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this is my first question on StackExchange so pardon if my formatting is a bit weird.

I'm moving to the house next to my in-law and would like to avoid having to pay for service when I'm so close to them and they've agreed to let us use their WiFi. The houses are about 20 feet apart and I can pick up a weak, slow signal.

My in-law, wife, and me, both live in reinforced concrete houses.

The goal:

Get a better signal for my laptop (about 30 feet away from the house, 50-60 feet from the access point) and then use my laptop to repeat the signal throughout the house.

Questions: Can it be done?

How do I make sure I get a good signal, do I need to point it to the router? I don't have a line of sight on it from the house

If not, what can be done?

Component 1:

High gain antenna

Component 2:

USB Dongle antenna

Thanks in advance guys!

  • What device are you using to pick up the week signal? – davidgo May 23 at 1:50
  • I'd be connecting the antenna to my laptop, the plan is to pick up the signal with the larger antenna and then use my laptop to repeat it through the house. Thanks for replying! – Pedro Gonzalez May 23 at 1:59
  • Are there any windows on the walls facing each other? Window glass lets most 2.4 GHz wifi signal through. You might also consider just stringing up a long Ethernet cord between houses. – Christopher Hostage May 23 at 4:31
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Yes, this can be done - we can say this with confidence because you already get a signal. You just need to improve on it. Unfortunately Concrete absorbs a lot of signal.

No one can tell you a perfect guaranteed solution without knowing detail about the environment and placement possibilities, but understanding the following can be useful in helping you solve the problem.

  1. Lower frequencies are better at travelling through obstacles then high ones. That means you are likely to get better results in the 2.4 gig band then the 5 gig band.

  2. Yes, direction matters higher gain antennas listen on a smaller area. The more directional the higher the signal compared to the noise. ( This is less true of devices with multiple antennas)

  3. If you can have an external device you will pick up more signal, failing which if you can aim through a window to their property you will get more signal then going through concrete.

  4. Not all WIFI devices are created equal. There are big differences between sensitivity of different devices, and a lot comes down to signal to noise ratio. I can't comment on the stuff you linked from China - it may work, but its not likely to work as well as prosumer gear.

  5. If you are on a super tight budget, Google Cantenna and Pringles Can WiFi. They can help you hack stuff cheaply by focussing beams.

  6. When you have the signal, how are you going to distribute it in your home? You might find an AP client with decent antennas will be a better fit then a USB dongle solution on your laptop. Can you get a decent AP or router which has an Acess Point Client mode that you can return if it doesn't work, and can you use Ethernet to plug this in to your laptop?

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  • Thank you davidgo, to answer your questions, I was planning on using any application on my laptop to connect other devices on my computer. I will check out pringles cans and plan to eventually get an Access point setup so I don't have a the laptop always running. And you guessed it, I am indeed on a very tight budget. Thanks again for your reply. – Pedro Gonzalez May 23 at 2:24
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    @tim_Stewart - 5 gig band. Good catch. Thank you. – davidgo May 23 at 19:23

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