Author Topic: WiFi repeater  (Read 10232 times)

n7oq

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WiFi repeater
« on: February 13, 2012, 11:09:57 pm »
If you have a old wifi router that is collecting dust you might want to flash it with DD-WRT software and turn it into a wifi repeater. I flashed 2 Linksys routers and now they have tons of new menu items and the one I like the best is repeater mode, in this mode you can connect to a distant WiFi site and repeat it to everyone in range of your wifi router. I did this Camping a couple weeks ago and my friends and I had great wifi connections. I plan on installing a high gain dish or Yagi to one antenna input to really increase my range even more. 

So if you have an old wifi router collecting dust than google dd-wrt and see if it is one that can be flashed and take it camping. You may even want to flash your main router I found that after I flashed my routers they are now more stable and run better than the factory ROM.

Offline Willingtonpaul

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2012, 07:27:10 am »
I'm a little slow with tech stuff so please bear with me .....

So would this be useful if I was at a campground where the wi if access spot was just out of reach of the campsite I was in ?  Re- programming my old router would draw the signal in and then re-broadcast it to my campsite ?  Is it as simple as plugging in the router in the trailer and it will pull the signal in ?  Or would I have to put it somewhere in between my trailer and the access point, to be in range of the access point and in range of my trailer ? 

I just upgraded my old (like 6 yrs or so, maybe a little more) linksys router to a netgear 4500 wndr. I was gonna recycle it, but I could do this ?

Yeah lots of questions from somebody who basically has no clue....


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Offline Lad79der

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2012, 08:47:41 am »
I'm a little slow with tech stuff so please bear with me .....

So would this be useful if I was at a campground where the wi if access spot was just out of reach of the campsite I was in ?  Re- programming my old router would draw the signal in and then re-broadcast it to my campsite ?  Is it as simple as plugging in the router in the trailer and it will pull the signal in ?  Or would I have to put it somewhere in between my trailer and the access point, to be in range of the access point and in range of my trailer ? 

I just upgraded my old (like 6 yrs or so, maybe a little more) linksys router to a netgear 4500 wndr. I was gonna recycle it, but I could do this ?

Yeah lots of questions from somebody who basically has no clue....

You and me both... maybe the tech savy will come back and bless us with more knowledge, right Paul?!

I dont have a spare router hanging around, but to have a repeater in your site would be pretty nice to speed up some of the slow connections at the campgrounds.
2012 Ram 3500 Quad Cab Long Bed 4x4 Cummins 6.7
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Offline thefulminator

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2012, 11:00:34 am »
Might work, might not work.  I've had a wifi network set up with Buffalo routers for years.  A couple months ago I tried to flash a Linksys router with DD-WRT to add it to the network as a repeater.  Worked on it for three days with no luck.  I finally called Buffalo tech support and they said that their older routers like mine that use their proprietary firmware simply won't bridge to DD-WRT.  All their new routers come with DD-WRT and they should connect without problems.
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Offline chilipyro

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2012, 12:44:55 pm »
This is exactly what I have set up in my trailer. I started experimenting with it last year, as a way of extending a weaker campground signal (one you can pick up outside, but not so well inside) so that it is strong inside the trailer. My router is an old Linksys wrt54g, flashed with DD-WRT, as the OP mentioned. I actually bought this as a kit, with an external antenna, from Jefa Tech (Here). The kit saved some time, especially with the cable and connections, but you can definitely do it cheaper (and better) DIY. If you are on the more technically challenged side of the spectrum, going with the Jefa Tech kit does help to getting off the ground as well. You don't have to deal with flashing a modem, finding the right kind of cable and antenna - plus it comes with instructions that are very easy to follow.

I found that this setup worked very well for adding a couple of bars to a signal that could already be picked up inside. For example, at one CG, I was able to get my Roku 2 media streamer to stream Netflix with very good quality with the repeater. Without the repeater, the Netflix streaming worked at much lower quality and was choppy.

At another CG last year (Sweetwater Forest, on the Cape), I was not able to pick the CG WiFi signal up, even with the repeater. I couldn't pick it up from outside the camper either, but I thought maybe the rooftop antennae would make a difference - it did not.

My end of the year project last year was to upgrade my rooftop antenna from the omnidirectional one that came with the Jefa Tech kit to a high gain directional antenna that a local network supply shop suggested. I also decided to route the antenna cable up through the roof (following the coax lead to the Wineguard TV antenna). Previously, I threaded the antenna cable out through a window screen and mounted the antenna on a flag pole. That was a PITA, and I am hoping that next year's setup will be improved in ease, if not in quality. Mounting the WiFi antenna to the Wineguard, I can rotate to pick up the signal better - that is the plan anyway - stay posted...

