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CAVEMAN ASK: HOW FAR COMPUTER WORK, WIFI DISTANCE, YARDS?

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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December 30, 2005 3:54:36 PM

Hello, my questions are:

(1st) I have an integrated 802.11g/b card in my notebook and I would like to know the comparison of distance ranges (from access point to notebook) if I'm outside working wireless and I upgrade with a pre-n or srx400 card?


(2nd) I will be using a Pre-N card with mimo technology and working off of free hot spot locations and random free access point routers that aren't pre-n technology. How much faster, and how much stronger will the signal be than the current signal of my integrated 802.11g/b wifi wireless card?


(3rd) Linksy 802.11G notebook card with SRX-WPC54X is airgo's 3rd chipset version and I was wondering how it compared to Airgo's 1st and 2nd chipsets used in the Belkins Pre-n card (Airgo TrueMIMO) and the Belkins wireless G plus mimo (Airgo Gplus) versions of mimo technology for pre-n 802.11g/b cards, basically, which is honestly the best?


(4th) These are my last questions: If a coffee shop has a free access point, what would be the distance/range out of the coffee shop and down the street from it, say, in a city park?
Would the range be a greater distance with the pre n mimo srx cards and would my signal strength really be as fast or even faster using these cards?
And will streaming video still work good?


I know these are a lot of questions, but I feel as a buyer I'd like to know the best option for me because my particular case is that I might have to work off of free hot spot access in the city.

Most of the forums I've seen discussing these cards are about the buyers concerns about their home routers and wall thickness, while my concerns are about outdoor city signal ranges of free access points and hot spots.

Thanks.
January 19, 2006 5:09:21 PM

Quote:

(1st) I have an integrated 802.11g/b card in my notebook and I would like to know the comparison of distance ranges (from access point to notebook) if I'm outside working wireless and I upgrade with a pre-n or srx400 card?

Range Depends on Laptop Vendor/Model & Also the chipsets.

(2nd) I will be using a Pre-N card with mimo technology and working off of free hot spot locations and random free access point routers that aren't pre-n technology. How much faster, and how much stronger will the signal be than the current signal of my integrated 802.11g/b wifi wireless card?
From what i have read about Pre-N / MIMO you need to have a Pre-N / MiMO enabled acess point so just sticking in a PCMCIA Pre-N card wont give you 108 Megs of Wireless speed!


(3rd) Linksy 802.11G notebook card with SRX-WPC54X is airgo's 3rd chipset version and I was wondering how it compared to Airgo's 1st and 2nd chipsets used in the Belkins Pre-n card (Airgo TrueMIMO) and the Belkins wireless G plus mimo (Airgo Gplus) versions of mimo technology for pre-n 802.11g/b cards, basically, which is honestly the best?

Dont KNOW


(4th) These are my last questions: If a coffee shop has a free access point, what would be the distance/range out of the coffee shop and down the street from it, say, in a city park?
Would the range be a greater distance with the pre n mimo srx cards and would my signal strength really be as fast or even faster using these cards?
And will streaming video still work good?
Thats depends on How far the PARK is from Your Coffee Shop.
Yes if the shop had a MIMO then it would have a wider range.
but this again depends on how many buildings are there & what are the obstructions in between..

Streaming Video would work well if you are in a sufficient radius from the cofee shop!


I know these are a lot of questions, but I feel as a buyer I'd like to know the best option for me because my particular case is that I might have to work off of free hot spot access in the city.

Most of the forums I've seen discussing these cards are about the buyers concerns about their home routers and wall thickness, while my concerns are about outdoor city signal ranges of free access points and hot spots.

IF its open out doors then the signal would really go quite far !

Thanks.
January 19, 2006 6:45:30 PM

Thanks for the reply,

I might have to be living in a camper van or a car for a few months when I move back to SF California, so I was trying to figure out the best and cheapest way to stay on line, without having to spend every minute in side of a coffee shop, while I find work and save money for rent.

I know I can always park my car/van in one of their 4 free wifi hot spot zones in the city, or park right outside of other free access points, but it would be nice to be able to pick up a long range signal because I know of a place near the beach where I can park safely to sleep, with 2 coffee shops near-by that have free wifi signals. I would be parked within 100 yards of either signal right next to the beach road near Ocean Beach. and the only things blocking would be the 2 story row houses, and other parked cars.

