How can I improve my wireless?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by pulsewidth947, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. pulsewidth947 macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    squarefrog.co.uk
    #1
    Just got the new Powerbook, woo! Everythings awesome 'cept Airport. I got my router (Belkin one, dunno which model.. but I know its a B, not G) upstairs and I can connect with my Powerbook downstairs, but it wont let me view any webpages. The signal thing in the menu bar says 2 bars, but nothing will load. Settings are all fine as it works if I'm stood nearer the router.

    I know the room I want to use WiFi in isnt dead, as my PC laptop picks up the signal (admittedly on low or ok strength, never good or excellent). I cant really justify spending £180 on an Airport Base Station and Airport Express, so does anyone know how I can improve my signal strength?

    I've heard about repeaters which would allow me to improve the coverage of my router, which sounds nice, but I cant find any that Belkin made (or are compatible with).
     
  2. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #2
    My wife has a 15" PowerBook and had problems with her wireless connection also. From other members that post the PowerBook can be problematic due to aluminum case. In her case after installing 10.3.9 and now Tiger the wireless connection strength has improved.

    The Airport Express is designed to extend the distance of the wireless area. If you live near an Apple Store see how the wireless connection works there. That way you will know that your PowerBook is functioning properly. My wife had a hardware problem earlier.
     
  3. dsharits macrumors 68000

    dsharits

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    Jun 19, 2004
    Location:
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    #3
    My wireless reception on my iBook also improved significantly with Tiger. It was always at three bars with Panther, but now it is at four bars most of the time. I don't know what they did differently, but it makes a difference.
     
  4. Eniregnat macrumors 68000

    Eniregnat

    Joined:
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    Location:
    In your head.
    #4
    Hawkingtech will soon offer a nice little portable external wifi router (with high-gain antenna) that will double as a wifi locater (looks a little like a StarTrek tricorder)

    I think that Tiger dosn't do much, other than set the scale for good connectivity diffrently. Kind of like haveing an amplifer that goes to 11, its just louder. "These go to 11." I'm not saying that Apple is pulling the wool over our eyes, but rather they are correcting the scale. Tiger fixed the scaleing problem.

    The only way I can think of testing the signal strength accurately is to use programs like iStumbler or KisMac, both of which have panther and tiger versions. KisMac often picks up wifi signals at a lower level and you can join a network though the KisMac application.

    Use KisMac to see what the actual signal strength is (os independent scaleing). Also iStumbler (has a cool top floating ghost window) and MacStumbler are simpler wireless utilities, but they have their place.

    If you get really advanced, and you want to mod the battery pack on a PB (where the card plugs in) you can drill out part of the lip and connect a Pringles can antenna (they work, even better when incorporated with a yaggi antenna) . This is more trouble than it’s worth and I wouldn’t void my warranty or AppleCare plan. Pringles Can mods (really just 1/5 wave tubler reflectors with 1/4 or 1/2 wave antena) work best if both the base station and the computer have been modified. I don’t think you will find too much written about moding your PB for better reception online. Base station mods are all over the place (it's easy if your wireless router or Airport has an external antenna out.www.Airshare.org

    Lasty, and perhaps most importantly, for better wireless reception, build a AFDB. Also good against certain high level surveillance methods used by the U.S. Government and by alien entities. ;)

    I admit that some of this is recycled.

    Also, a used AirPort express is a good tool to use as a wireless repeater. Just a thought.
     
  5. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
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    squarefrog.co.uk
    #5
    Unforunately, the Powerbook is 2 days old, so it already has Tiger on. I know wireless does work as I can use it fine if I'm a bit closer, hence my need for a signal booster :)

    Thanks for the laugh Eniregnat and the Spinal Tap quote. God I love that film!

    Looks like I'll have to look at Airport express. Not great as I've just spent all this money on a Powerbook (which I'm not using right now - on the PC so I can use the bloody wireless in the front room!). The best price I can find is about £80, which is nearly triple what I paid for my router.. snide.

    Thanks for the links to the programs, but I found a link to a site (which incedentilly uses the same programs as you mentioned) which explains how to crack WEP encryption. I might just find my neighbours WEP code and use his access downstairs.

    Not that I condone that kind of activity, but leaving your SSID as Linksys is pretty stupid :)
     
  6. dsharits macrumors 68000

    dsharits

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    #6
    Even if you do end up buying an AirPort Express, you won't be disappointed with it. Those things are just plain cool.
    :cool:
     
  7. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
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    #7
    Not being in debt is cool too :cool:

    Well seeing as my first Powerbook payment comes out next month, I might just accidentally order one.. good thing I dont have a wife to explain my purchases too!
     
  8. dsharits macrumors 68000

    dsharits

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    #8
    Not having a wife is definitely a good thing, in that case. :p
     
  9. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
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    squarefrog.co.uk
    #9
    Well I've done some Googling and it looks like my router (Belkin F5D6231-4)doesnt support WDS. So I'm stuck with three choices -
    1. Don't use Powerbook downstairs (this is unfair, not to mention antisocial!)
    2. Dont use Powerbook downstairs, and resort to using PC laptop (again, thats very very unfair!)
    3. Buy a new router (Linksys one?) and an Airport Express (this will cost me a LOT of money so I dont really want to do this)

    Why is it you spend lots of money on a brand new computer only to find that you have to spend another £200 just to get something working, which previously worked fine?! I reckon some marketing guy in IT figured that out, and is living like a fat cat in a beautiful mansion (with 100% wireless access no doubt!) while we all suffer in misery?!

    rant rant rant..
     
