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Old 08-24-2011, 12:27 PM
Paul Smith
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

Dear All,

Is there some device that can boost a laptop wifi reception? In the
library where I spend some time studying, I usually get a signal with
a quality of about 20%.

Thanks in advance,

Paul
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:43 AM
Tim
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On Wed, 2011-08-24 at 13:27 +0100, Paul Smith wrote:
> Is there some device that can boost a laptop wifi reception? In the
> library where I spend some time studying, I usually get a signal with
> a quality of about 20%.

Well, is that really a problem? Some of the signal meters don't mean a
great deal. They can show a combination of strength and/or quality,
where the threshold of goodness could be anywhere.

Generally speaking, the only way to improve the interface's reception is
to replace the antenna. That's not easy to do in a laptop, where the
antenna is usually buried somewhere inside the cabinet, and may be
little more than a wire draggled around the screen.

The alternative is to replace the wireless interface with an external
one, one with either a better antenna, or a removable one where you can
fit a better one. You can get USB wireless interfaces, or ones that
plug into the card slot.

A simpler thing to try, first, is sitting in a different spot in the
library.

Better reception may not help if they have a poor network, anyway, with
too many clients simultaneously using a low bandwidth network.

--
[tim@localhost ~]$ uname -r
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Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored. I
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:04 AM
Shiv Manas
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 4:43 PM, Tim <ignored_mailbox@yahoo.com.au> wrote:
> On Wed, 2011-08-24 at 13:27 +0100, Paul Smith wrote:
>> Is there some device that can boost a laptop wifi reception? In the
>> library where I spend some time studying, I usually get a signal with
>> a quality of about 20%.
>
> Well, is that really a problem? *Some of the signal meters don't mean a
> great deal. *They can show a combination of strength and/or quality,
> where the threshold of goodness could be anywhere.

I agree.

In my university for example, in one of the rooms, I barely get a
signal - however, I am able to download at a decent speed. On the
other had, I noticed that upload speeds are directly proportional to
the signal strength. So unless you're doing heavy uploads, I don't see
low signal strength as an issue for regular web-surfing.


> The alternative is to replace the wireless interface with an external
> one, one with either a better antenna, or a removable one where you can
> fit a better one. *You can get USB wireless interfaces, or ones that
> plug into the card slot.
>
> A simpler thing to try, first, is sitting in a different spot in the
> library.
>
> Better reception may not help if they have a poor network, anyway, with
> too many clients simultaneously using a low bandwidth network.
>

+1 to all the above.

Paul, if you do consider buying a USB wireless interface, might I
suggest going for one which has a detachable external antenna?
I can happily recommend any Alfa brand USB WiFi adapters - they have a
long range, are compatible with most distros, and are very affordable.
Personally I use the AWUS036NH which has a massive 2W output. Couple
that with a 5dBi or higher antenna and you can catch a signal from
miles away!


- Shiv
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:12 AM
Christopher Svanefalk
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On 08/25/2011 08:04 AM, Shiv Manas wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 4:43 PM, Tim <ignored_mailbox@yahoo.com.au> wrote:
>> On Wed, 2011-08-24 at 13:27 +0100, Paul Smith wrote:
>>> Is there some device that can boost a laptop wifi reception? In the
>>> library where I spend some time studying, I usually get a signal with
>>> a quality of about 20%.
>> Well, is that really a problem? Some of the signal meters don't mean a
>> great deal. They can show a combination of strength and/or quality,
>> where the threshold of goodness could be anywhere.
> I agree.
>
> In my university for example, in one of the rooms, I barely get a
> signal - however, I am able to download at a decent speed. On the
> other had, I noticed that upload speeds are directly proportional to
> the signal strength. So unless you're doing heavy uploads, I don't see
> low signal strength as an issue for regular web-surfing.
>
>
>> The alternative is to replace the wireless interface with an external
>> one, one with either a better antenna, or a removable one where you can
>> fit a better one. You can get USB wireless interfaces, or ones that
>> plug into the card slot.
>>
>> A simpler thing to try, first, is sitting in a different spot in the
>> library.
>>
>> Better reception may not help if they have a poor network, anyway, with
>> too many clients simultaneously using a low bandwidth network.
>>
> +1 to all the above.
>
> Paul, if you do consider buying a USB wireless interface, might I
> suggest going for one which has a detachable external antenna?
> I can happily recommend any Alfa brand USB WiFi adapters - they have a
> long range, are compatible with most distros, and are very affordable.
> Personally I use the AWUS036NH which has a massive 2W output. Couple
> that with a 5dBi or higher antenna and you can catch a signal from
> miles away!
>
>
> - Shiv

Arent the drivers for external adapters rather tricky to install though?
Last time I tried I had to port Windows binaries into the kernel, which
requires the use of external repositories.
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:18 AM
Tim
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 08:12 +0200, Christopher Svanefalk wrote:
> Arent the drivers for external adapters rather tricky to install
> though? Last time I tried I had to port Windows binaries into the
> kernel, which requires the use of external repositories.