I have a HP Pavilion dv4230us Winxp Sp2 which will be dual booted with Ubuntu/Linux.

I was considering a car antenna like the city workers have on their cars to stay online, or even one made for boats.

The reason I wanted the mimo card was the way they described it as running off of two overlapping signals, so it wouldn't drop a signal, and because of the way it doesn't get disturbed from other microwaves.

I also figured that SF is one of the most hi-tech cities in the US, and I figured a lot of people would have mimo routers since the whole city already has the most free wifi spots in America.

I have already tested the range of signal from random free access points and hot spots from a car here in Northern VA and DC, using my normal integrated 802.11G/B wifi card and Celeron M intel chip. I had to park within a few city blocks for the free wifi hot spot zone in Dupont Circle DC, and the signal was only three bars (half) strong. Other random businesses and residents were available, but you had to be parked close and the range was from one green bar to about three. I also tried it in a hilly neighborhood with a lot of trees in the yards and you had to be parked practically out front or close by and the signal was only one to two green bars. It sounds like I'm a free loader, but I'm learning valuable web design skills right now that may better my life and I don't want to stop, plus it would be nice to have something to do while I wait for employers to answer back my job applications and resumes.

I wouldn't be doing any major work from my notebook, just a little xhtml/css and your everyday web surfing and use of email, maybe some downloads of music and some video chatting from my web cam.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply, If you have any ideas, feel free to post them, thanks
-crimesaucer*****
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January 20, 2006 10:24:05 AM

I would invest in a decent antenna (dish) that you can set up to boost weak signal reception.

You could always make one yourself
WiFi homebrew antenna

8)
January 20, 2006 1:11:01 PM

Thanks for the info, how would I connect the cantenna through my notebook pc?

Would I connect through a usb or some other port? My Wifi 802.11g/b is integrated.

thanks, and is there any more info on whether it's safe for the pc,
-crimesaucer*****
January 20, 2006 3:05:27 PM

A couple of options then ...

1. Install an external Wi-Fi antenna on the laptop (if possible). For this option to be feasible, the laptop must support add-on antennas. Look for a special jack similar in appearance to a headphone or microphone jack. Sometimes these are called "SMA jacks." Consult the laptop product documentation for details.

2. Use a USB wireless network adapter with external antenna. USB Wi-Fi adapters hook onto the back or side of a laptop with a short USB cable. The external antenna on these adapters improves signal range, and the antenna can be adjusted/pointed for fine tuning. To use this option, the laptop must have an open USB port available. Additionally, other network adapter(s) on the laptop should be disabled to prevent interference.
January 21, 2006 8:52:07 AM

Thanks, I think a usb port will work, and one of the antennas would be the smartest thing, I think I'm going to do a product search of boat antennas and service vehicle antennas. That cantenna seems like an ok idea for parking near some where, but the whole use at risk thing is a little worriesome.

Ideally, it would be cool to be able to park about 5 to 10 city blocks from somewhere and still be able to get reception, that way I could park in front of the water and work while watching the ocean from my car.

thanks,
-crimesaucer*****
January 24, 2006 4:48:51 AM

None of your questions can be answered accurately. Well, the standard .11g vs. MIMO can be answered with some anecdotal evidence. But specific numbers will vary from environment to environment. All scenarios depend not only on the strength of the radio in the client device but how many obstructions your going through, other wireless activity in the cell and so on. Test and see is the legimitate answer to the question "how far will my wireless go".

10 city blocks? Well if your actually in a city with multiple story buildings in the path then 10 city blocks isnt' going to happen. One city block wouldn't be a very good bet when multiple buildings are in the path, regardless of antenna gain you might add to the link.
January 24, 2006 5:54:09 AM

Yeah, thanks for the reply anyway.

The area in question would be only row houses about 2 stories high. It would be the last city block before the ocean so I don't know how the reception would be.

I guess I'll have to wait until I get to California before I find out what I'll have to do.

Do you know anything about car antennas or boat antennas?

