Imx Fix in my experience
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September 25, 2003 10:03 AM

Wi-FiLong distance wireless connectivity is an art as much as it is a science. Such is the case at my house in Northern Virginia where the tech flies high and the stock crashes go so very deep. AOL is 5 miles away, PSInet and Alcatel used to be down the street from here, and now I'm getting my last mile solution from a local no name.

I spent two hours the other night re-aiming and positioning my pizza-box-like Wi-Fi transmitter in hopes of squeezing more bits out of the air. It's installed in the attic, and the guy who installed it there placed it behind the air ducts (big, insulated, round hoses) and low enough to be behind the brick facing of my house. No wonder he placed it there really due to the sweat laden efforts I put into moving it to a place where no duct work or bricks would be between it and the base station 2 miles away.

I'm supposed to be getting a full megabit downstream and 128 up, which isn't so bad when you consider my alternative is my AOL dialup account. I've been getting ~285 kilobits/sec for the last week, and have tweaked as many TCP settings as I am willing to fiddle with. Nothing really worked, but if I took the antenna, pointed it out a window, aimed it real well and connected my Powerbook directly to the antenna, I sometimes got 800 kilobits/second. That's almost triple what I was getting, and almost all of what I should be getting.

Back to the attic, which has no flooring. The "floor" is rafters and the drywall that makes the ceiling below and there's insulation everywhere, covering the floor beams, so walking around is nearly impossible. My wife insists I'm a monkey, so I took that to heart and swung around the lattice of roofing trusses carrying my wireless drill/screwdriver, Leatherman and Cat5 with me. After getting the antenna free from it's original 2x4 (one screw was bent) and attached to it's new home a few meters away, tests revealed an average 500 kilobits/second.

Aiming the thing was pretty easy. When I had the antenna in the window blazing ahead at 800k k/sec, I put it next to the vertical window sill, put a piece of paper on the horizontal sill, and drew in the angle. Back up in the attic, I did the same using the vertical truss the antenna it's attached to. I'm assuming the english-is-my-second-language-migrant-workers who built my house did a good job keep their angles straight. For the most part, I think they did, and that's helping me get better thru-put.

Just this week Adelphia started rolling out cable modems in my neighborhood. :^P