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Just installed Airport Express; now network connection is unstable

211 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Aug 8, 2012 10:27 AM by Bob Timmons RSS
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Aug 8, 2012 7:32 AM

My main network is a time capsule. I needed connectivity in the basement, but it was spotty. I just installed an airport express to extend the network. The installation went smoothly. However, now my connection to the internet is unstable. It drops on a regular basis. When I unplugged the express, the network stabilized again. I must have a setting wrong, but I can't see what it is. Does anyone know what might cause this instability and what I can do to fix it?

AirPort Express 802.11N (2nd generation), Mac OS X (10.7.4)
  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,395 points)

    You do not mention where you installed the Express, but if it is extending the network using wireless only, it needs to be located approximately half the distance from the Time Capsule to the general area that needs more wireless coverage.

     

    Many users locate an extending device much too far away from their main router, and as a consequence the device receives a very weak signal, which it tries to extend, but it has virtually noting to work with.....so things worsen....rather than improve.

     

    Minimize obstructions in the signal path between the AirPort Express and Time Capsule as much as possible and be sure to locate the Express up as high as possible....never down low on a wall or behind furniture.

     

    Unfortunately, even a normal sheetrock wall in a home will absorb 10-15% of the signal and a ceiling will absorb much more of the signal, as you might imagine.

     

    Experiment with the location of the Express a bit, and power off both the Time Capsule and Express when you make any changes. Start the Time Capsule back up first and wait for a green light. Then start the AirPort Express.

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,395 points)
    I could try moving the Express off the bookshelf and onto the floor near the basement door. That would put it farther from the Time Capsule, though.

     

    That would be a much better location for the Express since it should have a clear path to extend the signal down the stairs, rather than have to try to push it through a ceiling, which is probably absorbing half the signal or more.

     

    Power off the Express and test with your laptop at the proposed location for the Express near the basement door. If the laptop can get a good, stable signal at that point, then it should be a good location for the Express.

     

    Anything that you can do to minimize obstructions will help, but you have to keep in mind that trying to extend using wireless always involves compromises. For example, an "extended" network is much more susceptible to picking up interference from things like cordless phones, security systems,  or other networks in the area.

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,395 points)

    Thanks for the clarification. Are there any cordless phones relatively close to the AirPort Expess or in the signal path between the main router and the AirPort Express?

     

    You seem to have a good handle on placement, so in that regard, I do not think that I will be able to suggest a better solution.

     

    There are really no other settings that you can adjust on the AirPort Express to help things out there.

     

    If you feel that the Express is not working correctly, an Apple Store or servicer could test the device for you, but I imagine that it will perform perfectly in the store.

     

    I do not have a basement, but have experienced wireless stability issues in the past similar to yours when I tried to extend using wireless only. I did everything right as far as setup and placement. Still did not work well.

     

    The only solution that worked for me was to connect both the main AirPort and the remote AirPort using an Ethernet cable. The improvement was amazing.

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,395 points)

    A good utility like WiFi Explorer might help indentify some potential signal and noise issues that are otherwise unknown. If you want to try a bit more scientific approach, post back for details.

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