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Author Topic: Desktop Antenna/Receiver for WiFi-UPDATE-;-)  (Read 5602 times)
Dreamscape
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« on: June 04, 2009, 04:11:29 PM »

Yip, did a search here and nothing. Wink

Does anyone have any experience with using a wireless antenna for WiFi on their desktop pc?

I'm no longer gainfully employed, so need to send back my laptop and get our desktop set up. I could use my wifes new laptop, but she is using it for her medical transcription. So I need help, otherwise I'm netless! Roll Eyes

Thanks a bunch,

~Paul~
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2009, 04:21:34 PM »

There are a Ton of options for you to think about! however My suggestion to you if your are a fulltimer is to consider a "directional" unit instead of an omni directional unit..Hawking makes a great product they are super simple Usb powered and you just point the little dish in the direction the wifi originates! This will get you a much better signal then a generic Omni...Now if you want a more expensive and complicated version we can set you up with an external setup...

Hawkings Little dish link http://www.hawkingtech.com/products/productlist.php?CatID=32&FamID=60&ProdID=379
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2009, 04:39:11 PM »

I am assuming you mean a wireless network interface card you would install in your desktop PC. If so, they work as well as the ones in a laptop and sometimes a little better. I used a wireless network in our last house and it worked fine. Make sure you buy a card with the same protocol that your wireless router uses. The old standby is the 811 "B". The newer & faster will be the "G". There are also some others by those two are most prevalent right now. Your documentation will tell you the protocols your router broadcasts. Make sure to secure your network once it is up & running.

HTH,

TOM
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2009, 04:56:51 PM »

How hard is it to install a network card in a desktop? Really was hoping to find a plug and play, like using a usb port. I'm reading that the Hawking does use a usb port. I'm still on a learning curve with this, so bear with me while I learn.This one on Amazon is about 60 bucks, is this a fair price? Hawking HWU8DDA HiGain Wireless G Directional Dish USB NIC Antenna

I do understand that the direct signal would be strongest, at least that's what I'm reading. I'm not savy on all this gain and related tech talk.

~Paul~
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2009, 05:43:44 PM »

Sorry still figuring out the system here Yes that is a FANTASTIC price on that unit! It's the older model but is backwards compatible with most existing wifi systems out there. 99% of public wifi hotspots are backwards compatible both ways and currently Wireless "G" is the nominal there is a new version called wireless "N" out however the money for these Long range systems is still more $$$ then what most places want to spend! If you have windows xp or vista this unit is completely Plug and play.Also the advantage to a Usb unit Is you can swap it to a laptop or any other system you can use it on !
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2009, 05:44:13 PM »

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I'm not savvy on all this gain and related tech talk.

I am. USB is a crockadoodoo. there isn't enough room for a powerful radio, a sensitive antenna or heat dissipation. there is not enough power available through a USB port for a decent radio. USB is for coffeeshops, libraries and offices.

An RV in a park can be a long ways from an Access Point. These are two way radios. don't be fooled by people who claim high power. both ends need high power for it to be effective.

the advice you have received is good. An external antenna that can be pointed at the nearest AP is your best alternative. Antennas affect both transmit and receive equally
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2009, 06:50:15 PM »

Figure on spending $30 to $60 for what you need. I scan WalMart shelves and they usually have the Linksys / cisco stuff in that price range.

USB works fine up to 100 feet or more depending on where the AP is located.
A USB extender cable can move the little gidget up to a window and some duct tape
it should work.

Or an Internal card ( PCI type ) with a single antenna and extension cable for the antenna will work too.

Pawn shops sometimes have that stuff for $20 or less in many places.

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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2009, 08:38:02 PM »

I have used a PCI card in my desktop. It's an older PC, and I didn't have a laptop at the time. We took the PC to AK with us. It worked well if you could get close to the campground office, but typically, we were too far away. I had an external antennae that I could attach to it, also, but that didn't help much. It was an omni-directional antennae. Still, it was better than nothing, and usually, I could pull up by the office as we were entering or leaving and check email.

