Helping Airport Extreme beat my personal faraday cage with extender?
November 1, 2014 9:30 AM   Subscribe

My Airport Extreme (A1143 model) is having issues in our new house. It was built in the 50's so the floor has lots of metal in it due to the plastering of the ceiling below. We get wifi in part of the finished basement but no the whole thing, and even the "good" part drop pretty frequently.

Hoping a better antenna on my Airport Extreme will help but I can't seem to find anything.

I swear I saw a simple antenna install previously that did require you to open it but was fairly easy and only about $20.

It's only a 1500 foot house - so we are not talking huge spaces. Just need a small boost. My model is the one without an external antenna jack (think about 2007ish).

Price is a factor - I don't want to get another airport to just extend the range with a second base station nor do I want to drop $200 on a new router (I like my airport) something under $100 would be great. Yet after hours of searching I am not sure if exists.
posted by UMDirector to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The easiest option is to use an ethernet cable from the router to the computer in the basement. Lengths up to 200ft cost less than $20. This isn't as elegant as wireless though.
posted by sninctown at 9:48 AM on November 1, 2014

We have same issue - dead wifi spots around the house.

We use an Airport Express ($99) to extend the wireless into the kitchen, and it works well - this may work for your needs.
posted by parki at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have TV cable running to the basement, I suggest a pair of MoCA bridges and a (possibly) a separate AP in the basement. The cheapest way to do this is a pair of Actiontec MI424WR routers from someone's old FiOS install. They tend to go on eBay for less than $40 apiece. The older models don't do WPA2 and can be had for $20 or so, but that's OK for the one that's going upstairs. You'll want one of the newer revisions for the basement since you will actually be using the wireless on that one.

The idea is you turn off the wireless on the one you plug directly into your existing Airport to use it as nothing more than a bridge and use the other in the basement to receive the MoCA signal from upstairs and as an access point to broadcast a Wifi signal.
posted by wierdo at 10:31 AM on November 1, 2014

Ethernet, MoCA, powerline, whatever you can do to avoid using a wireless extender, do it. Wireless extenders are the absolute last resort. However, yes, you're going to need another AP on the other end of that, so it's probably going to cost more than $100 total. And if you're going to spend more than $100, it may be worth looking at just replacing the current AP with one that has better range. I think the newer Airport Extremes probably have better range, though I don't have direct experience with them. When I was setting up wireless for my house (which is large enough that I need multiple APs regardless of how good they are), I found that Ubiquiti access points covered more of my house than my then-current Airport Extreme did. I'm sure there are other brands/models that would as well.

If you're going to live here for a while, I recommend upping your budget a little bit and doing it the right way, either with a better single AP, or a wired connection between two APs.
posted by primethyme at 11:16 AM on November 1, 2014

Yes on running a hard wire either Cat5e/6 or via a MoCA solution. Connect an other wireless router or a plain WiFi Access point like THIS one the other side. Use the same SSID (network name).
Make sure the 2nd router is in Bridge mode to avoid double NAT!

Survey the WiFi coverage and manually set the WiFi on a clear channel. in the 2.4Ghz band your only real options are 1 - 6 - 11. Its like CB radio you want a clear channel to get the best connection.

5Ghz offer more bandwith (speed) but doesn't penetrate walls / floors. So the coverage is more contained within a space. Something that can work to your (dis) advantage...
posted by Mac-Expert at 2:00 PM on November 1, 2014

Connect an other wireless router or a plain WiFi Access point like THIS one the other side. Use the same SSID (network name).

There's a chance that the UAP-LR could cover the whole house by itself. I have UAP-Pros, which theoretically should have a smaller coverage area than the LR, and a single one covers a LOT more of my house than the Airport Extreme I tested did (and that was a newer generation Airport than the one OP has). I think it would be worth a shot.
posted by primethyme at 2:45 PM on November 1, 2014

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