How to Boost Your Wi-Fi Reach Using Rock Space AC1200 Wi-Fi Extender

The Wi-Fi connection standard has become the most common networking standard used for connecting our everyday gadgets to the Internet. Initially, the Wi-Fi standard was mainly used for connecting mobile devices like phones and laptops wirelessly to the Internet.

Nowadays, most fixed devices and network equipment come embedded with Wi-Fi capabilities. As such, people find it more convenient to also use the Wi-Fi connection for their fixed or immobile equipment and gadgets. Common examples are found in modern smart homes, there you will find Wi-Fi-enabled garage door opener, virtual assistant (Amazon echo), HD IP security cameras, smart TV, smart IP alarms, dome cameras, smart vacuum cleaner, smart lights, smart sound system, e.t.c

With all these innovations comes the need for having your Wi-Fi signal reaching every corner of your home, from the bedrooms to the sitting rooms, from the kitchen to the garage all the way to your gate. Running a cable all across the house could create some inconvenience especially when these cables have to be exposed to various physical elements that could cause tear and wear and even potential damage. As such, the need for a device that is capable of extending your Wi-Fi connection to all corners of the house comes to mind.

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Here is a review of the AC1200 Dual Band Wireless Repeater from Rock space. Also called Wi-Fi range extender or Wireless Signal Booster.

The AC1200 is a dual-band Wi-Fi range extender, supporting both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. It offers up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz and 867Mbps on the 5GHz. Hence providing you a combined speed of up to 1Gbps. Speaking of the coverage area or distance, the AC1200 extends Wi-Fi coverage 360 degrees by up to 1292 sq.Ft.

The AC1200  is used to expand the coverage area of the wireless signal from your router, hence allowing your wireless devices to be placed in locations further away from the router. This idea is illustrated in the image below.

Here the illustration is in 2D, but this is a 3-dimensional phenomenon. The blue circle here represents the coverage regions of the Wi-Fi signal from the router. As you can see, only the room in the top-left corner has full Wi-Fi coverage. The rooms next to it get partial coverage. So in order to extend a strong Wi-Fi signal to the other three rooms, a Wi-Fi range extender is needed. The extender needs to be placed around the edge of the signal from the router, pair it up with the router and then you can expect a much stronger Wi-Fi signal in the other three rooms, is really that simple.

So if you look at your Wi-Fi signal like electricity, then the Wi-Fi range extender is like your extension cable, except that this time is all wireless and the distance could be a lot more. So, do you have some rooms or corners in your building where you need a stronger Wi-Fi signal? Do you have Wireless devices in your garage that are struggling to remain connected to the Internet due to a weak signal? Or you want to share your Wi-Fi with a neighbor? If any of that sounds like you, then this is a go-to-solution for you. Is really a great value for the price point especially when compared to other similar solutions,  moreover is very easy to set up even for a non-techie as demonstrated in the video.

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Size

The AC1200 extender is much more portable than it looks in most photos. It measures 3 x 2.5 inches, and also 2.5 inches thick. For me, this was the first pleasant surprise on opening the package. Looking at the illustrations in the product listing on Amazon, I was under the impression that this was a lot bigger in size, but here as you can see the extender is really a very portable design. Just about half the size of a galaxy s9plus, making it easy to place around room corners.

The extender has two antennas that can be lifted upwards, on the front here you have these three indicators, the Wi-Fi signal, the WPS and Power. Each of these LEDs have different colors that indicate different states, you can find the full-color code in the user manual. It also has an Ethernet port that allows you to connect a Wired device like game console or smart TV to your Wi-Fi network.

Setup Procedure

There are two ways to set up the device.

METHOD 1: Using the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)

The WPS method is an overly simplified way of setting up this device. Note, however, that not all Wi-Fi routers have the WPS capability, to check if yours has one, simply look around it for a button either tagged as WPS or has this loop symbol next to it. Here are some common Wi-Fi routers with WPS capability.

If yours has one, then all you need to do is first ensure that both your router and the extender are fully powered on. For the extender you can tell is fully powered on when the power indicator is steady and no longer blinking. Now press the WPS button on your router, for some reason I needed to press and hold mine for about 3 seconds to get it to work, then on your Wi-Fi range extender, press and release the WPS button and wait for about 8 seconds during which the two devices will pair-up. As soon as your signal and WPS LEDs become steady blue, then you’re good to go.

Now if you go to your Wi-Fi settings, you should see two additional network SSIDs, here I’m using the default settings on Dlink router, so my actual Wi-Fi network is this dlink_DWR-921, so the next network here with _5GEXT is the 5 GHz band from the Wi-Fi extender while the next one with _EXT is the 2.4 GHz band.

Here I can connect to any of these two extended networks using the same password as my actual Wi-Fi network. After the setup, all you need to do is to find a suitable location to position your extender. Check the positioning section for tips on how to properly position the extender.

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METHOD 2: Using the Web API

This is mainly for a situation where your router has no WPS button, here you will need a wireless device that has a web browser, so either your mobile phone or a laptop or tablet. The first thing would be to turn on the repeater and wait for the power indicator to become steady. Next, go to your Wi-Fi settings and connect to a network with the name rockspace_EXT. When fully connected, open your browser and type in 192.168.0.254 and hit enter.

You should see a page asking you to create your login password, here type in a password of your choice, then enter it one more time to confirm and hit next. Then it asks you to select the Wi-Fi network you want to extend. Here I will extend the NETGEAR08 network. Here I will enter the password of my NETGEAR08 network. Her it shows you the name of the extended wi-fi network. By default, it adds _ext to your actual wi-fi network name for the 2.4GHz band and _5GEXT for the 5GHz band. You can choose to rename any of these if you want but is okay to go with the defaults. My NETGEAR router only supports 2.4 GHz, so this is all I can extend. If yours supports 5 GHz band, then you can extend that too using similar process. Afterwards, hit the extend button and wait for the setup to complete. And just like in the first method, you will now be able to connect to the extended Wi-Fi networks using the same password as your actual Wi-Fi network.

Positioning 

Now let’s talk about positioning. The AC1200 is able to extend your Wi-Fi coverage 360 degrees by up to 1292 sq.Ft. However, the perfect placement position for the extender will vary depending on several factors, such as the router range which could depend on the model, the nature of obstacles along the way, and few other physical factors. Based on my test, I will say the extender should be placed between 10 to 12 meters away from a normal 2.4 GHz router.

The best way to verify, however, would be to use the signal LED indicator on the extender, if the extender is too far away from the router, the LED indicator will be in red, so you will need to keep adjusting the position until you have the LED in steady blue. That would be the optimal position for your extender.

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Performance Testing

Finally, I decided to test out the extender after trying out a few times to get the right positioning.

First, I had my phone connected to my actual Wi-Fi router within close range, here I was able to get 32.8 Mbps on download and 11.2Mbps on the upload. Next, I connected from a different room around the edge of the Wi-Fi signal where the signal strength is about the weakest. Here I was getting 17 Mbps on download and 8.5Mbps on upload. Now from the same room, I connected to Wi-Fi extender and quite impressively I was getting about 31Mbps on download and 9.9 Mbps on upload.

So from these results, you can see that the extender definitely does a great job with expanding your Wi-Fi signal to locations that would have otherwise had weak signals or entirely unreachable. Is crucial however, to try to optimize the positions of the different components in order to get the best performance for your distant wireless devices.

Video Tutorial

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