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[Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 19, 2012 09:42AM
[Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)

Hi everyone,

I recently posted about the problems I’m having trying to provide fast reliable access to the Internet (and the network in general) from one side of my apartment to the other side. Here is a link to the original thread:

[forums.macresource.com]

Based on the suggestions in the thread, I decided to give powerline networking a try since it, in theory, was the most viable option besides running cables through walls and along hallways across the entire apartment.

Prior to purchasing the dongles, I performed a test. I moved my server into the master bedroom which is adjacent to the living room and only about 25 feet away from the actual FIOS modem and primary Airport Extreme Base Station and performed a speedtest. I did the same with my laptop. When the mini is hardwired to the FIOS router (or the Airport Extreme Base Station) it achieves speeds via Verizon Speedtest of 50 or more Mbps on the download and 30 or more Mbps on the upload. Same goes for the laptop via its wireless connection.

Upon moving both machines into the master bedroom and relying on wireless alone, the speeds plummeted to 8 Mbps or so on the download and 6 Mbps on the upload. I moved the mini back to the living room and hardwired it again. Normal speed test results. I returned my laptop to its normal location in the kitchen (adjacent to the living room) with similar results. So, clearly, the single wall (and its closets) that separate the master bedroom and living room are a primary source of interference.

Enter powerline dongles. The powerline dongles I chose were the following:

[www.amazon.com]

I went with 500 Mbps models with the spare outlet. First, I wanted to get the highest speed possible out of them and since we’re running short of outlets, I didn’t want to lose an outlet as a result of using the dongle. I received them yesterday and connected them to the network. The entire process was very easy, though I did have to move one of the dongles to a different outlet in the living room to get an actual connection between them. One thing to note with these particular dongles. The documentation provided is sparse to the point of being useless. Not an issue for me but definitely an issue for someone who doesn’t know much about computers and networks and such.

Once I had them connected, I did a speed test via Verizon’s speed test system

[my.verizon.com]

Although I never under any circumstances expected to hit 500 Mbps on the network, I hoped for far better than 4.98 MBps down and 6.37 Mbps up. I performed the test several times with my tower, my laptop and my wife’s laptop. Similar results consistently. So, the dongles provided a rock solid but horribly slow connection. My assessment is the Trendnet dongles worked, they just didn’t work well enough to justify keeping them. I suspect the speed was so horrendously bad across the powerline network is due to the wiring in my apartment. So, I must find another solution.

Hardwiring the apartment is still out of the question. The way it is now with some wiring visible is bad enough and already gets on my nerves. The sheer amount necessary to hardwire from the living room (or even the master bedroom) is beyond unacceptable. Neither my wife nor I will allow that much wiring to be visible in the apartment.

So, again, I believe I am left with three options:

A. Purchasing an ultra long range high power router to use as a WAP. I can install this in the living room and hope for the best.

B. Purchase another Airport Express or Airport Base Station. Install this in the master bedroom bedroom which is centrally located and use it as a repeater. That way, I have one base station hardwired to the router itself. I have one booster in the master bedroom to bolster the network and the last base station in the little bedroom on the other side of the apartment providing access to two computers, the vonage boxes, the all-in-one, the TIVO and the AppleTV.

C. Move the FIOS router and primary Airport Extreme into the master bedroom. Have the Mac Mini connect to the network via wireless. Have the Playstation connect to the network via wireless. Activate Internet sharing on the Mac Mini and hardwire the TV to it. That way, the TV retains its access to the network. Leave the other Base Station in its existing location with its current configuration.

Options A & B are expensive and neither may work as intended. I’ve never used any of the long-range high power routers and there aren’t that many of them. So, I’d definitely have to do a bit of research to see which one would be the most viable. So far when delving into them, people seem to go with repeaters instead. Using an Airport Express as a repeater should improve the speeds of the network to the little bedroom and is easy enough to configure. I just don’t know how much of a difference it will make.

Option C is viable but it is not my preferred course of action. I don’t know if moving the router and base station into the centrally located master bedroom will improve the speed of the network into the little bedroom. That and it means the Mini will have to connect via wireless _and_ share its internet connection with the TV. Definitely not preferable since four computers send backups to the mini via crashplan - two via the local network and two others via the Internet. Or, I could still purchase an Airport Express to merge onto the network to provide access to these devices.

Has anyone used any of these so-called long range high power routers? If so, how well did it work? I’m leery but definitely open to giving one a try if there is a chance it’ll do the job.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

Robert
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: December 19, 2012 09:58AM
Robert-
I've used antennae to resolve coverage issues with great success, but that was years ago. Most routers don't seem to have replaceble antennae. Beyond that, I've got nothing other than a hearty "Good luck !"
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: wowzer
Date: December 19, 2012 10:15AM
Robert,

In the past, I've dropped ethernet out of 1 window in my apartment and pulled it into another apartment window that was 6 flights down. Couldn't you simply do the same pull?


