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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Hardware » Networking » Ethernet
using powerline adapters to move wireless router
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prehistoric


Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 1296

PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug 2014, 12:09    Post subject:  using powerline adapters to move wireless router  

Here's a problem which is not Puppy-specific, yet has turned up repeatedly in my experience with friends fighting problems with home computer networks.

The usual problem comes from a cable modem installed in some location in the house which was convenient for the cable guy, but absolutely terrible for transmitting WiFi to other parts of the house. A variation on this theme turns up when you live in an apartment where the cable connection is farther away than the next-door neighbors' wireless router. In this environment you can have terrible problems with interfering wireless signals.

One solution is to buy an expensive triple-band router which will dominate the competition, until something fancier comes along. I'm using a simpler and cheaper alternative with wireless routers people already have, or can pick up cheaply, and powerline adapters.

In the past I've used such things as a 100 foot CAT-5 cable to connect the cable modem with a wireless router upstairs. This involved some messy work inside air ducts and/or attics. Powerline adapters make it possible to extend the connection between modem and router by a greater distance using simple units that plug into ordinary wall power sockets.

Here's my current ultimate solution to the powerline method of forwarding a connection from a cable modem to a router, so you can locate your wireless router someplace that makes rf sense.

At this time, I'm using a pair of TP-Link 500 Mb/s Nano adapters, bought on a special. I've also tried the corresponding Trendnet adapters.

Using a computer running some version of the blanketty-blank Windows OS, you install the TP-Link Powerline program on the mini disk found way at the bottom of the package. You should probably disable all your careful antivirus and firewall programs so this can have unrestricted access to network devices. Fortunately, this does not have to take place while you are connected to the Internet.

Important: You must be directly connected to the powerline adapter, even if it can't connect to anything else.

Once you get the program running, and recognizing that it is connected to the device, you then hunt through various tabs for administration to find the one which allows you to change the network name from the default "HomePlugAV". You could just call the resulting network "ModemLink", but this might run into problems if someone else is following these instructions. I recommend using a name more likely to be unique.

(A friend suggested "CthulhuNet", but I haven't heard from him in a while, and will assume no responsibility for terrible consequences of using this name. )

After you have saved this change the device will not connect to anything else. This is actually progress!

You now do the exact same thing with the second adapter. These will then form a powerline network which will only connect the modem to the WAN port on your wireless router. You could set up another pair of adapters with a different network name to connect a LAN port on the router to another desktop computer. I'm currently using an old pair which are incompatible with the 500 Mb/s standard, and definitely do not have the unique network name I've assigned to the link between the cable modem and the router.

Nothing stops you from adding more devices to the powerline network from the LAN port on the modem except limits on throughput caused by collisions. N.B. the powerline link from the modem to the WAN port must have only two ends, like a network cable.

There is always a problem in the vicinity of computer equipment about finding power outlets. These devices will exacerbate this. If you put them on an extension, I recommend you use one you would use for devices like a desk lamp or pencil sharpener, not an outlet strip which is designed for computer equipment. Those fancy strips have rf filters to reduce electrical interference -- like the signal you want to send down the power line. It may work anyway, but the signal will be weaker.

There are instructions with particular devices on simple methods of setting up a private network via buttons for pairing devices, when pushed at the correct times. Instructions vary, but here is a generic tutorial. I've described a method which gives me more confidence the network really is separate and distinct from others in the same building.

If you do have multiple networks, packet collisions will lower throughput. As long as the data rate exceeds the rate delivered by the cable modem this should not be a problem.
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Barkin


Joined: 12 Aug 2011
Posts: 727

PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug 2014, 15:55    Post subject: Re: using powerline adapters to move wireless router  

prehistoric wrote:
... you can have terrible problems with interfering wireless signals.

A Pringles-can could help to block neighbours and increase WiFi signal strength ...


http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template/
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prehistoric


Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 1296

PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug 2014, 17:43    Post subject: Re: using powerline adapters to move wireless router  

Barkin wrote:
prehistoric wrote:
... you can have terrible problems with interfering wireless signals.

