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Old Jericho Wireless

Last year, I was living on Cardigan Street in Jericho. Several of my friends were also living on the street, including one set in the house over the road and one door down. Given this location, we opted to do some wireless stuff along the street.

As I no longer live in Jericho, the network has gone. However, I've listed below the results of our experiments, in case any future Jericho residents are interested in how far they can get signals with off the shelf kit.

Back at the start of the year, we did some initial testing with pcmcia cards, but not much. We then took taken delivery of an AP and a second card (previously we were borrowing one), and did testing with an access point.

Following that, we bought another AP, and linked the two houses together. That seemed to work quite nicely.

Unfortunately, the network layout we opted for requires some security. We were hoping to achieve this by using IPSec to bridge the networks of the two houses, and link the roaming laptops together. Unfortunately, that would have required an always on machine with 2 network cards in the second house, which was impractical. As such, we ended uo being forced to go with WEP.
The practical upshot of that is we didn't have the flexibility we'd like, and we were never able to offer full consume style access. However, we did manage to give access to a couple of passing people, so it wasn't all for nothing.

Old Wireless Details

Note - network no longer active
ESS-IS: Cardigan.Street
WEP: On, 128 bit
Mode: Infrastructure
Running: 24/7
Connection: Cable Modem

Proper Testing (With AP), 12/11/02

Note. All figures for signal strength are from wavemon.

My Desk: ~92/100
My Room: 75-95/100
Stairs: ~70/100
Lounge: 45-65/100
Kitchen 5-35/100
Bathroom: 0/100, s/n @ ~+45dB

Middle of the road: good
Ross's front door: ~35/100
Ross's lounge: still going...
Ross's bedroom door: still going...

Initial Testing, 01/10/02

I managed to borrow a Lucent WaveLan card off a friend, and do a spot of testing. The kit we used was:

  • My Craptop (yup, HD still playing up), running Linux 2.4.17 with linux-wlan-ng 0.1.15 and a Sitecom Prism2 (WL-002) pcmcia card
  • Ross's Laptop, running Win98 with a Lucent WaveLan Silver pcmcia card (thanks to Dom)

Ross's laptop was low on battery, so we wandered with mine. We initially put his laptop on my desk, though we later put it over by the window.

Our highly technical testing was done with WaveMon, a ping, and playing ~128kbps Ogg's over a samba mount. Acceptable signal was defined as the Ogg playing, borderline signal was 50% pings getting through but the Ogg skipping, and no signal was anything else. WaveMon gave a good indication of when we were getting towards the limits of the link, but usually gave a link quality of 0 and a poor signal/noise ratio long before the music stopped (and yes, we did think about ogg123's buffering before you ask...)

The results about my house were:

  • My room - perfect signal, no problems
  • Mile's room (next door) and the landing - signal down to about 50%, but no problems
  • Mattias's room (other end of the house) - signal 20-30, but no problems even at the back of his room
  • Hallway (downstairs) - signal up about 50%, no problems
  • Lounge - signal about 40%, should be fine for streaming music to the dofa and table :-)
  • Kitchen - signal dropped from 30 to 10 as we walked through the kitchen, but music kept going
  • Garden near the door - signal headed towards zero, but music was fine
  • Middle garden - signal ~0, but we had music & pings with the laptop held in the right orientation
  • End of the garden - nothing :-(

So, doesn't look too hopefull about getting to Wellington Street using just card <--> card comms. Bummer.

Next up, heading over the road to Ross's place (literally over the road and one door down).

  • Middle of Cardigan St - music works, don't know signal (it was raining, so laptop lid was down). Strange looks => high....
  • Ross's hallway - signal down about 10%, but music still going
  • Near the stairs - signal down to 0, music if the laptop was in the correct orientation
  • Lounge - signal at 0, music with laptop in correct orientation and correct bit of the room
  • Kitchen - nada :-(
  • Upstairs - signal was 0, but music could be had with the correct laptop orientation
  • Bel's room (front of house) - signal up to 20-30, music fine, comments about "you're not putting one of them in my computer" - high
  • Ross's room (back of the house) - nada :-(

We then popped back to my house, and moved the other laptop from my desk to over by the window, and retested in Ross's house.

  • Bel's room - signal at 30-40
  • Landing - signal at 0, but music with most laptop orientations
  • Ross's room - signal at 0, but music could be had for the front half of the room if the laptop was in the correct orientation. Back of the room, with the correct orientation (esp. laptop vertical) allowed some pings through, but not enough for music.

So the conclusions were:

  • card <--> card, my house - works fine
  • card <--> card, my house to front of Ross's house - acceptable
  • card <--> card, my house to back of Ross's house - going to need a second card in a machine over by the window
  • card <--> card, my house to telent.net, not happening
  • General - we need to borrow an AP off someone for further testing
  • General - card <--> card distances quoted by manufacturers seem a little bit optimistic...

Now to borrow and AP of someone and play with that....

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