Just mind the maximum ethernet distance:

[www.tomshardware.com]



All I ever really needed to know, I learned from watching Star Trek.
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: GGD
Date: December 19, 2012 10:22AM
There are also Flat Ethernet cables that might make going through windows easier.

[www.frys.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: December 19, 2012 10:25AM
How about using actual cabling, and the little plastic/metal raceways?

Here's an example, there are literally hundreds of solutions out there:
[www.cableorganizer.com]

There's also running cable through/behind the molding/trim either along the floor, or along the ceiling.

Jeff



Help us find a cure for cancer, fold proteins with TeamMacOSX!
[teammacosx.homeunix.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: December 19, 2012 10:28AM
There's also POE high-power access points. If you could get one of these things, with a single run of CAT5 or CAT6 cabling, into the center of your main living/working area, you're all set.

[www.newegg.com]

Jeff



Help us find a cure for cancer, fold proteins with TeamMacOSX!
[teammacosx.homeunix.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: December 19, 2012 10:32AM
I've grown tired of the vagaries and inconsistencies of wireless...
So I'm thinking what you apartment REALLY needs is some beautiful decorative crown molding where the walls and ceiling meet... and if some Cat6 line just happens to accidentally climb in behind it.... so be it!

I'm guessing you'll brand that as too much work if you've already ruled out wiring, but you might consider it if the layout of your rooms and halls allows for it.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: modelamac
Date: December 19, 2012 11:36AM
The only other option I can think of is changing the point at which the coax enters the apartment. Is there a different point that would accommodate your needs?



Mr. Curmudgeon, on Mountain Lion.
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: ADent
Date: December 19, 2012 02:01PM
Looks like you tried a couple of outlets for the EOP things. The ethernet over power lines are sensitive to which outlet they are on and really like to be on the same phase. Try running an electric 240V appliance like a stove or dryer and see if this helps with speeds - if so report back.
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 19, 2012 04:06PM
Hi everyone,

Thanks for the suggestions. As I said in this and the previous post hardwiring is out of the question. The new apartment already has base and crown moulding. We'd have to remove the moulding to install wires and that is both time and cost prohibitive. It'd be a different matter if we didn't have mouldings and I planned to install them. In that case, I'd hardwire in a heartbeat.

Cables by themselves along the mouldings and/or in conduits (along the moldings) is unacceptable. We have some of that already and it's visually horrible. It was put into place by the previous owner when FIOS did their initial installation X years ago. Don't misunderstand and think they did a piss-poor job installing it. Far from. They did an excellent job. I just hate the way that kind of stuff looks and don't want it in the rest of the apartment.

A cable going out of the window is also out of the question. I could do it easily enough. Slip one end out of a window that has an ac unit. I could poke it though the foam I have in the gap. Slip the other end through a window with an ac unit on the other side of the building. I already have an easy way to raise the far end up three stories. Drop a line from the little bedroom, tie it to the other end, bring it up again. It's feasible. However, again, it'll never happen for many reasons. Not in this building.

So, I'm left with a wireless solution or, as Modelamac suggested, finding a coax connection on the far side of the building that Verizon can use for the wiring. A usable coax cable is definitely the best choice since it will allow me to move the router and provide TV service to that room. However, if it's not an option, and Verizon insists this is the case, I'll have to go the wireless route. At least that way I'll have Internet that is reliable enough for to allow solid access to Netflix and Hulu via the AppleTV. I'll also save up for a few months and then drop the $200 necessary for a wireless HDMI unit. There are several out there that'll do the job.

I looked at some of the high output routers and WAPs and am seeing mixed results with them. For example, the Engenius model sounds great but it's less impressive after reading some reviews.

At this point, I've put these efforts on hold temporarily since I escalated the wiring issue with Verizon. I contacted them again and pressed the matter and it's in the hands of the escalation team now. Hopefully, they'll come up with a viable solution to use the existing coax wiring that we have in the apartment. There are jacks in each room. So, I'm hoping they can find a way to use them. Then, it'll be easy enough to move the router to the little bedroom. Once router is there, I'll move the server into the little bedroom and hardwire all of the key equipment and used rigged wireless to give access to the living room TV.

I'll update again when I have new information.

Robert
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: December 19, 2012 08:16PM
Quote
Robert M
I looked at some of the high output routers and WAPs and am seeing mixed results with them. For example, the Engenius model sounds great but it's less impressive after reading some reviews.

I'll blow all those mixed reviews out of the water.

I've got 3 of these installed at work, and 1 at home. All 4 of them work flawlessly. They take a little bit of networking knowledge to setup, but after that, they're perfect.

