What is the strongest Wireless Accent Point that I can buy?
February 1, 2008 7:49 AM   Subscribe

What is the strongest Wireless Accent Point that I can buy? I need to cover about 100m radius inside a single building at a manufacturing company where we have lots of big machines running constantly.

I would prefer one strong device over a mesh of 6 as the wireless barcode scanners we have apparently have some trouble switching from one AP to next smoothly. If it's impossible to have a WAP device with this much coverage, then what's a good WAP I can buy that will mesh well.

I have 6 LinkSys WAP54G (Firmware Version: 3.04) and they constantly cause the barcode scanners to connection or lock up.
posted by chime to Technology (5 answers total)
Is there a way to use RF? I have not encountered "one strong device" that provides that kind of coverage.
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:36 AM on February 1, 2008

It's all about how many milliwatts of power these AP's are pushing out.

Alternatively, buy the one (or several of the one) that the manufacturer of your barcode scanner recommends.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:11 AM on February 1, 2008

802.11g has a stated outdoor (goes through one wall) radius of about 140m. I'm guessing that there's no where you can place a central router at full power? 802.11n's expected indoor radius (in as much as you can standardize these things) is about 70m. How occluded are spaces in the warehouse from each other? You might be able to get close to its outdoor range of about 250m. However, this likely won't work as your friendly scanners likely don't speak n, so they'll have to fall back to g (with its range limitations).

Another possible option is to see if you can have one AP feeding multiple antennas. Unfortunately that means that each antenna's powers will be greatly reduced, but it may help anyways. I do not know if such RF splitters exist, but if they do, they will add loss to the system, so get some nice high-gain omnidirectional antennas.

Another option is Bluetooth. I used to work for a Bluetooth barcode scanner company, and they had Class 1 Bluetooth Radios in some of their gun-style scanners. Class 1 Bluetooth devices are rated to a max range of 100m. Also, these scanners could store data when out of range and send them when the link returned. They're the BCM-2604 and the BL/BLR-2604.
posted by Xoder at 10:59 AM on February 1, 2008

You might also look into getting one or more wireless repeaters, such as this D-Link product.
posted by mosk at 11:23 AM on February 1, 2008

I ended up ordering a Bi-Directional WiFi Amplifier (with antennas). Apparently 1 watt is the maximum you can buy without getting an FCC permit. The sales person said 1 watt should easily cover 100m even with heavy machinery and thick walls. So I'll find out in a few days.

Thanks for the suggestions. I originally wanted to get repeaters (already tried setting my additional WAP points to repeater mode) but they all try to parse the signals digitally instead of just bouncing it off at the analog level. Pretty sure the problems are caused by the change in MAC address from one point to the other, as well as channel #s.
posted by chime at 12:07 PM on February 1, 2008

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