Discussion in 'HyperWRT Firmware' started by CowboyBob, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. CowboyBob

    CowboyBob Network Guru Member

    All -

    I have replied in a few threads and posted a few as well over the last week. It seems that MANY people are having the problems that I was having. If any of these topics interest you:

    Computer Randomly Loses Wireless Connection
    Wireless Computer Randomly Loses Internet
    Neighbors Got Wireless and My Network Is Flaky Now

    then please read this one as it may help. It's a long one, but I want everyone to learn what I had to learn the hard way. Pardon the rambling, but I know others can gain from this...

    First The Network:

    WRT54Gv2 - 2 clients - one notebook and one desktop (PCI)
    (edit: I'm on Channel 1 on the WAP, as the 5 - yes, 5! neighbor WAPs are on channels 11, 11, 10, 6, 6, respectively. And of course 2 of them are named 'linksys' and 'netgear'. 2 have WEP enabled, 1 is named 'elvis' but is wide-open.)

    Problem Statement:

    Was using 802.11b cards for both systems, WAP was in mixed mode, and things were slow. Upgraded to G and found that things got worse. The PCI connection was losing its wireless network connection on a regular (sometimes once every 2-3 minutes basis). Other machine was bad, but not as bad.

    What All I Did:

    Upgraded from Linksys 3.03.6 to HyperWRT 3.03.6-derived (i think its 2.1b1)? Upgraded from stock Linksys antennae to AirLink 8dBi antennae (two long ones to replace the two short ones). Went through no less than 3 cards in the PCI system with at least 2 generations of driver per card.

    The Problem I Discovered:

    Under the Belkin 54G client, I had a 'signal strength' meter and another %rating in the list of WAPS. Strength meter was always anywhere from 68% - 83%. %age strength listing on my WAP was usually about the same range. Hitting the 'Rescan' button the WAP list would show mine and a neighbor's system - named 'elvis'. Every 4th or 5th click, my WAP would drop to 6%!!! ALWAYS 6% - never lower, and elvis would fluctuate from not showing up at all (0%) to 36%.

    Belkin driver update did not warrant any better results. PC Card Belkin 54G on the other computer was showing same problem.

    Because both cards were same vendor, it did not automatically mean that my WAP was the cause... Maybe Belkin uses the same crap chips or drivers I thought...

    First-Stage Debug Process:

    After going through the FAQ on this site and adjusting everyting recommended, I saw no real improvement. Toggling from G to Mixed helped a bit, but dammit, this was supposed to be an All-G network now! Messing with power settings, antennae placement, Tx/Rx antennae designation, etc. all had SMALL impact on the problem - I could get the once-every-2-minutes fall-off to happen once-every hour or so instead. Was never able to cure the problem through these means. Even put the stock Linksys firmware back on for a while after doing a hard reset on the router.

    The Final Debug Process:

    Fired up the work-issued notebook with Cisco Aironet 350. Set WAP back to Mixed mode. Fired up Cisco's fancy little scatter chart analysis tool (Quality and Strength each on their own axis). Place notebook on top of PCI PC. Never saw a signal go below 87% on either quality or strength! Tried PCI again, thinking B vs. G would natively improve everything... STILL saw 6% drop on PCI Card running in B mode!

    Then borrowed Linksys WPC54G from a friend, downloaded latest drivers. Signal and Quality meters both stayed high - never saw a dramatic dip to 6%. Signal to noise ratio was displayed on the client as -29dB and my speed was near-perfect 54Mbps the whole time. Moved around house and never saw much variation - even sitting on the PCI computer.

    Returned both Belkin cards and replaced with Linksys cards since clearly the Linksys card worked better in my environment.

    Installed PCI card, loaded drivers that came with it. WEIRD client results:

    ("you are connected to the WAP, but not to the internet")
    Receive speed showed 1Mbps!!!

