Extending the range of a d-link router

I tossed my crappy Linksys router for a d-link one yesterday. Both routers suffer from poor range due to crappy placemement: the router needs to sit on an exterior wall since it’s also a 4-port hub. I can’t drag that much ethernet cable across the room.

What are the best options for extending the range? If I go the far end of the house, the signal is too weak. Are the extenders worth it? Is there a way to just bunny ear an antenna over to the doorway at least?

Antenna.

Depending on what profile you need for your coverage area, there’s a few different models I’d suggest:

If your router is in the corner of your coverage area (on sale for a killer price right now):

If it’s towards the center of your coverage area:

You might want to try DD-WRT or Tomato; I’m pretty sure that there’s a version for most, if not all D-Link’s. Those usually give an option to boost the transmit signal beyond what the stock firmware offers. That might fix your problem without additional hardware.

Also, what kind of construction is your house?

Yeah, the signal from my Linksys WRT54g couldn’t even reach an adjacent room until I got the DD-WRT firmware. I only had to boost the power from 28 to 128 mW (the maximum is 251 mW); now the reception is fine throughout the house. I’m surprised the default power is set so low.

Range extenders cut your bandwidth in half. Toss that option out. If you want to understand why, it’s based on the fact that a range extender must be a client as well as an AP. They must use the same radio for both though, which halves the time the radio can spend on each. The net effect of this is that you lose half the wireless throughput when you use an extender. If you’re simply web browsing, this will be fine. If you do much more than that, understand that this can be a bottleneck. If you actually find a range extender with a dual radio, you would negate this bottleneck, but I’ve yet to see any around here.

Boosting output power or higher gain antenna options will help, but they won’t get you as much as an in house cable run (can be done cheaply) and a second access point. At best you will get about a bar extra with either of those options. Understand that it’s a logarithmic curve though, a single bar equates to a pretty significant snr gain (signal to noise ratio.)

Again though, a separate AP is the best of the solutions. A typical house run for a single ethernet cable like that won’t take long, maybe a hour of labor. I had someone do mine, which included fishing lines through the walls and it took the guy a bit over an hour and ran me about 60 bucks (Charlotte, NC). The reduction of frustration after trying both antenna and signal boosting techniques was well worth it.

Also to cover perhaps a follow up question. If you have multiple access points you can provide “roaming” in the house with the following technique:

  1. Assign the same SSID and authentication type on all AP’s.
  2. Assign the same network key/WEP key on all AP’s.
  3. Assign discreet channels for each unit, cycling from either wireless channel 1, 6 or 11.
  4. Only one (1) unit/router, should be providing DHCP. Turn this off on the other units.
  5. AP-only units should have ethernet connecting to their LAN ports. They should not be using the WAN port at all.
  6. If you actually have more than 3 AP’s at any time, the next use of channel 1, should be the farthest AP from the first unit using channel 1.

Before you know it you’ll have your entire house as a hotspot with wonderful coverage.