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Wi-Fi over long distances

Discussion in 'Networking' started by snorkytheweasel, Aug 21, 2007.

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  1. snorkytheweasel

    snorkytheweasel Thread Starter

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    We have a barn and two houses way out in the country. I am trying to set up a wireless network to share an internet connection among computers in each of the the buildings.

    Current setup:
    • The barn is at the north end of the complex.There is a "Wild Blue" satellite dish and an inexpensive Linksys wireless router in the barn. As long as one is content with using the Internet in or near the barn, everything is fine.
    • The barn has an unimpaired line-of-sight - about 50 feet - to the first house. The roof of the barn is higher than the roof of the first house; from the roof of the barn there is an unimpaired line-of-sight to each house.
    • Because the router is currently indoors in the barn, the "first" house - due south of the barn - blocks signal from the barn to the "second" house.
    • The first house has an unimpaired line-of-sight - about 300 meters due south - to the second house.
    Current signal strength:
    • The wi-fi signal is good in the barn and in the north side of the first house (the rooms closest to the barn).
    • The wi-fi signal is weak on the far side (the south side) of the first house.
    • There is no wi-fi signal reaching the second house.
    The entire complex is in a small valley surrounded by heavy timber. Neither latency nor security are issues. We are not sharing files or printers and do not need to authenticate into a local network.

    Because of occasional strong winds, any outdoor equipment has to be anchored to a building (as opposed to being pole-mounted). We can, however, use CAT5 cable around the exteriors of the buildings. We don't want to bury any cable.

    The question: what equipment will be needed to get the signal from a router in the barn
    • to the first house
    • to the second house.
     
  2. jmwills

    jmwills

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    Could be as simple as running some CAT5 cable in an underground pipe (PVC will work fine) from the router to each location. You would then either connect a simple 5 port switch or another router at those endpoints.

    To install the router at the other end do this:

    Connecting two SOHO broadband routers together.

    Configure the IP address of the secondary router to be in the same subnet as the primary router, but out of the range of the DHCP server in the primary router. For instance DHCP server addresses 192.168.0.2 through 192.168.0.100, I'd assign the secondary router 192.168.0.254 as it's IP address.

    Disable the DHCP server in the secondary router.

    Setup the wireless section just the way you would if it was the primary router.

    Connect from the primary router's LAN port to one of the LAN ports on the secondary router. If there is no uplink port and neither of the routers have auto-sensing ports, use a cross-over cable. Leave the WAN port unconnected!
     
  3. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    I recommend against the direct cable between buildings! If you're going to run cable, make it fiber unless you REALLY understand the implications of grounding and lightning protection, it's NOT a trivial problem.

    I really recommend outdoor WiFi antennas with direct line of sight for the 300 meter run, any obstructions will likely cause major issues.

    Hawking Tech has a number of products that will help you increase your wireless range. The root page is Hawking Hi-Gain™ WiFi Range Extending Products.

    Some of the more interesting products are this Hawking [HSB2] Hi-Gain WiFi Signal Booster, which can be used on either end of a wireless connection to boost the signal power.

    Another way to increase your signal strength is by the use of hi-gain antennas. You can choose from omni-directional or directional models, here are a couple of examples.

    [HAO14SDP] Hi-Gain™ 14dBi Outdoor Directional Antenna Kit

    Hawking [HAI7SIP] Hi-Gain 7dBi Omni-Directional Antenna

    Hawking [HAI15SC] Hi-Gain 15dBi Corner Antenna
     
  4. snorkytheweasel

    snorkytheweasel Thread Starter

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    Other than the part about underground pipe, your suggestions about configuring will be helpful. Thanx.

    The original post stated "We don't want to bury any cable." There's a good reason for that:
    it's almost impossible to do any hand-powered trenching here. The hardpan is never more than 36" from the surface, and very often the hardpan IS the surface. The glaciers that carved out our little piece of paradise compressed the soil into rock-hard dirt. Renting a backhoe to do the trenching costs $150 delivery + $240/ half-day. Hence, my reluctance to dig.

    Besides, why mess up perfectly good faux concrete when wireless technology works so well?
     
  5. jmwills

    jmwills

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    I always put on my "Security Hat" first so cable is always perferable to me. You said you had no neighbors and live in a revine so you should be relatively safe.
     
  6. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    With WPA or WPA2, you'll be perfectly safe even with neighbors.

    Unless you plan on weathering CAT5 hurricanes, external antennas can hold up as long as the building they're attached to doesn't fall down. For the 300 meter run, I can assure you that the external directional antennas with direct LOS will be the ticket. They may be overkill in nice weather, but when you have precipitation like rain/snow, you'll need the extra signal strength.
     
  7. jmwills

    jmwills

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    Not to sure about "perfectly", but yes safe enough.
     
  8. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    With strong keys, there is no known crack for WPA/WPA2, so it's certainly as safe as you can expect to be. ;)
     
  9. Memnoch322

    Memnoch322

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    Get your beam tight enough, and anyone not in the path will have a hardtime connecting anyway.
     
  10. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Well, getting the beam tight enough with typical consumer grade antennas, etc. will probably be a bit tough. :D
     
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