WRT54GL noob questions

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by fenris, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. fenris

    fenris LI Guru Member

    I just purchased my first wireless router (WRT54GL v1.1 ) and I have been reading through these forums for the last two days trying to catch up to the wireless age. Good stuff in all!

    I plan on upgrading the firmware to Tomato this weekend based upon some of the forum recommendations (ease of navigation/setup with solid stability compared to the standard firmware). I know that there are strong recommendations for DD-WRT but I think it may be a little more robust that what I need. I recently purchased a two-story house and I need to network two pcs used for online gaming, one upstairs and one downstairs. I also have a Xbox 360 to connect.

    I have a couple of quick questions that I was hoping some of you with much more wireless experience could chime in on:

    1) Should I get a usb adapter or a wireless pci card for the best signal reception?

    2) Many forums I have read indicate that you should stick to adapters of the same brand as your wireless router. Should I purchase a Linksys wireless adapter or are there other alternatives that work better? Any specific recommendations?

    3) Once I upgrade the firmware, how often do you check for newer versions of it to update it?

    4) According to what I read, the wireless signal in a G router is broadcasted in pancake like waves. If the two computers are on different floors, should I keep the router antennas in the 'up' position or adjust them 90 degrees to broadcast upward? Do both antennas need to be in the same position?

    Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer.
  2. frenchy2k1

    frenchy2k1 LI Guru Member

    1) usb or PCI does not really matter. What would matter for reception is the antenna. Depending on distance, that may not even really matter.

    2) 802.11G is a real standard. All adapters will pretty much work on it at the specified 54Mbps (which means you will see a bit less than half of that at best in transfer).
    If you want to use brand specific feature (like speed booster), it is better to stay with the same brand, but expect the feature to only work if ALL the connected devices (and sometimes all the devices that can be seen) support the feature (~from the same brand).

    3) As often as it takes if there is a bad bug, never if all the features you need are already there ;)

    4) the WRT will use the best antenna for each transmission. If your computer is going to be up, one antenna horizontal would help. If you have another comp on the same floor, keep one antenna vertical and one horizontal.
  3. Macskeeball

    Macskeeball LI Guru Member

    I've read that placing the router higher is best for signal strength, so put it upstairs if possible.
  4. PBR1967

    PBR1967 LI Guru Member

    The USB adapter lets you move the antenna around for better reception. The downside is the usb cable hanging around.
    The pci version may place the antenna in a disadvantaged reception area. The up side is no usb cable, you are totally wireless.

    Stay with Linksys if possible. Using the same brand minimizes compatiability issues.

    Like Mac said, mount the router as high as possible, i.e. second floor.

    I'll disagree with Frenchy, sorry. The router hardware compares the signal from the two antennas and derives an optimum signal. If the antennas are at different angles, the optimization software can't optimize the signal. So, keep both antennas at the same angle - 90, 45, 30, 180 etc. degrees. You'll have to experiment with the angle. It's usually best if all antennas - the router and the clients/adapters - are at the same angle. ref: http://www.skifactz.com/wifi/wrt54g_repeater_improve.htm

    The optimization can be disabled, but that involves opening
    the box and soldering some jumper wires.

    Try different channels usually 1, 6, and 11 are the best. All my neighbors are newbies and they leave their routers at the factory default setting. So everybody is on the same channel. Changing channels may reduce interferrence from others, i.e. faster speeds for you.

    Other wireless devices use these same channels - remote control ceiling fan, wireless telephones, wireless baby monitor, wireless weather station, WalkyTalkies, etc.- So be aware if you have any of those devices. And Bluetooth is on the same frequencies, though it is very low power and usually just shows up in the noise level.

    A router on the second floor should easily connect to the first floor at the other end of the house. Good luck, wireless is great.
  5. fenris

    fenris LI Guru Member

    Thanks for the advice everyone! This has gone more smoothly that I thought.

    My router's firmware has now been flashed with the latest version of Tomato. I don't move into the new house until next week so both computers are in the same room right now. I also wanted to work out any kinks before dealing with issues of different floors. One pc is wired and the other is wireless via a linksys wireless-g pci card (model no. WMP54G). I purchased the card before reading PBR1967's recommendation for the usb adapter. I'll have to cross my fingers.

    What do you guys use to test the strength of your wireless connectivity? Both of my pcs are connected fine but I did not know how to compare the different connectivity strengths or what benchmark I should be shooting for.
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