Looking for a stronger wireless network USB adapter...

Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

Hi.

I am looking for a stronger wireless network USB adapter since my
current old D-Link AirPlus DWL-120+ USB Adapter is not strong enough and
not compatible with MacOS X 10.2.8 and Linux (Debian; Kernel 2.6.8; I
know there is a third party EXPERIMENTAL driver). It works OK in Windows
XP and 2000 SP4.

What's the best powerful and not so expensive network USB Adapter to
connect to WAPs at great distances? This D-Link one likes to disconnects
and sometimes cannot pick up a lot of WAPs. I am planning to use the new
one for my old 15" PowerBook G4 1 Ghz (its Airport is very weak),
desktop machines, etc. so I will be switching between computers often
and taking it with me. Linux and MacOS X drivers are important and must
be easy to set up with little compilation and configuration.

Are there any after Christmas sales? I live in Los Angeles county and I
would like to buy from a retail store like Best Buy, Circuit City,
CompUSA, Fry's Electronics, Office Depot, Staples, PC Club, Nexcom, etc.

Thank you in advance and happy holidays! :)
--
"It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?" --Henry
David Thoreau
/\___/\
/ /\ /\ \ Ant @ The Ant Farm: http://antfarm.ma.cx
| |o o| | Ant's Quality Foraged Links: http://aqfl.net
\ _ / Please remove ANT if replying by e-mail.
( )
8 answers Last reply
More about looking stronger wireless network adapter
  1. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    On Sun, 26 Dec 2004 17:19:22 -0600, ANTant@zimage.com wrote:

    >I am looking for a stronger wireless network USB adapter since my
    >current old D-Link AirPlus DWL-120+ USB Adapter is not strong enough and
    >not compatible with MacOS X 10.2.8 and Linux (Debian; Kernel 2.6.8; I
    >know there is a third party EXPERIMENTAL driver). It works OK in Windows
    >XP and 2000 SP4.

    Just about anything with a Prism chipset can be bludeoned to work with
    OS/X. See:
    http://www.mcquitty.net/Thomas/projects/USBWirelessOSX.html
    Here's a shopping list of MacOS and OS/X compatible hardware:
    http://home.earthlink.net/~metaphyzx/Wireless.htm
    For Linux, see:
    http://www.linux-wlan.org/docs/wlan_adapters.html.gz

    >What's the best powerful and not so expensive network USB Adapter to
    >connect to WAPs at great distances?

    Ignore the price tag initially, as there doesn't seem to be any
    connection between quality and price in the wireless hardware biz.

    What do you mean by "great distances"? How many miles, furlongs[1],
    cubits, chains, or paces do you consider to one "great distance"?

    The problem is probably not the USB radio. It's the antenna. The
    tiny USB PIFA PCB antennas are just too small to do anything useful at
    "great distances".
    http://www.LearnByDestroying.com/pics/wireless/DWL-122/index.html
    The left two photos are the antenna.

    Basically, you need a bigger antenna or an add on reflector antenna.
    A different tiny USB radio is likely to have the same range. USB
    radios with 1/4 wave antennas (about 31mm long) work better than the
    tiny PIFA antennas.

    Try a reflector first:
    http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz
    http://www.freeantennas.com/prod01.htm
    or a coffee can:
    http://www.nodomainname.co.uk/cantenna/cantenna.htm
    Or a mini-USB can be mounted to a reflector, or put into a can.
    http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=175
    http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz/
    http://makeashorterlink.com/?Q105513C8
    http://www.rahul.net/dold/clarence/usb-can/im000742-800x600.jpg
    (Stolen from a posting by Clarence A Dold.)

    On the last URL, I'm not sure that bashing a hole in the side of the
    coffee can is the right way to do this. Methinks it might block too
    much reflected RF from the bottom of the can. Instead, I suggest you
    bash a hole in the bottom of the can, dead center, and adjust the
    distance between the end of the USB radio, and the bottom of the can
    to about 31mm. I'm not sure this will work any better, but it will
    only cost you a coffee can to find out.

