My first mission was to determine the strength of my wireless signal in the house. Using some handy tools such as inSSIDer and Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector, I was able to see where the coverage started to drop in my house. You can do several things beforehand to increase the coverage of your signal: place your router away from cordless phones, metal surfaces, and microwaves, position it on an elevated surface with the antennas pointing in the direction of your devices, and keep it in an equal distance between all of your devices to maintain the highest wireless signal. If you have thick walls or lack the coverage that you need because there are multiple floors, installing a repeater or an additional access point might be necessary.
In my case, I didn't have much of a choice and needed to expand my coverage with an additional access point. For all intended purposes, an access point could also be another wireless router. For the average home user, the cost of a repeater or another high end "access point" guaranteed to work might not be feasible. You can simply set up a wireless router and purchase another one of the same model (this will maximize the compatibility of roaming on your network). You will need to do the following:
- Set the IP address of the second wireless router to something different (eg: 192.168.1.2)
- Disable DHCP on the second router
- Keep the SSID the same
- Use the same encryption strength, type and passphrase
- Set the broadcast channel of the routers to different channels, preferably ones that are unused. The most common ones are 1, 6, and 11 because they are non-overlapping.
- Connect one of the LAN ports of the second router to a LAN port on the primary one and leave the WAN port disconnected on the second router.
Congratulations, you have set up multiple access points in your house! Your laptop will automatically connect you to the strongest signal and roam to another one when the signal starts to fade.