For several months I’ve had a server with a monitor, keyboard and mouse plus a wireless router cluttering the back side of the livingroom in my home and decided to migrate this stuff into a room that’s at the far end of the house (“far” end meaning “further away from where my computer is, aka the cave). So the only thing left in the living room was a cable modem which now connects to a 25 foot long Ethernet cable that leads to the router in the next room.
The drawback I knew I’d probably run into with this is the good chance that my wireless network connection would nearly be crippled. I don’t have a big house, but I was going to be adding a couple more walls in between my computer and the router.
Now, I don’t go around talking too much about playing video games, but lately I’ve been on a streak of Left 4 Dead 2 because my best friend Jordan asked me to get it so we could play together online. Games like that demand the best of connections that you can muster, and adding another gap of lag between myself and those game servers got me worried. I haven’t yet tried to do multiplay since the move, but did notice that my wifi said that my signal was now “Very Low”.
So I pulled out my new Nexus One cell phone with Android Linux on it and fired on an app I got from the market for free called Wifi Analyser. It kind of looks like this:
Above is just an example image I found with Google. What this program will show you is a line graph that displays the radio frequency usage of nearby wireless networks. You see, wireless networks are kind of like walkie-talkies. If some kid in your neighborhood is using the same radio frequency as you, your signals will obviously overlap and interfere with each other. This app is made to quickly show you what frequency ranges are the most used in your immediate vicinity. In my case I had quite a lot of overlap. So I logged into my router, changed the wireless channel from 6 to 11 and that made a world of difference. Windows says my signal is “Very good” now.
If you don’t know how to log into your router a good website to consult about this is portforward.com. This site is intended to be used as an interactive guide that shows you how to login to your router and change your port forwarding configuration. So the only part you need to pay attention to is the first half that shows you how to access your routers configuration settings. The last half can be tossed aside. Router configuration is a lot like browsing a website that has different check boxes, fly-outs and text fields for you to manage. Just click around until you find something that says “wireless” and look for a setting that pertains to the radio channel it’s using. The default for most routers these days is 6, or sometimes “auto”. If it’s auto, you can at least experiment with it to see if based on your observations there is a frequency range that is more open and less cluttered than one it’s currently using. And if it doesn’t seem to help your performance any, the change can be reversed.
Monday, March 1st, 2010