Tip: Adding Wireless to Hard-Wired AV Gear

Discussion in 'Home Theater PC (HTPC) & Media Servers' started by admin, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    Nearly all new HT equipment can connect to the internet, but much of the new gear still only sports an Ethernet jack. This article outlines 2 ways to get internet to those pieces of equipment.
    [​IMG]

    Read the Article: How to Add Wireless to Hard-Wired Equipment
  2. dingus48 Enthusiast

    dingus48
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    Any insight on consumer products that use 802.11s (mesh networking) to make adding a connection more easily? I thought this standard (finalized more than 2 years ago) would have been immediately added to products by the likes of linksys and netgear, but i can't seem to find any consumer routers/bridges/APs/repeaters that use it.
  3. phatcatcane Audiophyte

    phatcatcane
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    I have used both the Wireless Bridge and Powerline Networking products at home. I highly recommend the Wireless Bridge solution over the Powerline. While the powerline option may seem more ubiquitous, my experience is the performance fluctuates wildly and there is considerable latency on the link. Also your two end points must be on the same breaker otherwise it won't work.

    With regards to the Wireless Bridge, it's important to note that it will only work as fast as your router lets it. So if you're looking for a wireless bridge, you might as well buy a router as well. You will want a dual-band router that typically sends the wireless over two frequencies 2.4ghz and 5ghz. The 2.4ghz band is full of noise from things like microwaves, cordless phones and your neighbor's cheap router so make sure your router, bridge and anything else you plan to stream media on is riding the 5 ghz band. Check out products that are draft 802.11ac or gigabit wireless. This is an draft specification so make sure you match vendors although existing products are 300 mbps and will likely work perfectly.

    Another thing to check is your house wiring. If your house is fairly new, you likely have a low voltage box in your garage where your coax cable and telephone wiring runs to. Likely the telephone cable is Category 5 which means you could swap your telephone outlet for a data outlet (like you have at work :) ) and hardwire what you need directly to your router. Of course that's assuming you have a telephone jack by your stereo equipment but it is an option.
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  4. Cliff_is Audioholics Content Manager

    Cliff_is
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    I've never actually heard about 802.11s. I know that SONOS uses a mesh network that is really solid.

    Funny you ask, because I am planning on writing an article about extending wireless range.

    I was essentially going to suggest the following:

    Option A-

    1) Buy multiple identical routers
    2) setup main router in centralized location - this handles DHCP
    3) Connect the other routers via Ethernet cable or a powerline kit and place them far enough away from the main unit so they overlap some, but also provide a good amount of additional coverage.
    4) Set the secondary routers to the same SSID, encryption, channel width and password as the main router. disable DHCP. set wireless channel to something different than the main router.

    Option B - use an apple airport extreme w/ apple airport expresses to extended the range. This is much easier as it is all designed to work together and everything can be wireless (no cables connecting the routers), but also more expensive.

    Option C - use a generic router, and buy generic wireless range extenders. Again, everything is wireless and it's cheaper than the apple option. But I generally find this to be the least reliable and sometimes people end up with multiple networks. ex) Wireless_network and Wireless_network_Extended.

    What do you guys think? Any feedback? That's just info off the top of my head, from how I have been trained in the past.
  5. Cliff_is Audioholics Content Manager

    Cliff_is
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    That's great advice.
  6. jotham Audioholic

    jotham
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    I've gone through all of the options highlighted above and I agree that a wireless bridge is probably the way to go, either Apple or other.

    I think the key issue to figure out is how much speed and how little latency you need. I'll break it down into a rough guideline.

    1. You need firmware upgrades and maybe netflix for kids and your laptop gets a horrible wireless signal in the same location.
    -- Borrow a powerline networking setup from a friend and see if it works decently. Ideally using a laptop with wireless off to test usability.
    2. You need decent netflix speeds and your wireless signal is good with laptop
    -- buy a wireless bridge from a reputable manufacturer. Maybe repurpose an existing wireless router into a wireless bridge. Many routers can be essentially turned into bridges and a person like myself sometimes has spare ones that are decent.
    3. You need great netflix speeds, play Xbox and want a rock solid configuration.
    --Pay a local electrician to install two low voltage boxes and run a Cat-5 wire between them. It will probably cost roughly $100 per location but it will "just work".

