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Dear Lazyweb.... Wireless routers
I've got a wireless router at home (a Linksys WRT54GL with dd-wrt installed). The problem I have is one of range. From my computer I get a signal strength of about 40%, and from our laptop I get a signal strength of around 75% (3of4 bars). I'd be more comfortable with a stronger signal.

Here's the key: The router is located in our living room, which is about 12'x20'x9' and has old plaster&wood lathe walls. It's located near an outside wall, in the corner, about 2' above a 4-drawer metal filing cabinet and 2' down from the ceiling. The laptop is pretty close to dead-center of the room, but only about 3' off the ground, not 4.5' for center of room. The wireless card in my computer is near the floor about 3' in from the opposite corner of the room from the router.

In other words, the laptop and computer have essentially unobstructed line-of-sight from the router with a maximum distance of 25'.

Shouldn't I be getting more than 40-75% signal strength?

Any suggestions?

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The filing cabinet could actually have something to do with it; wireless routers are notoriously vulnerable to large, metal objects. I have similar problems due to my old-school radiator, which is only a few feet away from my cable port, the only place in the apartment I can legitimately locate my wireless router.

I agree concerning the filing cabinet if it is metal. We have an issue with the I-Beam in our house with out wireless router. If your router supports an external AP get one. It should help.


Craig says if your PC is still uncased (as it was the last time he saw it), that could be part of the problem as well, since it would be a source of interference for the wireless signal.

Something that sometimes helps is increasing the signal power on the router (which you can adjust since you're running DD-WRT). I wouldn't go higher than 200% of its default value. It's no guarantee (as return signals still need to be heard by the router), but it has a chance.

My brain is not imaging the geometry of the rooms (because I am tired and don't feel like diagramming it), and I find I am missing some information that might be helpful to this puzzle. Missing information being what card is in the desktop, and what card is integrated (or installed) for the laptop.

Plaster is known to reflect signal. So depending on angles, perhaps there is greater signal in one location over another because the living room walls are reflecting signal towards them. Metal can absorb signal which may cause a dampening effect. I have known of a case where a customer at Best Buy kept dropping signal during the day and didn't notice it at night, and after diagramming, his kitchen was in between and he'd lose his connection if anyone in the house used the microwave or the cordless phone in his kitchen (that he came back to tell me later after I gave him my suspicions). Anything on the other side of the walls (cordless phone, anything else that may generate an EMF) that might be causing any possible signal reduction? So line of sight may not be the deciding factor (unless you've got directionally focused wireless technology like the awesome Hawkings products). Think ripples in the pond for the signal, reflecting and absorbing, and constructive and destructive interference patterns.

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