How to extend a wifi network at home.
September 15, 2008 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Help extending a wireless network? I have a Time Capsule acting as my primary wifi base station. It's in the living room, attached to the only DSL line in the house. It has a great signal all over the house...except of course in my office, in the back room. Any good ideas how to extend the network back there? A few more details inside.

The walls are thick plaster, so I think they're basically blocking the signal, because it's not physically that far from the Time Capsule to the room in question. I can get a full signal from some very minute areas of my desk, but if the MacBook gets moved even a millimeter, the network can't even be found! And it's not the exact same location each time, so I can't just mark X where the Macbook goes.

It's pretty much impossible to run an ethernet cord from the router to the office - it's across a big hallway and through several rooms. We rent, so no major drilling.

I do have an older Airport Extreme Base Station (802.11g - the dome shaped one). But I know that setting that up will effectively make the wireless bandwidth 1/2 of the slower speed, right?

Totally willing to buy something else (or make something) if it's about $50 or less. But I don't really want to plug something into my computer each time I sit down - those little antennas look annoying. Would even consider buying something more expensive if it's pretty guaranteed to work. Repeater? New Airport Express with 802.11n?

This has been driving me nuts for months -- would be so grateful for any help you can offer!
posted by barnone to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Someone just emailed me. Yes, I've tried just using the Airport Extreme as the base station instead of the Time Capsule. It's actually worse, so I don't think it's a faulty TC or DSL modem issue.
posted by barnone at 6:21 PM on September 15, 2008

The Airport Express can act as a signal repeater.
posted by adamrice at 6:23 PM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: Follow-up question: does that mean setting up WDS? Does that cut the bandwidth in half?
posted by barnone at 6:30 PM on September 15, 2008

You could try to setup the Airport Extreme as a remote station using WDS as described here. I'm not entirely sure it will work witht he older base station. If you do get this working, you may have to experiment with where you place the remote station to get a signal to your office.

On preview, the bandwidth won't be cut in half, but it would be less than if you didn't have it setup. That said, the limiting factor in most setups is the connection to the outside world (cable or DSL)
posted by advicepig at 6:34 PM on September 15, 2008

If you like a technical challenge and want to get your hands dirty (i.e., a great weekend project) I would suggest taking a cheap router and turning it into a repeater using DD-WRT, an open source firmware you can flash onto most routers and make them do whatever you want (including some excellent repeating).

Walkthrough/How-to here.
posted by expletivization at 7:28 PM on September 15, 2008

Repeaters are available on the open market, as are larger antennas. Either might suffice.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:30 PM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: Any tips on which signal repeater might work? I'm guessing I'd need one that works with 802.11n if I want to maintain that speed? Or is the Airport Express just the easiest way?

Sorry for all of the questions - I'm just so fed up and want something that will definitely work without too much effort.
posted by barnone at 8:24 PM on September 15, 2008

Quickertek have an antenna specifically for Time Capsule that is supposed to boost the signal.
posted by nthdegx at 12:26 AM on September 16, 2008

You could buy a wrt54gl for cheap install DD-wrt onto it and use it as a repeater?

You can also buy one of the linksys 802.11n models and do the same thing.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:35 AM on September 16, 2008

Airport Express is just scary easy especially if you are already using the time capsule. Configured via Airport Utility.
posted by terrapin at 1:19 PM on September 17, 2008

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