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[OT] -- Wireless Access Points with Signal Strength Indication?

Discussion in 'Embedded' started by Tim Wescott, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    I recently replaced my wireless router with another of the same make and
    model (Linksys WRT54G). In spite of the fact that it's 'the same', it
    seems to put out less power than the last one.

    The current one works fine in the house, but I run my business out of a
    detached garage, and the access point out there can't quite see the
    router. I've solved this problem before with clever antenna placement,
    and for a while by using an external antenna.

    But the access point I have (a Linksys WET11), aside from being 802.11b,
    also doesn't sport a signal strength indicator, which I need to really
    assess what's going on with the antenna setup.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for an access point that has a signal
    strength indicator? It doesn't have to be external -- if the thing has a
    means of getting to it via Ethernet to query the signal strength that
    would be fine. I just need a way of checking to see what good any
    antenna shenanigans I'm playing may be doing.

    Your suggestions are welcome, thanks.

    --
    Tim Wescott
    Control systems and communications consulting
    http://www.wescottdesign.com

    Need to learn how to apply control theory in your embedded system?
    "Applied Control Theory for Embedded Systems" by Tim Wescott
    Elsevier/Newnes, http://www.wescottdesign.com/actfes/actfes.html
     
    Tim Wescott, Dec 10, 2007
    #1
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  2. I made the basic indicator of the field strength (diode + peak detector
    + meter) and discovered that the actual transmit power is very different
    for the different WiFi devices. No wonder that the devices with the
    higher power are working better.

    In short: dLink sucks, 2Wire rules, Belkin and LinkSys mediocre.


    Vladimir Vassilevsky
    DSP and Mixed Signal Design Consultant
    http://www.abvolt.com
     
    Vladimir Vassilevsky, Dec 10, 2007
    #2
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  3. Are you sure? I've used a couple WET11 bridges and they always
    displayed signal quality number on the status page.
     
    Grant Edwards, Dec 10, 2007
    #3
  4. Do you have a WET11 v1 or v2? They're quite different including
    different software.

    V1
    <http://www.linksys.com/ui/files/WET11/v1/1.4.2/>
    The v1 version does NOT have a signal level or quality indicator.

    V2
    <http://www.linksys.com/ui/files/WET11/v2/>
    The signal quality is on the Status page at:
    <http://www.linksys.com/ui/files/WET11/v2/status.html>

    You can extract the signal strengths from the management packets
    flying back and forth using Netstumbler (Windows) or Kismet (Linux)
    using a seperate computer. If you are stuck with Vista, see:
    <http://www.techidiots.net/project-pages/vistumbler/view>
     
    Jeff Liebermann, Dec 10, 2007
    #4
  5. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    I considered that, but unless the receivers suck big time that's not
    going to help me on the receive end, which is where I really need it --
    the underlying technical problem is that the RF has to get through a 8
    inch thick concrete wall, then to an access point that's inside a metal
    building with some inconveniently located windows.

    I had used a Cantenna before, which was great until it corroded, but even
    then pointing it was b'guess and b'gosh.

    --
    Tim Wescott
    Control systems and communications consulting
    http://www.wescottdesign.com

    Need to learn how to apply control theory in your embedded system?
    "Applied Control Theory for Embedded Systems" by Tim Wescott
    Elsevier/Newnes, http://www.wescottdesign.com/actfes/actfes.html
     
    Tim Wescott, Dec 10, 2007
    #5
  6. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    V nothing, which I assume means V1.
    I'll try one or the other. Thankfully I'm _not_ stuck with Vista.

    --
    Tim Wescott
    Control systems and communications consulting
    http://www.wescottdesign.com

    Need to learn how to apply control theory in your embedded system?
    "Applied Control Theory for Embedded Systems" by Tim Wescott
    Elsevier/Newnes, http://www.wescottdesign.com/actfes/actfes.html
     
    Tim Wescott, Dec 10, 2007
    #6
  7. Sounds like you could use the dd-wrt firmware in the AP. It does allow you to increase tx power. And the stats page is good.
    You can also set it as a wireless bridge, which can solve the problems with small antennas in the adaptor cards.
    For the 54G, you need the micro version of RC4.

    Cheers
     
    Martin Riddle, Dec 10, 2007
    #7
  8. Yep. No signal indication. Perhaps it's time to retire this 802.11b
    only device?

    You might find this hack of interest:
    <http://forums.star-os.com/showthread.php?t=430 >
    Kinda drastic just to get a signal strength indication, but might be
    worth trying.
    So far, I've done 6 downgrades from Vista to XP for customers that
    fail to appreciate the alleged benifits of Vista. I've got one more
    scheduled this week. However, there are some nifty built in wireless
    diagnostics in Vista:
    <http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/3ed3d027-5ae8-4cb0-ade5-0a7c446cd4f71033.mspx>

    The command:
    netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid
    will show all the SSID's it can hear including the corresponding
    signal strengths.
     
    Jeff Liebermann, Dec 10, 2007
    #8
  9. Can't you use netstumbler? http://www.netstumbler.com/ . I havent used
    it in years, but ISTR it does s/n ratios etc

    this may be of interest
    http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz/


    martin
     
    Martin Griffith, Dec 10, 2007
    #9
  10. Tim Wescott

    mpm Guest

    The problem might not be signal strength, but signal interference.
    For 802.11b, the more 2.4 GHz wireless stuff you have around (cordless
    phones, wireless audio systems, even some microwave ovens), the more
    "cluttered" the environment gets.

    And obviously, this same situation manifests if your neighbors are
    close enough and also congest the 802.11b spectrum.

    As for antenna swaps, I assume you're aware that changing out the
    antennas would violate the low power Part-15 rules for field strength,
    so I won't harp any more on that.

    One of my networks is also 802.11(b) only. Works fine and has pretty
    good range. However, the laptop card (Linksys something...) "hates"
    to work un-elevated off the desktop. I assume there is metal or ??
    in the desktop? Propping up the laptop about a half inch makes a
    MAJOR difference. (It's an HP with side-mounted PCMCIA slots).
    Anyway, just a thought to check out potential near-field
    obstructions. Good luck.

    -mpm
     
    mpm, Dec 10, 2007
    #10
  11. Tim Wescott

    T Guest

    What do you think of Netgear wireless products?

    I've got a cheapy Belkin running right now. It works but it's not the
    best.
     
    T, Dec 10, 2007
    #11
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