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-   -   What is the best wifi router for an apartment on a college budget? (

mitchell7man 09-23-2012 03:10 PM

What is the best wifi router for an apartment on a college budget?
Hi Everyone,

I currently have an older Linksys WRT54G router, and it works okay, the issue I'm having is that it will randomly loose connectivity. I live in an apartment and share my wifi with 3 people and we all have at least 2 devices between the ipads iphones and laptops. So first of all I don't know why my linksys router is acting up, i'm running DD-WRT v24-sp2 (07/22/09) micro. I'm thinking the router is just old and overwhelmed. I hadn't used the router for like 2 years before moving in here, I'm thinking before then there weren't all of these mobile devices to pull my wifi down. Anyway, any input is appreciated. Furthermore if replacing this with something newer and better would work, what would you recommend for a dependable router in the $50 range? That can handle this load. My roomates aren't as patient with technology as me, I need something that will "just work" once its all set up.

Thanks for your input, I always value the input and experience I get here.

brianL 09-23-2012 03:23 PM

I don't know whether it will be better than DD-WRT in your case, but I never have connectivity problems with Tomato on my WRT54GL.

pixellany 09-23-2012 03:23 PM

this one worked well for me---until Verizon gave me a free one...;)

Caution: If you don't know what's wrong with the other one, then your problem might just follow you

michaelk 09-23-2012 04:22 PM

I also have a WRT54G running dd-wrt that randomly drops wireless connections. Changing settings did not help and assumed that something was starting to fail. So being old and running 24/7 for a number of years and not much time for any serious troubleshooting so I thought it was time for a replacement.

I would also agree that the Netgear works well. There are some cheap Belkin models but probably can not handle the workload required by college students.

jefro 09-23-2012 04:23 PM

Always kind of difficult to find why stuff acts up. In a dorm, I could imagine many other issues causing it to loose connection. A good test is to swap but maybe a better sweep of the channels would prove more useful. Dorms have a lot of rfi and maybe a few hackers trying to access it for free or easy use.

thorkelljarl 09-23-2012 06:21 PM

If you didn't already have one I'd recommend...

As the previous posts have stated, there are many factors that effect the performance of a router in an installation such as yours. In fact, a new router in your price range may not give you any better service than what you have now.

The WRT54GL is known as a very stable router with good signal strength. Before you replace it, you might give this a try.

Ensure that you have the latest stable version of DD-WRT. Then tune the router by selecting G instead of Mixed Mode, setting the cpu clock frequency up to 250 from 200 and setting the radio signal strength(tx) from 71 to 80.

Either use the command "iwlist" with the "scan" option to select a channel without too much competing traffic and set the router channel thereafter or set the channel selection function to Auto.

Next make a pair of Ez-12 Parabolic Reflectors out of cardboard and aluminum foil for the router antennas to concentrate your signal and block out interference from all the other traffic around you.

Finally, if all this seems to make an improvement but you need more signal strength, buy a set of replacement Linksys 7dBi antennas.

I have an Asus RT-N16 n router with DD-WRT firmware that runs fine, but I would have kept my WRT54GL if I didn't need the added throughput of the 802.11n standard. I recommend the RT-N16 if you can buy one on sale or get one used.

I might add that your room mates are likely to be disappointed if they expect to mix g and n standard devices and still get the performance of an n standard network and expect that a network even running at n standards will give them the same throughput as a cable internet connection. Good Luck.

JaseP 09-24-2012 04:33 PM

I agree with the other posters who recommend doing a channel scan. If anyone has an android device, there's a nice app on the play store for free called Wifi Analyzer, which will graphically show you the signal strength and overlaps you might get from adjacent channels...

Plus, note that there sre some devices, such as a Wii, that misbehave at certain channels. If you have a Wii hooked up, consider getting a USB to Ethernet adapter and hooking it up by wire.

mitchell7man 09-25-2012 12:27 AM

Thanks for all the input, yesterday I ran iStumblr and was able to see all of the info on the wifi systems around me, there were not channels "free and clear" so I chose the range with the least amount of overlap. Things have worked fine since, I'm thinking this might be something that happens during high traffic hours here at the apartments, and sunday afternoons is when everyone is hanging out at home. I think I might try some of the tweaking advice thorkelljarl mentioned.

Thanks for the input.


JaseP 09-25-2012 02:20 PM

One thing to note;

Just increasing the transmit power on the router is not usually the answer,... Unless you are trying to get extra range or through walls... Just increasing your power, if you are on a hogged channel, is a bit like trying to shine a flashlight in someone's eyes while they are staring at the sun...

Plus, it makes your neighbors on the same channel just do the same...

Having a clear channel, and IDing attached hosts who are hogging bandwidth is usually a better course of action,... That said, using QOS on those routers usually just drops everyone down to a mediocre bandwith, rather than increasing bandwith for non-offenders.

A nice, essy to use firmware for those WRT54GL routers is Gargoyle,... based on OpenWRT.

thorkelljarl 09-25-2012 04:33 PM

A note...

I have my Asus RT-N16 router set to find its channel automatically. When I close my computer I pull the power plug out of the router to shut it off.

I plug it back in before I boot again, and thereby require the router to make an new automatic search of the best channel to tune to at that moment.

Where I live there are up to 25 signals within range, many broadcasting on channels that I see have shifted each time they've come on, and there is no need of my signal adding to the crowding.

I think it's better for me to join the party when I need to, thereby getting a better channel choice in the mix of what's available and what's best.

Also, if you want to make a set of parabolic antenna reflectors, note that you can change the dimensions of the reflector to make them more narrow so that they don't interfere with one another and higher to cover the full length of the antenna as long as you retain the correct curve of a parabola.

You can also make them so that they extend forward more on the sides nearest the edge of the router case for better side shielding than on the sides where they will meet in the middle. The important thing is the parabolic shape and maintaining the right focal point for the parabola, not the size or form of the final product.

Remember that all parabolas are similar, that is they have the same shape regardless of their size.

Good fun for all ages +12.

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