WiFi Range extending solution needed for specific situation

Ok I've got a lot to say so please stay with me here. I live in an apartment complex which offers free wifi and while my desktop gets a decent signal I can hardly ever get a legitimate connection on my laptop. Now my desktop has a pci-e wifi card in the back of it (with 2 antennas, this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166073 ) and it is up ~2 or so feet from the wall of the front of my apartment. When I have my laptop sitting on my coffee table 8.5 feet away (yes I measured it) I can't even browse the internet. Many times my connection on my laptop has full strength yet when I go to do anything on the network it suddenly drops to 1 or two bars and eventually tells me I'm still connected to the "network" but not the "internet".

I've tried plenty to fix my problem and now I'm coming to ask, hopefully, someone who knows what they're talking about. My trial and error isn't working and I need a solution..

First I'll give you a little background on the setup then I'll tell you what I've tried.

The apartment complex uses a Mesh WiFi Network from Meraki. Basically they have about a dozen or so of these little access points attached to the buildings (unfortunately none within my wifi's view). This is the product they have attached to buildings and light-posts around the complex: http://www.meraki.com/products/wireless/od2 The $300 I thought I saw them offered for is well out of my price range. I was considering using one of their devices and really...What could possibly go wrong there.?

But before going this route, my plan of attack was to setup some sort of device to 'extend' their "mesh routed network" just a little further; seeing as how the wifi is not password protected I figured this would be simple. So I took my DD-WRT compatible Linksys E2500 dual band n router and flashed it with the proper dd-wrt firmware and I believe I turned it into an access point and I followed the dd-wrt tutorial exactly. So that seemed to work setting it in the middle of my room and just connecting to that but with my luck, about a week or so later the ap I setup stopped working, I don't remember exactly what went wrong, possibly the ssid I set up for it disappeared. Since then I've reinstalled it twice (one of which I setup a WPA2 security password to see if I could extend their network yet have my own private/secure Homegroup to share files and printers on. About an hour later the whole thing wasn't working... Since then I've attempted to gain a better signal by changing my mac address and my ip address, just in case I was blacklisted by whoever is in charge of the networking here. I tend to use up a lot of bandwidth at times which made me think that.

However after all of this I'm still forced to have my laptop nearly touching my window to get full signal strength.

I would appreciate any advice on what I should get for my apartment to up my wireless speed on the community network. After more than enough reading I'm still not sure whether my problem will be solved by either 1)a wireless bridge 2)an access point or 3)a repeater. All of which I believe DD-WRT can help me make with my Linksys router. What I'm mainly concerned about is: what can I use to get a better signal while not drawing attention to solution eg: when a net admin notices an access point broadcasting his connection, an access point he didn't setup he will surely block all traffic coming and going from it.

Is my best solution to just get a wireless adapter with an antenna from newegg? I'd prefer to work with what I have but even more so I want internet I don't have to constantly find. If I wanted to watch netflix on my xbox in my bedroom as it stands now im SOL.

Please I really appreciate any and all advice on this matter,

Thank you
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More about wifi range extending solution needed specific situation
  1. The wireless adapter with a antenna is the simplest. The best way to make this work is to buy a direction antenna and directly attach the adapter directly to it. Then use a long USB cable to connect it to your machine.

    Your main problem with any other device is it too much receive the signal and it may not do much better than your pc. If you wanted to use a repeater you would go with a router that let you replace one of the antenna with a direction on and then it could rebroadcast it via the unidirection one.
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