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Author Topic: Any ideas - expand a wireless network to a neighbouring house?  (Read 6491 times)
Carol Haynes
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« on: May 26, 2009, 11:16:24 AM »

I am trying to expand a wireless network from one house into the house next door. The destination is a holiday cottage but the walls are too thick to allow normal wireless signals to get through - 24" of solid stone!!!

We can drill a hole and pass an ethernet cable through but the router is not positioned on the adjacent wall so ideally I need a device in the main house that will pick up the wireless signal and pass it through the wall and then another device to allow the signal to work in the next house.

Anyone any ideas what is required?

It is trivial to set up a wired connection by running an ethernet cable from the router through the wall and then just add a switch for a wired connection but how can I do this with just a short cable through the wall and wireless signals otherwise on both sides of the wall?

Can you use wireless routers as wireless switches (i.e. not in wireless mode) in which case how do I connect them together and how do I set up WiFi security in this sort of setup?

TIA

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nudone
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 11:21:35 AM »

i can't recommend any specific product but it sounds like you just need a decent wireless repeater.

i've seen this Belkin one in use - it did what you'd expect.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/B...qid=1243354802&sr=8-1

edit:
erm, not sure if that will do it. it might need plugging into the network. i thought it just picked up the wireless signal and repeated it.

edit:
this one doesn't need a physical connection to your network:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/L...qid=1243354802&sr=8-2
« Last Edit: May 26, 2009, 11:29:23 AM by nudone » Logged
Carol Haynes
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 11:44:32 AM »

Thanks for the suggestions but I don't think a simple (ahem) repeater would do the job.

The problem is the expander only gets the signal as far as the partition wall between the houses - the signal won't go through the wall because it is too thick so I would need something on both sides of the wall connected by a short cable through the wall - one to collect the signal from the router - the other to expand the signal on the other side of the wall.

If it were possible to place the router next to the wall (it isn't) then a simple expander would solve the problem.

Having said that I have never used the Belkin device you mentioned (though the reviews on Amazon aren't exactly universally positive) but I have use the Linksys expander before and found it a nightmare to configure, it had poor WiFi protection (that made it even harder to configure) and only seems to work with other Linksys products.
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patthecat
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2009, 11:50:05 AM »

There are universal wireless repeaters that you can purchase.  That's what I have done at my brother's house several years ago.  But now not I do not like having a specific device for one function only smiley

Last year I experimented in replacing existing router firmware with the open source dd-wrt firmware (dd-wrt.com).  It has specific versions for different routers.  Basically it replaces the router's firmware and gives it advanced features such as universal repeater and repeater bridge functionality; and increasing transmission power, and encryption which is what you are looking  to do.

I've used this on several Linksys WRT54GL routers and even on a Belkin Wireless repeater device.  The MAC address filtering does not seem to work in repeater or repeater bridge mode but the WEP/WPA encryption schemes will work.  

If you go the dd-wrt method please see if your router model and version number is supported, then read faq, forums carefully since you are essentially replacing the manufacturer firmware (invalidating the warranty) and have the potential to "brick" the router.

You can also ask me some questions before you proceed, since I'll also be updating the dd-wrt version at my parent's house when I go on holiday next week.

patrick
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patthecat
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2009, 11:54:17 AM »

if you have removable antennas, you can try several external omnidirectional antennas which attach via up to a 6 foot cable.

but a better antenna would be directional/patch antennas which focus on a specific area.  You can also try a thing called a "cantenna" (a highly focused directional antenna) which can be purchased online and on some retail store.

patrick
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2009, 12:02:40 PM »

Possibly pure ignorance here, but would simply having two routers plus some thing else with DHCP (switch / adsl / wired router) not work. I mean two wireless routers, one in each house, neither with DHCP turned on. From their WAN ports connect them to a regular wired router which would have it's DHCP turned on. Then everyone connected to one wireless router can still see everyone connected to the other because they're all actually behind the same NAT.

It could probably be gotten to work with just the two wireless routers. One would have DHCP on and the other's WAN port would connect to a regular LAN port on the DHCP wireless router.
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nudone
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2009, 12:14:47 PM »

sorry. after reading your original post i now see the problem - but don't have any good suggestions.

could you put a cable up through into the roof cavity and then drop it down into the next cottage - messy i know.

what about the mimo wireless routers - maybe a decent one would be powerful enough to get through the wall.
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Dormouse
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2009, 12:17:52 PM »

Why bother with wireless?

Two homeplugs on your side. One near your router, the other near the wall. Ethernet through the wall. Then whatever you want on the other side.
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patthecat
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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2009, 12:29:11 PM »

House to house via ethernet cable would be the best and stable solution but I think Carol's concern is the length of the cable run as the router is not against the wall next to the other house.

I guess I would approach this like:

Main house: Main router to repeater router with dd-wrt connected via ethernet (preferrably) or wireless.  Repeater router should be placed near a window so signal can propagate outside.