Jeff



Help us find a cure for cancer, fold proteins with TeamMacOSX!
[teammacosx.homeunix.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: December 19, 2012 08:22PM
Quote
Robert M
Hopefully, they'll come up with a viable solution to use the existing coax wiring that we have in the apartment. There are jacks in each room. So, I'm hoping they can find a way to use them.

I don't remember you saying you had COAX jacks in every room...

Have you heard of the MoCA to ethernet adapters by Netgear?
[www.netgear.com]

Jeff



Help us find a cure for cancer, fold proteins with TeamMacOSX!
[teammacosx.homeunix.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 20, 2012 09:01AM
kj,

THanks for the tip on the wireless devices. I'm looking at that model and a couple of others. Coaxial networking is out of the question. I wouldn't have this issue at all if I could use the coaxial jacks that are in all of the room. If Verizon would've used them during the initial installation, I'd've plopped the router in the little bedroom and used wireless or the coaxial adapters from Netgear to provide network service to the rest of the apartment.

Robert
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: December 20, 2012 10:36AM
Quote
Robert M
Coaxial networking is out of the question. I wouldn't have this issue at all if I could use the coaxial jacks that are in all of the room.

Wait, you're contradicting yourself...

You CAN use the coax jacks, with the additional Netgear hardware. Is it that you don't want to get the Netgear stuff, or any additional hardware?

There's also these boxes:
[www.vpi.us]
[www.actiontec.com]
[www.enconn.com]
[www.ad-net.com.tw]
[www.ad-net.com.tw]
[www.ad-net.com.tw]

Jeff



Help us find a cure for cancer, fold proteins with TeamMacOSX!
[teammacosx.homeunix.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 20, 2012 10:58AM
Jeff,

I've said from the start hardwiring is out of the question. I didn't mention the existing coax lines/jacks because Verizon claims they are unusable. I can't get a straight reason out of Verizon for why this is the case but that is their claim. This whole discussion would be moot if I could use the existing coax lines. But, I can't. what's the point of bringing the existing coax into the discussion if it is unusable?

I allowed Verizon to run new coax lines to get to the master bedroom and kitchen since they are relatively close and I was able to hide the wiring. That is not the case with the little bedroom. The wiring cannot be hidden. So, like ethernet, running new coax is out of the question.

Robert
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: December 20, 2012 11:18AM
Alright, I understand now.

Your 2 posts are so long, I wasn't capturing all the details. I didn't realize your coax wiring through the apartment wasn't up to snuff.

Anyway, good luck with your networking adventure. I'm out...

Jeff



Help us find a cure for cancer, fold proteins with TeamMacOSX!
[teammacosx.homeunix.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 20, 2012 02:28PM
Howdy Jeff,

I hear ya! Sounds like I may win the "The Verbosity Award" again.-lol!

I'm not convinced Verizon is telling me the truth about the coax lines. The previous owner had cablevision and their service used the existing lines. Since that's the case, I see no reason why Verizon can't do the same. Maybe the installers just didn't want to deal with a more difficult installation. Not my problem since I'll keep after Verizon until it's done correctly in the manner that I've wanted from the start.

Robert
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: December 20, 2012 02:45PM
Quote
Robert M
I'm not convinced Verizon is telling me the truth about the coax lines. The previous owner had cablevision and their service used the existing lines.

Have you tried moving the modem to a different location in the apartment, using another coax jack? It may very well be that the entire coax system is lit up with signal, but you've just got the modem in an inconvenient spot right now.

Jeff



Help us find a cure for cancer, fold proteins with TeamMacOSX!
[teammacosx.homeunix.com]
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 20, 2012 02:58PM
kj,

It's easy enough to move the router into our master bedroom which is centrally located in the apartment. I have coax there because I allowed the Verizon installer to run it into that room. As a test, I moved the server into the bedroom for a night and connected to the network via wireless and the noise from the Drobo connected to it disturbed our sleep. So, moving the router into the bedroom (and hardwiring the server) may resolve the wireless problem (to a degree) but it results in a new problem because of the noisy drive array. Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: December 20, 2012 04:18PM
You keep saying that the existing coax wires are not useable...
Color me dense, but do you KNOW that, or is that just what Verizon is telling you?
FIND OUT where those Coax lines terminate, and perhaps with a crimp tool, and some coax ends, you CAN use the existing lines as a room-to-room coax network to get your connection from hither to yon.

Never let perfectly good wires in the walls go to waste! :-)



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 20, 2012 04:27PM
paul,

i'm working on it... not so easy on a 3rd floor apartment. sad smiley

Robert
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Re: [Followup] Building a network across an entire apartment (Another long post)
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: December 20, 2012 06:00PM
I can understand that :-)



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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