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rrweather
2009-10-22, 08:14
As some of you may have read in the Touch forum, we live in a house that is a total nightmare when it comes to WiFi. While the house is only about 1600 sq/ft, the WiFi signal from the second floor down to the first floor is pretty weak. The house is a rental so I am unable to run Cat5 cable around the house unless I want it laying on the carpet. You can imagine how popular that would be with the "other half." So, as some have suggested, I am going to try using the powerline adapters. I am going to list the components I have, their location, and what results I am looking to achieve. I am not an expert when it comes to networking so I am looking for some input on how you would setup what I have and what you would buy (within reason). I am not trying to reinvent the wheel with my network but if there is something simple I could do or purchase to achieve what I am looking for, I am all ears.

My setup:

We have our DSL modem and Linksys WRT54GL router at the top of our stairs. Basically, the router sits almost dead-center in the middle of the upper level where it is now.

In the room right next to the router (the office), we have an Apple Time Capsule using wireless to the linksys router. Hooked up to it is a laser printer that we use with our laptops via the network. We are going to set up a mac mini in the office as our media server until we get something better. The first concern is that the mac mini (or any server for that matter) would not have a hard-wire connection to the router.

Our Master Bedroom is also right off the location of the router. We have a receiver, speakers, etc. in the bedroom. This will be location #1 for a SB Touch.

Downstairs, we have our living room, which is where our laptops spend most of their time. As I mentioned, the WiFi signal from the router upstairs to the laptops downstairs is mediocre at best. A friend and I have messed with the location of the router to no end and it seems like this is the best it is going to get. Prior to owning this router, we couldn't get a WiFi signal from 25 feet away in a direct line of site with another router. There is obviously some major interference in this house.

Also in the living room, we have a home stereo and a Roku Soundbridge hooked up. The 2nd SB Touch will replace the Soundbridge. The soundbridge works about as well as expected with the poor WiFi coverage in our house. For the most part, it plays without interruption. Occasionally it will have to rebuffer or it will cut out until it gets a better signal. We also have a PS3 and a Wii hooked up via wireless and they seem to work fine. We use them very little online so I wouldn't know if they were having problems.

So my plan was to purchase powerline adapters to install at the router, in the master bedroom, and downstairs in the living room. Hopefully (fingers crossed) they will work better than the Wifi. The master bedroom probably would work fine with the WiFi but the living room is probably going to need the powerline adapter.

So, having the listed components, is there a better way to configure things to better suit my needs. We like having the backup of the time capsule (without starting an argument on how useful the time machine backups are). We also like having the printer attached to the time capsule for network printing. I realize that we could easily go buy a network printer, but I'd rather spend the money on something else.

The first thought I had was to relocate the linksys router to the office. This would allow the media server (mac mini for now) to connect via cat5 cable. The potential problem with this is the router gets further away from the center of the house which could potentially make the WiFi signal downstairs even weaker.

The next thought I had was to move the time capsule downstairs and plug it into the powerline adapter (assuming the powerline adapter works as planned). I could then use the time capsule to expand my WiFi network and plug the Touch directly into the time capsule. The biggest drawback to this option is I can't exactly put my laser printer on my tv stand so we would lose the print function.

The next thought was to use the time capsule upstairs as the primary router and then move the linksys downstairs to expand the WiFi and to plug the Touch into. From everything I've read, I think I would prefer the flexibility of configuring the linksys router as my primary router. I am almost certain the time capsule is very basic in network configuring.

The other thought I had was to purchase another WRT54GL and put it downstairs connected to the powerline adapter. This would boost the WiFi signal downstairs and give me something to plug the Touch into. I could then move the upstairs router to the office, thus allowing the media server to connect to the router via cat5.

Overall, my goal is to get the Touches playing in the living room and bedroom, and to get the media server going in the office. My secondary goal would be to improve the WiFi signal downstairs.

Hopefully I have provided enough information for you guys to make a suggestion. I will be out of the country for about a month so I would like to order whatever I need so that it is waiting for me when I get home. That gives me a few days to order what I need. Thanks for the help.

Randy

Ben Sandee
2009-10-22, 10:06
I didn't read your entire post, but may I ask why are you so stuck on
the WRT54GL? I have one and like it fine (running DD-WRT) but
compared to newer 'N' routers, the range will be limited. Thankfully
not an issue for me.