I tested my new setup at home in the fall. I added an exterior WiFi antenna to the side of the house (our WiFi signal can now be picked up, with 4 bars, six blocks from our house). Inside the camper (parked 100' from the house), the signal was a barely usable 1 bar. With the rooftop antenna mounted and the repeater on - 4 solid bars (and streaming HD Netflix in the mancave  :ohyeah: :pint:. ).

I am looking forward to testing out the new setup this summer. I don't have my hopes up about Sweetwater Forest - the trees are dense and I don't think any amount of signal boosting or roof height is going to make a difference. But, it should be a sweet setup for any CG that has a fair signal to the campsite.

Configuring the DD-WRT repeater is not exactly user friendly. If you don't know what you are doing (and don't have the Jefa Tech instructions), it can be difficult to know where to start. But, there are really only a couple of places that you need to mess around with to connect the repeater to the CG signal. Connecting your laptop (or other equipment) to the repeater is easy - no different than connecting to anything other WiFi signal.

DD-WRT can be flashed on to many types of routers, and it occurs to me that I might have a better setup with a better router. I have a somewhat spare (in use by the boys, to supply a second home LAN connection to a Minecraft server) and totally awesome Netgear N600 router that I believe is DD-WRT flashable. I may swipe that this summer for our Sweetwater trip, to see if it makes any difference.

Paul, you should definitely hang on to your old Linksys. I can help you upgrade to DD-WRT, and get you set up with an antenna and cable.
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Offline thefulminator

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 01:27:22 pm »
I also have an old wrt54g that I have flashed to DD-WRT.  Do you happen to have the instructions to set it up as a bridge?
2009 Silverado LT 1500 4X4 Crew Cab, 9500 lb towing capacity with Putnam XDR, + 2013 Outback 250RS, Moonlight with Equalizer 10K
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We all bleed Orange and Black
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Offline chilipyro

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2012, 03:40:20 pm »
I guess I should have been more clear about which 'exactly' I meant, when I said it was 'exactly what I was doing'. My aim is to pull in weak CG signals and rebroadcast as a separate network. A side goal is to be able to share a single WiFi connection to multiple devices - for places that charge you per connection. So, I went for a repeater rather than a bridge. Going with a repeater also allows me to add a higher level of security with my repeated network, when the campground network is not as secure (or has no encryption). A nice thing about the Jefa Tech box is that it was flashed with a custom DD-WRT, configured as a repeater. Out of the box, the only thing I need to do is set the Wifi encryption up to match that of the campground, if there is any.

So, I can share my repeater settings with you, but I'm afraid I'd probably be stumbling around as much as you did, to figure out what DD-WRT settings make this box into a workable bridge. The acclaimed power of DD-WRT comes at the cost of significant complexity (over the standard configuration of this router). I've seen (as I am sure you have) the dropdown that allows you to select repeater mode, but there are many, many other settings where I have no idea what the do. There is a DD-WRT wiki, but I haven't found that to be very helpful. OTOH, it does seem like setting DD-WRT to bridge mode shouldn't take a lot of special settings - so maybe the Buffalo support person was right about your situation.
2009 Jayco G2 32BHDS
2012 F350 King Ranch 4x4 Dually Longbed 6.7L Turbo Diesel (5990lbs payload - yeah baby!!),
Reese Dual Cam Hitch, Honda 2000 gens x2
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Offline thefulminator

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2012, 05:11:43 pm »
I wasn't sure if you worked from a set of instructions from Jefa Tech of if you set it up yourself.  If the instructions were available, I would like to know where to find them.
2009 Silverado LT 1500 4X4 Crew Cab, 9500 lb towing capacity with Putnam XDR, + 2013 Outback 250RS, Moonlight with Equalizer 10K
Me ('65), DW ('68), DS1 ('99), DS2 ('03), Dwoof ('12)
We all bleed Orange and Black
GO BEAVS

Offline Willingtonpaul

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2012, 08:39:34 pm »

Paul, you should definitely hang on to your old Linksys. I can help you upgrade to DD-WRT, and get you set up with an antenna and cable.

Music to my ears, brother....

Beer and fresh horses for my men !

And by the way, the netgear router is awesome !  Thanks for the direction there !

« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 08:41:14 pm by Willingtonpaul »
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Offline chilipyro

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2012, 10:29:38 pm »
I wasn't sure if you worked from a set of instructions from Jefa Tech of if you set it up yourself.  If the instructions were available, I would like to know where to find them.

Neither, actually. The Jefa Tech repeater is flashed with a modified DD-WRT setup. The modification configures the DD-WRT settings to be a bridge, with whatever settings Jefatech decided work best for their package. There are instructions, but they have to do with connecting to the campground network, setting up WEP/WPA, etc.

