Wireless Booster – Introduction

Why would you want to add a wireless booster?

Are you suffering from some annoying dips in your wireless network reception or can’t quite reach the furthest extremes of your house and home with your wireless signal?

Worry not – there are many simple ways available for you to boost your wireless signal and we will show you how to implement these with the minimum of effort.

It can be very annoying when you’ve set up your lovely wire free network only to find that the signal doesn’t reach all of your favorite surfing spots around your home.

All sorts of objects can affect the strength and quality of your wireless signal such as walls, floors, doors etc – each of these objects between your wireless access point and your wireless PC or laptop will have an effect on your signal level and can quickly add up to a severe loss of signal strength.

Other sources of interference such as microwave ovens, cordless phones and metallic objects such as radiators or filing cabinets can all act to cause a weakness of your signal.

Do try to make sure your wireless router or wireless access point is situated away from these objects and is placed as central to your home as possible to give the highest all round coverage.

Wireless Booster – Upgrade Your Antenna

The simplest upgrade you can do to improve the strength and coverage of your wireless network is to change your wireless router or wireless access point antenna for a high gain type.

Antennas are available to boost your wireless signal strength for internal and external use.

Before going out and purchasing a new antenna you will need to perform a few checks on your router or access point first.

Access your wireless router configuration page via your router web page login and confirm that the wireless power setting is set to maximum and that any range boost settings – if your router has this function available – are also enabled.

If you have an old 802.11b standard router consider upgrading it to an 802.11n model with extra transmit power and range capabilities.

Note that before doing this you should ensure that all your other wireless devices are compatible with the 802.11n standard first. 

Wireless Booster – Antenna Types

Extending the wireless coverage range in a specific direction can be accomplished best by adding a uni-directional antenna which will provide a strong signal over a set area of your home.

For general ‘all round’ area coverage improvements you will need to choose an omni-directional antenna.

External antennas are available for use outside – these are designed to be used in all weather and mounted on a wall for example to provide coverage for your garden, pool or patio maybe. 

Wireless Booster – Repeater/Extender

You can also purchase a wireless repeater / wireless range extender to increase the coverage of your wireless network.

Purchase one from the same manufacturer as your wireless router to avoid potential compatibility problems.

Please note that using a wireless repeater or extender will reduce your network data transfer rate even though you are extending the range of your wireless network.

A handy tool for locating the areas of poor signal strength around your house and home is the Net Stumbler program available from www.netstumbler.com/downloads/ – install and run this program on a wireless laptop and walk around your house and home and note the change in your wireless networks signal strength.

This data can be used to produce a rough map of your signal strength which you can use to see where you need to add a high gain antenna or wireless repeater. 

Wireless Booster – Repeater Installation

Installing a wireless repeater is fairly straightforward.

You will setup and configure operation just like you did for your Wireless Router – via a web page on your internet web browser program.

You will need to set up your wireless repeater / extender to have the same SSID (Service Set Identifier) network name as the rest of your wireless network and the same encryption and password as the rest of your wireless network.

Check the requirements for your repeater / extender regarding DHCP and confirm that it has leased an IP address correctly from your wireless router. 

Wireless Booster – Antenna Installation

Upgrading your antenna is a simple task and just requires unscrewing your old antenna from your wireless router or access point and replacing it with the new one.

Connection is made with a screw or SMA type connector and finger tight will be perfectly adequate – do not apply unnecessary force here!

Now position your antenna according to the survey that you performed earlier and use your wireless enabled laptop with Net Stumbler running to confirm that you have indeed boosted your wireless signal strength.

Note that your wireless signal strength is measured in dBm (decibels per metre) and this may be a negative number – note then that -40dBm is a stronger signal than -60dBm for instance. 

Wireless Booster – Troubleshooting

If you are still experiencing signal interference then once again use Net Stumbler to check for other local networks transmitting close by on the same or adjacent channels.

Using channels 1, 6, or 11 will help here as they have the minimum overlap between one another and are therefore less likely to interfere with one another.

So – if you neighbor is using Channel 11 for instance then you should try setting your own wireless network to use Channel 1 or 6 for maximum immunity to adjacent signal interference.