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Re: home networking

To: Shop Talk <>
Subject: Re: home networking
From: Peter Murray <>
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 08:17:13 -0400
Hooray - I have something to add!

With regards to home networking, I ran into the same issues. Wireless is 
convenient and quite affordable, but lacks the bandwidth that 100Mbit 
ethernet provides (let alone gigabit!). 802.11g is pretty good - but 
with protocol and security overhead, you'll be lucky to ever see 18Mbit 
throughput with it. That said, it's perfectly good for making full use 
of most home internet connections. It is not as good for fast LAN 
transfer (such as from the TiVo to the desktop workstation). As far as 
security concerns goes, I like to keep it simple (I use only 64-bit WEP 
at home) because any of the traffic I'm concerned about keeping safe is 
encrypted other ways. The WEP is only there to keep the casual observer 
out. Those who want to get onto my network will do so. I just want to 
keep those who are looking to abuse my bandwidth from just jumping on.

I live in a rented 3-story townhouse, so hacking holes in the walls is 
not an option. I had initially just installed my wireless-capable 
DSL/cable router and used its wireless 802.11b to service the house (and 
long wires under the carpet to serve the lower level, where the 
cablemodem was located). This was not satisfactory, because signal 
strength from the single access point (which wasn't as centrally located 
as I would have liked) was inadequate at the further reaches of the 
house. That, and the limited throughput of 802.11b was frustrating when 
transferring files across the LAN.

Without the option of running my own wiring, I tried HPNA. I found that 
for under $100, you can acquire a couple of HPNA bridges that allow you 
to make use of up to 1000' of whatever two-conductor media you have in 
(and out of) the house. (One note - make sure the HPNA is 2.0 or better 
- anything less is slower than 802.11b.) In my townhouse, I'm using old 
300 ohm twinlead to get an additional telephone outlet in an 
inconvenient location) over which I'm running HPNA with no trouble. In 
fact one of my HPNA units bridges has a built-in 802.11b access point 
and a 4-port 10/100 switch, all of which are on the same network - I use 
that upstairs in my office. I have had good luck with the 2Wire 
HomePortal series - they come in a variety of flavors - some with 
built-in 4-port switches, some with access-points, etc.

Adding an additional access point is not difficult - there are just a 
few rules to follow. Use the same security credentials (same SSID, 
WAP/WPA settings) and set the channels so they don't overlap (1, 6, 11 
are the only full-throughput non-overlapping channels on 802.11b/g). One 
can cover a lot of area with careful placement of the unit and attention 
to antenna selection (and orientation). Remember that the maximum signal 
from the antennae on the access points is not from the tip, but 90 
degrees from the antenna's long axis...


Peter Murray (N3IXY)
Vienna, VA

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