Ben

rrweather
2009-10-22, 10:41
Thanks for the response. Basically, I like the router with DD-WRT because it is fairly inexpensive and versatile. Even more, I know they work in this house. Rather than start over trying to find a router that will work in our home, I figure I would stick with what I know works. The other issue is I own nothing that can use N. If I had at least one component that benefited from N, I might be able to justify going that route; however, to buy an N router to use with my G computers and SB touch seems kinda silly. I'll wait until they drop in price and/or I have a computer that would benefit from the increased speed and/or range. If I got a dual band router, nothing in my house would benefit from the N option since none of my components could use the N band. As far as I understand, the SB Touch uses G. So even going to a dual band router most likely won't help with my coverage issues since everything (including the SB Touch) would still be using G. If I am stuck with G, I will probably end up having to go the powerline route. As I mentioned, I am anything but an expert so if I am missing something, please let me know. If a Dual Band router could somehow help me achieve my goals, I would definitely like to know. Thanks

tcutting
2009-10-22, 10:54
One suggestion- your server PC should be hard-wired to the router, if at all possible. If not, when you setup your Squeeze system, you will be trying to make double-hop... PC/Server -wireless--> Router --wireless--> Squeezbox Player. Even with powerline adapters, I believe they have reduced bandwidth. I also don't know if you can run multiple powerline "networks" at the same time, or what kind of limitations/interference that may impose. Bottom line - eliminate as much of the wifi traffic as possible. If you can't move your router/modem into your office, could you setup the new server where you have the router? That should at least help.

Ben Sandee
2009-10-22, 11:01
I understand what you're saying, but it's pretty well-established that
an N router will improve range even if all of your devices are G-only.

Ben

rrweather
2009-10-22, 12:04
I understand what you're saying, but it's pretty well-established that
an N router will improve range even if all of your devices are G-only.

Ben

If that is true, I would much rather pick up a dual-band router and try that before going to powerlines. I guess I have some research to do! Thanks.

Randy

rrweather
2009-10-22, 12:05
One suggestion- your server PC should be hard-wired to the router, if at all possible. If not, when you setup your Squeeze system, you will be trying to make double-hop... PC/Server -wireless--> Router --wireless--> Squeezbox Player. Even with powerline adapters, I believe they have reduced bandwidth. I also don't know if you can run multiple powerline "networks" at the same time, or what kind of limitations/interference that may impose. Bottom line - eliminate as much of the wifi traffic as possible. If you can't move your router/modem into your office, could you setup the new server where you have the router? That should at least help.

I figured this was the definition of double hopping. Since WiFi in this house blows, anything I can to reduce using it will probably help. I am going to go move our router into the office and see how bad my signal drops downstairs.

One more question. If I had to try the powerlines, would getting a dual-band router Gigabit Ethernet Ports make them faster (assuming there is not any interference or connectivity issues) or is the speed at which they run limited by the powerline adapters themselves?

rrweather
2009-10-22, 14:16
I turned on the Soundbridge and then moved my router around upstairs to see the impact on my network. Moving the router to the office caused the soundbridge to drop off occasionally. I ended up putting the router back in the hallway. I then ran a Cat5 cable to the office and hooked it up to the time capsule. So now when I get the mac mini and/or any other media server, it will be connected via cat5 to the time capsule, which is connected via cat5 to the linksys router. This should at least give my media server good access to the network.

I think the SB Touch in our master bedroom SHOULD be able to use WiFi. The SB is only going to be 20 feet or so from the router. The most interference seems to occur between the upstairs and downstairs. Anything upstairs should be good with WiFi alone.

I think I am going to order the Powerline adapter for the living room first. This will be a good test to see how well it will work. Then (assuming it works) I can try using WiFi in the bedroom with the Powerline as a backup plan.

From what I have read on the dual-band N routers, no one seems to have had much success using N routers with G. Most have not seen an improvement on the G side with dual-band. Without a real need for a dual-band router, I don't want to risk buying one and having the G performance decrease. The Linksys is working good enough for now so I will stick with it.

snarlydwarf
2009-10-22, 15:55
From what I have read on the dual-band N routers, no one seems to have had much success using N routers with G. Most have not seen an improvement on the G side with dual-band. Without a real need for a dual-band router, I don't want to risk buying one and having the G performance decrease. The Linksys is working good enough for now so I will stick with it.

