Instructables

WiFi range expander on wireless repeater Linksys WRE54G


Problem definition

Sometimes the existent operation range isn’t enough, or if there are obstacles on the route between the device and the router the distance of operation can be dramatically decreased. In this case You need to increase the sensitivity of the repeater respectively increase the radiation power.

Increasing of the radiation power on the device side isn’t legal and might be a subject only for the qualified electrical engineers. So the normal practice is to redistribute power in the volume. Thus many WiFi devices have an option to exchange their antennas. Than you can replace the original omni-directional antenna by a directional antenna. The power and sensitivity can be increased in a desired direction. The antenna of Linksys 802.11G RANGE EXTENDER - WRE54G can not be replaced for now.
 
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Step 1: Solution idea

This paper suggests a noninvasive method to extend the operation range in order to connect to a remote access point or client. The method is an approach to form the omni-directional radiated signal into a beam signal. This causes a reduced range/power in other directions.

Step 2: Materials & instruments

1. kitchen aluminum foil
2. hard paper
3. invisible post tape
4. scissors
5. a bottle
6. a kitchen cloth
7. a ruler

Step 3: Theory

You need to increase both incoming and outgoing signal strength on the antenna.
  • Use an idea of circular waveguide antenna described http://flakey.info/antenna/waveguide/ to shape outgoing signal. The overall signal in the desired direction will be “amplified” by this means up to 8 times = ca. 9 dBi
  • Use an idea of a parabolic antenna to collect incoming signal power. The overall signal in the desired direction will be “amplified” by this means up to 5 times = ca. 7 dBi

The antenna of the Linksys device will be virtually divided in two parts for incoming and outgoing part. So the total signal power will actually be reduced twice. The overall gain will be respectively up to 4/2 times of signal strength = 6/3 dBi. Additionally you will become a better signal/noise ratio in a noisy WiFi area because of construction. You “filter” noise from undesired directions. It is practically equal to increasing gain up to 3 dBi. It is the case if a lot of locked access points are around. After all that means you could increase the distance to your access point or user up to 2 times.

Step 4: Realization. Part 1

1. Take a bottle and roll a kitchen cloth over it up to diameter 3.3 in (84 mm).
2. Roll over the cloth the aluminum foil. Do a couple of turn over. The more – the better, because of harder final shell.
3. Stick tape over the foil to fix the construction
4. pull out the bottle
5. stick the tape inside the aluminum tube to fix the construction
6. Make an aluminum cover for the tube
7. measure the inside diameter on the both side of the tube.
8. calculate an average value of it
9. find the value D in the table: http://flakey.info/antenna/waveguide/
10. find the appropriate value ¼ Lg
11. Drill a hole in the tube with this distance from the cover side
12. find the appropriate value ¼ Lo
13. mark on the Linksis antenna the distance ¼ Lo + 0.2 in ( + 5 mm)
14. fix a aluminum strip on this mark as shown on the picture

Step 5: Realization. Part 2

15. Cut of an appropriate size paper
16. Roll aluminum foil over the paper
17. Fix foil with the tape
18. Isolate edges by means of the tape

Step 6: Realization. Step 3

19. Shape the paper into a parabolic kind surface. Use bottle to roll paper over and
20. transform form homogenously
21. Make more foil on paper to shield noise from undesired directions
22. Assemble construction and set up in the right direction
ardson2 years ago
Hey kot, I'm not to sure that you will be able to find these models anymore as I think Linksys stopped making them? I have been looking but a lot of them are refurbished or just straight up used. If you are lucky you can find something that hasn't been out of the box, but lots of the time seems hard to find. I'm wondering maybe its just better to get a new repeater altogether because a lot of them are able to send a signal further now. Was looking at a few reviews around the WRE54G and not too many people decided to boost it this way? Some people were just using cans! I checked out a few other reviews on wireless repeater review and it seems like if you wanna boost the signal with any repeater you will usually want to get DD-WRT or Tomato. Some sort of firmware which will allow you to customize the repeater or router to your specifications. Finally, I'm wondering if you have any recommendations for 2011?
kot_as_kot (author)  ardson2 years ago
Hey, Ardson! The whole point for the project has been to increase the distance bejond hardware limits without breaking into the hardware. It seems now, there is no point in this angle anyway. 1. There is a ot of cheap hardware. Breaking in is not a limitation any more. 2. The sophistication of WiFi users has increased. Breaking in and tuning firmware is attanabe task. 3. The demand for WiFi speeds has increased and become critical. The repeating solutions, that work at the limits of reception providing bare minimum speed as well as reduce transfer rate in half by design, are not acceptabe any more. 4. Good Mbs are provided by WiFi standard N and above. The standards utilize MIMO -multipe antennaes- principle. A simple can or dish wouldn't cut it but slow down the entire network.

