Best Router Supported/Antenna Questions?

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by rodenta, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. rodenta

    rodenta Network Guru Member

    What is the overall best router to buy that is supported by Tomato.

    Im basically looking for the best router for Range, Strength, Speed, and ability to have many connections.

    The supported devices include(others not here could work):
    (*Also wondering if anyone has flashed any Wireless N(predraft) router successfully)
    Linksys WRT54G (v1-v4 only), WRT54GS (v1-v4 only), WRT54GL (v1 & v1.1), WRTSL54GS (no USB support)
    Buffalo WHR-G54S, WHR-HP-G54, WZR-G54, WBR2-G54
    ASUS WL-500g Premium (no USB support)

    I've never bought a Buffalo or Asus, but im suddenly thinking that they might be better than Linksys which have only been causing more and more problems.

    Also, I'm looking to buy an antenna but I don't really know much about them(These ones I guess are all for WRT54G's):

    1) Are any of the following antennas potentially good, and how much do they actually improve range and strength?

    2) When it says like 9dBi gain or similar does that mean that it improves the signal in a way where if the RSSI/dB was -80, then it would improve it to -71 or does it not mean it in that way?

    2 8" Linksys WiFi Booster Antennas 5.5 dBi

    Linksys 7dBi OMNI 10' RP-TNC Dual Antennas for your Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS Routers

    Pair of 2.4GHz 15" 9dBi RP-TNC Omni direction Antennas

    And one last thing:
    What is the maximum real world wireless speed your going to get out of these routers? I've only been able to get around 15 Mpbs even sitting right next to the unit.

  2. Maggard

    Maggard LI Guru Member

    All VERY IMHO & to-my-(limited)-knowledge:

    The Buffalo are capable of 1mw power, and they're known for a pretty clean signal.

    Get an omni antenna if you really want/need 360 coverage. But if you can re-arrange things so your antenna is off to the side and only covering, say 60 or even 45 degrees, you'll get that much better service.

    For improved omni antennas Radio Shack (US/Canada) sell a`pair for around US$22, which regularly go on sale as low as US$12 or even US$9 (with in-store pickup).

    Couple an improved antenna with reflector made from or the like and you should be in great shape. These can be virtually free, I use a disposable pot roast pan for my materials source.

    As a reminder, upping your signal strength does not automagically improve signal quality - after a certain point you're just drowning yourself out with noise. A good comparison is turning speakers up to 11 - they're louder but you can't hear the lyrics any better (and data quality is kinda the point...) Thus a better antenna and optimal positioning typically yields better results then just cranking the milliwatts.

    Finally - WiFi is not the only way to go. Ethernet-over-Power units now cost anywhere from US$20 to US$90 and can reach 200 Mbps. Depending on your layout, materials, and electrical system it's a great alternative to actually pulling cable or broadcasting low-power microwaves.
  3. Maggard

    Maggard LI Guru Member

    12-20 Mbps is good to at-the-limit.

    Watch out for overlapping signals. In North America use channels 1, 6, or 11, and chose the one with least neighboring uses.

    Consider competing signals. 2.4GHz non-DECT wireless phones can interfere. So do some Bluetooth devices. Same for many wireless baby monitors, security cameras, and the like. Not to mention the classic using-the-microwave-oven-kills-my-connection.

    Your signal (in an omnidirectional setup) radiates out like a pancake, strongly to the sides, weakly horizontally. It is absorbed by water, masonry, and shelves of books. It is reflected by metal, including metal-filmed glass (reflective or heat-blocking).

    Thus, again, carefully consider your service area and plan your antenna placement. In a signal-dense area try and avoid competing with others by sending & receiving away from them.
  4. rodenta

    rodenta Network Guru Member


    Thanks for the responses, lots of good information. The ethernet over power thing is interesting, but I'm guessing theres a lot of problems right now. On a "stock" WRT54G, does the signal radiate around horizontally when the antennas are in the upward position.

    Yea i know this image looks terrible, but im just trying to figure it out.


    So would it make sense to have the antennas in the "blue position" with the green signal being emitted in those specific directions? Or does it not matter what position it is in like this.

    Also, in this situation, with the room directly above and to the right of the router, would it make sense to put a reflector or something like aluminum foil on the left side of the router, so the signal would bounce off and improve the strength in the other direction?

    Thanks again
  5. Maggard

    Maggard LI Guru Member

    The manufacturer's assumption is most WiFi devices are horizontally planar - in other words everything is roughly on the same level. Thus router antennas are aligned vertically, laptop antennas are often built-in to be vertical when the laptop is in use, etc.

    Putting one antenna on an angle and not the corresponding one will result in worse communications. Not so bad it won't work, but worse. Considering the hassles of odd-angles (and that leaning things tend to lean more, or even bend, with time) it's generally best to just leave the antennas vertical. FWIW my bedroom is directly below my home office and I get tres-fabu signal.

    Obviously a reflector always improves things (assuming it's pointed in the correct direction!) For room-to-room the improvement will be minimal, for neighbor-to-neighbor it can be quite significant. Note that a reflector is an exacting design resulting in specific characteristics - not randomly wedging tinfoil off the frozen leftovers under your router. Not hard to make, the mathematics are quite well understood, it's mostly a matter of print, trace, and trim.

    Ethernet-over-Power is pretty mature. They keep upping the speed but it's just evolutionary engineering now, nothing revolutionary. I'm using it to connect my basement fiber drop (Verizon FIoS) to my upper floor home office. Instead of pulling cable through a support wall and up a few floors I plugged an adapter downstairs & upstairs - instant >100Mbs connection. No muss, no fuss, will go with me when I move.

    However, with a room directly above and to the right of the router, a bit of cat 5 will work infinitely better then any WiFi. I'm sitting in my media room and with all of the WiFi I've got I'm banging away on the laptop using a cable drop. For sitting on the couch it's barely more hassle then wireless (especially as I've the laptop already tethered with a power cord) and multiple times faster.

    Good luck.
  6. mstombs

    mstombs Network Guru Member

    FWIW - there's no simple answer to the antenna orientation - which is I guess why they are rotatable. You need to experiment with your particular setup, use netstumbler or your adapter utility to graph the signal strength/quality. I found with a laptop PC-Card adaptor WPC54GS the best signal was with the WRT54GS antenna sticking out horizontal - just looks stupid!

    I'm not too sure what stock WRT54G antenna gain is, but I have cheap Linksys 7dB ones (via ebay) which seem to be 3dB better than stock (same coverage with TX power turned down).
  7. danix71

    danix71 LI Guru Member

    And not to forget that 3 db means doubling of power!
    Anyway, for better reception/covereage one must use directional antennas (not omni, not the stock ones for sure).
  8. tinfoil

    tinfoil LI Guru Member

    I am using 7 Linksys 7dbi omnis and have goosed the radio a bit as well. I'm able to get good connections all across my property and into the neighbours property as well, which is pretty goodfor farmland. I'm using this with a 54GSv2.1
  9. mikester

    mikester Network Guru Member

    I'm not affiliated with them but I have bought directional antennas from them. Pricing is very reasonable for their antennas.

    If you are going for range/coverage a good antenna will give you a good ROI.
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