Another option might be to connect to your wife's laptop with an ethernet cable, and set up a shared ad hoc network interface to the wireless. That would work well if she's stationary, as in transcribing at a desk or table. Of course when she needs to move with the laptop, your cable has to be unplugged and you lose the connection. You could probably do this with 2 USB interfaces, too. One in each computer.


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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2009, 03:24:26 AM »


Another option might be to connect to your wife's laptop with an ethernet cable, and set up a shared ad hoc network interface to the wireless. That would work well if she's stationary, as in transcribing at a desk or table. Of course when she needs to move with the laptop, your cable has to be unplugged and you lose the connection. You could probably do this with 2 USB interfaces, too. One in each computer.




Craig, In laymans terms, we have an ethernet cable, do I just plug it in to the desktop and change/add a network?What is USB interfaces? Is that something to do internally to the puter? Sorry I'm just like a rock when it comes to this stuff. I'm showing my ignorance now! Wink

~Paul`
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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2009, 08:31:18 AM »

Maybe I am not understanding the question. But I stumbled onto something helpful for us all. If you have a cell phone with internet access (Tmobile boost or ATT has sim cards you can buy for about $20.00 to get unlimited access) you can then buy an account at walkingwifi.com for $25.00 as a one time fee and your cell phone will connect up to 5 computers for free internet access. The only problem seems to be that it runs down your cell phone battery pretty quickly if it isnt plugged in. I havent tried it yet but it came highly recommended to me by someone I trust.
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2009, 08:55:17 AM »

Hi Paul,
I am presently in my 5th wheel about 500 ft from the AP in the office. I had no connection unless I went close to the office.
I got one of these...Ebay  Item number: 120306817637  (no interest in company, just a satisfied customer) and now I get
2 bars out of 5 (about 30% signal strength) which is good enough for my "surfing, email, etc." Plugs in to the USB port of your PC
Take Care...Tim
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2009, 10:27:54 AM »

KD5,

First off, I am not knowledgeable in this area, but I know a little tronics.  Your comment about the USB port made sense to me just on the surface of it.  There is a similar antenna being sold with RAVE reviews and I think it connects to the USB port.  They aren't claiming 37db of gain but it is healthy.  The spec the "max output power of 7watts".  Now, can that be true/possible connecting to a USB port?

The device isn't the parabolic one on the board.  This Ebay antenna/sig booster is item 120373654957 and it is some sort of flat panel.  I would appreciate your commenting on it performance.

Thank you,

John
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2009, 11:34:44 AM »


Craig, In laymans terms, we have an ethernet cable, do I just plug it in to the desktop and change/add a network?What is USB interfaces? Is that something to do internally to the puter? Sorry I'm just like a rock when it comes to this stuff. I'm showing my ignorance now! Wink

~Paul`

Paul,

By USB interface, I was referring to the inexpensive wifi adapters you can get a Walmart or Target which plug into a USB port and allow you to connect to a wireless router if you are within range. Basically, they are for laptops which don't have built-in wireless. I think they cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-$30 but not sure.

RE: Ethernet cable... yes, you basically connect the two computers (you'll probably need a crossover cable or will need to go through a router or hub). Then  you set up an ad-hoc network on both computers, and on the laptop, you set up internet sharing on the wireless connection that is used to connect to the internet. You might also need to bridge the ethernet connection that the ad-hoc is on to the wireless connection that the internet is on. I did this with a friend's laptop when I was in AL in Feb. He had an air card for his internet connection and I was in my bus. It worked pretty well other than his computer kept shutting things down.

craig

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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2009, 03:31:47 PM »

Thanks for the help guys! I have not made a decision, but getting close. Really considering the Hawking one that was posted earlier. We'll see if it fits the bosses budget!

Craig, I'll keep your suggestion in mind, sounds doable to me. I have the cable and switch, so I'm part way there.

I'm learning a lot, but still keep the ideas coming.