    Got latest drivers from website - now the util looks like the PC card one I used earlier in the day. Only instead of Noise-to-Signal RATIO, it actually shows the Noise and Signal separately....

    Noise hovers between 89-93dbm and signal hovers between 63-78dbm!!!

    Then I Changed:

    Tx and Rx antennae from auto to right/left
    transmit power from 50% to 100%, throttling down to 67% after repeated trials.


    54Mbps Tx and Rx on the PCI card system with no random fall-offs. Sometimes Rx drops as low as 36Mbps, but I'm not worried about it.

    The bottom line is this: my house is surrounded by WAPs on all sides, most of them B with long transmit ranges. My 2 computers are on outside walls of the house, and are picking up all the jabber. What has been happening is that noise is greater than signal where these 2 systems are... My older B cards slugged through it slowly, and my first tries at G cards resulted in random network fall-offs. It wasn't until the Linksys adapter that I got the EXACT specifics on the nature of the problem. It was my receive, not my transmit that was killing me due to neigborhood noise.

    Once I was able to see the exact problems, I was able to fine-tune things to work better.


    The Linksys cards cost $20 more apiece than the Belkins. However, they were worth it because:

    1. I was able at all times to get an exact understanding of the problem thanks to specific upload/download speed references and separate signal/noise references that updated real-time. If you get wireless cards, get ones with driver that have these features!!!

    2. The latest generation Linksys G drives CLEARLY handle background noise problems far better than older Linksys G drivers, Belking G drivers (new or old!), AirLink drivers (yeah, tried that too!) and pretty much all of my old B stuff - another Belkin, another Linksys, and a Netgear.

    3. Jacking your WAP to 100% power does not necessarily improve the signal/noise ratio... Everyone knows that added power also adds to noise, but when toggling that against neighbor's background noise, you want to try ALL settings and do 2-3 trials at each setting to find your sweet spot. 100% made no change, 83% made things worse, and 67% nailed it. After finding the right power setting I then tried antennae straight up, at 45 degrees, and horizontal. I then tried TxRight/RxLeft, Auto/Auto and TxLeft/RxRight. After much fiddling, the PCI machine now has a nearly perfect connection.

    4. As a side note, in all of these experiments, my 8dBi antennae don't seem to do jack sh*t vs. the stock Linksys antennae.

    5. Now comes the fun. The PC card system will get config'd tomorrow. It's on the other end of the house up against 3 neighbor WAPs - not just 1. I will ultimately have to re-try WAP placement, antennae placement, antennae assignment, wattage all over again to get the best balance for both computers. Without the Linksys driver's detail, however, I wouldn't be able to tune like this.

    If anyone else knows other wireless drivers with that much detail (I tried NetStumbler, but it wouldn't work with ANY of my 4 B or G cards!), please add to this post. Without that detail, my situation was doomed. Also, if you live in a noisy area, don't buy Belkin!

    Thanks for your time... Peace out!
  2. jdepew

    jdepew Administrator Staff Member Member

    Great post Cowboy Bob!

    I'll go ahead and add a few comments in as well.

    Especially if you are near other access points, or if you use portable phones... Try changing your wireless channel. Though there are 11 channels available, only channels 1, 6, and 11 do not overlap one another. Most consumer/SOHO routers and access points come preconfigured on channel 6 and given that most people don't enable security, much less change channels, this is a good place to start. Try operating on channel 1 or 11.

    This is a throw back to Windows XP SP1 and its poor wireless management (WZC client), but I've found that wireless clients still manage to maintain better connectivity. Try changing the Transmit Beacon in Advanced Wireless to 50 from the default 100. I still use that on all new installations and doesn't seem to hurt and any gain is welcome.