The advantage to N isn't the dualbandness (which won't help your 2.4GHz 'g' devices anyway). The advantage is MIMO, which increases range, even if only one side of the transmit/receive pair is using it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIMO

rrweather
2009-10-22, 16:43
The advantage to N isn't the dualbandness (which won't help your 2.4GHz 'g' devices anyway). The advantage is MIMO, which increases range, even if only one side of the transmit/receive pair is using it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIMO

Thank you for the link. I quickly looked it over and saw enough to know it is mostly over my head. I'm sure if I took the time to really try understand it, I might comprehend a little more of it.

So, in plain language, does adding a dual band router improve the speed, coverage, or data transfer capabilities for devices that use only G?

As I understood it, the N portion operates on the 5Ghz band, which relies on shorter wave lengths to transfer more data quicker. The drawback is that since the waves are shorter, they do not travel as far as 2.4Ghz waves. So if you are operating in a close-in area (router and device being relatively close) you could transfer data quicker than with the G band (all other things being equal). The further away you get from the router, the less efficient the short waves get and you lose the advantage you had. To compound the problem, I've read about the limit on how much energy the N routers are allowed to put out due to government regulations.

In my situation, since everything I own is G, is there something to gain by purchasing and installing a dual band router? I am definitely not an expert in this subject so I am open to suggestions. I just thought the dual band router would only help me if I had N devices to run on it.

Taking it one step further, if individuals that own dual band routers see a decrease in their G coverage using the dual band router, wouldn't this only compound the problem in my house?

Please correct me if I am wrong in my rational.

sflen
2009-10-22, 17:43
In my very large house with all masonry walls (including internal walls), the only way to get wireless everywhere was to use the Belkin Powerline Adapters - I have 2 sets - 4 units. I wanted to use my laptop everywhere AND have SqueezeBox music throughout the house.

I have 3 SqueezeBox Classics, 1 Transporter. and 3 Apple Airport Extremes. The Belkins are connected to the Airport Extremes with an ethernet cable. One room needed the SB to be directly connected to the Belkin with an ethernet cable but the others are working wirelessly - without a problem.

I highly recommend the Belkin product although I had to return 1 set because of a defect. No problem as Amazon took care of it.

I couldn't be happier.

snarlydwarf
2009-10-22, 17:48
So, in plain language, does adding a dual band router improve the speed, coverage, or data transfer capabilities for devices that use only G?

MIMO (not dualband) increases the effective range, which in turn increases the speed in problematic situations. If you live in the country, away from noisy wifi/microwave/etc and have a router 10' from wireless devices, it would do nothing... but if you're on a hairy edge, it can make an iffy network feasible.



In my situation, since everything I own is G, is there something to gain by purchasing and installing a dual band router? I am definitely not an expert in this subject so I am open to suggestions. I just thought the dual band router would only help me if I had N devices to run on it.


You're confusing the two things.

DualBand is "I can work at 2 and 5G ranges..."

MIMO is "I have more clever antennas and get better signal strength from them".

http://www.networkworld.com/net.worker/news/2005/032805netlead.html

Some testing with 802.11g products and MIMO antennas.

Even on G-only networks, MIMO improves the signal.

rrweather
2009-10-22, 17:59
MIMO (not dualband) increases the effective range, which in turn increases the speed in problematic situations. If you live in the country, away from noisy wifi/microwave/etc and have a router 10' from wireless devices, it would do nothing... but if you're on a hairy edge, it can make an iffy network feasible.



You're confusing the two things.

DualBand is "I can work at 2 and 5G ranges..."

MIMO is "I have more clever antennas and get better signal strength from them".

http://www.networkworld.com/net.worker/news/2005/032805netlead.html

Some testing with 802.11g products and MIMO antennas.

Even on G-only networks, MIMO improves the signal.

Thank you for the additional information. I will have to take a look at the link and do some more research! Thanks again.