Thanks,

Paul
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2009, 04:00:36 PM »

Another medium cost option is to go to walmart and buy one of their Acer 9" laptops. They're like $300 for the basic model.  You can get it with either a 120 gig or 160 gig hard drive, or a 16 gig flash drive. Has built in wireless.  Comes with XP home edition, or, I think you can get Ubuntu (or whatever that Linux version is called). There's no cd drive in it, but if  you have another computer, you can share it and access it across your local network or connect a USB drive to it.

I got Teri one for Christmas, and it's turned out to be a pretty neat little computer. For the money, it's turned out to be a perfect computer for her.

craig


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« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2009, 04:06:23 PM »

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The spec the "max output power of 7watts".

not likely, and not legal. Max legal power out = 1 watt. government users can use 2.

Quote
Now, can that be true/possible connecting to a USB port?

Not directly from the port. USB spec: 5V at 100 mw = 500mW max. 7 percent of 7 Watts.

I use Linksys WRT54G routers with DD-WRT firmware set up as wireless bridges. 14 Db flat panel patch antennas.
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« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2009, 04:11:36 PM »

This brings up another question that I've been wondering about, and I'm sure there are some on here that know more about wireless than I.

Is it possible to use a wireless G router to extend a local area network?  For instance, you're in a campground. Could you connect the wireless router to your computer with ethernet, and then use the wireless of the router to connect to the campground wifi?


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« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2009, 05:37:01 PM »

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Is it possible to use a wireless G router to extend a local area network?

some will do this right out of the box.

some can be converted to do this by changing the firmware. I have 17 Linksys WRT-54Gs, 16 running DD-WRT firmware.

you can make a DD-WRT equipped router act like a client ( the onboard wifi card in a computer ) or a repeater: it will pick up an access point, store the recovered information and retransmit it.

if you need another addiction, less expensive than converting buses, DD-WRT is a good one.
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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2009, 06:52:30 PM »

OK Group, here's what we purchased and it's working very well. Hawking Hi-Gain Wireless-300N USB Adapter.

http://www.hawkingtech.com/products/productlist.php?CatID=32&FamID=60&ProdID=379

It took about 10 minutes to hook it up and the signal and performance is great. I hooked it up on our desktop and aimed the dish, Man it was easy.

Thanks for all of the help. Especially ekhedge for pointing me to it!

Paul
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« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2009, 07:06:54 AM »

It sounds like this comes too late for Paul but if somebody else wants a really cheap solution that gives some additional distance, I wrote about what we use here.  Its very low tech and it won't work miracles.  It has however given me a connection where one wasn't otherwise available several times, including right now.  We're on the Husky parking lot north of Saskatoon.  Without my collander I could see the connection but couldn't get connected.  With it I'm online with a useable link.  FWIW.
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« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2009, 07:20:33 AM »

Bob, That is very interesting, almost too easy huh.

Is that your blog?

Paul
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« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2009, 07:23:45 AM »

Glad To See it worked out for you!! Oh and Bob Of the North "Google" Pringles can WiFI antenna you'll get a kick out of it!
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« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2009, 09:07:05 AM »

I setup an AP-Repeater system for a buddy.

Went to eBay and got a Lynksys WRT54G that has the DD-Wrt software setup so that it can be put in repeater mode. It sits up high where his signal from his shop is pretty good and links to the network at the shop. Boosts the signal and repeats it with a 150 mw power setting in the lynksis. The distance is about 1,000 feet.

It connects on channel 1 and repeats on channel 6, It does take some speed away but only a little. Not bad for $55 and it works.

I have a similar WRT54G that is setup with DD_wrt here with 7dbi gain omni antennas that sits on a shelf in my office building. The power level is set to 175mw and reaches all the way to the far end on my property which is about 1,500 feet as checked with my laptop and no external antenna.

Good stuff to get around short ranges. By the way normal Wireless routers are set at 30mw from the factory. The only way you can get the power up is to use DD_WRT software or buy a high power AP like an Enoch unit from  http://www.wlanparts.com

Dave....
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« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2009, 04:58:41 PM »

Not sure what you want but I have a wireless adapter in my PC.  It works well.  I use it connect to the internet and a wireless printer/scanner.  It is a card like a video card that is installed in the computer.  Set up is painless with a Vista machine.

