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My router is in my family room, and there's not much I can do to move it, it's in the corner of the house. My room and computer is upstairs and I only get a signal strength of about 17 percent while the one down the hall gets 65 percent.

I'm wondering if it's due to my cheap airlink card and if I should invest in a Linksys one for 10 bucks. I also want to mention that my router is running DD-WRT and is a wireless g router while the card I have in this computer is a wireless N card.

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Is 17% actually causing problems, or do you just want a higher percentage? :-) –  Chris W. Rea Sep 24 '09 at 0:37
    
My connection spikes in games, and it's not the vista wireless spike cause I have wlan optimizer running, and I get random drops. –  L1th1um Sep 24 '09 at 0:38

8 Answers 8

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You could boost your signal. Typically the power is set at 28 milli watt(mW). In order to boost signal you will have to install 3rd party firmware. I have had 3rd party firmware on my router for years and have boosted my signal to 200 mW with out any problems. It should be noted that with increased power comes higer temeretures that may negativily impact the lifetime of other components in the router. I have just started using dd-wrt as a firmware provider and they seem to do the job nicely - and it's free.
http://www.dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv3/index.php

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The cheapest solution - often works miracles:

Boost Your Wireless Signal With a Parabolic Reflector

alt text

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I did this with my router. A can boosted my sister's (next room) signal by about 60%, but I lost a lot (what with it being more focused). Something more like this improved everything :D –  Phoshi Sep 24 '09 at 14:05
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always puzzles my why routers are placed nicely in "the family room in a corner of the house" as if they were a bloody piece of furniture. wifi routers require strategic placement in the first place or you end up spending money on range extenders, wlan adapter replacements and the likes. :) –  Molly7244 Sep 24 '09 at 14:13

I recommend getting either one of three things:

  1. wireless N base station - N has a better base range

  2. wireless range extender - I have one of these and it works quite well.

  3. a second router with DD-WRT and set up WDS

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I recently hugely improved the wireless signal to all parts of my house by putting the router on a shelf by itself, further away from the wall than it had previously been, and free of encroachment from books and piles of clutter which had been accumulating around it. Not sure about the percentage change, but it was enough to make streamed video work in places which couldn't even sustain a stable connection before.

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You might want to try a "windsurfer"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwW26jNWAQE

as a cheap first way to improve your coverage. I think the easiest way I can describe the shape of wifi coverage is as a squashed sphere with the widest part perpendicular to your antenna and the narrowest part along the length of the antenna.

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Brick walls indeed do bad to signal penetration. The more dense the wall, the more it blocks 2.4G frequencies. Steel-reinforced concrete is obviously the worst, because steel mesh is very good at blocking electromagnetic radiation.

Installing more access points, using directional antennas and scanning for good channels helps. I use Android app called Wifi Analyzer to see what channels are occupied by neighboring networks. Using 802.11a and 5GHz frequency helps with other traffic, but penetrates walls worse.

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Well, Linksys cards aren't the best either. Orinocco is pretty good, I hear. Anyway, I'd say the two ways to improve your signal would be putting a more powerful antenna on the router or putting a more powerful antenna on your wireless card (and/or get a better card, like you were thinking about). Disclaimer: I've read about wireless stuff, but all I have is a crappy Broadcom b/g mini-card in my Dell notebook. Other answers may be better.

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A more powerful antenna is an antenna with higher gain. If you do want more power, that's the amp and not the antenna. Arguably semantics, but if you're going to be building your own to get a better signal, you need to separate these notions :-) –  Nerdling Sep 24 '09 at 1:12
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Higher gain antenna is almost always going to be cheaper than more output power. First, deploy the best antenna for the job, then check cabling, THEN worry about the actual power generated at the equipment. –  Brian Knoblauch Sep 24 '09 at 13:33

If you look through the advanced wireless setting option in the dd-wrt firmware there is an option of increasing the transmission strength.

Wireless -> Advanced Settings -> TX Power

Don't set the value to high because it will cause the router to overheat and probably get fried in case of improper ventilation.

You could try switching channels, I have had luck with that.

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