7 Replies Latest reply: Mar 14, 2008 11:56 AM by sandusky
Mary Lynn Smith1 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
I often bring my work PC laptop home to work on at home. But the signal that I receive from my wireless connection is often in the 25 percent to 30 percent range. Frequently, that means the work network that I use frequently drops because of the weak signal.) My iMac and Airport Extreme are in the basement of my three-story house and I often work on my laptop in another part of the house. Is there any way I can boost the signal from my Airport? And if so, how exactly do I do that?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Henry B. Level 9 Level 9 (78,690 points)
    You can wirelessly extend the range of your network by purchasing an Airport Express or another Airport Extreme Base Station, and setting up what Apple calls a "wireless distribution system". You can read about this in Apple's document Designing Airport Networks
  • Mary Lynn Smith1 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Is it better to use Airport Express to boost my signal or as one friend suggested, a MacWireless Airport mini-booster with antenna? I'm not sure I understand the difference between the two? Do they both do the same thing? Is one better than the other?
  • Henry B. Level 9 Level 9 (78,690 points)
    The "MacWireless Airport mini-booster" is an older product designed for use with the Graphite and Snow Base Stations. However, MacWireless has similar products for use with your newer Airport Extreme base station.

    They both accomplish the same thing (ie increase range) but in very different ways:
    + The MacWireless product achieves increased range with use of a larger external antenna with or without a radio amplifier
    + The Airport Express achieves increased range by receiving the signal and re-transmitting it. The disadvantage of this approach is that your overall wireless network data rate is virtually reduced by half, because the Airport Express has to transmit data after it receives the data - these two steps don't happen simultaneously.
  • Mary Lynn Smith1 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Does that mean the Airport Express would result in a slower connection? Would I be better off getting something else?
  • Henry B. Level 9 Level 9 (78,690 points)
    If both methods resulted in the same strength of signal where your Mac was located then yes - the Airport Express method would result in a slower data transmission rate.

    Not sure what you had in mind for "something else". Another option would be to locate a second base station closer to where your Mac is, and run an ethernet cable from that second base station back to your first base station.
  • Mary Lynn Smith1 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    I'm not sure I understand. Will having two base stations boost my signal through the rest of the house?
  • sandusky Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    I would not recommend the external macwireless booster. I got a minibooster from them--the connection between the router and the antennae is very weak--it's kind of on a little leash--and is hard to secure in a single position. Mine broke after the first week of use. I tried to return it to them, they would not replace it and did not refund. They would not own up to a design flaw on this unit, and blamed the customer.

    I'd recommend including an express base station in your system and configuring it as a remote--it will pick up the signal from the router and boost it.

    Also--I was sending a signal outside to an office--I found that the aluminum siding on our house really killed the signal--I moved the router to a window and the signal improved dramatically.

    You might also want to check and make sure no one around is using a cordless phone running on 2.5 gHz--that's a signal killer as well. I switched to a 900 cordless phone--no interference at all now.

    Also bear in mind that there is a "shape" to the wireless signal your router produces--I believe it is kind of a horizontal plane around the router. Have you tried setting the router on its edge--to send the signal up rather than out? This is pretty silly, but you never know...