The only documentation I have run into for DD-WRT is the wiki - http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page. I haven't found this documentation to be that helpful.
2009 Jayco G2 32BHDS
2012 F350 King Ranch 4x4 Dually Longbed 6.7L Turbo Diesel (5990lbs payload - yeah baby!!),
Reese Dual Cam Hitch, Honda 2000 gens x2
Me, DW, DS (14), DS (12), DD (10), and our two little dogs


CoolBreeze

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2012, 10:57:32 pm »
The TV antennas are not Omni Directional.  You didnt' get any gain because there is a complete band mismatch plus a probably lousy connection.

Trying to find a Yagi for WiFi might not be that easy. That is 5.8Ghz and at 5.8Ghz and what ever tiny transmit signal strength the signal decays so fast that any gain from an antenna is usually insufficent to carry the bandwidth your really looking for. The bandwidth requirement from e-mail to streaming Netflix is probably 2 to the 4th power difference in signal strength.

 Said another way it is a waste of time, you get what you get.

n7oq

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2012, 10:58:56 pm »
OK well I think that DD-WRT being sold as a package is the same as what you can flash yourself just maybe some custom scrips are added . I can use it as a repeater that will automatically connect to any open wifi, good for when you are moving. Or I can connect to pay for service and any computer plugged into one of the ports can use it. Or I can connect to a specific wifi like at a campground and allow everyone to use or I can turn on WAP encoding and only those who know my pass phrase can log in. I have used it to connect to a WIFI site across the lake that was a mile away and had no problems at all.

Many other routers besides Linksys can be flashed with DD-WRT I think it just has to be a Boardcom type router, just go to the dd-wrt web page and look at the router data base. I know it can be a little overwhelming when you first go to the web page since there is so much info, so many different files to download and you can get lost going from link to link but if you take your time and do what they say like to triple reset  etc. you will be OK or just find someone who had done it and get help from them.

My plan it to either buy or build a high gain directional antenna to connect to one port to use to connect to distant wifi sites and a higher gain omni antenna to connect to computers in the camping area. Since I'm a licensed Ham radio operator and these frequencies are authorized for me to use on a shared bases I can legally  use High gain antennas and much higher power.   

n7oq

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2012, 11:11:58 pm »
Here are the wiki instructions I have printed out and leave in the trailer: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Universal_Wireless_Repeater  There is a ton of information out there to read and study. I found it best to play with it at home first with my wifi connection and some of the neighbors wifi connections I found that was open. Getting it working first at home saves a lot of hair pulling at the campsite.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 11:36:54 pm by n7oq »

Offline chilipyro

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2012, 07:35:21 am »
The TV antennas are not Omni Directional.  You didnt' get any gain because there is a complete band mismatch plus a probably lousy connection.

Trying to find a Yagi for WiFi might not be that easy. That is 5.8Ghz and at 5.8Ghz and what ever tiny transmit signal strength the signal decays so fast that any gain from an antenna is usually insufficent to carry the bandwidth your really looking for. The bandwidth requirement from e-mail to streaming Netflix is probably 2 to the 4th power difference in signal strength.

 Said another way it is a waste of time, you get what you get.


You misunderstood - I ran the WiFi antenna wire up through the same path as the TV antenna wire, and out through the roof at the entry point for my Wineguard antenna. I attached a mast to the Wineguard mast, and a 2.4 Ghz antenna to that new mast. This allowed the WiFi antenna to rotate with the Wineguard, so I could point it where I want. I haven't sorted out yet how to make the attachment such that it could fold down flat with the wineguard - I have to attach the WiFi antenna after we stop, and remove it before travel. My current router doesn't support 5.8Ghz WiFi, and I realize I would need a different antenna for that, if I had a router that worked with that frequency. I haven't run into any CGs that transmit at 5.8 Ghz, so it isn't really on my to-do list to go there.

The JefaTech kit came with an omni-directional 2.4Ghz antenna. It wasn't picking up the weaker signals, so I thought I would try a directional. The camper itself (i.e., being inside) reduces the signal strength a couple of bars, and just moving the antenna outside does make a difference for Netflix streaming (if you have a good signal to the site) or picking it up at all (if the site signal is only a couple of bars). If there is no signal to the site, you aren't going to make it any better with any kind of antenna, unless the added height gets it over obstacles that are blocking the signal down lower. You need four bars, a reasonably fast connection to the CG, and not a lot of congestion at the CG, to stream Netflix with any watchable quality (unless you are watching it on a very small display). As you say, just a bar of signal strength is enough for email.


2009 Jayco G2 32BHDS
2012 F350 King Ranch 4x4 Dually Longbed 6.7L Turbo Diesel (5990lbs payload - yeah baby!!),
Reese Dual Cam Hitch, Honda 2000 gens x2
Me, DW, DS (14), DS (12), DD (10), and our two little dogs


Offline joonbee

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Re: WiFi repeater
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2012, 08:55:27 am »
This sounds like a very good idea, but I have no idea what half of the words you are using mean. But it does sound cool.

So my question is, what do I need to bring to Charlie Brown so you tech savvy New Englanders can hook me up??? ::)

Jim

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