Probably no worse than trying to get some internal wireless adaptors
working... At least you can easily swap adaptors, if you don't have a
working driver for it. That's quite hard to do with internal ones.

--
[tim@localhost ~]$ uname -r
2.6.27.25-78.2.56.fc9.i686

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored. I
read messages from the public lists.



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Old 08-25-2011, 11:28 AM
Tim
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 18:04 +1200, Shiv Manas wrote:
> I can happily recommend any Alfa brand USB WiFi adapters - they have a
> long range, are compatible with most distros, and are very affordable.
> Personally I use the AWUS036NH which has a massive 2W output.

Two whole watts?! Seems a bit extreme, unless it's designed for long
distance work (such as across a factory). It's probably more than your
allowed for general purpose networking.

Just the other day I experimented with the power output from my access
point. It was set on maximum, and my laptop is barely two feet from it.
Yet, Fedora's signal meter was always around 95%, occasionally dipping
down to lose a whole bar on the graphical display (whatever that
actually means), which made no sense. I'd expect 100% being that close,
especially since I've used the laptop in another room, with three brick
walls between them, and not noticed a huge loss on the signal meter.

So, I've turned the access power down to minimum (12.5%). And Fedora's
signal meter reading hasn't changed in the slightest, nor is there any
noticeable change in network performance. So, I can't tell if the
access point has actually changed signal level, or whether Fedora's
meter is *more* concerned with some other factors than signal strength.

I don't place a lot of faith in the signal metering.

--
[tim@localhost ~]$ uname -r
2.6.27.25-78.2.56.fc9.i686

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored. I
read messages from the public lists.



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Old 08-25-2011, 12:24 PM
Bob Goodwin
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On 25/08/11 07:28, Tim wrote:
> On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 18:04 +1200, Shiv Manas wrote:
>> I can happily recommend any Alfa brand USB WiFi adapters - they have a
>> long range, are compatible with most distros, and are very affordable.
>> Personally I use the AWUS036NH which has a massive 2W output.
> Two whole watts?! Seems a bit extreme, unless it's designed for long
> distance work (such as across a factory). It's probably more than your
> allowed for general purpose networking.
>
> Just the other day I experimented with the power output from my access
> point. It was set on maximum, and my laptop is barely two feet from it.
> Yet, Fedora's signal meter was always around 95%, occasionally dipping
> down to lose a whole bar on the graphical display (whatever that
> actually means), which made no sense. I'd expect 100% being that close,
> especially since I've used the laptop in another room, with three brick
> walls between them, and not noticed a huge loss on the signal meter.
>
> So, I've turned the access power down to minimum (12.5%). And Fedora's
> signal meter reading hasn't changed in the slightest, nor is there any
> noticeable change in network performance. So, I can't tell if the
> access point has actually changed signal level, or whether Fedora's
> meter is *more* concerned with some other factors than signal strength.
>
> I don't place a lot of faith in the signal metering.
>
I suspect that receiver quality is a bigger factor that transmitter
power output. I am presently using a Linksys E3000 running DD-WRT which
displays some receiving data [SNR, signal to noise ratio]. I have no way
of verifying these numbers but have no reason to doubt them either. I
have also noticed that signal quality affects the data rates. Good
signal, faster transfers ...

Bob.

>
> Wireless Nodes
>
> Clients
> MAC Address Interface Uptime TX Rate RX Rate Signal
> Noise SNR Signal Quality
> 00:1E:52:86:4B:C3 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -42 -88 46
> 64%
> B8:FF:61:35:AC:CC eth1 N/A N/A N/A -52 -88 36
> 52%
> 00:1F:1F:A56:84 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -62 -88 26
> 39%
> 00:AA:BB:CCD:10 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -67 -88 21
> 33%
> 0C:EE:E6:84:F3:A9 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -55 -88 33
> 48%
> 00:11:85:8C:CC:25 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -61 -88 27
> 40%
> 00:02:6F:9B:BA:C4 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -42 -88 46
> 64%
> 00:1D:73:C9:11:94 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -57 -88 31
> 45%
>




.
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:26 PM
Alan Cox
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

> I don't place a lot of faith in the signal metering.