    >This D-Link one likes to disconnects
    >and sometimes cannot pick up a lot of WAPs. I am planning to use the new
    >one for my old 15" PowerBook G4 1 Ghz (its Airport is very weak),

    External high gain antennas for Apple Powerbooks are available:
    http://www.quickertek.com/WhipProant.html
    http://www.quickertek.com/12pbwhip.html
    http://www.quickertek.com/buffalog.html
    (and a bunch more...)

    >desktop machines, etc. so I will be switching between computers often
    >and taking it with me. Linux and MacOS X drivers are important and must
    >be easy to set up with little compilation and configuration.

    Good, fast, cheap. Pick two.

    If you really want a universal wireless contraption, forget about USB.
    All operating systems will talk to ethernet. Get a box that can play
    wireless client with an ethernet port. WAP54G, DWL-900AP+, etc.
    There's nothing unique in the operating system. No drivers, configs,
    or installs. There's also no 16ft USB cable limitation. Put it on
    your roof if you feel the urge. You can also get ethernet radios with
    a built in antenna:
    http://www.ydi.com/products/mini-etherant-lr.php

    >Are there any after Christmas sales? I live in Los Angeles county and I
    >would like to buy from a retail store like Best Buy, Circuit City,
    >CompUSA, Fry's Electronics, Office Depot, Staples, PC Club, Nexcom, etc.
    >
    >Thank you in advance and happy holidays! :)

    [1] One furlong is equal to 220 yards and is commonly used in horse
    racing to confuse everyone.


    --
    Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 AE6KS 831-336-2558
  2. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Wowser! Thanks for the informative links!

    It seems like there are a lot of lack of drivers and support on non-Windows
    platforms, especially on MacOS X. How disappoointing. Since you say the
    prices are not important, I will ignore that just to get the OS support.

    Based on http://www.salescircular.com/ca/computer/wrlsnp.shtml
    (12/27/2004):

    Linksys WUSB54G = $39.99 [Best Buy] = 3rd party Linux driver and
    no MacOS X driver

    DLink WL 54G USB = $39.99 = can't find on D-Link's site
    Linksys WL 11b USB = $29.99/$39.99 = can't find on Linksys' site
    Linksys WL 108G USB = $59.99 = can't find on Linksys' site
    Linksys WL 54 USB = $59.99 = can't find on Linksys' site
    Netgear WG111 NA = $29.99 = No drivers for both MacOS X and Linux


    Having a reflector is a bit overboard. I don't want have to carry something
    that big and I don't really like modify hardwares (not a tool guy). :)

    Is the limited USB radio the same thing in laptops/notebooks that come
    with wireless networking?


    Jeff Liebermann <jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us> wrote:
    > On Sun, 26 Dec 2004 17:19:22 -0600, ANTant@zimage.com wrote:

    > >I am looking for a stronger wireless network USB adapter since my
    > >current old D-Link AirPlus DWL-120+ USB Adapter is not strong enough and
    > >not compatible with MacOS X 10.2.8 and Linux (Debian; Kernel 2.6.8; I
    > >know there is a third party EXPERIMENTAL driver). It works OK in Windows
    > >XP and 2000 SP4.

    > Just about anything with a Prism chipset can be bludeoned to work with
    > OS/X. See:
    > http://www.mcquitty.net/Thomas/projects/USBWirelessOSX.html
    > Here's a shopping list of MacOS and OS/X compatible hardware:
    > http://home.earthlink.net/~metaphyzx/Wireless.htm
    > For Linux, see:
    > http://www.linux-wlan.org/docs/wlan_adapters.html.gz

    > >What's the best powerful and not so expensive network USB Adapter to
    > >connect to WAPs at great distances?

    > Ignore the price tag initially, as there doesn't seem to be any
    > connection between quality and price in the wireless hardware biz.

