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Old Oct 1, 2006, 03:48 AM   #1
GITANAJAVA
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Cantenna + Powerbook G4 Titanium?

I live in a condo community that provides free built-in hotspot to residents, however, it works best only in one's main residence, but not so well in the "granny house" (a smaller building behind each unit that some people use as an office/greenhouse/or rental property). I use mine as an office. Problem: I need a quick, cheap, EASY way to boost reception on my titanium P'book G4 when I'm back there. My AE works well everywhere else I travel and all the other hotspots I use, but in my cottage office the AE flatlines.

A client sent me this link (http://www.cantenna.com/) as a possible solution. Any titanium P'book G4 pros who can advise me?

As always, my undying thanks! BTW, keep it simple; I'm low-tekkish :-)
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Old Oct 1, 2006, 04:28 AM   #2
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P.s. For Mad Jew...

Hello, MJ, long time no chat. The iBook died and has been parted out, now I've this ti P'book. Your advice is always 100%, so your assist would be welcome. Ta!
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Old Oct 1, 2006, 05:02 AM   #3
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Haha, you're right, long time no see GITANAJAVA. I'm sorry to hear about your iBook.

Anyway, I think you have two options. You can get something that extends the free wireless network into your granny flat or you can get something that attaches to your PowerBook as a third party aerial and boosts your reception.

I think the former is probably more reliable and easier because as a rule, third party wireless hardware doesn't play well with Macs. However, if you get something to piggyback your current wireless network then it'll bypass the OS. This is both simpler and more reliable.

From briefly looking at the Cantenna page, it seems to need to be plugged into the original router. Would the landlords mind you plugging such a device into their router? Even if they don't mind, their router might not be compatible. I reckon your best bet is to find out what brand of wireless router or access point your network is using (just ask the landlord or whoever is in charge). Most companies make devices which you can simply plug into a power socket and will pick up a wireless network and extend its range. For maximum efficiency and assurance that it'll be compatible, use the same brand as your original router.

I hope that all made sense.
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Old Oct 1, 2006, 05:36 AM   #4
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... Would the landlords mind you plugging such a device into their router? Even if they don't mind, their router might not be compatible. I reckon your best bet is to find out what brand of wireless router or access point your network is using (just ask the landlord or whoever is in charge). Most companies make devices which you can simply plug into a power socket and will pick up a wireless network and extend its range. For maximum efficiency and assurance that it'll be compatible, use the same brand as your original router.
As always, perfect sense! You mention, as it turns out, yet *another* challenge of our free Wi-Fi, who's in charge of it? Our management association only know how to re-set it by flipping the on/off switch; any function or knowledge on their part beyond that is non-existent. The story goes that when the community was built 5-6 years ago, a contractor was hired to install the system, maintain, and troubleshoot users' questions for the first two years. Now, NO ONE has a clue.

So, of the ideas you've offered, which one is least reliant on anyone knowing sod all?
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Old Oct 1, 2006, 10:21 PM   #5
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Well, even if you know sod-all, could you find out the brand name (and maybe even the model number if it's written on there too) of the router?
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 12:30 PM   #6
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on my old powerbook I had similar issue and removed my old airport card and bought a new card from http://www.macwireless.com it did occupy my pcmcia slot but mine was empty and if you don't mind it sticking out then it wa a great solution because they buy the old card back and the new card total cost is about $20
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 12:31 PM   #7
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also apple's support website shows ho to open up a ti powerbook and remove the card...it pretty easy actually (only about 10min.)
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 06:40 PM   #8
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networking

for just a geeky experiment I took a cantenna along with a linksys wireless bridge and linked it in with a house down the street... so no I had an RJ45 connection I could do with what I wanted... so I stuck it into my wireless router and re-broadcast it in my house, worked pretty cool, I left it for a day or two just for fun, maybe you could do this, Or I think certain routers will work as a signal amp of sorts.. look around the linksys site... not without reading the artical on my site about setting up a linksys router..