A Pringles-can could help to block neighbours and increase WiFi signal strength ...


http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template/
I've actually tried one in experiments, not as a serious solution. The Pringles can didn't have the performance of a number of other simple antennas. A USB wifi adapter on a cable with the lid of a wok as a reflector gave very strong signals, but this is not handy for people using laptops, iPhones or Android tablets in a living room. You need to move the transmitter near where people with portable devices will be using signals.
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Sylvander

Joined: 15 Dec 2008
Posts: 3455
Location: West Lothian, Scotland, UK

PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug 2014, 02:32    Post subject:  

The arrangement I use:
1. My separate cable modem and wired/wireless router are side-by-side at the location where I have my desktop connected by wire.
I can also connect things wirelessly to this.

2. I use a Powerline Adapter that has 3 wired connection sockets + wireless.
I can connect things to that by wire or wirelessly.
This can be anywhere in the house where there is a wall socket nearby.
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gcmartin

Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 4355
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug 2014, 02:42    Post subject:  

Could the cable modem, and WiFi router be connected where the TV is? Ot is this too far away in an apartment?

Curious

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prehistoric


Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 1296

PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug 2014, 09:30    Post subject:  

gcmartin wrote:
Could the cable modem, and WiFi router be connected where the TV is? Ot is this too far away in an apartment?

Curious
If you can connect the modem and wireless router where people are watching TV that is generally satisfactory, though in my case it is not as good as having the router upstairs where I work, and where several networked devices can use wired connections. If you can connect as you describe, you can then use a powerline network in the ordinary way to connect computers and/or devices like printers. I'm talking about a non-standard set-up to connect the cable modem to a distant wireless router.

I've found that cable technicians get upset if you mess with the lash-ups they put together to reach the TV, which is their primary concern. They have orders to remove extra coax they find, in case someone is trying to steal service. They like to keep cable runs short to maintain signal strength. This is how you get some pretty strange installations. I'm working around these restrictions. If I were redesigning the whole thing, you can be sure it would be different.

Back when I still watched TV, I had to leave the cable connection downstairs for the TV, but I was able to run a long CAT-5 cable upstairs. The wireless signal from upstairs was adequate for people with iPhones in the living room, and there was less interference from signals to all the other devices, which were not cluttering wireless bands.

The problem situations I've been dealing with are generally cases where the cable modem was put in a utility room or back bedroom where it was easy to connect the cable. In one case this meant the signal had to go through 5 walls to reach the master bedroom or living room.

One problem was the plumbing in the bathroom between the cable modem location and the living room. You will have similar problems with utility rooms, which have lots of metal. Signals will go through one or two walls with no special problems, but some things absorb or reflect RF. The most bizarre example I've found was one guy who had the wall behind his home theater set-up lined with bookshelves holding VCR cassettes. It turns out that ferrite powder on magnetic tape is a fantastic absorber of gigahertz RF.

I have now demonstrated that I can run signals from the cable modem at full data rate to my router over one powerline network, while using a different powerline network on the same wires to connect the router to a computer downstairs. The signal for an Android device in the bedroom is much better. Part of this is due to better placement of the router, and part due to fewer devices trying to use wireless bands.

Signals to iPhones or Android devices in the living room are about as strong as they were, despite having the WiFi transmitter on a different floor. It turns out the location of the TV was a problem because of electrical interference and metal blocking signals. In terms of wireless signals, it would have been better to mount the router on the ceiling, but that would have been hard to work with.

(One side note: in the case of the house with the modem in the back bedroom, the homeowners had hidden the modem and powerline adapter under the guest bed. If people do this I have to remind them to leave an extension cord or switch where they can reach it without moving the bed, so they can reboot the modem when there is a problem. The rule in these installations is to work from the cable connection outward to the router, bringing each device up in sequence.)

While the nontechnical people involved did not understand what I was doing or why, I have since received compliments on the improved wireless network performance.

Added: one reason for talking about this now is that the latest such installation I did used a pair of powerline adapters which only cost $25. Even if you have to buy a wireless router, I think you can get good results for less than $50. People in the U.S. are generally paying more per month for broadband data connections.
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prehistoric


Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 1296

PostPosted: Thu 07 Aug 2014, 18:27    Post subject: Can't happen  

Always reserve a slot in your planning for things that absolutely can't happen.

