I started a post about this in another thread, and thought this information might be useful to others, so I figured I'd start a whole new thread. I am by no means a networking expert, but I do have quite a bit of experience with home network setups, so I'll try to offer my advice as best as I can.
With more and more devices benefiting from an internet/network connection, many people are looking for options to get internet access to rooms in their house that don't have hardwired connections.
A popular option is through a type of USB adapter called a "dongle" that gives wi-fi access to devices that didn't originally come with this ability. The flaw with wi-fi USB dongles is that many of them have poor reception, and have sketchy drivers which do not work with all devices. They'll probably work OK with a Windows computer, but trying to get a USB dongle working on a media streamer, DVR, or video game console can be tricky.
So, assuming you already have a wireless network in your home through a wireless router, another option is to buy a device called a bridge or a repeater to add network access to a room that is otherwise inaccessible to your home network.
Before you go any further, this thread assumes you already have a good wireless router setup and working in your home. It should also be assumed that you have a strong network signal in whatever room you plan on adding network access to. Wireless networking signals degrade quickly in a home. Although manufacturers will claim that their routers have a range of "up to" 300 feet, the actual usable signal is often far less. Traveling through floors and walls will significantly lower your signal strength.
Before you even consider buying a wireless bridge, I recommend using something to measure your signal strength wherever you plan on installing the bridge. If you have access to a laptop, bring the laptop into the room where you want to measure the signal, and use your laptop's built in wireless signal meter. You should have a "Good" signal otherwise your results will not be satisfactory. If you do not have access to a laptop, another option would be to install a Wifi-Analyzer type program on your smartphone (assuming you have one). If you have an Android smartphone, a good app is literally called "Wifi Analyzer" and can be downloaded for free from Google Play (aka the Android Market). This program will give you a signal strength meter of any wifi network.
Assuming you have a good signal in the room you need network access, the next step is to go online and buy some hardware. There are MANY options out there, but I will discuss the two that I have personal experience with.
Rosewill RNX-EasyN4 Router - $35 at Newegg -
Newegg.com - Rosewill RNX-EasyN4 IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wireless-N 2.0 Broadband Router (2T2R) Up to 300Mbps Data Rates/ WPA Personal and Enterprise, WPA2, 64 & 128 bit WEP, PSK, TKIP, AES, WPS Security with 2 dBi Antenna x2
This router supports wireless bridging right out of the box. This option requires the least amount of technical knowledge. In order to get this device to function as a Wireless Bridge, perform the following steps:
- Temporarily connect the EasyN4 to a laptop or computer you have in your home using the supplied Ethernet cable. This should be plugged directly into your computer's ethernet port on the back or the side.
- Once its connected and the lights are flashing, open up your web browser of choice, and type '192.168.0.1'.
- A login window will appear, the username and password are both 'admin' all in lower characters.
- A website will appear and in the upper right corner is a drop down selection, change it to "AP Repeater Mode".
- Click on the Wizard option and follow the directions. It will ask you for your wireless network's SSID (this is the name of your wireless network, the one you see on your computer when you try to connect to your network). Alternatively, there is a "Survey" button you can click on that will try to detect wireless networks in your home. You should see the network you wish to connect to in this box, and assuming you do, click "Select" to select it.
- You will need to know what type of encryption this network has, along with its password. If your network is not password protected, I strongly recommend you fix this ASAP on your main router as an unprotected network is not a good idea. If you are not sure what type of encryption you use, you can just use trial and error. Most people use something called WPA-2K. Other options are WPA and WEP. If you are unsure what to put here, like I said, trial and error will work. There is nothing bad you can do to your home network through the EasyN4.
- Once you have the settings in the EasyN4, it will tell you that you need to reboot. Perform the reboot, and you'll see a timer. Once that is done, disconnect the EasyN4 from your computer/laptop and move it to whatever room you wish I have it installed. Give it some electricity, and then use the ethernet cable that came with the device, and connect it to your Hopper/Joey or whatever device you were trying to connect.
- If somehow, you feel as though you completely screwed up the setup of the EasyN4 and want to start completely over, you can restore the EasyN4 to its factory settings by pressing and holding the reset button for 30 seconds, then after 30 seconds, while still holding down the reset button, unplug the electricity and count to 30 again while still holding down the reset button. After 30 seconds, plug the electricity back into the EasyN4 while still holding down the reset button and count to 30 again. After the third set of 30 seconds, you can let go of the Reset button.
