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I moved into a new place and my old Wi-Fi router just doesn't have the range to get into all the rooms. I've been investigating a lot of options and I'm wondering what other folks have done here. Moving the current location of my primary Wi-Fi router is not an option thanks to our cable provider and our landlord.

  • Buy a bigger, beefier router (seems expensive). If so, should I go for one of those draft 802.11n ones to avoid microwave/other Wi-Fi router interference?
  • Set up a router with DD-WRT as a repeater
  • Leech the neighbors' open Wi-Fi access point.

Alright, I was kidding about the last one but I'm genuinely curious as to what my best option is.

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Before you buy something, try making your own parabolic reflector using paper and foil.

Aim it at the areas that are having difficulty. It will compromise signal slightly on the other side of the dish, so pick the more important side. I'm using 2 right now, and one of them delivers a signal across a parking lot and into a separate building.

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You could use DD-WRT as a repeater, but I've read that if you only have 1 antenna, it will have to use that for both sending and receiving, cutting your speed in half.

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Also, if DD-WRT is on your router, you can increase the default signal strength or pick a channel others aren't using like 11. – hyperslug Aug 4 '09 at 7:38
you ARE a superuser – bobobobo Aug 4 '09 at 11:55
No matter how many antennas your router has, if it only has 1 radio (very common even if it has more than one antenna), it will cut your speed in half. The only way to avoid it is to use 2 radios in 2 different channels (both radios can, of course, share the same antenna). – CesarB Sep 12 '09 at 2:26
@CesarB, good catch; it should be radio, not antenna. – hyperslug Sep 12 '09 at 15:25

You could try some boosting tricks,

alt text

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I have used the Hawking Range Extenders in the past with great success. The Hi-Gain WiFi Signal Booster works quite well too. You can also grab a high gain omni-directional antenna if you truly want to dominate the neighbors' wireless. :)

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Use an appropriate antenna. The gain (pun intended :-) ) of using a slightly better antenna almost always is greater than even adding an amplifier or more powerful transceiver. Find an antenna with a radiation pattern that matches your environment and you'll be amazed at the difference over the rubber duck/dummy load that your device comes with!

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The default antennas on cheap WLAN APs indeed are not the best omnidirectional antennas you can get. – Zds Aug 9 '11 at 21:26

There are a few cheap ways you can try to get a better range.

I've solved it by buying a powerful linksys model router which covers my house and exterior. A nice way to solve your problem would be to buy another router and connect it to a network cable and put the router in a accespoint mode.

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The URL for the Makezine blog has changed. I believe this is the correct URL. – HairOfTheDog Jul 8 at 17:59

If an antenna doesn't do it, a MIMO router worked for me.

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You might consider using some landlord-friendly powerline network adapters to extend your wired network out to the remote rooms, and then you can install another WAP there on another radio channel with the same SSID and security settings so that any connected devices can roam freely between the two WAPs seamlessly.

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