Randy

rrweather
2009-10-22, 20:45
In my very large house with all masonry walls (including internal walls), the only way to get wireless everywhere was to use the Belkin Powerline Adapters - I have 2 sets - 4 units. I wanted to use my laptop everywhere AND have SqueezeBox music throughout the house.

I have 3 SqueezeBox Classics, 1 Transporter. and 3 Apple Airport Extremes. The Belkins are connected to the Airport Extremes with an ethernet cable. One room needed the SB to be directly connected to the Belkin with an ethernet cable but the others are working wirelessly - without a problem.

I highly recommend the Belkin product although I had to return 1 set because of a defect. No problem as Amazon took care of it.

I couldn't be happier.

Thanks for the info. Just to be sure of your setup...you use the powerline adapters to provide a "wired" connection for the Airport Extremes. The Airport Extremes then provide a wireless signal for that room in your house. Lastly, your SB (except for the one connected directly to the powerline adapter) connect to the Airport Extremes via wireless? Just want to make sure I understand your setup in case I try something like this myself. Just curious, what kind of router do you use? It would be good to know what router works well with the belkin powerline adapters. Thanks again for the info.

sflen
2009-10-22, 21:25
Thanks for the info. Just to be sure of your setup...you use the powerline adapters to provide a "wired" connection for the Airport Extremes. The Airport Extremes then provide a wireless signal for that room in your house. Lastly, your SB (except for the one connected directly to the powerline adapter) connect to the Airport Extremes via wireless? Just want to make sure I understand your setup in case I try something like this myself. Just curious, what kind of router do you use? It would be good to know what router works well with the belkin powerline adapters. Thanks again for the info.

The router - Netopia - came from my internet provider. I have DSL at an 'official' 1.5 Mbps. I never give it much thought - it just works.

You have my setup perfectly understood. My router is connected to my Airport Extreme which then is connected via ethernet cable to Belkin#1. This transmits to the other 3 Belkins in my house. I have an Airport Extreme connected via ethernet cable to a Belkin in two other rooms and one SB3 is connected with the cable to the last Belkin in room 4.

And yes, 2 of my SB3s and the Transporter are wireless. These three are in sync and no problems (unless iPeng and Logitech fight each other - I just use my computer to setup sync)

The Airports are setup as 'Active Roaming". Go to Apple website/Support and enter TA25991 for a full description of how to configure the Airports. If you need further information, Apple tech support will help - the tech that helped me never heard of Active Roaming but called up the article at my request and translated it for me.

So I have wireless in my house everywhere except the one corner in room 4 that has my equipment rack (it figures - perfect reception in that room except there).

The defective Belkin was easy to spot - it gave off a sound perfectly imitating a dentist drill as head in a dentist's waiting room. Belkin said it was a defective power supply.

One small note of caution - if you operate a vacuum cleaner on the same circuit as you have a Belkin, it may cause interference and signal dropout. Your Squeeze device is fine - just pull the plug on the vacuum.

Hope this helps.

Regards

cunobelinus@mac.com
2009-10-23, 01:59
(NB This may not be true in the USA) I don't know whether this is
going to be useful or not, but it might be worth bearing in mind that
there is available (at least in the UK) a 7-way short extension lead/
gang with four ethernet over mains ports in it. That's enough ethernet
ports for printer, PC, router/wireless base station and another -
could be Squeezebox, could be Skype phone. Couple one or two of those
with plug-through EOP adapters and there's the makings of an extremely
flexible network without trailing Cat 5 cables. With ethernet over
mains, of course, you can put a wireless base station (such as Airport
Extreme) or extender/booster (such as Airport Express) where you like
on the network in relation to your router/PC/Squeezebox. It's not a
particularly cheap option. Each extension/gang costs about 70 here.
They do, though, work flawlessly, as I've found.

