Home Automation: March 2005 Archives

WiFi and Walls

Anytime I tell someone I am rewiring my entire house with Cat5, they ask "why don't you use WiFi"? Usually I burble on how actual solid copper wires can be repurposed for anything: telephones, Ethernet, sensors, video distribution, or how they have in-built security that can't be hacked like WEP and has wider support than WPA. But now I can say - "I tried it and it doesn't work very well".

2' thick solid stone walls and WiFi don't seem to mix too well. Out of the box transmit power can't hold up a decent link. My off-the-shelf WET54G bridge can only support one connected client, even though I have 3 ethernet devices in one corner of the room.

Using a WRT54G with Sveasoft firmware allows multiple clients to be connected, but still requires configuration that isn't immediately obvious. As with many open source projects, the information is there - somewhere - but buried amongst a hailstorm of help requests and inaccurate suggestions. I hold that configuring routes on a Linux command line is beyond the average punter.

Compare that to wires. Once they are there (and that's just DIY and mess, nothing technical), it's zero configuration - plug into a switch/hub at one end, plug into device at other end. Most consumer devices have server software that sorts out DHCP and auto-discovery, so you don't even have to set up IP config.

Copper ain't dead yet - not in my world.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Home Automation category from March 2005.

Home Automation: January 2006 is the next archive.

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