Power has little to do with signal quality. It might make it go a bit
further, it might win one or two more 'shouting louder than the others'
contests but chances are it won't make any big difference. Ten times the
power might get you a bit further, but not a vast amount with a simple
antenna, and generally that is all that is permissible for transmit on
licence exempt devices

It's all about reception antenna quality, hardware quality and local noise
levels. Remember this is a spread spectrum signal with low power levels
and that power spread thinly across a lot of frequencies.

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Old 08-25-2011, 02:43 PM
Marko Vojinovic
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On Thursday 25 August 2011 13:24:00 Bob Goodwin wrote:
> I suspect that receiver quality is a bigger factor that transmitter
> power output. I am presently using a Linksys E3000 running DD-WRT which
> displays some receiving data [SNR, signal to noise ratio]. I have no way
> of verifying these numbers but have no reason to doubt them either. I
> have also noticed that signal quality affects the data rates. Good
> signal, faster transfers ...
>
> > Wireless Nodes
> >
> > Clients
> > MAC Address Interface Uptime TX Rate RX Rate Signal
> > Noise SNR Signal Quality
> > 00:1E:52:86:4B:C3 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -42 -88 46
> > 64%
> > B8:FF:61:35:AC:CC eth1 N/A N/A N/A -52 -88 36
> > 52%
> > 00:1F:1F:A56:84 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -62 -88 26
> > 39%
> > 00:AA:BB:CCD:10 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -67 -88 21
> > 33%
> > 0C:EE:E6:84:F3:A9 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -55 -88 33
> > 48%
> > 00:11:85:8C:CC:25 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -61 -88 27
> > 40%
> > 00:02:6F:9B:BA:C4 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -42 -88 46
> > 64%
> > 00:1D:73:C9:11:94 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -57 -88 31
> > 45%

I'm confused --- there is the "Signal" column, the "Noise" column, and the
"SNR" column which apparently has nothing to do with the ratio between signal
and noise. In addition, how is the "Signal Quality" estimated?

Little help, please? :-)

Best, :-)
Marko

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Old 08-25-2011, 03:06 PM
Bob Goodwin
 
Default OT: Improving laptop wifi reception

On 25/08/11 10:43, Marko Vojinovic wrote:
> On Thursday 25 August 2011 13:24:00 Bob Goodwin wrote:
>> I suspect that receiver quality is a bigger factor that transmitter
>> power output. I am presently using a Linksys E3000 running DD-WRT which
>> displays some receiving data [SNR, signal to noise ratio]. I have no way
>> of verifying these numbers but have no reason to doubt them either. I
>> have also noticed that signal quality affects the data rates. Good
>> signal, faster transfers ...
>>
>>> Wireless Nodes
>>>
>>> Clients
>>> MAC Address Interface Uptime TX Rate RX Rate Signal
>>> Noise SNR Signal Quality
>>> 00:1E:52:86:4B:C3 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -42 -88 46
>>> 64%
>>> B8:FF:61:35:AC:CC eth1 N/A N/A N/A -52 -88 36
>>> 52%
>>> 00:1F:1F:A56:84 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -62 -88 26
>>> 39%
>>> 00:AA:BB:CCD:10 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -67 -88 21
>>> 33%
>>> 0C:EE:E6:84:F3:A9 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -55 -88 33
>>> 48%
>>> 00:11:85:8C:CC:25 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -61 -88 27
>>> 40%
>>> 00:02:6F:9B:BA:C4 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -42 -88 46
>>> 64%
>>> 00:1D:73:C9:11:94 eth1 N/A N/A N/A -57 -88 31
>>> 45%
> I'm confused --- there is the "Signal" column, the "Noise" column, and the
> "SNR" column which apparently has nothing to do with the ratio between signal
> and noise. In addition, how is the "Signal Quality" estimated?
>
> Little help, please? :-)
>
> Best, :-)
> Marko
>

I'm sorry, the lines were "wrapped" messing up the formatting.

There are four numbers of interest, Signal, Noise, SNR, and
Signal Quality.

Signal quality is expressed as a percentage. For instance the
first line shows the series
-42 -88 46 64%

The received signal level -42 dbm

The receiver noise level -88 dbm

Signal to noise ratio 46

Signal quality 64%

I did not create the system, I am merely a user but that's is
how I interpret it.

Bob



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