D

http://trialsoftheswitch.com/?p=25
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Old Oct 5, 2006, 12:49 PM   #9
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Well, even if you know sod-all, could you find out the brand name (and maybe even the model number if it's written on there too) of the router?
MJ, I kiddeth not: I've been away from the forum for a couple days, mostly work-related, but also waiting for word back (from the management company hired aeons ago by our owners' association). Simple enough questions, "Where is the router? What brand/make is it?"

The reply (preceded by a deafening silence) was, "What's a router and how important is it, anyway?"

I'm doomed by the ignorance of people less tekky even than I....now what? Back to my original issue, then: How can I, a low tek user of very modest means but with an urgent need (working from home when not travelling for work), stay reliably and firmly connected? [I can't not pay my owner's dues over this issue, it covers a whole range of services of which the "free" Wi-Fi is only one.]

Gang, if I'm repeating myself, please forgive. Just sign me Frustrated and Forlorn in the Back Garden Cottage
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Old Oct 8, 2006, 02:06 AM   #10
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Okay, well can you check the brand for yourself? Is there's a room that keeps all this equipment together? If there really isn't any way of finding the brand then just head for a well known range extender brand such as Linksys, Belkin or Netgear. I don't have experience with putting these on third-party wireless networks but I imagine they'll work. Ideally get the extender from a retailer who'll give you a refund if it's incompatible with your current network. Good luck.
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Old Oct 9, 2006, 07:11 PM   #11
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MJ,

Your suggestion sounds like the sanest way to approach some solution. As always, you rock:
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Old Oct 9, 2006, 07:23 PM   #12
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A few notes:

Firstly, you cant plug an external antenna into a powerbook unless your using a USB or some kind of external wireless device.

Secondly, a cantenna is directional. Meaning, it would suit your end of the link, but not the other end. The base station end must remain omni directional, so all can benefit from the signal it's providing.

Some options:

1) Get a beefier omni directional antenna installed on the base station for the complex. A good one would be a 'waveguide' antenna, which looks like a long section of gutter pipe with slots cut in it. Or just a colinea 'whip' style antenna. You'll want something that beefs the signal up around 7dbi to 14dbi, or something like that.

2) Get yourself a wireless base station, something cheap like a linksys or d-link or something, but something with the ability to plug in an external antenna. (the factory antenna's can unscrew).. then get yourself a cheap directional antenna. I made one out of a pineapple juice tin, however having it mounted outside my place caused it to rust, so I made a new one out of some rectangle aluminium pipe (3mm, gutter style)... It cost me about $10 usd all up with the bulkhead connector, etc.

Setup the wireless access point in your room/place, with the small directional antenna facing roughly where the base station is located, all good, super signal. Then wirelessly connect your powerbook to your own local base station. It would be a bridge, or repeater.

There is tonnes of information on the internet on doing wireless 'cheap'. Look for the local free wireless community web pages that have tips, tricks, howto's etc.

One I frequent is http://www.e3.com.au/ (which is a western australia based 'freenet' site).

There are links on there on making antenna's, etc.

A good online shop is http://www.freenet-antennas.com which is again, Australian. There are instructions on there on how to make a small aluminium 'brick' antenna (like the one i made), very easy, you just need a hacksaw and drill. This site also has info on other commerical antenna's.

good luck
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Old Oct 10, 2006, 02:37 PM   #13
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'Ta, Cybix! I appreciate your time and the links to the Land of Oz. I like the notion of DIY solutions -- although I can claim lots of DIY practice, I cannot claim a great degree of DIY proficiency. But I enjoy the attempts almost as much as the successes

Since I have 1000% more e-z info to work toward a solution, may I reveal some curiosity about the general issue of reception/signal strength?

