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I've got primary router that handles the connection out to the internet, acts as a switch and broadcasts a fairly weak wifi signal. This is connected to a decent 200Mbps powerline adapter which comes out in another part of the house. The far end of the powerline adapter connects to a 5-port gigabit switch.

The problem is that the wifi signal is terrible in the room that has the gigabit switch, so I'm looking to get something to improve the signal. Ideally, this something would have the same SSID and setup as the main wifi router, so that wireless devices in my home can just connect to whichever is closest seamlessly.

From the research I've done, it seems I want some kind of repeater, but from what I've read most repeaters just use the weak wireless signal they can pick up and rebroadcast it stronger. I'd guess that I'd get a faster and more reliable connection if I could somehow make use of powerline adapter and switch set-up for this, rather than eventually ultimately routing through the weak wifi signal.

The current switch has a single ethernet port free to connect another device. What device(s) should I connect? I'm happy to either put something in the free ethernet slot purely to improve the wifi signal, or I'm happy to replace the entire switch (I'd still need at least 4 ports).

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Would a WAP attached to the switch not work for some reason? –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 11 '12 at 23:09
    
The repeater would be doing its job, would it not? Amplifying the signal over a distance? –  ekaj Mar 12 '12 at 12:27

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Any device with even rudimentary 802.11 Access Point (AP) functionality would be a fine choice here. Note that almost all products sold as "wireless routers" have this functionality even if they don't call it out on those terms.

In some cases, you can turn off NAT and DHCP services on the wireless router, and their WAN port ends up getting bridged in with their other LAN ports. In other cases, the device always has NAT enabled between LAN and WAN, so you have to just not use the WAN port (plug a LAN port into your 5-port GigE switch), and if you can't turn off the DHCP service completely, give it a zero-length address pool (range of addresses to hand out). The point is that you want your remote AP to just be an AP, and not interfere with your main AP's ability to act as the sole NAT gateway and DHCP server for your network.

As you're discovering, the devices that call themselves "wireless repeaters" aren't what you're looking for—they're for people who don't have a wired backhaul, and need to use wireless as the backhaul between their main AP and their remote AP. They're "wireless to wireless" repeaters.

For more information, see my Answer here: Multiple access points for the same SSID?

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That's excellent. Fills in the gaps I had nicely, and the other answer helps with some of the set-up detail. –  GaryF Mar 12 '12 at 20:13

As @Spiff said, sounds like you are looking for an access point... some other thoughts:

Good placement of access points is important so I would look into doing a simple wireless survey. You can find free tools online to help with this-- I recommend NetSpot if you are on a Mac ( http://www.netspotapp.com ), but a spreadsheet and any tool that measures signal strength could do.

Also, make sure you are on a channel that is not saturated with other WIFI networks (try channel 1 or 11 for example).

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I said he was looking for an AP, but not a repeater. That was kind of the main point of my answer. –  Spiff Mar 12 '12 at 0:09

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