2006-01-01

USR 8054 firmware RSSI comparison

When I installed FC4 on my new work computer, I upgraded the firmware of my USR 8054 to fix a perceived problem with dropped connections. I haven't tested the new firmware, rev. 1.67b44, to see whether it fixes that problem. I notice, however, that the new firmware seems to introduce a new problem: when I'm in bed, I can't use the WiFi connection on my Pocket PC. This is a problem for two reasons. First, I want good coverage so WiFiFoFum running on my HP iPAQ 6315.

Here are the results:

Location RSSI
1.21h 1.64b34 1.67b44
office -35 -35 -35
third floor bedroom -52 -54 -50
third floor bathroom -70 -70 -69
second floor bathroom -90 -90 -90
kitchen -90 -90 -90
dining room -66 -66 -70
second floor bedroom -69 -69 -68
living room -57 -55 -55
art studio -65 -54 -60
first floor front door -67 -73 -68
first floor back door -90 -90 -90
basement -90 -70 -69

My hypothesis was completely wrong. In fact, the oldest firmware, 1.21h, introduced a new dead spot that the newer firmwares did not experience. When WiFoFoFum reports -90 RSSI, it means that it sees the ESSID, but the signal is very weak. I have to conclude that the newer firmwares are better, using their default settings. I will use the latest firmware, 1.67b44.

These results really point out that I need either a more powerful access point or WiFi repeaters throughout the house. I will investigate these ideas later.

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