It is not as fast as a wired connection but I don't notice the speed difference most of the time.  I will look up the brand if you're interested.

Mike
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« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2009, 06:57:54 PM »

This brings up another question that I've been wondering about, and I'm sure there are some on here that know more about wireless than I.

Is it possible to use a wireless G router to extend a local area network?  For instance, you're in a campground. Could you connect the wireless router to your computer with ethernet, and then use the wireless of the router to connect to the campground wifi?

What advantage would this give you over just having wireless at each computer?  I suppose a router could have a stronger radio and better antenna.
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« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2009, 11:50:15 PM »

This brings up another question that I've been wondering about, and I'm sure there are some on here that know more about wireless than I.

Is it possible to use a wireless G router to extend a local area network?  For instance, you're in a campground. Could you connect the wireless router to your computer with ethernet, and then use the wireless of the router to connect to the campground wifi?

What advantage would this give you over just having wireless at each computer?  I suppose a router could have a stronger radio and better antenna.

To answer Gumpy, yes you can do that, although you may have to replace the routers firmware to get that functionality.

As for advantages, I can think of several:
* Communication between computers, printers, or file servers on your wired LAN can talk at the full speed of the router switch, not the limits of wireless. File transfers are where you'd notice this the most.
* If you're paying for the wireless access, you can use multiple computers on the same connection. Of course, if you start stringing wires between vehicles, expect the management to bang on your door when they notice.
* Don't forget this is more than a simple access point. It's also a router, which allows you to firewall your LAN to just the ports you need for internet access. Your first layer of security.


And a note for those of you cranking up the transmit power. Yes, it'll get you a stronger signal (more bars) TO your client. However, unless your clients signal is also boosted, your actual range isn't going to increase much because two-way communication is required. Also, stronger signals bleed into adjacent channels more, reducing their throughput (and vice versa...strong signals on adjacent channels screw with you). Also if you go straight for max power, you may find your routers cooling solution isn't up to the task and you end up with a dead router. Try a modest increase if you must try it.
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« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2009, 02:33:13 AM »

I will say that with what we did our signal strength is much better, more bars and 11.0 Mbps, whatever that means. We are probably about 600' from the parks tower. It also boosted the power of the laptop, which is fantastic. I don't think we need to do anything else. It's almost like we are on a hardwired land line, at least our speed is improved and we have what we wanted. One desktop, one laptop on line talking to the WWW.  Wink

Paul
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« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2009, 04:54:32 AM »

Directional antennas do help, so long as you avoid the ones that are pure hype. I've actually seen a few antennas on USB-sticks that are purely cosmetic...they are actually just plastic sticks that aren't connected to anything at all.

I've seen Wireless-G used at 3/4 mile with acceptable results. Of course, they used an carefully aimed external 2.4 Ghz parabolic antenna in a situation with completely clear line-of-sight with nobody else around to create interference (remote hanger at an airport surrounded by farmland).
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« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2009, 08:22:03 AM »

While doing a search of the above mentioned "Pringle's Can" idea, I ran across this. Not sure it's true, but worth mentioning to "stir the pot" on this thread a little bit. I honestly hope I don't offend anyones sensibilities by posting this. It is a 4-year old link:

http://www.engadget.com/2005/07/25/wifi-cantennas-now-illegal

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« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2009, 10:52:01 AM »

Far as I can tell, that's just bad journalism, not useful information of any kind. The comments there bear that out.
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« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2009, 03:29:31 PM »

I looked at the cantenna thing and it looked like WAY too much work and probably way too much hype.  The colander is dead simple, cheap (which really appealed to me) and it helps.  It won't work miracles but it is good enough to be useful.  And it folds up flat for storage.  It probably comes out of storage for 8 or 10 nights per year but when it does I'm glad to have it.
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