sad accesspoint drama.
September 28, 2008 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Netgear access point weirdness. Wireless roaming. OMG, why does the AP do this and as a result cause my internets connection to connect/disconnect frequently?

INTERNETS <-- modem <-- (Netgear WGR614v7 router w/ wifi) <-- (both Netgear WPN802v2 access points)

Trying to get wireless roaming working, but one of the APs doesn't even play nice in a single room. As shown in the graph, there is hella strong signal in the room until suddenly and inexplicably it drops off hard until the power is lower than that of the other AP/router which are in another room behind a heavy wall. Windows disconnects, sometimes picking up one of the other signals, sometimes not.

Router is on channel 1, APs on 7 and 11. I'm in an apartment building so there's a number of other wireless networks on channel 1, 6, and 11.
posted by beerbajay to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Can you move the suspect AP to another location? Swap it with the other one in a known good location? All this to try to narrow down whether it's the AP or some outside interference?
posted by tcv at 10:10 AM on September 28, 2008

After a little more investigation... the signal shown in inSSIDer seems to return to its high levels as the AP decides upon which antennae to use (the lights on the AP stop flickering like crazy).
posted by beerbajay at 10:27 AM on September 28, 2008

Well, channel 7 will interfere with your router on 11. You should move the 7 to a 6. Only 1, 6, and 11 are non-overlapping.

If your area has a lot of APs out there then you may not be able to get a good signal on all the channels. If channels 1 and 11 are clear then I'd spring for a better antenna on the routers instead of having a third one on 6. Perhaps a couple of these.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2008

The AP was on 6 previously and I moved it over to 7 since there were 4-5 other networks in the building on 6.
posted by beerbajay at 10:36 AM on September 28, 2008

Actual stats, by channel:
channel 1: 3 networks, including mine
channel 4: 1
channel 5: 1
channel 6: 6
channel 7: 1, mine
channel 11: 5, including mine

The signals on 11 and 1 seem to be stable.
posted by beerbajay at 10:40 AM on September 28, 2008

Given that the WGR614 is one of the most craptacular routers out there, I wouldn't be surprised if your problems disappeared upon chunking it out the window and replacing it with anything - literally anything - else...

They overheat, the caps whine for years before finally popping - all the while dropping connections and needing constant restarts.

Worst. Router. Ever.
posted by wfrgms at 10:48 AM on September 28, 2008

Firmware on AP updated. No change.
posted by beerbajay at 10:56 AM on September 28, 2008

Switched out the APs. New one in-room is on channel 11, has a similar signal strength graph, though it hasn't yet dropped to the point of losing the connection.
posted by beerbajay at 11:22 AM on September 28, 2008

A related question: why might windows choose to switch to a low-power signal when there's a high-power one right in the room? In inSSIDer I can see the signal strength 'wobble' around when I'm connected to that AP, and the others are flat; but XP is choosing to use the lowest-powered signal on the network, which is ... confusing.
posted by beerbajay at 11:29 AM on September 28, 2008

>The AP was on 6 previously and I moved it over to 7 since there were 4-5 other networks in the building on 6.

That wont make a difference. Now you are getting 90% of the intereference from the machines on 6 and 10% from the machines on 11. There are only 3 non-overlapping channels in wifi.

>but XP is choosing to use the lowest-powered signal on the network, which is ... confusing.

How windows chooses which AP to use is beyond logic.

Your area looks incredible congested. Can you get away with two APs? Like I wrote about, dump the one on 6/7 entirely. You can supplement the other ones with higher gain antennas or by placing them in higher and more centralized locations.

Also, its worth mentioning those netstumbler type apps are like groping in the dark. They dont see stuff like wireless peripherals, 2.4ghz video transmitters, x10 cameras, non-ssid broadcasting networks, microwaves, and a whole slew of other things. Just wifi.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:47 PM on September 28, 2008

FWIW, to really "see" whats out there you'll need a spectrum analyzer like this. Of course thats absolutely overkill, but buy a couple better antennas isnt.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:48 PM on September 28, 2008

Hrm okay. I'm pretty confident that the super crazy drops are due to the AP reconfiguring itself, but it could well be the congestion that's causing it to reconfigure. The APs aren't at their final locations, so perhaps throwing one at the opposite end of the apartment will let me use the channel and everything will be peachy.
posted by beerbajay at 2:05 PM on September 28, 2008

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