After this is all done, you should go to your Hopper/Joey and go into its network settings and let it auto detect your network. It should detect the network as if it was physically connected into your router.
Even though your signal is wirelessly transmitted through your house, your network device will not know its connected wirelessly. As far as the Hopper/Joey/etc is concerned, it is connected through Ethernet. Assuming you have a good signal where the Easy N4 is setup, your network throughput should be sufficient for most needs. In my home, my EasyN4 is about 50 feet away in a bedroom where the signal has to travel through one wall with a closet. I have a good enough signal to stream 1080p content without signal dropouts.
One additional advantage of the EasyN4 is that it is "repeating" your wireless signal into that new room, boosting the wireless signal in that room which will give you more wireless range throughout your house. If you have a large house, you can even get multiple EasyN4s and set them all up this way to repeat your wireless signal to areas that otherwise would have a poor signal.
For more information, Rosewill has an FAQ with slightly more complicated instructions available here:
Rosewill.com - Computer Case, Power Supply, Computer Accessories, Networking, Peripherals. Price, Quality, and Services.
DD-WRT Capable Router such as Cisco/Linksys E1000 - $25 ($20.99 through Amazon right now) -
Newegg.com - Refurbished: Linksys E1000-RM 2.4GHz 300Mbps 2T2R Wireless Router IEEE 802.11b/g/n
This next option will save you a little more money, but also requires more networking knowledge. By default, the E1000 is just a basic router that doesn't support bridging. However, this router is compatible with a custom firmware called DD-WRT. You can read more about it at:
www.dd-wrt.com | Unleash Your Router
I wont go into specifics about how to do this, but there are instructions on the site on how to flash your E1000 with the DD-WRT firmware. Using the Router Database:
Router Database | www.dd-wrt.com
You need to determine whether or not you have a v1.0 or a v2.0 E1000. Most people will have the 2.0 version, so make sure you use the right version of the software or you will "brick" your router.
Flashing the firmware is easy. Navigate to the admin page at 192.168.1.1 and log into your router and then go over to the Administration section and there is a section where you can flash your router. I am intentionally being vague here because like I said earlier, this option requires a little more networking and computer knowledge, so I don't recommend this to someone who has never done this before.
Once you have flashed your E1000 with the DD-WRT firmware, make sure you reset it with a 30-30-30 reset:
Hard reset or 30/30/30 - DD-WRT Wiki
After that is done, login to the DD-WRT firmware and explore the new options of your router. I highly recommend reading the entire wiki article that covers Linking Routers available here:
Linking Routers - DD-WRT Wiki
You can choose whether you want to use your E1000 as a Client Bridge (link only) or a Repeater Bridge (rebroadcast your wireless signal to boost coverage area). If you have no need to increase the coverage area of your wi-fi network, you can choose Client Bridge mode as a Repeater Bridge may slow down your wireless network and possibly extend it to your neighbors giving your network unnecessary exposure.
So thats that....
Both methods mentioned above will allow you to connect your Hopper or Joey to your home network without the fuss of using a USB dongle or running wires throughout your house. As mentioned earlier, the success of this depends on how good of a signal you have where you want this device to be installed. If you have a poor signal, you can try putting repeaters in different locations of your house to boost the signal, or you can simply replace your main router with a better model.
DD-WRT offers a LOT more functionality than just setting up a bridge, so if you are interested in networks and network security, you may want to consider installing it on your main router (assuming its supported). There are many routers that work with DD-WRT (and many that dont) so make sure you check their database before buying a new router to make sure it will work. And even if it says it will work, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! I selected the E1000 because its so cheap, and it works well, but of course many others will do the same trick.
Also mentioned earlier, this will work with ANY device that can use an ethernet connection to link to the Internet, regardless if that device has wi-fi or not. In some cases, even if your device does have wi-fi capability, this option may work better as the signal from a dedicated repeater/bridge will often be stronger than that of a cheap built-in wi-fi adapter.
I think thats it...if you have any questions, I'll do my best to help.