A good signal extending solution today would switch the communication channel number. It will ensure the repeted signal doesn't take toll on Mbs. It will use a MIMO device. I would suggest a two device chaining or at least a two radios router: SOURCE ----ch.A---->[MIMO receiving--wire--MIMO repeating]-----ch.B--->USER or SOURCE ----ch.A---->[radio 1 eceiving--radio 2 repeating]-----ch.B--->USER

A big dish behind a MIMO box could improve the range.

I successfully used netgear hardware and DD-WRT firmware to do the projects mentioned above.
I use a Linksys WRE54G repeater mounted on an old Dish Network satilite dish. (Modified with a 15 dbi antenna) I cut off the Dish Network electronics and simply taped the repeater onto the steel arm. This is very directional and once setup it must be locked down. I then connected a Linksys WRT54G access piont with an omni-directional antenna to the repeater via network cable. The access point re-transmitts the repeaters signal on a new SSID on a different channel. I am currently connected to an unsecure network that is over 4 miles across a lake and forest preserve. I have a full 54Mbs connection. Internet upload speed is 1.38 Mbs and download speed is 5.12 Mbs. I have my access point setup with my own SSID and WEP security. Totally free internet. I've been doing this for over 5 years without any problems. The network is mapped like this... Targeted unprotected wireless access point >>>> Linksys repeater mounted onto the satilite dish pointed at the unprotected network >>>> Repeater connected to the Linksys access point via network cable> >>> Signal is re-broadcasted througt the Linksys access point using my own security settings.
DSC03177.JPGDSC03178.JPG
Make an instructable on how to do that, I'm very interested.
To give a better idea on the connection. Rather simple. The only difficulty you may have is programming your routers.
Wireless setup.jpg
estefan20204 years ago
why not go to e-bay and search for a RP-SMA 2.4GHz 12dbi- 18dBi Wireless WLAN Antenna Aerial and just replace it with a 15inch antenna.
decades5 years ago
The FCC power limitation (broadcast power) is the output times the antenna gain so changing the antenna gain actually changes it's transmitted power. However as a certified WIFI engineer I can tell you that your broadcast power limit is 400mw in the U.S. and some manufacturers like Cisco ship their higher end transmitters at 100 mw not counting the type of antenna gain. Home stuff is 35 mw usually. So the statement of changing power is dead wrong, but of course there are rules as stated.
kot_as_kot (author)  decades5 years ago
thanks for clarification. I'm not quite sure what statement do you mean. The whole point of tweaking wireless equipment is tweaking signal power at the receiving end. This is if you are transmitting signals, you want to increase power (power density) of the signals arriving at the receiving point. If you at the receiving side, you want to harvest the signal energy speaded by the transmitter all around. (The higher power passes sensitivity threshold as well as increases SNR.) In this sense, one does change power of the arriving signal. The initial radiated power - as you mentioned - stays the same. The distribution of the energy in space changes if you tweak transmitter. And the collected in space energy changes if you tweak receiver. All exercises with gains are simple lenses (coefficients) helping to generalize what is happening at the power level.
It occurred to me that if you are interested you should look into how antenna prorogation works. it does not just dump energy. there are several styles of antennas and they act like the reflector behind the bulb on a flashlight focusing prorogation. That is the part you didn't get and the transmittor and receiver will benefit from the proper antenna. If you put a Yagi antenna on your receiver it will be harder to aim, but will receive at a much higher level. If you put it on the transmitter it will go a long distance, but only cover a small area.
Hi i have linksys ( cisco home brand ) AP at home it has Strange connectors on the Wifi Antennea they look like a hybrid of a TNC connector but instead of been normal its male pin is on the female outer casing and female connector on the male outer casing anyway i was hoping if someone known how do i get a convertor to normal SMA or something usable i have nice wifi Antennea that is very big that i would like to use on one of the Linksys WAP54G PS anyone intrested in the Linksys or Cisco Range i would have to say they are the best for networking in Wifi anything else is just cheap imertation of real network hardware. my Linksys has a good range on it now but as all computer people i want perfect Range for Wifi.
