Erratic Airport Extreme Signal - Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Kelmon, May 29, 2005.

  1. Kelmon macrumors 6502a

    Kelmon

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #1
    Hi Guys,

    OK, this is bugging the hell out of me. About a week ago I finally managed to get a representative from Belgacom to come and sort out our telephone and ADSL problems, which he managed to do so a big "hurrah" there. Additionally, I also asked him to setup one of the telephone sockets in our office upstairs so that it can connect to the ADSL (landlord installed a wacky PBX-esque system in the apartment so that you can call other rooms (it ain't that big) but seems to require sockets to be "initialised" so that they can receive an ADSL signal). This was duely done and the modem, printer, and Airport Extreme base station were moved into the office instead of littering up the guest bedroom. Unfortunately, this movement of the base station has meant that my signal strength downstairs has gone to hell...

    The apartment isn't very big but is duplex with the Airport Extreme station located upstairs. I am presently sat downstairs and about 8 meters away from the station itself (as the crow flies, although it'll have to pass through a floor of unknown construction, so it'll be a dented crow) and I'm getting 2-bars signal strength (or 60% according to the Air Traffic Control widget) on my PowerBook Ti 1Ghz. The problem is, the signal strength is not only weak, it's exceedingly erratic and can go from a 4-bars signal to none at all at the drop of a hat. If I move about 4-meters further can in the apartment (irritatingly, to the position where I want to use the laptop) then I often get no signal at all. My query comes down to the following:

    1. Why is my signal likely to be crap in a small apartment where 802.11b/g is expected to give me 150' range (outside)?

    2. Why is my signal fluctuating so much? Neither myself nor the Airport Extreme base station is moving...

    So far I have tried changing the broadcast channel and setting the station to reduce interference, neither of which made the slightest difference. What does worry me a bit is that the office contains a lot of books (although they are all behind the base station) and that paper is apparently really bad for the signal. I am not aware of the exact construction of the apartment's floor (probably papier mâché or something judging by the overall build quality) but there are no metal objects, such as an immersion heater, between myself and the station.

    Any suggestions (particularly those that can suggest solutions) would be greatfully received.
     
  2. ITASOR macrumors 601

    ITASOR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    Oneida, NY
    #2
    I would suggest getting a Linksys WRT54G at your local Walmart for $49 and then getting the longer antennas there as well ($14). I get WAY better signal with this than an airport base station, because of the huge antennas!

    You may also want to try raising the base station higher in the air...for some reason this helped me one time.
     
  3. Kelmon thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Kelmon

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #3
    Well, Walmart have yet to make it to Europe yet (with the possible exception of Asda supermarkets in the UK) and, where possible, I'd prefer to avoid buying another router. This said, we are looking at changing to cable Internet at the moment so we can save a reasonable amount of cash by cutting off the phone line and using Skype in conjunction with a mobile phone, and Telenet are doing a cheap deal on a wireless setup. Not sure which router they are offering...

    Anyway, the statement about raising the height of the router is interesting. Where you on the same floor as the router? At the moment raising the Airport Extreme would take it further away from me but if that'll improve the situation then I'm game to give it a go...
     
  4. r6girl Administrator/Editor

    r6girl

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2003
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #4
    have you checked the connection of your airport card to the antenna wire in your powerbook? if this gets loose, it can cause the erratic reception you're getting. it's a simple potential solution, but i mention it because it doesn't sound like it's been tried yet...

    also, i'd found that turning on interference robustness actually decreases the signal range, so i'm not sure that is helping you.

    marianne
     
  5. Kelmon thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Kelmon

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #5
    Uh oh. That sounds distinctly open-heart... I'll give it a whirl since it sounds pretty reasonable and, to be honest, I've had a few issues with the Airport card on occasion. This might explain everything, although cracking open the case worries me somewhat. I'll check out the tech docs since I assume this process is described somewhere, probably around the installation of the card itself. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  6. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    #6
    considering if it isn't your pb antenna you should try these things.

    you should get http://www.macstumbler.com/. you will be able to see all the WAP and what channels. 1,6, and 11 are the non-overlapping channels and you should select one of those. most WAP use one of those by default.

    other sources of interference could be a 2.4 ghz telephone.

    buying a bigger antenna (for your extreme) and or a airport express as a repeater will boost your reception and signal. I had a friend who had a constant battle in her apartment building then adding 2 airport express with her basestation. her signal won the interference war. 2 expresses was over kill, but she had money to spend.

    moving your extreme to a better location may help too. near copper pipes, water heater, microwave etc is bad for it.
     

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