Entry-level access to Wi-Fi

November 19, 2013 at 06:42:27
Specs: Win 7
Assume I know nothing, because that's close to the truth.

What would I need to access Wi-Fi at minimal cost on a
portable device, just to test it out and see how it works?
That is, what would be a minimal-cost device I could use
to find out what kind of signal strength and connection
reliability I could get in different locations?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#1
November 19, 2013 at 06:54:33
Nothing that I know of. Take your portable device and try it out at -

Free wifi hotspots in your area - http://www.minneapolismn.gov/wirele...


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#2
November 19, 2013 at 07:14:53
What wireless interface you'll use is going to depend on your device.

If it has a USB port, then your best bet is probably to get a USB wireless network interface.

If it doesn't have a USB port then you'd best tell us what device you're using so we can see what else could be used.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***


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#3
November 19, 2013 at 08:15:37
The site Pappy linked to is the Wi-Fi I want to try, but I'm
asking what is the minimum cost hardware I need to do that.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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Related Solutions

#4
November 19, 2013 at 09:29:19
Depends on the portable device you are using. Most smart phones and tablet PCs comes with wi-fi built in. So the answer is, buy the cheapest smart phone or tablet PC that you can find.

With an android device you can download wi-fi analyser that will list all the wi-fi in your area.

Stuart


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#5
November 19, 2013 at 10:21:41
(Light bulb goes on)

There's a place not too far away that supposedly buys and
refurbishes old computers and the like. If I can find a used
tablet PC there, it might be what I'm wanting.

I'll have to start by Googling "tablet PC" and find out just what
a tablet PC is. Haven't needed to know that before....

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#6
November 19, 2013 at 11:14:27
You have any idea what you are going to use this connection for? Most likely you would be better off with a smart phone [iphone or android]

Answers are only as good as the information you provide.
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#7
November 19, 2013 at 13:17:08
All I really want to do is find out if I can get a reliable signal
to connect my desktop computer to the Internet via the
Minneapolis USI Wireless Wi-Fi without having to sign up
for the service and let someone come in and install the
antenna. With the antenna I have, I can detect the USI
signal, but it has zero bars. I have no idea whether I can
actually connect. I expect that this antenna would give a
download speed only a very small fraction of the already
relatively slow nominal value. So I'd like to play with it for
a while to see what kind of signal I can get in different
locations that I can't go with my desktop -- even with a
33-foot USB cable extension.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#8
November 19, 2013 at 13:54:05
Have you considered using a PowerLine adapter instead?

They are a cable connect (not Wifi) but use your domestic power supply as the signal cable. You put one on the router and another one on each computer. Even the cheapest ones do quite well.

I'm using one right now and the download speed is no different to when I was using a direct cable and better than Wifi.

EDIT:
Ooops, I missed the magic phrase "portable device". Unless it was kept in fixed locations near a power socket then the above idea would be unsuitable.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek


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#9
November 19, 2013 at 17:01:11
Derek,

By now you have long since read my last post immediately
before yours, so you should understand what I'm after. But
just to spell it out, I'm not interested in a local Wi-Fi in my
home. My only interest in Wi-Fi is to connect to the Internet
via USI Wireless, which basically is a city-sized Wi-Fi. I can't
afford to get Internet via TV cable, and the phone company's
central office is over three miles away, so DSL in my area is
the slowest they offer. USI wireless has a nominally better
speed at a slightly lower price, but I question how reliable
the connection is, and I especially question whether I can
receive it in my home. The two closest nodes are hidden
behind structures. If the antenna USI provides is highly
directional, that would be good -- it could be aimed at the
node. Although I'd still be beamcasting straight at the big
student housing complex immediately beyond the more
likely node....

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

message edited by Jeff Root


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#10
November 19, 2013 at 17:29:13
If you have 0 bars now I wouldn't get your hopes up.

The ONLY solution that may work for you is to build your own Cantenna.

Google youtube and cantenna for many videos on how to construct this out of household available pieces and parts.

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#11
November 20, 2013 at 09:38:55
The antenna that USI Wireless provides might be as good as
or better than a cantenna. I don't know because they don't
describe their antennas on their website. They just say that
they select an antenna appropriate for the location.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#12
November 20, 2013 at 11:18:29
I thought your whole plan was based on testing without buying. Building a cantenna would be your test. If you still have 0 bars then you know there is no reason to purchase.

Or you can rent/buy one of their wireless modems
http://www.usiwireless.com/service/...

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#13
November 21, 2013 at 15:36:00
I'd like to test at other locations, where my desktop can't go.
A cantenna might not accurately mimic what the USI antenna
can do, and with a portable device I could walk right up to
the USI nodes.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#14
November 21, 2013 at 16:50:40
Guess you are buying the service then, right?

Cantenna is portable. Did you even look?

Here is one of many examples
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tis...

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#15
November 22, 2013 at 17:00:07
The point is, if I get some portable device, then I shouldn't
need to use a cantenna for testing, and if I sign up with USI,
then I'll get one of their antennas. But in general I think the
cantenna is a good idea.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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