Other house: Some sort of directional external antenna either connected to the wifi card / wifi usb dongle of the computer or another router.  Antenna should be focused on the path from the main house where the signal can go out with the least amount a resistance (like near that main house window).

If the router firmware replacement scenario is not feasible then maybe using just the cantenna would be a cheapest solution to try since it's a focused directional antenna.
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Dormouse
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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2009, 12:33:36 PM »

homeplug will do 300m
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patthecat
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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2009, 12:36:38 PM »

Yes the homeplug network suggestion is also a good idea.  This way the weather does not come into play in signal stability.  Check availability for compatibility with your electrical systems / outlet.
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40hz
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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2009, 04:29:55 PM »

There are two routes you can take - either bridging two wireless routers together, or setting up a wireless distribution system (WDS).

The easiest way to do this is to use two WAP Routers that already support a bridge mode. Check the documentation for what you have and look for a MODE function that  usually toggles between something like "Access Point" and "something Bridge" (client bridge, bridge mode, etc.) In this scenario, clients on the second "bridged" AP get their DHCP services and Internet connection from the primary AP.

Here are two links to get you started. The pages aren't too well laid out, and they use DD-WRT modified Linksys routers for their example. But the information is solid, and the concepts can be extrapolated to (hopefully) use whatever you have.

Info on bridging: http://www.wi-fiplanet.co...rials/article.php/3639271

Info on WDS: http://www.wi-fiplanet.co...rials/article.php/3628576

You'll also need to beef up the antennae. There are a bunch of DIY designs out on the web. A quick Google will get you dozens of hits. I've built a few using the information on this page:

http://www.turnpoint.net/...reless/cantennahowto.html

I've pointed two of these at each other between two buildings about 100' apart and have been generally happy with the results.

For long distances, you'd likely need to use a true directional antenna. These can also be made at home. Can't speak for how easy or hard it is to do one of these since I've never built one.

Luck! Thmbsup

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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2009, 04:37:52 PM »

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Homeplugs might be a good suggestion to an expander in the neighbouring house (or access point in non-router mode).

I'm doing this for someone else so I don't really want to flash non-standard BIOS code to their hardware in case I am not around in the future to sort out any problems for them.

The simplest solution would be to live without wireless and simply give the rented house a simple ethernet socket!
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xtabber
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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2009, 10:38:46 AM »

You should be able to accomplish what you want with a Planex GW-AP54SP-P 2-way access point, although I've never used one myself, so I can't vouch for it. Take a look at the manual and see if it looks like it could be made to work.

http://www.planex.net/pro.../wireless/gw-ap54sp-p.htm

Finding one might be more of a problem, since it seems no longer to be sold by anyone.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 11:53:08 AM »

Thanks all - I think the problem is sorted by sing HomePlugs - I have ordered a couple and will give it a go.

Turns out the rental cottage is actually detached from the main house but on the same electricity supply - I am hoping that the homeplugs can cope with being that detached (they have separate fuse boxes but are run from the same supply meter) otherwise I will need to run a cable from one home plug to the other house and attach a wireless expander or some form of switch.
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« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2009, 06:26:18 AM »

Hi,
You didn't mention the spec of the wireless router in your main house.  A Wireless N router in the main house with a wireless N adapter in the cottage could be a way to go, the improved range might just get through the thick walls!

Good luck!
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2009, 06:42:50 AM »

Its a Netgear 54g router (supplied by SkyTV Broadband so I am not sure of the model number). I know wireless n has good range but even so I think it would struggle through numerous solid stone walls - all about 24-30" thick !!

I have got some homeplugs to try out and will give them a go on Monday. My only concern is that the two buildings are on the same mains supply but have separate distribution boards and there seems to be some variability about whether homeplugs can work on two separately distributed circuits. At least the homeplugs should get me to within about 10 feet of the destination (even if it doesn't work in the second building) - I can then run an ethernet cable under the gravel path into the next building and either install a switch, wifi Expander or a wall mounted ethernet socket. Fingers crossed the homeplug works.
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slyskawa
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2009, 09:01:14 AM »

I've done this on a professional basis for a client.  You need a wireless ethernet bridge such as any of the Linksys WET series (wet610n is the latest).  This takes a wired connection and transmits it over the wireless network.  My distance was pretty far so I ended up with 2 wireless routers, one at each location, and 2 wireless bridges, again one at each location.  The wireless bridges provide a wireless pipe between the two location.  The wireless routers provide wireless access at each location.  This is all secured using WPA.

I've also done it with less wireless devices by using the customized router firmware, such as dd-wrt, tomato or openwrt but you did not seem interested in that solution.

Let me know if you would like more detailed information.
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normeus
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2009, 03:33:13 AM »

Try this:
http://meraki.com/
I haven't used it but it seems like it should work plus you would be able to charge for internet usage  cheesy
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2009, 07:08:21 PM »

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

I have been playing with powerline adapters and have managed to set up a connection from one building to another without any issues. They are quite happy with it the way it is at the moment and if they need it to be wireless in the future I can simply add an expander to the powerline adapter in the external building.

Cheers
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