September 23, 2014

How to Boost Wireless Signal – Part 4: Tips, Tricks and Other Solutions

 

The previous articles in the series “How to Boost Wireless Signal covered various Router related solutions (Part 1 and Part 2 ), whereas Part 3 looked at Non-Router Components.

This article looks at various tips, tricks or other solutions that have been reported to improve both signal strength and wireless range.

Analyzer

Aside from identifying the wireless channels in use (noted in How to Boost Wireless Signal: Part 1), an Analyzer is great for troubleshooting a variety of network issues.  Analyzers are available as either software of hardware based solutions.

  • Software: Well known examples include inSSIDer or NetStumbler.
    • Free and simple to install on computer.
    • Test effectiveness of a Wi-Fi antenna.
    • Determine effective range of Wi-Fi.
    • Find weak signal and dead spots.
  • Hardware: For example Wi-Spy USB Spectrum Analyzer with External Antenna
    • Wi-Spy is noted to be the worlds smallest spectrum analyzer used for troubleshooting Wi-Fi networks.
    • For the ultimate in setting up and tracking down Wi-Fi networks conflicts and issues.

Boost Wireless Signal tricks

There are numerous tricks and tweaks reported to Boost Wireless Signal that range from the reasonable to the outright bizarre. Here are a few examples:

  • Attach tin (aluminium) foil to Routers Antenna.
  • Use a coffee can, Pringles tube or an empty/clean soup can in order to make a high gain wireless antenna…a ‘Cantenna’.
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  • A variation on the above is to put the Wireless Adapter into an empty and thoroughly clean soup can.
  • Use a reflector (Parabolic or Corner) to focus the signal and help transmitting/receiving.  A CD placed behind the receiving device/antenna can be used or alternatively, it is possible to make a DIY tin foil reflector to create a Parabola around an antenna. Results are variable although a  5-10% improvement is often stated.

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Click here for a free Parabolic Reflector Template.

  • Another variation is shown below:
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  • Mount Wireless Adapter to focal point of a disused satellite dish. Put adapter at end of pole where LBN used to be.

Computer Issues

  • Installing the latest drivers for a computers Network Adapter can bring noticeable benefits in performance. Your Network Adapters details can usually be found in the manual that came with your computer, otherwise access the information through your computer network settings.
  • Reduce intensive background operations that slow the system down.
  • Increase the RAM to make the computer run more efficiently.
  • Make sure the computer case (especially if it’s made of aluminium) doesn’t block the signal between the Router antenna and the Network Adapter.
  • Use WPA2  security to make sure that no outsider is connecting to your wireless network and stealing your bandwidth.

Equipment Consistency

Having a home network that uses wireless equipment from various brands/vendors may work satisfactorily, however, the system may not be functioning optimally. When the units are from various manufactures, the system can run slower due to various compatibility issues, overheads and data loss. The advantages of using Routers, Adapters, Antennas, Access Points, Repeaters or Boosters from a single manufacturer include:
  • Guaranteed compatibility meaning an easy and straightforward setup.
  • Improved reliability, signal strength and speed.
  • To get the full benefit of any proprietary signal booster technology, it will require all units to be from the same manufacturer.
  • When the units are from a single manufacturer you get the best possible signal because the units work in a synergistic manner to maintain an optimal signal.

Reducing Interference with Wi-Fi Friendly Products

It is possible to buy various Wi-Fi friendly household products and this is a trend that will increase significantly in the future. For example, one can buy the following Wi-Fi friendly cordless phones online at Amazon:

AT&T DECT 6.0 Digital Three Handset Answering System (SL82318)

Panasonic DECT 6.0-Series Dual-Handset Cordless Phone System
with Answering System (KX-TG1032S)

Vtech CS6219-2 DECT 6.0 Expandable 2-Handset Cordless Phone System
with Caller ID and Handset Speakerphone (CS6219-2)

 

Other Solutions

If nothing else works consider:

  • Your Provider. Upgrading to a faster connection speed with your broadband supplier can give you a  stronger signal or consider the possibility of switching provider.
  • Using an Ethernet Adapter that uses your home electrical wiring e.g. Powerline Model. This approach uses your homes existing wiring to send data between the modem and computer. The advantage is that it has the potential to be faster than Wi-Fi, but the disadvantage that interference can arise from other electrical items plugged into the electrical circuit. Good examples of this technology available readily through Amazon include:

 

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