    > What do you mean by "great distances"? How many miles, furlongs[1],
    > cubits, chains, or paces do you consider to one "great distance"?

    > The problem is probably not the USB radio. It's the antenna. The
    > tiny USB PIFA PCB antennas are just too small to do anything useful at
    > "great distances".
    > http://www.LearnByDestroying.com/pics/wireless/DWL-122/index.html
    > The left two photos are the antenna.

    > Basically, you need a bigger antenna or an add on reflector antenna.
    > A different tiny USB radio is likely to have the same range. USB
    > radios with 1/4 wave antennas (about 31mm long) work better than the
    > tiny PIFA antennas.

    > Try a reflector first:
    > http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz
    > http://www.freeantennas.com/prod01.htm
    > or a coffee can:
    > http://www.nodomainname.co.uk/cantenna/cantenna.htm
    > Or a mini-USB can be mounted to a reflector, or put into a can.
    > http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=175
    > http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz/
    > http://makeashorterlink.com/?Q105513C8
    > http://www.rahul.net/dold/clarence/usb-can/im000742-800x600.jpg
    > (Stolen from a posting by Clarence A Dold.)

    > On the last URL, I'm not sure that bashing a hole in the side of the
    > coffee can is the right way to do this. Methinks it might block too
    > much reflected RF from the bottom of the can. Instead, I suggest you
    > bash a hole in the bottom of the can, dead center, and adjust the
    > distance between the end of the USB radio, and the bottom of the can
    > to about 31mm. I'm not sure this will work any better, but it will
    > only cost you a coffee can to find out.

    > >This D-Link one likes to disconnects
    > >and sometimes cannot pick up a lot of WAPs. I am planning to use the new
    > >one for my old 15" PowerBook G4 1 Ghz (its Airport is very weak),

    > External high gain antennas for Apple Powerbooks are available:
    > http://www.quickertek.com/WhipProant.html
    > http://www.quickertek.com/12pbwhip.html
    > http://www.quickertek.com/buffalog.html
    > (and a bunch more...)

    > >desktop machines, etc. so I will be switching between computers often
    > >and taking it with me. Linux and MacOS X drivers are important and must
    > >be easy to set up with little compilation and configuration.

    > Good, fast, cheap. Pick two.

    > If you really want a universal wireless contraption, forget about USB.
    > All operating systems will talk to ethernet. Get a box that can play
    > wireless client with an ethernet port. WAP54G, DWL-900AP+, etc.
    > There's nothing unique in the operating system. No drivers, configs,
    > or installs. There's also no 16ft USB cable limitation. Put it on
    > your roof if you feel the urge. You can also get ethernet radios with
    > a built in antenna:
    > http://www.ydi.com/products/mini-etherant-lr.php

    > >Are there any after Christmas sales? I live in Los Angeles county and I
    > >would like to buy from a retail store like Best Buy, Circuit City,
    > >CompUSA, Fry's Electronics, Office Depot, Staples, PC Club, Nexcom, etc.
    > >
    > >Thank you in advance and happy holidays! :)

    > [1] One furlong is equal to 220 yards and is commonly used in horse
    > racing to confuse everyone.
    --
    "It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?" --Henry
    David Thoreau
    /\___/\
    / /\ /\ \ Ant @ The Ant Farm: http://antfarm.ma.cx
    | |o o| | Ant's Quality Foraged Links: http://aqfl.net
    \ _ / Please remove ANT if replying by e-mail.
    ( )
  3. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 11:05:55 -0600, ANTant@zimage.com wrote:

    >Having a reflector is a bit overboard. I don't want have to carry something
    >that big and I don't really like modify hardwares (not a tool guy). :)

    Learn by Destroying perhaps? The reflector can be quite portable. A
    pair of hinged flat plate reflectors in the shape of a book is quite
    portable. When deployed, it acts like a corner reflector. I wouldn't
    use one in a crowded coffee shop, but it's idea for sitting under a
    tree and connecting to a distant access point.