-crimesaucer*****
January 26, 2006 3:29:07 PM

Remember that in Wifi, whether you are talking 802.11a, b, g, n, or any other standard they come up with in the 2-5GHz range, line of sight is king. Without line of sight, you dramatically lose distance.

That being said, I have found one item that works better than any other I've tried for long distance laptop links. It's a wardriving kit I stumbled upon at echotechwireless.com. It uses a buffalo card, and 500mW USB powered amp, so you get the power of an amp, and the portability of a laptop. With it, I am able to connect to AP's that I know are at least 2 miles away.

The only thing it's missing is a directional antenna. they need to add a small patch or handheld yagi. I guess you could use the Cantenna, but everytime I see one, I get hungry for Pringles. :) 
January 27, 2006 1:16:16 AM

Thank you, that is exactly what I was looking for, do you know of anything similar that isn't $240.00?

Where I would be staying when I move back to SF, is near the beach, and I would be spending a lot of time working on my pc from my car/camper while waiting to get hired. I also figured that after I find work or part-time work, and still am living in my car/camper while saving money for rent, I would have to be using free wifi hot spots to stay connected to the internet.

I've read that there are three coffee shops that have public free wifi hot spots and they are all with in a mile of Ocean beach. I was hoping I could park my car in the public beach parking lot overlooking the ocean so I could work on my computer while watching the surf. One of the coffee shops (Java Beach) is only about 200 yards from the Lincoln side of North Ocean beach public parking lot, and the only thing that would be blocking the signal would be a two block area that has a 3 story apartment complex and a 3 story hotel. If the signal is in a straight line, the 3 story apartments would be directly between my car/camper and the coffee shop. But 20 yards to the right of the 2 block area is a wide open beach view with no obstructions (for 30 city blocks).

Do you think the signal can bend around the 2 block obstruction? Will such an open area just to the right of it allow the signal to stay strong? The only thing blocking would be sand dunes and cars.

Thanks for the echotech article, at least I know that I have the possibility to stay connected to the Internet with-in a one mile area.

-crimesaucer*****
January 27, 2006 7:22:09 PM

The scenario you describe has so many variables, that no body could answer that without a thorough site survey. I can tell you from experience that most coffee shops don't have very powerful access points. They don't want to give away free internet to anyone outside of their four walls. They probably have a Linksys, DLink, or some other throwaway brand. If that's the case, there is no way the signal is going to penetrate the apartment building and get to you. Your best hope is to have a couple of tall buildings across the street of the coffee shop that would reflect the signal.

For what you are trying to do, you are going to have to spend money. Using just the wifi card in your laptop is going to force you to park directly in front of the coffee shop anytime you want to jack in. You need a wifi card with an external antenna connection ($50 for a cheap one $100 for a good one), and you'll also need either the echotech USB amp($200), or a directional antenna ($50 to $200). If you combined the echotech amp with a directional antenna, you'd have the best of both worlds.

The only other option that I can think of that would work is a fixed CPE unit on your roof. For about $150-200 you can get a client radio in an antenna enclosure and it will sit on top of your camper. Coming out of that would be a standard CAT5 cable that you could plug in. Only problem is you'd have to point the antenna every time you parked.

Sorry I don't have a better answer for you. Once the FCC allows companies to start blasting signal at it's potential power, then you won't have any problems. Until then, you have to be creative to get a good wireless signal.
January 28, 2006 3:30:14 AM

Thanks again for the reply, you pretty much summed up the options I've been deciding between for the last month.

If I got a card like a belkin mimo or srx, I would have to hope that somebody living on that street or some coffee shop that wanted a better signal decided on a more expensive pre-n router, and it still wouldn't be that far of a signal range.

If I went with the echotech $240.00 lap-top antenna, then I still would have to find a strong signal, free of obstructions.

If I purchased a car antenna or boat antenna, I would have to mess with it on my roof and direct it towards a strong signal, and it also would be near $200.00 in price.

And my forth option is that when there are waves, I'll put down my computer and go surfing, and when there aren't waves I'll spend every minute inside a coffee shop drinking a $1.00 cup of coffee while using their electrical outlets and wifi signal. I guess I can always drive through the city looking for parking with a free wifi signal also.

What a loser,
-crimesaucer*****
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