Fluctuating Airport Signal Strength

Discussion in 'Apple' started by James L. Ryan, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. I'm working in an office where there are several Macs sharing an Airport.
    Today the signal strength (as indicated by the Airport "thingy" on the
    toolbar) is fluctuating. Other than today it always seemed to be at full
    strength but today is varying between full strength and no strength, spending
    most of the time at three-quarters strength. I've checked the other Macs in
    the office and they are all at full strength and I didn't see any evidence of
    fluctuation. Any suggestions as to what is happening?

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft

    "My dog never came across a bush he didn't like!"
    James L. Ryan, Jun 22, 2004
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  2. I got exactly that symptom from two separate causes. Once, the antenna
    connector in my iBook came a little loose, and as soon as I discovered
    that and reseated it the problem went away. The other time confused me
    greatly until I ran a WiFi "sniffer" program, which showed that a neighbor
    had an access point on the same channel as mine. I changed my base
    station to a different channel and all was well again.

    Since yours is the only one having issues, I'd suspect the antenna
    connection, or perhaps the AirPort card itself. It's possible that
    there's a *very* localized source of interference, but I don't know what
    it would be.
    Alan Anderson, Jun 23, 2004
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  3. [commenting on my stating that the Airport "thingy" in the menu bar was
    showing fluctuations]
    Well, there are four arcs in the "thingy" and during what I've dubbed
    "fluctuation" the number of lines that remain dark varies from 0 to 4. Also
    the "time connected" figure comes and goes, disappearing when the number of
    dark lines drops and reappearing when the dark lines return.

    When the number of dark lines diminishes to none communication stops. But
    given that this state only lasts for a second or two there has been no
    effective break in communication.

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft

    "My dog never came across a bush he didn't like!"
    James L. Ryan, Jun 23, 2004
  4. [responding to my concern over fluctuating Airport communication]
    Interestingly the variations that persisted throughout the afternoon have now
    ceased. The Airport "thingy" in the menu bar is now consistently showing four
    blackened arcs which, I presume, indicate maximum quality reception.

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft

    "My dog never came across a bush he didn't like!"
    James L. Ryan, Jun 23, 2004
  5. If you click on the toolbar icon, you'll see a choice called "Open
    Internet Connect" ; that will show signal strength on a 15-bar scale.
    There are third-party utilities (MacStumbler, iStumbler) if you need
    more detail.

    Kevin Stevens, Jun 23, 2004
  6. James L. Ryan

    domanova Guest

    I had a similar problem with my home network (iMac, two Powerbooks, and
    an ABS). Resetting the ABS solved the problem for me.
    domanova, Jun 23, 2004
  7. [commenting on my Airport weak signal query]
    The Airport is about twenty feet away (through two walls) from the iMac
    (about 4 years old) that has the Airport card.

    Sometime last night (maybe around 10 PM) the weak signal problem stopped and
    today everything seems back to normal. As of right now if I open Internet
    Connect and look at the signal strength it is at the 13th of the 15 bars.

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft

    "My dog never came across a bush he didn't like!"
    James L. Ryan, Jun 23, 2004
  8. James L. Ryan

    Gnarlodious Guest

    Entity James L. Ryan spoke thus:
    Sounds like your garden variety multipathing problem (AKA "ghosting"). This
    occurs when the signal reflects off of objects and interferes with itself.
    You might try a different channel. In my case, I did a hard reset of the
    base station which forces the transmitter to seek out the least noisy
    wavelength. Presto! Multipathing no more! The ideal wavelength would be a
    whole number multiple of the distance to the reflective surface.

    This might sound bordering on the mystical, but the 2.4 gigahertz band has a
    lot of weird behavior when it goes through walls. I operate through adobe,
    most of which contains a wire mesh inside. I swear, the signal is affected
    by cloud cover (ducting), dewpoint, ion bombardment and lord know what else.

    -- K5ZN
    Gnarlodious, Jun 23, 2004
  9. Does anyone know if a 2.4 GHz phone can interfere with Airport. I have
    an airport equipped iBook (G3/700 MHz), and I noticed that, if I used
    it downstairs in our living room, I would lose my connection whenever
    someone used our 2.4 GHz cordless phone. I don't have a lot of repeats
    on this, as I've only had the iBook for about 2 weeks, but it was
    pretty strange. My wife would call someone, and I would lose my
    Airport signal. Has anyone else seen this?
    David Fritzinger, Jun 23, 2004
  10. James L. Ryan

    Gnarlodious Guest

    Entity David Fritzinger spoke thus:
    Yes, definitely. There are 11 channels, try some different ones.

    -- Gnarlie
    Gnarlodious, Jun 24, 2004

  11. Now yet another mystery! Dave's posting above quotes a posting from Gnarlie
    which in turn was a response to an earlier posting of mine. What is weird is
    that Gnarlie's posting is inaccessible to me, and I wouldn't be aware of its
    contents if it wasn't for Dave's quoting it.

    I use Hogwasher for newsgroups. In the topic diagram Gnarlie's inaccessible
    posting is shown as an "unidentifiable" link between my posting to which he
    replied and Dave's which quotes him.

    Son now the question is what could have happened that I can't access
    Gnarlie's posting?

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft

    "My dog never came across a bush he didn't like!"
    James L. Ryan, Jun 24, 2004
  12. James L. Ryan

    W. Sellers Guest

    Yes, definitely. There are 11 channels, try some different ones.[/QUOTE]

    I suspect my neighbor got one. My signal strength dipped mysteriously
    one day and didn't come back until I changed to channel 11.

    Walt Sellers
    Computer Engineer For Hire
    - include the keyPhrase "WhoYaGonnaCall?"
    in the body or subject of the message to get past the spam filters.
    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons; for thou art
    crunchy and good with ketchup. -unknown
    W. Sellers, Jun 24, 2004
  13. Neill Massello, Jun 24, 2004
  14. Yes. They both use the same spectrum.
    Matthew Russotto, Jun 24, 2004
  15. James L. Ryan

    Bob Harris Guest

    Phones tend to center on channel 6.

    A WiFi signal uses 22MHz of bandwidth, but the WiFi channels are only
    5MHz apart, so when you use a given channel you overlap adjacent
    channels with the strongest part of your signal being the channel number
    you specify. If you have competing WiFi base stations using a channel
    that overlaps with your 22MHz of signal, it will cut down on your total
    throughput and may interfere with your range.

    Using a utility like MacStumbler and APGrapher can help you check out
    signal strengths of other WiFi base stations and the level of

    Personally, I tend to use channels 1 and 11 as it stays away from 2.4GHz
    phones and lot of times, other WiFi base stations default to channel 6
    as well, so unless my neighbors configure their base station, it is
    channel 6 (some base stations search for the best channel and use that
    instead of a fixed default).

    Bob Harris
    Bob Harris, Jun 24, 2004
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