Wireless Range Extender for Mac Mini?

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Doug White

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Feb 27, 2013, 7:33:38 PM2/27/13
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My 93 year old mother lives about 2000 miles away, so I don't have a lot
of access to the setup for experiments. She is on dial-up, and doing
anything but text based email is painful, if not impossible. I can read
my web-mail faster by driving 5 miles to the library and back.

She has some wonderful neighbors, who have offered the use of their
wireless network IF we can get a decent signal. The Mac Mini she has
contains another piece of Apple's crap antenna engineering, and it can't
see a thing. My cheapo netbook can get one & sometimes 2 bars in the
same room. The room the Mac lives in is on the side of the house facing
the neighbors, and there is a window out of which you can see their
house, maybe 60 feet away.

So, the plan is to get a range extender or its functional equivalent. I
figure the best bet is to get a dual antenna box (for multipath
mitigation) with removable antennas. That way if the box won't do it by
itself, we can upgrade the antennas for more gain.

The info I've found from a cursory search is pretty vague. From a
theoretical standpoint, I can see two options:

1) Get what amounts to a wireless adapter that I can plug into the Mac
with a long enough cable to get across the room to the window. That
would have to be Mac compatible.

2) Get a box that communicates on one channel with the neighbor's
wireless system, and then talks to the Mac on another channel. That's
what I would consider a "repeater", and presumably it wouldn't require
anything Mac specific to get it up & running.

The two brands I've found with upgradable dual antennas so far are the
Amped R10000, which as gotten a lot of good reviews on Amazon, and the
Hawking HWREN2, which has a lot fewer reviews, several of which are
pretty scathing.

There is also an upgradeable single antenna box specifically for Macs:

http://store.bearextender.com/products/bearextender-mini

It connects via USB, and is presumably just a highpower wireless adapter.

Can anyone clarify exactly what is meant by a "range extender" (i.e. are
they all basically just repeaters?)?

Any specific suggestions about good boxes to get or avoid would also be
appreciated.

Thanks!

Doug White





danny burstein

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Feb 27, 2013, 10:51:38 PM2/27/13
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[snip... regarding a Mac Mini that's missing hitting
an access point by "that much"]

If both houses are fed by the same transformer,
a poweline adapter set might be a good option.

For some reason there's a heavy amount of resistance
to using them, but they do often work.

Another suggestion that you did mention was using
an external WiFi unit. THat is, in fact, what
I was doing in a similar situation. I have a
Hawking, something or another, about the size
of two cigarettes wrapped together, that plugs
into a USB port on my Mac. I then have a 15 foot
USB cable which lets me stick the Hawking over
by my window.

So yes, those can succeed. But... you won't really
know until you try it.





--
_____________________________________________________
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
dan...@panix.com
[to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]

Jeff Liebermann

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Feb 28, 2013, 12:19:04 AM2/28/13
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On Thu, 28 Feb 2013 00:33:38 GMT, Doug White <gwh...@alum.mit.edu>
wrote:

>My 93 year old mother ...

Impressive.

>My cheapo netbook can get one & sometimes 2 bars in the
>same room. The room the Mac lives in is on the side of the house facing
>the neighbors, and there is a window out of which you can see their
>house, maybe 60 feet away.

60ft is quite close and well within range of wireless. However, the
internal wireless and antenna in the Mac Mini (which flavor??) may be
too small to even make it out of the room. Therefore, an external
wireless client would be required. It could be a "wireless ethernet
client bridge" but could also just be a USB wireless client.

>So, the plan is to get a range extender or its functional equivalent.

Range extenders and store and forward repeaters suck. Avoid if
possible.

>1) Get what amounts to a wireless adapter that I can plug into the Mac
>with a long enough cable to get across the room to the window. That
>would have to be Mac compatible.

Yep.

>2) Get a box that communicates on one channel with the neighbor's
>wireless system, and then talks to the Mac on another channel.

Nope.

Put your money in the antenna not the radio. You don't need a high
power xmitter for 60ft. Instead I suggest a simple USB radio with an
external antenna connector, such as:
<http://www.ebay.com/itm/281031883606>
Toss the small antenna, and attach it to a real antenna such as:
<http://www.ebay.com/itm/321046735473>
You'll also need at least 5 meters of USB extension cable. Officially,
5 meters is the limit, but you can probably go another few meters
without difficulties as long as the radio doesn't draw too much power.

Also, 60ft is well within the limits of WIRED ethernet. It would
probably be much easier, faster, and better to run 60+ft of buriable
and waterproof CAT5 between her Mac Mini and the neighbors router.
<http://www.ebay.com/itm/160979087594>

--
Jeff Liebermann je...@cruzio.com
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558

DevilsPGD

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Mar 1, 2013, 2:37:22 PM3/1/13
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In the last episode of <kgmk8a$cut$1...@reader1.panix.com>, danny burstein
<dan...@panix.com> said:

>If both houses are fed by the same transformer,
>a poweline adapter set might be a good option.
>
>For some reason there's a heavy amount of resistance
>to using them, but they do often work.

The resistance is usually just due to their inherent unreliability, plus
the fact that you never really know if they'll work until you invest.

For example, if your house is fed by two 120V circuits on different
phases (designed to offer 240V to specific appliances), it will only
work on half of a single house, and half of your neighbour's house,
despite being fed from the same transformer.

That's not to say they're an inherently bad solution, it's just less
than ideal.

--
The nice thing about standards, there is enough for everyone to have their own.

Doug White

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Mar 2, 2013, 9:29:39 AM3/2/13
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DevilsPGD <booga...@crazyhat.net> wrote in
news:sq02j8h9k5hv55kkp...@4ax.com:
I actually used to have a powerline system in my house to get from my
office to the basement. The basement has an "expanded metal lath" &
plaster ceiling, which makes it like a Faraday cage for wireless. The
hardware I got was a Homeplug 2 system from Netgear. It was a pain to
get working, and the hardware was unreliable. After having 3 pieces die
(only one in warranty), I said to heck with it & snaked an ethernet cable
up into the attic, across the house & down a utility chase into the
basement.

Between the variability cited about powerline phases between two houses,
and the flaky hardware, I never gave it any thought for my Mom's problem.
I suppose another brand's hardware might work more reliably, but the USB
wireless adapter sounds like the way to go.

Doug White

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