    >Is the limited USB radio the same thing in laptops/notebooks that come
    >with wireless networking?

    I don't understand the question. Looks like you left out a few key
    words.

    Also, you never did answer my question. How far is your "great
    distance"? It may not be possible if it's too far.


    --
    Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 AE6KS 831-336-2558
  4. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Jeff Liebermann <jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us> wrote:
    > http://makeashorterlink.com/?Q105513C8
    > http://www.rahul.net/dold/clarence/usb-can/im000742-800x600.jpg

    > On the last URL, I'm not sure that bashing a hole in the side of the
    > coffee can is the right way to do this. Methinks it might block too
    > much reflected RF from the bottom of the can. Instead, I suggest you
    > bash a hole in the bottom of the can, dead center, and adjust the
    > distance between the end of the USB radio, and the bottom of the can
    > to about 31mm. I'm not sure this will work any better, but it will
    > only cost you a coffee can to find out.

    The pattern from the DWL-122 is off the face of the assembled unit.
    Pointing it in from the bottom of the can wouldn't be helpful.
    Blocking 1/10th of the surface area of the reflector on the backside of
    the usb dongle probably doesn't make much difference.

    ---
    Clarence A Dold - Hidden Valley (Lake County) CA USA 38.8-122.5
  5. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 18:14:21 +0000 (UTC),
    dold@XReXXLooki.usenet.us.com wrote:

    >Jeff Liebermann <jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us> wrote:
    >> http://makeashorterlink.com/?Q105513C8
    >> http://www.rahul.net/dold/clarence/usb-can/im000742-800x600.jpg
    >
    >> On the last URL, I'm not sure that bashing a hole in the side of the
    >> coffee can is the right way to do this. Methinks it might block too
    >> much reflected RF from the bottom of the can. Instead, I suggest you
    >> bash a hole in the bottom of the can, dead center, and adjust the
    >> distance between the end of the USB radio, and the bottom of the can
    >> to about 31mm. I'm not sure this will work any better, but it will
    >> only cost you a coffee can to find out.

    >The pattern from the DWL-122 is off the face of the assembled unit.

    Agreed. Most of the RF comes off from the direction of the top of the
    DWL-122 (side with name and flashing LED's). However, it's anything
    but directional. When I tinkered with mine in "free space", I found
    very little difference in signal level pointing inline with the
    dongle, than at the alleged maximum RF point. There was a rather
    large drop towards the bottom of the unit, which would be expected
    from the shielding of the circuit board. Basically, as the antenna
    shrinks in size, it starts to act more like a point source (isotropic)
    radiator. My guess(tm) is that the pattern is more like a sphere,
    with a big dent in the direction of the bottom and in the direction of
    the cable. If I feed ambitious, I'll see if I can concoct a PIFA NEC2
    model and play with the results.

    >Pointing it in from the bottom of the can wouldn't be helpful.
    >Blocking 1/10th of the surface area of the reflector on the backside of
    >the usb dongle probably doesn't make much difference.

    As I said, I'm not sure it will work any better coming in from the
    bottom. 10% is about 1dB which is probably not worth worrying about.
    However, the height above the base reflector is important and does
    make a difference in both pattern and gain. The ability to adjust
    this height is much easier with a hole in the bottom, than one in the
    side. In any case, it will only cost one coffee can to find out.


    --
    Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 AE6KS 831-336-2558
  6. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Jeff Liebermann <jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us> wrote:
    > Agreed. Most of the RF comes off from the direction of the top of the
    > DWL-122 (side with name and flashing LED's). However, it's anything
    > but directional. When I tinkered with mine in "free space", I found

    I think it is quite directional. I had some signal off the point, very
    little off the back. Most off the face. I didn't check the cable end. I
    had mine stuck on the end of a wooden dowel, holding it above my head,
    rotating, and then pointing toward the WAP.

