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I've got a computer set up in the basement of our house and it connects via Wi-Fi to a router I've got set up on the ground floor. Now the signal seems to be strong enough, but there are times when pages fail to load, videos fail to buffer properly and even file transfers from PCs on the upper floor take forever and then end up failing. I get on average 2-3 bars out of 5 according to XP but I notice that the "Speed" label in the XP Wireless connection status page fluctuates from 11-54 Mbps constantly which, I've read, is a sign that the signal is low quality or weak (can anyone confirm that?).

I scoured the web for info on DIY wifi boosters and found this, but all of the applications seem to be focused on outdoor usage. Would this type of antenna be suitable for boosting signal indoors, with plenty of thick concrete walls and furniture to get by? I'm thinking of building a simple one out of a wok I've got lying around and then pointing it in the direction of the router, and I'm imagining that the effect would be akin to cupping your hand around your ear in order to hear someone speaking to you over some background noise, but is that even an accurate analogy?

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I guess you have eliminated the wired choice? If you could get a cable run to the basement you could have a wifi access point there. –  Paul Nov 5 '11 at 4:42
    
Wired isn't an option. The layout of the house from basement to router wouldn't make it practical. I've taken a look at some of the solutions listed in the first link, I don't think they'll work either. My router is a TP-LINK WR740N which is listed as WIP in dd-wrt's supported device list, so using custom firmware is out of the question. Secondly, parabolic reflectors seem to be OK but wouldn't putting them on the AP restrict it's usage to one direction only? I've got PC's on all sides of the AP and wouldn't want to increase performance for one at the cost of the others. –  cornjuliox Nov 5 '11 at 14:43
    
Have you thought about using powerline as backbone for a second hotspot? –  Jens Erat Nov 6 '11 at 1:21

2 Answers 2

How good is the signal on the ceiling of the basement?

I am thinking you could mount a wireless WDS access point as physically near to the upstairs wifi as possible, perhaps even moving the upstairs one to accommodate it. If you can get a wireless repeater (WDS) to get a good signal, then no need for any diy antenna solutions.

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"on the ceiling"? What do you mean by that? –  cornjuliox Nov 5 '11 at 14:58
    
The ceiling of the basement, which I imagined to be the nearest place to the router upstairs from the basement. If you could mount a WDS wireless repeater on the ceiling, perhaps near the stairs wherever the signal is strongest, you may not need a different antenna solution. –  Paul Nov 5 '11 at 22:43
    
Ah. I see now, the thing is the basement isn't really directly underneath the floor the router is on. If you imagine yourself standing next to the router, the basement would be one floor below and to the northeast somewhat. –  cornjuliox Nov 7 '11 at 1:52

Have you tried reorienting the antenna(e) on your router so that they point horizontally rather than vertically? The vertical orientation is optimized for a single-floor layout, and the radiation off the ends of the antenna(e) is minimal compared to the radiation from the "face".

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Haven't thought of that one, I'll try it when I get the chance, would tipping the antenna sideways affect computers on the same floor as the router? –  cornjuliox Nov 7 '11 at 1:50
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The signal radiates out in a sort of increasing cylinder from the antenna. If the antenna is tipped flat then the weakest signal will be off the end of the antenna and 180 degrees opposite that. The signal will be equally strong at points around the antenna. So ideally you should orient the antenna so that a perpendicular line drawn from the the antenna more or less points at computers on the same floor, if you're going to set it flat to radiate up and down. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 7 '11 at 4:21

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