Not long ago, a colleague and I were meeting at the local indie coffeeshop that is wildly popular not only for its mean cup of java, but also for its free Wi-Fi and for being at the bulls-eye of numerous free hotspots that converge there from the surrounding neighborhood. We were working side-by-side at the same table on a joint project we have -- he on his older Dell laptop, me on my newer P'book. When the time came to upload our files to the client's website, his system listed numerous free Wi-Fi signals of considerable strength, all of which he was able to use (even a Linksys that faded in and out on my Airport from 1 of 15 bars to 0 of 15 every couple of minutes). My P'book listed less than half of those hotspots and I was able to use only two of them. That was the end of his Mac envy. :::i hung my head in chagrin:::

Can anyone shed some light on this?
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Old Oct 10, 2006, 06:57 PM   #14
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Well, the PowerBooks use metal (aluminium mostly) as their shell. It looks very pretty but it has a few problems, one of which is the unfortunate ability to reflect wireless signals. Therefore, less waves manage to get to the antenna so your reception isn't as strong. The MacBook Pros unfortunately have a similar problem. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it. Sorry mate.

Conversely, the iBook and regular MacBook generally get outstanding reception.
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Old Oct 10, 2006, 08:06 PM   #15
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I have a similar dilemma. What I would like to do ideally would be to hook up the cantenna through USB. Does anybody know if this can be done?

I.e. is there an adapter that connects a RPSMA plug (I think that's what the cable on the Cantenna is called) to a USB port?
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Old Oct 10, 2006, 08:15 PM   #16
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I don't know about USB, but the Cantenna website mentions using a MCX-Plug Laptop Adapter with AirPorts, however this won't work with all AirPort cards/Macs. What Mac do you have ribbonthecat?
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Old Oct 10, 2006, 08:57 PM   #17
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Yeah, I've noted that. I have a 12'' PB, so that won't work. But thanks.
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Old Oct 10, 2006, 09:11 PM   #18
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Crap. So is plugging the Cantenna into the router (rather than the PowerBook) an option?
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Old Oct 10, 2006, 09:14 PM   #19
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I don't have a router, but one of those access points, which picks up the signal from one of my University's dorms across the street and rebroadcasts it though my flat. Problem is, it doesn't broadcast reliably to my half of the apartment, and we can't connect the Cantenna, because we need something that is omnidirectional to pick up the signal.
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Old Oct 11, 2006, 05:04 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by mad jew
Well, the PowerBooks use metal (aluminium mostly) as their shell. It looks very pretty but it has a few problems, one of which is the unfortunate ability to reflect wireless signals. Therefore, less waves manage to get to the antenna so your reception isn't as strong. The MacBook Pros unfortunately have a similar problem. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it. Sorry mate.

Conversely, the iBook and regular MacBook generally get outstanding reception.
MJ, interesting about the metal case interfering with the Wi-Fi signal and yet, not a surprise because I'm certain my iBook picked up signals much better. It's disappointing, though :-[
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Old Oct 11, 2006, 05:09 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by ribbonthecat
I don't have a router, but one of those access points, which picks up the signal from one of my University's dorms across the street and rebroadcasts it though my flat. Problem is, it doesn't broadcast reliably to my half of the apartment, and we can't connect the Cantenna, because we need something that is omnidirectional to pick up the signal.
Hmm, sounds very similar to my dilemma. So, why oh why oh why, doesn't Apple have a handier (and more portable) solution to this "I can't signal in/out here" issue. I'm imagining something about the size of a pack of ciggies, maybe?, easy to throw in the bag with all the other necessary goodies....
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Old Oct 13, 2006, 11:39 AM   #22
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Regarding the comment about the TiBooks and Aluminum PBooks and MBPro's...totally true. Had a TiBook for about 3 years and that machine had pretty great reception if I was near a hotspot. However, if I went just a little outside the most consistent range, it practically died or kept reconnecting.

Picked up a MacBook 2 months ago...amazing. I've been picking up wireless networks from across the street with full signal...had maybe 1 or 2 bars with the TiBook.
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Old Oct 14, 2006, 06:04 PM   #23
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:::sigh:::

My kingdom for a signal ;-)
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