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View Full Version : How to set up a WiFi hotspot at home?


newglockster
12-09-2010, 11:14 AM
We have high-speed internet wired to a computer at home. I believe it has Windows 7 OS.
My question is, what is the easiest, cheapest, and simplest way to make a WiFi hotspot in our house using that computer. if that is even possible...

Rivers
12-09-2010, 11:38 AM
We have high-speed internet wired to a computer at home. I believe it has Windows 7 OS. My question is, what is the easiest, cheapest, and simplest way to make a WiFi hotspot in our house using that computer. if that is even possible...

That computer would first have to have the hardware to receive a wireless signal. I know that Macs can receive a hardwired Internet connection and distribute it via the built-in wireless without any additional software, just what is already in the OS. For Win 7, I don't know. And for your computer, I don't know what hardware is involved.

The best recommendation is to put an 802.11n wireless router between the modem and your computer. Wire those computers that won't be portable. (Wired is the most reliable and secure.) Use wireless for the rest. Make sure you use WPA wireless encryption for security. (WEP was defeated years ago.) 802.11n is far superior to 802.11g in both range and speed. Using a router gives you a hardware firewall superior to what is in the computer's software. For computers to access the wireless, only the router and modem need to be powered on. The router typically has a better antenna than most computers. Routers are cross-platform so any 802.11n router should work for any operating system complying with the 802.11n standards. That's Win, Apple, Linux, etc. Even iPhones, iPads and SmartPhones.

FWIW, although this is certainly not the cheapest, the Apple Airport Extreme is an excellent 802.11n router. While I've had to replace numerous Linksys, Belkin and Netgears, I've never had to take an Airport Extreme out of service. They are worth the money, especially if you don't want to do the same job again, and again... The Airport Extreme also provides both a private wireless network (giving access to same-network computers and printers) and a guest network that allows only internet (web and email) access.

Matt C
12-09-2010, 11:42 AM
The PC actually does not make the hotspot, you install a wireless router between the PC and the cable/DSL modem, then configure your devices to work on the new wireless network. It's a pretty easy job, if you are near LA I can do it for you.

paul0660
12-09-2010, 11:48 AM
802.11n is far superior to 802.11g in both range and speed

Well.........I only have recent real life experience with some long range setups, and am not an expert, but..........n is faster, but you likely won't use that since g is good to 56mbps, which is quite fast for a home system. n IS less susceptible to interference from the raft of other wirless devices out there, including your neighbors, but I found that g is much better at penetrating walls, bushes, trees, etc. Of course, I didn't try every box on the market, but I do think that is true generally.

Like Rivers said, just get a wireless router, make sure your other boxes have wireless capability, set up the router per instructions, then connect each box. Xp and newer MS os's make it like falling off a log. And do encrypt with WPA, even if you think you have nothing to hide or protect.

Rivers
12-09-2010, 12:08 PM
Well.........I only have recent real life experience with some long range setups, and am not an expert, but..........n is faster, but you likely won't use that since g is good to 56mbps, which is quite fast for a home system. n IS less susceptible to interference from the raft of other wirless devices out there, including your neighbors, but I found that g is much better at penetrating walls, bushes, trees, etc. Of course, I didn't try every box on the market, but I do think that is true generally.

I've used a variety of brands with both 802.11g and 802.11n. I have consistently found that, brand-for-brand, n does reach farther and negotiate obstacles better than 802.11g. The things that will kill a wireless signal start with AC ducting. Metal in the walls is a signal-killer. Stonework doesn't play nice either. Electronic devices are sometimes complicating too. Also, don't push the router up against a wall or box it into a cabinet. Letting it live in a more open space will seriously improve the signal it broadcasts. All things considered, spend the couple extra dollars to get a good 802.11N router. Both the G and N routers will support a signal faster than what you get delivered into your house via cable. The difference is really noticed if you ever do file transfers between computers in your home. Then it's really noticeable. But for web surfing, get N because of the more effective wireless range and the better security that the 802.11N routers have.

Jeepers
12-09-2010, 12:12 PM
pick up a wrt54g router flash it with ddwrt and setup you hotspot(already in ddwrt firmware) and power settings for wifi .... router priced @ under 50 bucks used....

newglockster
12-09-2010, 12:39 PM
Wow, thanks to everyone for you help!:hurray: Looks like I will be buying a wireless router!
So, pretty much I just install the router between the computer and modem, install software the comes with the router (?), encrypt with WPA, configure the devices I will be using, make a password, and I am good to go!

Also, for a typical wireless 802.11n router, how far is the range? We have a fairly elongated house... would the signal make it through like 5 or 6 walls to a room ~70 ft away?

Rivers
12-09-2010, 1:11 PM
Wow, thanks to everyone for you help!:hurray: Looks like I will be buying a wireless router!
So, pretty much I just install the router between the computer and modem, install software the comes with the router (?), encrypt with WPA, configure the devices I will be using, make a password, and I am good to go!

Also, for a typical wireless 802.11n router, how far is the range? We have a fairly elongated house... would the signal make it through like 5 or 6 walls to a room ~70 ft away?

First, get the router in place with the proper wires ready to go. Power off the cable modem. Connect the ethernet wire from the modem to the "in" or WAN port in the router. Connect the ethernet wire from the computer into one of the LAN ports on the router. Make sure that your computer has the TCP/IP network settings to DHCP. This is the typical default setting so you are probably fine unless you changed it. Power off the computer.

Now start booting things up. Start with the modem. Wait for the lights to stabilize before powering up the router. Again, wait for the lights to stabilize. Now boot up the computer. I normally wouldn't include the computer in this reboot process except that since the default from the router is DHCP, like the modem was before it, the computer will likely have the network settings delivered by the modem still active. Those settings are being used by the router now while the router is going to send to the computer entirely NEW DHCP settings. If the computer is still expecting to get the modem's settings, you won't get Internet until the computer gets the correct DHCP settings that the router is sending. The alternative is using the command-prompt, typing (no quotes) "ipconfig -release" then enter, then "ipconfig -renew" then exit. If you check it with "ipconfig -all" you should likely see the ip address of your computer starting with 192.168.x.x if it's a Linksys, Belkin or Netgear router. The third line will be the IP address of the router. Note that.

You should then use your web browser to configure the router. Usually enter 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 in the URL field to access the router. Look in the router's brochure for the manual access settings. I really hate installing the CD software to administer the router. Doing it from the web browser is cleaner and just as efficient. I don't need more crap installed.

You need to set a new admin pw for accessing the router admin. Then you will rename the wireless network and set an access pw for that. Do not use the same pw. Write your router's admin pw on a post-it and stick that to the bottom of your router. You're not worried about security here so much. If someone has physical access to your router, they already have access to your computer.

802.11N has a better chance of covering the whole distance. If you can locate the router more centrally, that's better. Pay attention to your construction and the problem materials that can interfere with the signal. A short distance with sheet metal in between is worse than longer open distances. Worst case might involve a wireless range extender, like a router but designed to piggy-back a wireless signal beyond the original broadcast range.

newglockster
12-09-2010, 1:14 PM
Wow Rivers, you have been SUPER helpful! Thanks so much!