    > However, the height above the base reflector is important and does
    > make a difference in both pattern and gain. The ability to adjust
    > this height is much easier with a hole in the bottom, than one in the
    > side. In any case, it will only cost one coffee can to find out.

    The fixed height of the dongle attached the way that I have it is
    immutable. But changing the diameter of the can has the apparent effect of
    moving it more or less off center in the can. If it is more waveguide than
    reflector, this is useful.

    I tried a little slide screen for repositioning my side mount at different
    distances from the bottom, and didn't find much variation. I thought it
    was better at over two inches, instead of the calulated 1.7", but later
    review of the Netstumbler log showed some fluctuations that I hadn't
    noticed the first time. I think sloppy angling inside the can has as much
    deleterious effect as bad distance from the reflective bottom.

    Sticking the USB connector of the dongle through the can and using the
    cable attachment as a clamp of sorts is so easy. A solid mount at some
    point along the body would be more difficult.

    ---
    Clarence A Dold - Hidden Valley (Lake County) CA USA 38.8-122.5
  7. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Jeff Liebermann <jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us> wrote:
    > On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 11:05:55 -0600, ANTant@zimage.com wrote:

    > >Having a reflector is a bit overboard. I don't want have to carry something
    > >that big and I don't really like modify hardwares (not a tool guy). :)

    > Learn by Destroying perhaps? The reflector can be quite portable. A
    > pair of hinged flat plate reflectors in the shape of a book is quite
    > portable. When deployed, it acts like a corner reflector. I wouldn't
    > use one in a crowded coffee shop, but it's idea for sitting under a
    > tree and connecting to a distant access point.

    I don't like breaking expensive stuff. :) Maybe when I don't care about
    the hardwares!


    > >Is the limited USB radio the same thing in laptops/notebooks that come
    > >with wireless networking?

    > I don't understand the question. Looks like you left out a few key
    > words.

    I meant to say if the wireless network devices in laptops have limited
    USB radio or are they strong in distance reach and stability?


    > Also, you never did answer my question. How far is your "great
    > distance"? It may not be possible if it's too far.

    Sorry, far enough that it can go. I don't know how far my D-Link goes.
    I cannot find the distance specifications for D-Link AirPlus DWL-120+ USB
    adapter. PowerBook G4's Airport is definitely too weak.
    --
    "It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?" --Henry
    David Thoreau
    /\___/\
    / /\ /\ \ Ant @ The Ant Farm: http://antfarm.ma.cx
    | |o o| | Ant's Quality Foraged Links: http://aqfl.net
    \ _ / Please remove ANT if replying by e-mail.
    ( )
  8. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 21:41:54 -0600, ANTant@zimage.com wrote:

    >I meant to say if the wireless network devices in laptops have limited
    >USB radio or are they strong in distance reach and stability?

    No, there's nothing in the laptop that would limit the performance of
    either built in or external radios. The major limitations on
    performance are (in order):
    1. Antenna
    2. Receiver sensitivity
    3. Transmitter output
    4. Firmware and drivers
    There is also a tradeoff between speed and range. Higher speeds
    causes more data errors. The radios will reduce the speed to keep the
    bit error rate (BER) down to a tolerable level. I don't wanna go into
    detail, but problems with any of the 4 items will reduce range and/or
    performance. The problem with most USB dongle size radios is the tiny
    antenna. The rx sensitivity and tx power are also somewhat limited by
    the power source. With a proper antenna, they'll do as well as any
    client radio.

    >> Also, you never did answer my question. How far is your "great
    >> distance"? It may not be possible if it's too far.

    >Sorry, far enough that it can go. I don't know how far my D-Link goes.
    >I cannot find the distance specifications for D-Link AirPlus DWL-120+ USB
    >adapter. PowerBook G4's Airport is definitely too weak.

    About 100ft if you have line of sight without much difficulty. 300ft
    max with a bit of antenna gain.

    --
    Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 AE6KS 831-336-2558
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