    Regarding drivers for the WMP54G, WMP54GS, WPC54G, and WPC54GS, and the mini PCI card out of the WRT54Gv1 or for that matter and Broadcom reference based product - There is a great thread on DSLReports on using the latest available drivers even though Linksys may not have released them in their branded form. I'm hoping to get approval from the author of that thread to reprint and clarify the instructions here.,13129331

    Having the latest drivers is probably a good idea, and they add support for WPA2, a good thing if you have a router that supports it, like the WRT54GC.
  3. CowboyBob

    CowboyBob Network Guru Member

    Indeed. Edited post to reflect my channel research. As a side note, I also ditched all of my 2.4GHz phones and replaced with modern 900MHz, which work much better than the 900MHz phones of yore... :)

    Your FAQ already mentions Beacon Interval, and I did indeed read and try the FAQ before posting. Rare for me, but I did it this time! :) In my case with SO much 2.4GHz all around the house, none of the FAQ's settings helped... :-(
  4. dellsweig

    dellsweig Network Guru Member

    CONGRATS BoB!!!!

    It is really refreshing to read a post where someone actually figured out the problems and did not throw the hardware against the wall and call it a POS....

    You may have stumbled on the fact that the Antenna replacement (and better client card signal processing/antenna) was the key to solvinv this

    Now you just have to hope youe neighbors dont run out and buy linear amps
  5. Manip

    Manip Network Guru Member

    Well I have the wireless drop problem and the only way to fix it is to restart the AC, explain why other ACs would cause that to occure.

    Sounds more like a software / hardware problem to me.
  6. Guyfromhe

    Guyfromhe Network Guru Member

    thats when you get a bigger amp, a directional antenna and a noise generator and point it at their house... that'll learn em :p
  7. CowboyBob

    CowboyBob Network Guru Member

    Question:If you reboot the computer rather than the WAP, does the signal come back for a while?

    What happened in my case, was that certain combinations of hardware/software were less suited for dealing with outside interference than others. Rebooting either end (PC or WAP) brought it back - briefly.

    Get a notebook with a card/driver that show other WAPs and that show signal strength. You probably have interference from a neighbor that you can spot and start to isolate.

    FYI, all my tweaking last night paid off in spades - the PC-card-based system came up at 54/54 with 80+% strength and quality without my having to adjust anything else...

    - CB
  8. CowboyBob

    CowboyBob Network Guru Member

    That happens and I get the full Hawking rig - If I can block them out of my house at this stage, I can do it when the war escalates. ;-)
  9. smokeydane

    smokeydane Guest

    Thats cool

    Thank you Cowboy BOB

    i just follow your desciption and now i newer drop connection and everything work perfect thank you (sorry for my bad english) its always on with 54 never lower than 48 but just in few second then its 54 again thank you

    Karl Denmark
  10. JacobJacob

    JacobJacob Guest


    Yes cowboy I read all of your tips and what not.. but i am new to the wireless world and i am not getting the full grasp of what i need to do to get rid of random drop offs from my connection. I have Linksys WRT54G router v. 2 which connects to my hub that connects to the satelite outside. I've done a few things like changing channels from 6 to 1, changed the beacon interval form 100 to 50, and turned off firewalls. But i still get random kickoffs from the internet, even though it says it is still connected. I don't not use the wireless aspect of the router, i run an ethernet cable from my computer to the router and the router connects to the hub which connects to the dish (or whatever) outside. I've noticed that I get cut off from my internet because of 1) phone calls and 2) bad weather. But sometimes it just decides to not work at all for no good reason. How about giving a poor wireless internet user an "Idiot's guide to fixing wireless connection."
  11. cgondo

    cgondo Network Guru Member

    one more suggestion from me. If you havent done this, try to use G mode only and not mixed mode. I have seen cases where people use mixed mode and the surrounding B network actually pulls the mixed mode down although all your clients are G. I fi could come to your place, i could have donw a more through "environment" checking with my protocol analyser
  12. czeman

    czeman Network Guru Member

    ROTFLMAO - WiFi is 21st Century C.B. radio!!! LOL
  13. dadaniel

    dadaniel Network Guru Member

    And the Linksys-cards are not expensive :D :D

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