Archive for July, 2011

Extending Wifi Range in a Rural Area: Pre-Implementation

So my latest project was to assist my sister and my parents in creating a wifi network that allows them to share the same resources… in a rural area.  Now granted, they live approximately 500 feet apart which is not terribly far, but considering the abilities of wifi + some distance + some trees + some walls = a frustrating scenario.  After crawling across the internet trying to figure out a solution, I tried a popular method: increasing the transmission power of the router.  I installed DD-WRT on a Cisco-Linksys WRT160N Wireless-N Broadband Router that I was able to purchase from during one of their flash deals for about $30 and turned up the transmit power on it to about 100mw.  I heard that increasing the power too much will result in potentially burning out your router and a broken router would be of no use to me.  So after a bit more research I decided to go with 100mw.  My goal with this was to amplify the Wifi N signal enough to be able to reach the adjacent house, however this did not prove successful.

I went back to searching the internet for more answers and then revisited my research page and decided to give their method a try: using different antenna’s.  The problem is that the WRT160N does not have external antenna’s.  Thus I decided to search some more for a N router that has external antenna’s for a reasonable price of which I could install DD-WRT on so that I can have at least some control over the transmit power and performance of the router, plus DD-WRT is just awesome.  I started research antenna design, cost, and quality and ran across a website, SuperPass, and decided to just email the company through their “contact us” section.  I heard back the following business day and the responder asked that I called him.  This guy knew exactly what I was trying to do and what I needed to make a successful extension.  I learned from him that simply turning up the transmit power does not work like that.  In my head I likened it to turning up a stereo speaker: you can turn it up, but if you turn it up too high the sound quality dramatically decreases.  Same for routers, if you turn up the transmit rate too high, it increases the interference and increases error rates.  He pointed me to using the Superant and use a antenna with a gain of at least 17-20.  I chose the antenna with the most gain, the SPAPG20.  The man then instructed me that I needed to purchase the cable with a N male to RSMA so that I could connect the antenna to the router.  Apparently any cable longer than 25 feet is apparently resulting in significant signal loss, so I went with the 25 foot cable because I didn’t know where exactly these routers were going to be placed.  Now, I needed the router to send the signal via an external antenna and I also wanted another router on the receiving end to receive the signal and re-broadcast it to the house, essentially creating a wireless bridge so that I didn’t have to hook any special antenna’s up the computers but instead to just one router:Wireless Bridge / Client Bridge

So, I purchased the SPAPG20, some N male to RSMA, as well as two refurbished WRT160NL-RM (RM=remanufactured).  I have yet to implement this yet, but I wanted to share what I had thus learned after doing a lot of research and looking at products.  I’ll let you know soon what happens when you actually implement this design.  I hope it wasn’t a waste of money, I’m sick of just bleeding cash for projects that I f**k up!  Cheers!

Categories: Technology

The Art of Painting… walls

Today is painting day.  I have several interior walls that have suffered from multiple brushes/bumps/rubs of… stuff… and now it is time to bite the bullet and, instead of using those wall erasers, use a paintbrush and roller and do the job completely.  As I visit the nearest home improvement store, L*w*s, I am inundated with information.

Sales Clerk: “Would you like flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, or high gloss.
Me: “What?”
Sales Clerk: “What type of sheen would you like? Shiny or non-shiny?”
Me: “What?”
Sales Clerk: “Where are you painting?”
Me: “A few walls.”
Sales Clerk: “Well what room?”
Me: “Living room, formal living room, dining room, and foyer.”
Sales Clerk: “Do you like shiny things?”
Me: “oh yes.”

The sales clerk then went on to describe a few things to me about walls because clearly I didn’t understand that there is more work in painting than going and saying, I want that tan color.

Flat: Used for lower traffic areas and has low reflectivity (read: not shiny). Historically it is hard to clean walls where flat paint has been used because the paint wipes right off along with whatever smudge you were trying to wipe off as well.
Eggshell: Hybrid between satin and flat.  I guess it looks like an eggshell?
Satin: Has some sheen to it but not overly shining so if the sun is filling the room you are being blinded.  This is easier to clean as it can be wiped and the paint doesn’t come off when you accidentally rub something against it.  This is the one that should definitely be used in the bathroom because of the high moisture that the bathroom gets from when you are pleasantly scalding your skin in the shower in an attempt to sterilize yourself.
Semi-gloss: Shouldn’t be used for walls because it is SO shiny.  Typically it is used on rails, cabinets, shelves, and windowsills.

I finally chose the color pleasantly named “Woodlawn Snow” in satin (because I like shinier things), bought a few paint rollers, a few trays, an edger, and was on my way.  I chose some rollers that said “gets the job done 30% faster”.  My internal brain alarms should have sounded at reading that, but I didn’t want to paint so I figured 30% faster would be nice.  After I had started painting I noticed a few fibers/strands sticking out of what I had just painted. A few expletives later I noticed my “30% faster roller” was the culprit.  After a few trips back to L*w*s, I went against my normal budget-mind and purchased the more expensive foam rollers… and I am glad that I did.  No more fiber thingys!  I then started using the edger with the wheels and I quickly learned that I shouldn’t go to fast with it as it has the potential to glob paint.  Ironically, I found that if I didn’t drown the paint-pad with paint, I could use the non-wheeled end and get a closer edge to the trim at the baseboard and ceiling without getting much paint in areas where it isn’t supposed to be.

While this information is by no means professional, I found that foam rollers do a much better job than non-foam rollers because they aren’t leaving behind fiber thingys.  The more expensive fiber-based thingy rollers may not leave those fiber things, but I was too pissed to back and re-try my luck.  Apparently 30% faster does not mean 30% better… in fact quite the opposite.  Also, don’t dunk the edger in the paint, it will only end in cursing as you attempt to delicately edge your walls.  I hate painting.

Categories: Home Improvement