Home Network Expansion
January 30, 2007 12:23 PM   Subscribe

What is the best (and relatively inexpensive) equipment I could use to expand my home network?

I'm looking to expand my home network. I recently had a setup with two Linksys WRT54G routers, one acting as the gateway for my cable modem connection, and another acting only as router for the devices in my living room (XBox360, Slingbox, etc). The gateway/router died this morning, and I had to swap out the living room router to take it's place.

I've been through many Linksys products in the past, and I am open to other brands at this point.

Can you recommend me a gateway/router, plus a switch, that support Auto-MDI, so I don't need to make/acquire crossover cables to expand the wired portion of the network? (one switch I was looking at is the Linksys EG005W - however I don't really need Gigabit yet and it is a tad pricey).

Can you recommend a USB print server (wired or wireless) that you have had zero problems with? This would be for an Epson Stylus Photo USB printer.

Are there any advantages to separating my wireless AP from my main gateway/router? I live in a 1,230 sq. ft. condo, and currently the wireless range is fine throughout the house. The signal originates from my office which is in the upstairs loft (which is also where the cable modem lives).
posted by jbiz to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Why do you need a router for the living room? Will just a switch do?
posted by SpecialK at 12:38 PM on January 30, 2007

SpecialK - A switch will be fine. That's actually the direction I want to go. The reason it was a router before was because I already had a spare lying around the house :)
posted by jbiz at 12:54 PM on January 30, 2007

Have you tried getting larger antennas? That worked well for us in a similar square footage.
posted by k8t at 1:19 PM on January 30, 2007

Larger antennas (higher gain) will work, and the cheapo CompUSA ones are fine, you don't need the $60 Linksys one.

There's a netgear gig eth switch that we outfitted our house with for like $29 each ... We got them from TigerDirect AFAIK. Any small workgroup switch will work just fine. No reccomendations required. I've seen some for as low as $10 online.

There's no real advantage to separating your wireless AP away unless you can position it in a place that'll do you better... but you can move or aim an antenna just as well probably, and with much less effort and cableage running all over.

Good value you got out of your one question per two weeks. ;)

I've had good success with dLink printer servers, but it was parallel. I had even better luck buying a different printer on sale that had networking enabled already, or connecting it to a computer and using Windows Printer Sharing. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2007

If you install a third party firmware for the WRT54G's, such as dd-wrt or openwrt (I prefer openwrt, it's more user friendly, and lighterweight) You can up the transmit power from the standard 28mw to up to 200 mw, though i'd recommend somewhere south of 100mw. if the routers have some air around them for heat dissipation. It should do wonders for your range.

On top of that, if you need more directional antennas you can make these antennas cheaply and easily with household parts and a printer.

There are plenty of routers that are supported by these projects, quite a few of them with USB ports, for print servers and network attached storage.
posted by Freen at 3:36 PM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

About USB print servers; I've had terrible experiences with my Hawking unit (hangs a lot, lots of printer driver reinstalls necessary, and doesn't support my photo printer) and mediocre experiences with my Netgear unit (hangs on occasion, but unlike the Hawking unit just needs a reboot to work again, and supports my photo printer.)
posted by davejay at 4:40 PM on January 30, 2007

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