The example in this case is a set-up I put together for a friend in another city who had told me about his wireless woes. This was an example the above technique of using powerline adapters to connect cable modem to wireless router.

What my friend had failed to tell me was that his apartment has two separate electrical systems, at least until current construction is finished. This makes it particularly hard to connect a powerline adapter in the back to one in the front.

He is now using an extension cord. We'll see what results.
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gcmartin

Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 4355
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Fri 08 Aug 2014, 14:51    Post subject: Re: Can't happen  

prehistoric wrote:
... What my friend had failed to tell me was that his apartment has two separate electrical systems, at least until current construction is finished. ...
This kind of thing has been known to happen, not just in Apartments.

MOST users DO NOT HAVE KNOWLEDGE that their living/office space can have separate electrically feeds. And, as such the ONLY way they find out is when the wire-line vendor is called for support. Or an electrician is nearby who understands such.

For everyone who does NOT understand this let me summarize.

Summary and problem identification
If you buy a powerline solution (using comes with 2 adapters in the box) and you attach an ethernet cable and plug it in to one wall connection. If you plug the 2nd one into another wall connection, the lights on the from should light up as should in the direction. IFF it does not, you probably have electrical wiring in the home that sources electricity from 2 different power company connections. In this case, your powerline adapters will ONLY work to the locations desired; but will work together in half of your facility, just not across to the other half. Further, there is no cost effective way to bridge these together.

Hope this helps

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prehistoric


Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 1296

PostPosted: Fri 08 Aug 2014, 18:14    Post subject:  

I really did not expect this inside a single apartment. It isn't all that big. I've already passed on warnings about attempting to bridge two AC systems, which may be on different phases. (I don't think he is that creatively dumb, but I've learned not to take chances.)

Current networking plans may use a CAT-5 cable to reach where the powerline adapters cannot go.

This is an old building in NYC, which appears to have a complicated history of renovation. I'm not sure electricity was part of the original design. My friend is having "a learning experience" concerning permits, union rules and code enforcement. We are now taking bets on whether the room for the new baby will be ready before a second baby arrives, should there be a second.
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gcmartin

Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 4355
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug 2014, 03:22    Post subject:  

Options that come to mind
  1. Bridge 2 wireless routers (dd-wrt/equivalent)
  2. Bridge 2 wireless motherboards running PUPs
  3. Bridge 1 wireless and 1 wireless PUP to its LAN adapter
  4. Run a long (less than 300') CAT6 ethernet cable
  5. Run a long/longer extension cord from modem location on one leg of electricity for LAN use thru powerline
  6. Get a powerful WiFi router and skip the nightmare (when things go wrong) of above
There are other configurations options.These are just a few options.

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prehistoric


Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 1296

PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug 2014, 08:53    Post subject:  

Currently trying your option e) above. This is already a powerful dual-band wireless router we're installing, a Linksys EA6300, so this includes your option f). The temporary problem is that the delay in renovation has caused them to rent an apartment in an adjacent building. This was why they wanted to move the wireless router next to a window facing that building.

I think the primary reason these EA6300s show up on the refurbished market is the terrible standalone documentation and/or unapplied firmware updates. I got one cheap at a store where I could return it with no questions if it did not work out of the box. The big problem with trying to use it as directed was needing an Internet link to do anything as described.

Since I was setting it up for someone in another city, I did not intend to create an on-line account with Linksys anyway, and used the alternate local manual set-up method. Anyone who tries this should know that the default factory administrative password is (ready for this?) "admin". Each router is shipped with a custom wireless password, but that is irrelevant to gaining control of the device via a wired network. Since it was shipped with UPnP and remote administration enabled, in addition to the default admin password, it was a security breach waiting to happen. I've changed things to make attacks considerably harder.

Some of your other options are more confusing to the people who have to maintain the system. I've told people they need to turn off DHCP and assign a router address outside the range of addresses assigned by the first router, if they want to use two wireless routers on one network. (Typical address is 192.168.1.1 and you can't have two such.) I've also had to tell them not to use the WAN port on the second router. I might as well be speaking Euskara (Basque).

Unless I can see what the router has done with addresses, it is extremely hard to talk people through this over the telephone. Allowing remote administration could route your on-line banking transactions through Moldova.
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