WiFi bridge via software?
January 24, 2007 1:03 PM   Subscribe

My wireless router is on the second floor of the house and cannot be moved. There is a mac mini on the main floor. I also have a Windows workstation in the basement which connects to the network but very poorly because of the distance to the router. Is there any way to prod my Mini into acting as a wireless bridge to extend the range of my network?
posted by Evstar to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
I do this with an iMac, but it lives on the wired side of my network, and shares the Ethernet connection via Airport.

If you click on 'System Preferences'->Sharing ->Internet, there are drop downs that let you configure source and destination interfaces.

Is your Mac mini connecting wired or wirelessly?
posted by Mutant at 1:07 PM on January 24, 2007

Have you tried an external antenna on your workstation?
posted by Ferrari328 at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2007

Response by poster: The mac is connected to the network via wifi as well.
posted by Evstar at 1:24 PM on January 24, 2007

Maybe just bite the bullet and buy a range extender.
posted by chrisroberts at 1:44 PM on January 24, 2007

Depending upon your router, there may be range extending antenna for it. We did this at our house and they work beautifully. The router is upstairs and I can be connected anywhere in the house and out on the patio without any problems.
posted by onhazier at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2007

Before doing anything else, flip your wireless router over 90°, so that it's antenna(s) are parallel to the floor, instead of standing up vertically, as most people use such routers on table top installations. Doing this can increase the signal in your basement by as much as 6 to 9 db, at the same time limiting your offsite signal from your 3rd floor antenna location.

The reason for this is that the normal 1/2 or 1/4 wave 2.4 Ghz whip antennas shipped with most routers will produce vertical polarization, and an emission pattern that is effectively horizontally biased. Tipping the router over is a simple way to make that radiation pattern bias work for you in a multi-story house, by driving signal into the lower floors and basement.
posted by paulsc at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

chrisroberts has it. Range extending repeaters are more preferable to a larger and more directional antenna in my experience. You should be able to find one for cheaper than what was quoted above. Check eBay.
posted by dendrite at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2007

Adding a 7db D-Link antenna to my router made a day & night difference for me. My signal to noise was anywhere from 3db to 10db initially, now it is 30 to 40db. I was getting dropped connections all the time, and now it never goes down. My router is in the basement of the house, and I'm on the second floor, so overall this sounds similar to your situation. I highly recommend getting a high gain antenna first, before doing more complicated solutions.
posted by knave at 3:04 PM on January 24, 2007

The antenna I got was omnidirectional.
posted by knave at 3:05 PM on January 24, 2007

wok fi

http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/52566 earlier discussion of range extending antennae.
posted by mecran01 at 3:14 PM on January 24, 2007

I n-th the suggestions of a range extending device. You end up with a much simpler network overall.

However, if you really don't want to do that, you can get the Mini to do Internet sharing. You just need to go and buy a USB WiFi connector (Mac compatible of course!), plug it into the mini and then follow Mutant's instructions from the first comment.

Once you've done that, the Windows PC can be configured to connect to the Mini rather than the wireless router.

However, do bear in mind that this means that the Mini needs to be on ALL the time for the WindowsPC to work. Also, it's a bit of a convoluted path for net access for the windows PC (maybe a little slower than a direct line (assuming better quality than you get now))
posted by ranglin at 3:36 PM on January 24, 2007

USB WiFi connector (Mac compatible of course!)

Do these exist? I've looked and never found one.
posted by docgonzo at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2007

Mac USB Wifi devices do exist - but in my experience they aren't much fun (YMMV - maybe there are some really good ones out there that work really neatly that I didn't try).

I've got an oldish iMac that didn't have an Airport card in it and Airport cards are ridiculously expensive (due to rarity), so after some research, I got a Belkin Wireless G Adapter (F5D7050) - it has to be one of a few specific hardware version (which usually requires looking on the packaging of each one in a store as no-one lists the hardware version online) - Mac compatible versions are 2000, 2001, 3000.

It's not plug and play - you have to install some special drivers which don't work through the OS X System Preferences but have their own, rather thrown together, configuration app.

My F5D7050 doesn't always come up smoothly when I boot and sometimes has to be removed and plugged back in to get it to work. It does work however.

In short, the best plan is probably to spring for a wireless range extender instead (or some other range extension on your existing Wifi) since the link through the Mac Mini is likely to be a pain.

After some thought I'm not sure that the interface on the F5D7050 appears in the Internet sharing options (and I'm not at home to check) so I'm not sure if you could use this Wifi device in this way but since I've written all this out I'll post it anyway in the hopes that someone finds it useful.
posted by koshmar at 5:23 PM on January 24, 2007

Response by poster: I'm using a rented router from the ISP (not my decision) and there are no options to expand the antennae, unfortunately. A range extender would probably be the simplest, most effective solution but I was hoping to find a free software-based option.

Ah, well. Thanks for the tips, guys.
posted by Evstar at 7:11 PM on January 24, 2007

Improving the antenna on your Windows workstation will work just as well as improving the one on the router. Also, you should be able to change the antenna orientation as paulsc suggests without actually modifying any equipment at all.
posted by flabdablet at 10:58 PM on January 24, 2007

I'd recommend an Apple Airlink Express. They can act as a bridge/extender on the first floor next to your mini, and the basement should get a much clearer signal.
posted by PetiePal at 8:35 AM on January 25, 2007

« Older How do to update rows without a cursor?   |   Why not buy Californian? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.