Sorry that I can't envision the connector you describe, but if you are comfortable with a soldering Iron you could solder in a standard connection and drill out the case. Be very careful when soldering the pins a "cold" solder joint is really bad in the RF world.
thefallen4 years ago
can someone send me a list of stuff i need for cantenna.i just got internet and have sucky wifi out in the boondocks.blaster_4_2008@yahoo.com.thx.btw this is awesome site
just genious idea combining one way top "cantenna" & slotted reflector also for the other/client side signal receiving :-) ...
I've been reading a LOT of this WiFi stuff here on our extraordinary Instructables.com and was wondering if anyone has tested the strainer method against the coffee can or pringles method and also against using an old directv satellite and such. Which one would give me the best reception? I'm guessing the satellite dish but I am new to this. TIA!
i tried the coke can against the strainer method, and the coke can got the strainer beat. Used the strainer about 6 months, now i use the can.
kot_as_kot (author)  Body4Change.com6 years ago
Never been interested in big science on the subject. In many cases it is pointles. There are several different ways to consider a solution: 1)needs, 2) expences, 3) quality. Sometime your ceativity is restricted by what you have both in price and technical prerequisites. So you might want to match you solution with your situation. available hardware, wireless background noise, distance, signal, application all this is important for a decision. If you are doing something from scratch price will be important. Again the selection of a solution depends on your addiction to coffee or chips. Since the supplies could by just a byproduct, i.e. for free. etc. etc. Technically speaking, there are two approaches here. For profies and newbies. Using a dish is more reliable and easy-to-setup solution. This solution is tolerant to frequency changes and setting up a focus point. Though it is less noise protected one. Any can solution produce more directed and narrow beam. It is more difficult to set up correctly. Sometimes it is even impossible without proper skills. Though, can can deliver.
i like the idea, but i found that a can fits perfectly over the antenna. im using one of those fairly large size cans of baked beans.
killumbia6 years ago
I have seen a lot of different ways to do this, had a buddy that went ahead and just hooked a longer wire to his wifi adapter which of course means opening it but hey why buy it if you cant personalize it. He also hooked the longer wire to a fan, which in some way was the kicker to connecting at longer, (maybe 10 feet or so) distance. Personally i had a one of the expanders just like the one in the pic above and it worked great.
Try google-ing a coffee can antenna. It turns any columbia tin coffee can into a one direction antenna. (Forgot the word for it :P)
Cantenna. Which, BTW, is a word which was stolen from ham radio. Since the 1950s a cantenna has been the name of a 50 ohm dummy load built into a paint can full of transformer oil.
I put a metal noodle strainer on my head to suck in all the WiFi when I use my laptop.
dcshoeco337 years ago
i dont think that i would want all of that foil. i would maybe do that if i could hide itsomewhere
kot_as_kot (author)  dcshoeco337 years ago
I wouldn't think I'll do it too :)) But if you need...
LasVegas7 years ago
I'd have to say that was the first instructable I've seen that used absolutely none of the Instructable sites tools for arranging the text and pictures into a usable and readable format. Instead everything's just thrown into the Intro page and the heck with it.
kot_as_kot (author)  LasVegas7 years ago
Thanks for advice. The site is real funny but first need to train an unspoiled mind. And the main thing is that it works and helps. I've found the site by searching a solution. Suppose most of reader do the same.
trebuchet037 years ago
This paper suggests a noninvasive...

http://static2.instructables.com/pub/FSE/UI1Z/FSEUI1Z4MEEVYDXYXX.medium.jpg

I'm going out a limb here.... but that would be quite invasive and therefore would not last long here :P
PetervG7 years ago
You've made it into an armored tank, itl take out the aliens!