How to improve on Wireless Range
Wireless and Antenna Terms
Wireless routers, access points, and adapters send and receive radio wave signals through antennas. The antenna is hidden inside adapters, but on routers and access points there's a visible antenna. Radio waves can be focussed like a lightbulb. And like a light, some materials reduce or stop radio waves. While light focused from several lights is brighter and makes it easier to see, several antennas in the same area cause interference ? the radio signals will be muddy and confused.
Your goals in optimizing power are:
* Avoid obstacles.
* Avoid interference.
* Increase signal strength. Power affects how far an antenna radiates.
* Use the equipment in places it's most powerful and most sensitive.
Antennas don't radiate equally in every direction. Just as the base of a lightbulb blocks light, and just as a light can be focussed by a reflector, so an antenna signal may be blocked and focused. Since people cannot see radio waves, you'll rely on testing and trial-and-error to get an idea of where antennas "shine" most brightly. An adapter's antenna is important, but the most powerful and sensitive antennas are on routers, access points, and detachable external antennas.
The focus of an antenna is either omni-directional antenna or directional. "Omnis" are used in most home products, they radiate horizontally all around, but are weaker upward or downward. When visible, these antennas are usually a rod a few inches long. A directional antenna radiates strongly in a limited direction. It is a flat panel or a dish. These are used for point-to-point transmissions (where two antennas are focused directly at each another). These need a line of sight between them, and preferably a large open space around the main beam.
When you are near antennas you'll still get a signal, even if you are out of the direction of its strongest signals. But when further away, you have to be in the direction the beam is the most powerful and unobstructed to receive it.
One final concept before you go to the above links is interference. Interference is a signal ? one you don't want ? at the same frequency as the one you're using. Interference comes from devices such as microwave ovens, cell phones, 2.4 GHz cordless phones, and copy machines. Interference is also caused when your own wireless signals are bounced off reflecting objects. Objects may partly or completely absorb signals, reflect them, bend them, or let them pass right through. Metal and water (including the water in people!) absorb or reflect signals. Air, wood, and glass tend to let signals pass with weakening. And when outdoors, plants and the weather may cause interference.
Feb 19, 2006 |
NetGear CG814M Wireless Cable Modem...