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Problem picking up network with usb adapter

highrocks
Newbie
Posts: 9
Registered: 03-11-2008

Problem picking up network with usb adapter

I am trying to help a couple of friends get connected to the internet, but am having great difficulty getting a usb adapter to pick up anything at their location.  The pc they are using is pretty old and only has usb 1.1 ports so I wonder if this could be the problem?
They are located in one part of a complex of farm buildings and are able to use the local  wifi network if they can ever pick it up.  I have been able to pick up the network with a dell laptop - it wasn't super strong (just two bars), but I get nothing with the two usb adapters. I first tried this one from maplin 
http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=44633 ; with no luck, so tried this 'hi gain' adpater,
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edimax-EW-7318USG-Wireless-Adapter-802-11b-g/dp/B000NNSY7K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF...
but still absolutely nothing.  Has anyone any suggestions on what the problem is, or how best to proceed?
I am afraid I do not have a lot of info on the pc, but I do recall that it had an AMD 1Ghz processor, 384 Mb Ram and is running windows xp. It was given to them for free and as I said before only has usb1.1.
Many thanks
10 REPLIES
techguy
Grafter
Posts: 2,540
Registered: 12-09-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

I'd say that the receiving surface in the laptop is larger so that is why you can pick up a signal (albeit weak)
What happens if you try to plug the USB wi-fi adapter into the laptop and then disable the built in one? (if it works it would suggest the device has no 1.1 fall back support)

As the devices in question have a 54 Mbps max transfer rate and USB 1.1 (Full Speed) has a max transfer of 12 Mb/s it could be highly likely it won't (USB 2.0 has a max transfer speed of 480 Mb/s)
paulby
Grafter
Posts: 1,619
Registered: 26-07-2007

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

If the USB adapter works on the laptop you may have to buy a USB 2.0 PCI card (which would give the PC USB 2.0 ports) or you could try a PCI wireless card.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,486
Registered: 02-10-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

Where is the wifi router in relation to the room where you want to use the laptop.
Have you tried moving the laptop near to the window nearest to the wifi router ?.
If it works there - would the 3m usb extension lead illustrated on you link enable the antenna to be near that window ?.
More complex is doing what a Sean -  member here has done - to link a friend to his internet connection - but it would probably be cheaper to buy a new  Smileylaptop !

http://www.seanbranagh.ie/computing/networking.html
highrocks
Newbie
Posts: 9
Registered: 03-11-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

I did try that with the first adapter to check it was working and no, I couldn't get a signal in their building.  The signal is boosted using an antenna on a building about 100m from them and I had to be outside and about 30m from the source to pick anything up, which is why I tried the high gain adapter, but it made no difference.  So do you think I will just need to get an even bigger antenna if they want to get connected on this network?  I am not too keen on keep buying new bits if they are not going to work!  I might try a diy reflector.
highrocks
Newbie
Posts: 9
Registered: 03-11-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

Sorry - last reply was to Techguy,
Quote from: mal0z
Where is the wifi router in relation to the room where you want to use the laptop.          The laptop isn't the problem[color=blue], it is the desktop pc that they want connecting to the internet
[/color]
Have you tried moving the laptop near to the window nearest to the wifi router ?.
If it works there - would the 3m usb extension lead illustrated on you link enable the antenna to be near that window ?.
More complex is doing what a Sean -  member here has done - to link a friend to his internet connection - but it would probably be cheaper to buy a new  Smileylaptop !  - I am really looking for a low budget option! but may have to consider something like this

http://www.seanbranagh.ie/computing/networking.html
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,486
Registered: 02-10-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

It could be more expensive but the correct thing to do is a high gain / directional external antenna - but you need to ensure that there is a signal out side where you are going to put the antenna. But don't use too long a feeder between the antenna and the PC as cable losses are high at those frequencies.
http://www.wifi-antennas.co.uk/index.php?target=categories&category_id=209
highrocks
Newbie
Posts: 9
Registered: 03-11-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

That is an option - the cable would have to be at least 10m, possibly 15 because of the layout, any idea what length would be a problem?
There is definitely a signal outside, because the laptop can already pick it up inside (just about).  It is just frustrating that the desktop pc cannot
techguy
Grafter
Posts: 2,540
Registered: 12-09-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

@highrocks
I am aware it was thbe desktop, I was just thinking it would determine whether the device can works in the location or not, if it does, its likely to be the fact the desktop is USB 1.1 only.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,486
Registered: 02-10-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

Hi Highrocks
It was me I think that didn't pick up on the desktop.
about 10 to 15 m of feeder cable to the antenna should be ok - obviously good quality cable and connectors help.
Note that if the cable loss at 2GHz is say 5dB - connectors add another 1 dB - so total feeder loss is 6dB but the antenna has a gain of 9dB - the net gain is still 9dB - 6dB = 3dB  so you are still on the plus side, and you get a better signal than from inside the room.
Obviously you need a router / USB ADSL unit that has facilities for an external antenna.
I found a good guide here on the wifi antennas site.
Some may be too techie for you ( apologises ! ) - but read the section on 3 onwards and come back for help if needed.
http://www.allendale-hosting.co.uk/antenna/download/FAQ-What_Antenna_Guide.pdf

Normal exclaimer - I don't work for and / or have any financial interest in this company !. But it looks a good site


highrocks
Newbie
Posts: 9
Registered: 03-11-2008

Re: Problem picking up network with usb adapter

Many thanks for the link  - a lot of useful stuff in there which should help me out.  I'll have a proper read through later. 
Thanks again for all your help.  I will post back with progress success or failure...