wireless networking in your home

i love it when a plan comes together.

one of the biggest challenges that i’ve faced after moving into the house is figuring out how i was going to handle the networking needs of my house. this poses a much greater problem than one would think after your consider a few things:

1) the house is not wired for ethernet.
2) the house is on a concrete slab so you can’t wire under it.
3) i don’t want to tear up any walls.

so, the painful, but obvious choice after these considerations is to have a wireless network. the next big choice was how to set it up. 802.11b, 802.11a/g, 802.11g, pre-802.11n? these were all good questions. the stylings of the pre-802.11n devices are probably the best these days, but they are also pretty expensive. the biggest concern i had about a wireless network as the primary network for home was speed. i do video streaming on the home network quite often so it was essential that the home network could support this.

the problem gets worse. the access point is going to be in a different room from my desktop which is in a different room from my media centers. nothing will be wired into the router! i could run cable everywhere, but that seemed messy…and i don’t like messy.

i settled on getting an 802.11g network. mostly this was cost-based. you can get cheap routers for the 802.11g standard and it SHOULD be fast enough for streaming. large file copies are going to be slow, but i’ve accepted that.

so the hardware that i ended up getting:
buffalo whr-hp-54g wireless router
buffalo ethernet converter
edimax pci wireless card

a new router, a new wireless ethernet converter/gaming adapter, and a new PCI wireless card. the important things to look for when buying each of these products varies, but if you want something that gives you the best performance, here are some things to consider:

make sure it has the feature set you want. WPA security is more secure than WEP. this particular router, for you hacker-types, can be flashed with a dd-wrt firmware. if you know what that means, you’ll think it’s cool. if you don’t, then don’t worry about it.

ethernet converter
the ethernet converter/gaming adapter looks like a 4 port switch, but what it really does is give you ethernet ports that are wireless connected to your router. so if you have devices that you want to connect to your network, but don’t want to string cable everywhere, this is the way to go. setup is relatively easy for this device, the instructions that come with it are good.

PCI wireless g
i also got a PCI wireless network card. it’s weird to see the wireless icon on my desktop, but this lets my desktop connect to the wireless router. you should get one that has an external omnidirectional antenna. it’s worth every penny in the improved range and connection quality that you get.

so at the end of the night, i had my desktop set up in the office, the router set up in a different room, and my ethernet adapter connected to my media center downstairs. i was watching a downloaded tv show streaming from my desktop to the router to the media center all wirelessly with no issues. it was great.

i haven’t done any raw speed tests, but the video ran just fine.