Weak Client Side Wireless – How to Fix It

It has been brought to my attention that I forgot to mention how to fix the problem of weak client side transmission, which I discussed back on August 18th. So I figured I would quickly fill in that void.

There are several ways to increase the range of your wireless client and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Now, while you read this entry please remember that, like a standard wireless access point or bridge, there are always two parts to a wireless client, the “radio” and the “antenna“. The radio is the device creating the RF signal and the antenna amplifies that signal.

So that being said I am sure you can guess that the first way to increase the range of yourwireless client is…Add an antenna!

1) Add an antenna to your client device. In mobile applications you would want anomnidirectional antenna (signal is radiated in a 360 degree pattern) and for fixed environment you would be better served by a directional panel antenna or grid antenna (signal is more focused in a certain direction). Of course you need to have a client device (PC card or laptop card) that has an external antenna connector built in. The major issue is that most (99%) of laptops have integrated wireless cards and antennas that can not be upgraded in which case you might better be served by number 2 below.

2) The next step is to add a wireless card into your laptop or desktop that has the necessary external antenna connector and then add a high gain external antenna to really boost the signal. This is a pretty easy way to increase wireless transmission and is great for laptops however not so great for desktops. If you want to use this method to increase your wireless signal on your desktop you will normally be required to run a good amount of coaxial cable from the PC up and out to the external antenna. This is definitely the method of choice for laptops but I find it a little cumbersome for desktop machines. Below you can find a picture of cards with external antenna connectors.
The one of the left is made by Ubiquiti Networks and goes in the PCMCIA card slot on the side of your laptop. The one on the right is a PCI card for your PC. You can remove the rubber duck antenna that comes with the card and install coax cable that runs to the antenna you installed on your roof.

3) The third option is great for fixed environments like homes, RVs, boats, etc. Purchase anexternal wireless client that sits on the roof of whatever structure you are in. This client can be an all in one device with both the radio and the antenna built in to one unit or you can purchase one with an external connector for higher gain antennas. Here is what they look like…
Here is how you would use them…

Option 1: Install the external wireless client on your roof, point it at your ISP, run an Ethernet cable from the client to the power over Ethernet injector and then plug it in directly to you PC.

Option 2: Install the wireless client just like in option one but instead of plugging directly into your PC plug it into a wireless router! This will allow you to rebroadcast the signal from outside wireless INSIDE your house, giving you the best of both worlds!

Hope this helps!