Network upgrade

As most of you are aware, I’ve had a wireless network at home for something like the last 8 or 9 years. Originally an 802.11b network, powered by an original “flying saucer” Apple Airport, it’s been upgraded a couple of times, finally ending up as an 802.11g network powered by a Linksys WRT54GL router, acting as an access point. And it’s worked really well.

But a few years ago I bit the bullet, and installed my own structured cabling system, based around Cat5e, such that I had at least a couple of ethernet ports in each major room in the house. Because as we all know, wires are always faster and more reliable than wireless. This necessitated building a rack in the loft, and installing a 24 port 10/100 switch, and some patch panels to allow me to connect up all the modular faceplates that were scattered around the house. And again, it’s worked really well.

But this last year I wanted to extend my network to the (detached) garage, and discovered that my wireless didn’t have the range. And I also noticed that there were some other “black spots” around my house that had relatively poor coverage. And all 3 of my kids are now equipped with laptops, and streaming music and movies around the house via the 10/100 network. And while it was generally coping well, occasionally things would get a little over-whelmed.

So this month, I upgraded.

I replaced the old switch with a shiny new 24 port 10/100/1000 switch from TP-Link, and the original WRT54GL (acting as my access point) got upgraded to an 802.11n 300Mbps dedicated access point, again from TP-Link. The result has been pretty impressive. All congestion on the wired network has now vanished. The new access point definitely has significantly better range (thanks to its MIMO set up) now easily reaching my garage, has eliminated all but one of the wireless black-spots around the house, and improved the wireless speed pretty much everywhere.

And since my WRT54GL has been freed up by this exercise, I’ve been able to relocate it close to the wireless black-spot, add a second cell to my wireless network, and completely eliminate that last remaining black-spot too.

Of course, now I have no excuse for not completing my wireless sensor hub project…

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