Mac Fallout Shelter

Extending Your Range and Reducing WiFi Interference

- 2006.02.28 - Tip Jar

This week we'll try to solve your wireless problems. Everyone has them, especially when you're on the go and need to find access points.

I'm going to show you different options that you can use to extend the range of your wireless 802.11a/b/g connections.

Wireless Network Adapters

Which method you choose depends on your wireless network adapter. If you don't have a wireless card, I highly recommend the MacWireless cards for both desktops and 'Books. I really like their 'Book cards because they go in your PCMCIA port and have a external antenna port. They are also compatible with Apple's AirPort drivers.

Wireless Antennas

If you have a built in AirPort card, you can increase your wireless range by adding an external antenna. Every Mac model is different, but here's one example: 12" PowerBook External Antenna Hack.

Notice! This will void your warranty and is for experienced persons only.

You can also upgrade your access point's antennas using your own antenna or purchasing upgrade kits like this one from Linksys.

Range Extenders

Range extenders relay wireless signals in the area, making them stronger. These are pretty new and promise to be the easiest way to boost your signal without modifying your hardware. Range extenders only work with 802.11g and later networking; they are not compatible with 802.11b hardware, such as Apple's original AirPort system. Linksys's WRE54G is an example of a range extender.

Another option, which is more advanced, is to set up a Wireless Distribution System (WDS) using a wireless router that supports WDS to extend an existing wireless network.

Interference

To finalize, make sure you don't have microwave ovens nearby that are going to be used a lot. Some newer ovens are cleaner and don't pollute the airwaves affecting your wireless communications.

The other devices that really mess with WiFi are the old 2.4 GHz cordless phones. These will constantly hurt your signal strength, and I recommend either getting an older 900 MHz or a newer 5 GHz cordless phone to solve this problem.

The last things I can think of that affect your range are concrete and high voltage power lines.

Enjoy your stronger wireless access. LEM

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