Another strange problem (which started out quite normally)…
Customer has wireless “dropouts” and has difficulty maintaining a reliable internet connection. He also doesn’t have wireless security.
So I decide to setup WPA security, and then look into what dropout he has.
He also has a wireless repeater, so to avoid confusion, I switched it off while working on the router.
With a laptop right next to the netgear WAP + 4 port router, I easily setup WPA on the router and the laptop.
I then setup another laptop in an office (about 10 meters away), but get no signal…
I pickup the laptop and walk over to the main house where the WAP is located… as I enter the room, the laptop connects, and it is on the internet. Ah, good… I didn’t make a mistake with the setup.
So now I decide to look at the wireless repeater, as it looks like I’ll need it to get a signal to the office.
The way it works is: press the sync button when it is close to the WAP, and it will lock-in on the strongest wireless signal. Then connect it a little further away, and it will remember the last WAP it synchronised with, and it will basically extend the range on the WAP (acting like a go-between).
However, since I disabled the SSID broadcast on the WAP, the repeater won’t be able to synchronise (and it doesn’t know the keyphrase I used!)… so I need to connect to it via ethernet and manually enter the WAP details (like SSID and keyphrase). After that, it synchronises correctly.
I then setup the repeater 2 rooms away, and it cannot connect with the WAP… whats going on?
I set it up in the kitchen, but still no go.
I try a bookcase just 3 meters (and 2 walls) away from the WAP, and it finally syncs (at last!).
I then try a laptop, but no go 🙁
I am having some serious signal attenuation problems!
I switch off the repeater and concentrate on the WAP: as soon as I walk out the door with the laptop, the signal drops to half strength, and pings just stop.
At this stage I’m sure there must be something in the walls that are blocking the signal.
I cannot do much more, so I recommend that the customer abandons the wireless and goes with a wired solution.
On my way home, I start thinking that the problem could be with the WAP antenna. A frayed cable would give the same symptoms that I’ve been seeing (although I’ve never heard of a wireless antenna failing).
I arrange a second visit, where I will test the signal strength using another WAP that I know works well… Except he cancels the very next day, since he doesn’t want to deal with the wireless anymore… he will just go with a wired setup as I suggested. I also suggested he get a proper electrical contractor to install the wiring, as I don’t have the knowledge to do electrical kind of work (eg running wires within wall cavities, proper RJ45 wall outlets, etc).
I guess I won’t find out what the problem was, but I’ll remember to check the antenna, next time something like this happens.