On 22 Oct 2009, at 22:16, rrweather wrote:

>
> I turned on the Soundbridge and then moved my router around upstairs
> to
> see the impact on my network. Moving the router to the office caused
> the
> soundbridge to drop off occasionally. I ended up putting the router
> back
> in the hallway. I then ran a Cat5 cable to the office and hooked it up
> to the time capsule. So now when I get the mac mini and/or any other
> media server, it will be connected via cat5 to the time capsule, which
> is connected via cat5 to the linksys router. This should at least give
> my media server good access to the network.
>
> I think the SB Touch in our master bedroom SHOULD be able to use WiFi.
> The SB is only going to be 20 feet or so from the router. The most
> interference seems to occur between the upstairs and downstairs.
> Anything upstairs should be good with WiFi alone.
>
> I think I am going to order the Powerline adapter for the living room
> first. This will be a good test to see how well it will work. Then
> (assuming it works) I can try using WiFi in the bedroom with the
> Powerline as a backup plan.
>
>> From what I have read on the dual-band N routers, no one seems to
>> have
> had much success using N routers with G. Most have not seen an
> improvement on the G side with dual-band. Without a real need for a
> dual-band router, I don't want to risk buying one and having the G
> performance decrease. The Linksys is working good enough for now so I
> will stick with it.
>
>
> --
> rrweather
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> rrweather's Profile: http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=33706
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=70176
>
>

rrweather
2009-10-23, 05:08
Thanks for the additional information. I hadn't thought about using airport expresses in conjunction with the powerline adapters to expand the network for simple wireless SB use.

I read a lot on routers last night. Basically, every router I read about has people that love it and people that hate it. Some couldn't get one working at all while others simply plugged the same router in and it worked. It just goes to show you how subjective reviews are. The other problem with wireless is it behaves differently in every house. The best is you read a review and someone says "I returned router A in exchange for router B and it was the best decision." The you look at router B reviews and see the exact same statement except someone else exchanged B for A.

I am going to go to Costco today to see what routers they have. I like buying from them because their return policy is essentially "we take anything back." So if I get a dual band router and it stinks, I can just take it back and try another.

I know some people have their brand loyalty but I am going to try to give another linksys a shot. The two I've owned worked great. The one netgear I owned has been a paperweight the last year.

As a last resort, I might try an airport extreme. They are significantly more than most other brands that do the same thing. In fact, the Airport Extreme seems like it is less configurable than other routers (ok for me). That being said, the consensus (from what I read) is it does work consistently. When we were using our time capsule as a router, the wireless router function worked like a champ. The backup feature leaves something to be desired at times. If I can get any dual band router working as good as the linksys we have now I will feel like we succeeded.

Thanks again for the help!

rrweather
2009-10-23, 06:01
Well I feel like an idiot. They say it takes a "real man to admit his mistakes." I moved my time capsule to the hallway where our router is. I plugged it in just to see how weak the signal is from upstairs to downstairs. In the process of messing around with the settings on the time capsule, I see that it is set to transmit in N mode. So I begin to wonder if it has been capable this whole time. I then do a quick google search and find the apple page that discusses how to determine if your macbook pro can use N. Sure as hell, I check my connectivity to the time capsule and I am connected at 130 Mbit/S. So I feel like a total tool because for the last year, I could have had that thing setup and giving me N speeds instead of messing around with the other routers. To make matters worse, the time capsule is in the exact same location as our linksys router (they are sitting next to one another) and the signal on the time capsule is better downstairs than the linksys signal. Neither are great but the time capsule is definitely better.

The only drawbacks I can see so far is the time capsule is only single band. I found the settings and I have to pick between 2.4 and 5Ghz. I can't have both at once. From what I can tell about my neighbor's networks, they are all on 2.4Ghz. If I put the time capsule into N only mode (5Ghz), my connection speed goes up to 300 Mbit/S. So I can either keep the time capsule setup for my computer only (5Ghz) and leave the old router in place for my fiance's computer or keep it in 2.4Ghz mode so her computer can use it. Her computer is a dying Toshiba that barely uses G so there is no reason to make the time capsule accessible by her computer.

The other drawback is the Ethernet Ports on the back of the time capsule are not gigabit.

So, that being said, I think I am going to spring for the airport extreme. It is simultaneous dual band and it offers gigabit ethernet on the back. This will be useful once I set up the media server. The fact that I am having success with the time capsule leads me to think I will have success with the airport extreme since they are almost identical (minus a hard drive).

I am going to the store today to see what they offer for powerline adapters. I will also see if the base exchange has any airport expresses. I'd love to be able to get all of it tax free. If not, amazon will send it to me with free shipping and tax free.

Thanks for all the help. I would still be sitting around bitch about my network had it not been for the people that responded here!