD
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The Daring Dufas wrote:

As opposed to dualing routers? ;-)
--
Anyone wanting to run for any political office in the US should have to
have a DD214, and a honorable discharge.
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On Tue, 24 Dec 2013 12:41:31 -0500, "Michael A. Terrell"

I have five but they just make sawdust.
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