    For my home, I've paid the electrician to install 3 low voltage boxes and run wires between them. The payoff has been knowing that the only thing that will take out the connection is a hungry mouse.

    Jotham
    P.S. Borrowing gear and a laptop can really help figure out the approach that actually works. This stuff comes close to voodoo at a certain point. House construction is a huge variable that wreaks havoc with rules of thumb.
    P.P.S. I've also had a hard time setting up wireless networks that have overlapping nodes with the same SSID. It may work for someone, I've just never got it to work reliably with laptops that can move from zone to zone.
  7. dingus48 Enthusiast

    dingus48
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    Cliff, thanks for the info. I think an article on extending wireless range would be informative. I've tried several of the options you listed, and a variant of Option A is the best I've found, but far from perfect. I tried Option A as you described, but my laptops and phones did not "hop" well between routers - instead of connecting to the strongest signal, my devices would only seek the best connection only when the current signal was lost. So most of the time I had weak connections with the single SSID approach. So I use different SSIDs with each router and manually scan and establish a connection as I move around the house.

    I also tried repeaters, but the data speed was very slow even with a strong signal and connection - something about how repeaters repeat all network traffic all the time, leaving little room for what I really want to transmit and receive with my device. And the "one single powerful router" never worked well for me everywhere in a house with multiple floors, even when using the most powerful router with upgraded antenna.

    The best info source I found in developing and evaluating options to try is smallnetbuilder.com.

    All of my experience is with non 802.11s equipment, and it was my understanding that 802.11s was intended to radically improve ease and performance for consumer whole home needs, but maybe I am wrong and the mesh networking standard was intended for niche commerical uses or other uses unrelated to consumer use. Not an expert in any of this, so any enlightenment appreciated!
  8. FLMike Audioholic

    FLMike
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    Cliff, thanks for the informative article. I recently upgraded to a 50MB Cable Internet service from Comcast and went through figuring this out on my own. I ended up installing a Linksys EA-6500A along with a Linksys WUMC-710 Wireless AC Media Connector. Here are links to both for reference:

    Buy Linksys EA6500 Wireless Router | Free Shipping
    Buy Linksys WUMC710 Bridge Media Connector | Free Shipping

    As someone mentioned earlier, 802.11 AC is the new wireless 5GHz draft standard. I have been extremely pleased with the results. I currently have my Squeezebox, Blu-Ray player and Xbox hooked up to the bridge. One benefit to this is that even though some of these legacy devices support wireless, it is older 802.11 a/b. By wiring them to the bridge, they get the benefit of much higher bandwidth without having to buy new adapters (when available) or upgrading to next-gen equipment. Setup is a breeze because the products are from the same Mfr and are designed to work together seamlessly. I am able to consistently stream HD video without a hiccup. Also, because the router supports two discreet channels, I am able to make the one the Bridge uses "AC Only" and force all of my legacy traffic to the other channel. This assures that the entire 5G band is reserved for devices connected to the bridge.

    I should point out that this is probably NOT a solution for every environment. Because I have a direct line of site--window to window--from the router to the access point, there is nothing in the way to interfere with the signal. And while the 5G signal is supposed to be strong enough to paint a fairly large area with useable signal, I would want to see it in real world use before I commented upon the capabilities when walls and multiple floors were involved. But for my situation, this has proven to be a very good, stable solution that let's me leverage my increased bandwidth.

    I bought the router at a local Tiger Direct store and the Bridge direct from Linksys. I did a support chat with one of their online reps (very helpful) and she pointed out that the unit was not only on-sale but that she could offer me another discount if I ordered through her. All in all a great experience with Linksys.

    Thanks,

    Mike
  9. Stanton Audioholics Contributing Writer

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    For those with an old LinkSys Wireless Router lying around who aren't afraid to do some firmware flashing, you can achieve a similar result with DD-WRT; I've been using this (converted wireless bridge) configuration for a few years now and still have a couple of extra Ethernet ports for my home theater.

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