Playing with Wi-Fi at home, a story of escalation
I’m on a new (to me,) Wi-Fi since the disaster that was the Nest Wifi + Mesh. The new one is not something I’m keen on reviewing at the moment (one, it’s a couple of years old at this point, two it’s been reviewed to death already elsewhere,) because I’m still working on Google’s Nest Wifi in a different environment, and we’re at day three or four of this thing and I’ve been moving it around quite a bit and while great signal and range, Nest Wifi had that but died every week. Being cautious here.
TL;DR – Paul goes OCD on Wi-Fi and tech spring cleaning
First off, the thing is huge. It looks like a pizza box making love to a dead spider and that really didn’t fit with the aesthetic of not having things that look like dead spiders in my living room.
I mean, the 8 antennas are amazing and all, the range is absurd, and the speed is way beyond what I actually need in a Wi-Fi, but the main reason for this absurd router is the number of devices supported and ability to plug in a really large drive to it (others were limited to 2TB, I need a lot more.)
I decided to move it out of the living room. Unfortunately there exist no other location in the house that’s wired, centrally located, and has power. I also really don’t want to look at the dead spider humping pizza box. I mean it’s not ugly, if you’re into container / arachnid necrophilia, but as things go I have a very simple network, need two things plugged into it, and yeah.
I decided to move it to my basement. There’s an area that’s dead center of the entire house that is free and it could live on the basement ceiling looking like a spider about to drop on you and eat your brains. It’s not the most welcoming environment, but the only Wi-Fi router I’ve ever had to babysit was that Nest one, and I decided it was time to make use of some of the space that’s never going to be used.
There was an existing hole in the floor that speaker wires were running through. Unfortunately the hole was only big enough for those wires and had been half drilled into. It was time to cut a hole in the floor… whoooo. OK, not that exciting, but there’s a much better slightly larger hole positioned in the correct position. The speaker wire hole that someone else put in was going through the side of a joist. Meh…
The great spider, now mounted in the basement, fired up and worked perfectly in the basement. On the first floor it worked about 90% as well as it had when there were no floors between it and the phone I was testing on. On the second floor as far away as I could get, it functioned at 70% of the best the phone appeared to be able to get. 70% was about 250/200 mbit, two floors away with a mass line of site blockage and a thick standing desk between it.
Something about not breaking 300 got to me however… it’s something I’m going to have to work on, or perhaps install a short run 2.4/5ghz booster antenna because I’m insane.
I wandered around the house and found my whole house to be pretty decent, but going outside my phone dropped. Horrors. I realized that where I was standing was now line of sight blocked by a stone foundation, and 8 feet of concrete stairs. The horrors of having a nearly dead zone in your front yard. Oddly I have 2.4ghz antennas and 100 feet of antenna cable that are sitting in my car because of course I do. Considering putting one on the side of the house just because I want them out of my car and that project is probably not happening.
Along the way I asked if a friend had a box or something that I could more nicely mount the pizza box humping a spider in. I mean don’t get me wrong, perfection is not my goal but having this thing sideways on a screw in the basement when I could put it on a wall in a box with a hard drive attached nicely to it was the goal.
Evidently there’s a 5U rack coming my way tomorrow. I didn’t buy it, it’s something an IT friend of mine has and it’s incoming.
With the removal of the spider of course I now want the main fiber router out of there. This is not something I’d considered until the offer of the 5U rack. I can’t stress enough when I had the Portal Wi-Fi and that AT&T fiber optic modem I has 12 minutes of downtime in like three years that I was monitoring it. These are not devices I need eyes on or in my living space, and now I’m determined to get them out of the living room, properly mounted elsewhere, and somehow get 300mbit WiFi to right in front of my porch because yeah, that one time I was stuck in my car waiting for the rain to stop it was kind of nice.
I’m now going to investigate if I can simply use an antenna extension cable and one of the existing pop-off antennas to get my 300mbit back to my wife’s desk.
It’s at this point I discover my booster Wi-Fi antennas 1) are 2.4ghz only, 2) the extension cable I have for them does not plug or screw into the 5ghz antenna base or plug into the TP-Link’s antenna…