  10. Eniregnat macrumors 68000

    Eniregnat

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Location:
    In your head.
    #10
    Sorry, it may be time for a new router.

    Post the model number.

    Try repositioning it, side ways, angles, as far as the ethernet cable will go etc.

    It might be worth doing a home style hack on the base unit.

    On the other hand it is just a B router, not a BG.

    Your right. Technolgy should be just perfect. I spend a lot of time going to friends houses and working out cheap fixes to problems (both WinTel and Mac).

    I didn't think that the base station had to accept WDS to be used by another router that did. I thought that the AirportExpress can connect automaticly (or configured), and that your computer can then connect the AirPort Express in relay. I thought that if you set your router as a static address and chanel any WDS router could connect in chain. I guess I have to read up.

    An in elegant solution is to run ethernet cable down stairs and reposition the wirless router there.

    It seems that there should be a better solution than spending a bunch of money.

    I still recomend using KisMac to see exsactly how far below the router you need to go before the signal drops. Also you can check for signal interferance via other wirless sources, like phones. Changeing channels might also help. Disable interference robustness and you also get range. Also if your router allows for multicasting, disable it (set it to 1) and your range will increase.
     
  11. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
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    squarefrog.co.uk
    #11
    AWWWW MAAAN! The model number is F5D6231-4, its an 802.11b (not g), with 4 ethernet ports as well. Which is why repositioning is problematic - I got 3 computers up here with no wifi (2 PCs and a Mac Mini.. not all mine!)

    Well the majority of that went over my head :) I read that my router doesnt support WDS in the firmware, so if anyone can confirm that this Airport shizzle can work around it (to be honest I know nothing about airport). I really dont wanna spend £90 only to find that it doesnt work and I have to spend another £44 on a Linksys router.

    Yeah I'll look at KisMac tomorrow, is it real time? I had some widgets and they updated every second so as I was walking I couldnt figure out where the access actually stopped. My router doesnt allow multicasting so I can rule that out, and I havent used Interference Robustness (I wondered what it was tho)

    I guess KisMac will just show me where I can recieve Wireless, so I'll still have my problem but at least I'll know where to stand.

    If all goes pear shaped and I end up having to sell my router on eBay, I can probably get back the £25 I bought it for (buying secondhand rules!)
     
  12. thecow macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2003
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    Timonium MD
    #12
    I think that the B standard has a lower range than the G standard, so you could just sell your old router on ebay and wait for a rebate or something and get a nice new linksys router. You don't need an apple one and IMO they are very overpriced and not really and better than the linksys ones.
     
  13. dsharits macrumors 68000

    dsharits

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    #13
    it may even be easier than that. You may be able to find a new, longer range antenna for it. However, I strongly recommend getting an 802.11g router. The speed difference alone is worth it.
     
  14. 7on macrumors 601

    7on

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    Dress Rosa
    #14
    Unless you need a wireless print server
     
  15. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    squarefrog.co.uk
    #15
    right.. i'm just gonna drive to PC world and get the Linksys WRT54G. Seems to get good reviews, and even if I'm stuck in the same situation, at least it supports WDS.

    I dont need a print server, as I can just switch the computer on that has the printer and print thru that :)

    I dont really need the improved bandwidth of G as I never transfer files over wireless. If I wanna transfer I'll stick a ethernet cable in or Firewire 800 my HD :D
     
  16. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    squarefrog.co.uk
    #16
    A resolution!

    Well I jumped in my car and went to PC World, they didnt have any :O across the road was Maplin so I went there, but it was £25 quid more than if I ordered it off Amazon. As I'm impatient I just bought it anyway, hoping that it wouldnt be a waste of money.

    And actually it wasnt :D I'm sat in my front room using the wireless on the new router - admittedly its at 2 bars in Internet connect, but who cares - its working!

    So even though I had to spend more to get it today, I've got it and its working. I'm only using WEP at the moment, but I want to change it to WPA as soon as I am sure it'll work with both PCs and Macs.

    Thanks for all your suggestions, it always boils down to spending more money doesnt it!
     
  17. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #17
    I found that my wireless reception in my PB actually got BETTER when I installed Tiger.

    Personally, I think Belkin makes extremely poor quality goods. They're cheap, and you get what you pay for, not to say you need to go with something expensive like an Airport system. ABS's aren't worth it. I think the problem is partially with your Belkin.

    I have a NetGear WGR614 that I'm quite happy with. Fairly good range and uptime.
     
  18. sephim macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #18
    Have you tried Pringles? (the can anyway)

    Found an interesting article in the June 2005 issue of MacAddict about using pringles cans to boost your airport range. I can't find any of the article in print online, but if you can't get your hands on that issue, i'm sure a simple google (or your preferred search engine) of the phrase "boost wireless pringles" or a reasonable facsimile should yield some interesting if not resourceful information.
    best of luck.
     
  19. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    squarefrog.co.uk
    #19
    Yeah the pringles can is a good, providing you have a card with an external aerial, which I dont as the Airport card is installed internally in my Powerbook.

    This linksys router seems to work alright - it was incredibly powerfull the first day, it seems to have reduced in power these past couple of days, but a router reset will probably cure that. I guess I just need the WRE54G expander for downstairs to improve my wireless reception.
     
  20. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #20
    Glad it's working (better!)! It's another case of you get what you pay for from Belkin, eh?
     
  21. pulsewidth947 thread starter macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
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    #21
    I suppose, but to be honest I bought it second hand off ebay for £25, and its been absolutely brilliant up until now. The signal quality in the front room is still acceptable with that Belkin router on a PC. Just on my Powerbook it doesnt like the internal antennae I guess.
     

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