Low cost wireless bridging?

BridgeJudah writes “We run free community events around the NY/NJ metro area, and have a great opportunity to have our events broadcast nationwide, via a cable modem to sattelite uplink. The challenge: some of these events take place in buildings with SLOW internet connections. After some research, I have found in every location a cable modem within about 1,000 feet (either in an office or someone’s house) that we can use, but these cable connections can be across a busy street and/or a few buildings away. Attaching antenas to these buildings is not really an option. We need a free standing ethernet port (i.e. not a card in a computer – needs to be a port on a router, access point, etc.) to connect the polycom camera to so it can talk directly via IP to the sattelite uplink. My first guess was the Belkin pre-n routers, but it turns out you can NOT bridge them. Any ideas for a low budget solution?” Post up in the comments!

22 thoughts on “Low cost wireless bridging?

  1. jstone beat me to it. You can get those for less than $50 if you find the right sale. Love the blog, but this is kind of elementary…

  2. sbma44 – we could have just replied to the email/request and suggested the wrt54g’s and the firmware mods (we’ve covered those here on MAKE) – but i thought it would be more helpful and useful to the MAKE readers by getting more people thinking about this as well as seeing the solutions…

    thanks for the links jeremiahjohnson.

  3. I’ve used old laptops (broken LCD? config with external monitor then manage with VNC) running Win2K and its built-in Internet Connection Sharing to do this. Lacks the geek cachet of going the GNU/Linux or *BSD route, but I’m lazy and some of my WiFi adapters weren’t well supported last time I looked at the Open Source, et al. options.

    WiFi link to internet on the one side, Ethernet out to a hub/switch on the other. Nice use for the stack of old Thinkpad 600s with crunched screens that I inherited a while back.

  4. I left out a very important point in the question – there is NO line of sight between the two points – can the linksys routers go 600 feet with no line of sight?

  5. I just spoke to Linksys. They claim if you want to go building to building without line of sight, they can’t do it.

  6. Apparently home-made parabolic setups work pretty well for improving reception and connectivity for longer links. I have seen posts of people using Chinese woks, and even aluminum foil as reflectors.

    One of the features of the open-source firmware is that you can boost the power up pretty high from the default — using boosted power with a parabolic reflector on both ends would get you closer to having a good connection. However you may overwhelm the wifi channels on any buildings in between, and the boosted power may not be legal after a certain strength.

    PS — Kudos for the advice to avoid sveasoft — I want to put in a recommendation for
    DD-WRT firmware — The main contributor works really hard giving lots of excellent support in the forums for free, and I’ve had great results with it.

  7. I have a low-cost wireless bridge running at somewhere under 10mbps. You need wireless devices that have detachable antenna – I used a d-link 2000AP with a directional Yagi antenna at each end. One of the antenna is on a small rig sat on a shelf behind a window, the other is mounted outside – but they do work without being attached to the exterior of a building. Total cost was under £150.

    I’m around 400m line of site between buildings and there’s a victorian (read: thick walls) house in the way and it’s still faster than my broadband connection. Not too hot at transfering huge files though.

    One thing to note – aligning antenna when you can’t see the other end is quite a headache.

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