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I have a wireless router downstairs in my house, and a PC and printer upstairs. Unfortunately he PC (or printer) does not have wireless, only an Ethernet port.

What would be the best product or solution for getting the upstairs PC and printer connected to the home network (and internet)? Can I use some sort of HUB/switch that connects wirelessly to the router down stairs but gives me some ports to plug into? What am I looking for? I don't really know much about networking etc.

I was thinking of using a wireless dongle or even an internal PC card, but then can I connect my printer to the network too?

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You would want a wireless repeater. Which would basically piggy back off of the the wifi signal. The only down fall is it cuts the bandwidth in half (on the repeater side). One way to avoid buying one is if you have an old router laying around the house you can see if it is dd-wrt compatible and you could make a repeater out of that.

You could get a wifi dongle. If you do I personally recommend a usb dongle that you can put on the front of the desktop. Internal cards tend to get cramped into the back and can get interference. Then connect the printer to the pc and share the printer on your local network as well.

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You only need a wireless repeater if you need to extend the range of the wifi signal. A router can be used as a wireless bridge, which doesn't affect the bandwidth at all. I believe you mean dd-wrt. Tomato-wrt can also be used. –  Velociraptors Aug 22 '10 at 4:06
    
Most routers I have seen can't bridge wifi on their own. –  MrStatic Aug 22 '10 at 4:59
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@Velociraptors You should post your comment as an answer –  Adam Harte Aug 22 '10 at 5:26
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The easiest might be to get a USB WIFI dongle for the PC. Attach the printer to the PC and share it.

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I use a Linksys WRT54GL running DD-WRT as a wireless bridge. It doesn't affect bandwidth like a wireless repeater.

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In theory, it seems like the quickest way to do this is MrStatic's wifi dongle on the PC and sharing the printer. I've done this before on a Windows XP and Vista machine and it has never been stable. Any trouble with that PC (lockups, windows-update-reboots, random configuration issues) and that printer is out of action.

In practice, the most network trouble-free way I've used is a wireless bridge, once you get it set up. I've only seen one router that could do this out of the box and it could only handle 1 client (Cisco Aironet 1131ag).

I'm not quick to recommend DD-WRT to just everyone, since it requires loading a 3rd party firmware which will possibly brick your router and definitely void your warranty, but it handles this situation with ease and rock solid stability. In addition to wireless bridge, it has a repeater bridge mode, in which:

  • devices physically connected bridge switch have no performance penalty (other than signal loss)
  • devices connecting to the repeated signal take the 1/2 bandwidth penalty alt text

Check their router database to see if a router you have supports DD-WRT. Some common brick and mortar options include a lot of the Linksys WRT54's and some Netgears. I've found D-link and Belkin to be usually uncooperative. Asus is probably the best if you can get it online. See more examples here: http://www.gazaro.com/deals?q=dd-wrt.

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