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How Home Mesh Networks Beef Up Your Wi-Fi

The devices we use today are reliant on wireless communications. Smartphones, computers, and even video game consoles all access the internet through signals known as Wi-Fi. However, due to the complexities of radio signals, a single access point for Wi-Fi doesn't cut it in some situations. Mesh networks provide more coverage while also maintaining speeds. They have been utilized in the enterprise space for years now, and this technology has finally made its way to the home.

Wi-Fi

In order to understand mesh networks and its importance we need to know what Wi-Fi itself is and how it works.

The majority of wireless communications and data transfers are done via radio waves; a type of electromagnetic radiation that propagates in as many as three dimensions through the environment at the speed of light. Artificial radio waves can be tuned to a wide range of wavelengths and frequencies which are sectioned off for different purposes and regulated by government agencies and international groups of experts. Radio communications in their simplest form involves a source transmitting data and something tuned to the same radio wave specifications to receive the transmission.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE, typically pronounced "eye triple-e") is the body responsible for the 802.11 standards our Wi-Fi capable devices use. Most devices made today support the 802.11n revision at either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, or the more recent 802.11ac revision which only operates at 5GHz. Each new version of the standard makes some sort of improvement, generally coming in the form of better throughput. The 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies are the radio bands that Wi-Fi is allowed to operate within, and is broken down further into channels that operate within tens of megahertz of the band.

There are pros and cons to using Wi-Fi at either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. Most channels for 2.4GHz overlap with one another, which can cause interference. And while 5GHz 802.11ac may be the new hotness, most devices still use 2.4GHz which causes more congestion. Then there's the fact that other technology, such as bluetooth and microwaves, operate at 2.4GHz as well, which causes interference. The 5GHz band tends to have much faster data speeds. However, due to the faster propagation of the wave it also breaks down faster, especially through solid objects, and so the 2.4GHz band has a longer range.

For years there have been ways to mitigate the shortcomings of Wi-Fi signals.

LEGO with Friends: VW Beetle, Part 4

We recall vintage board games and schoolyard snacks as this vintage car build comes to a finish--the stick application is nerve-wracking! Thanks to Trace and Danica for joining us this week on this fun build! Find more of Trace's work at www.youtube.com/seeker

Prusa i3 3D Printer Upgrade Prints 4 Colors!

The Prusa i3 was one of the best reviewed 3D printers of the past year, and we check out their newest upgrade that allows for 4-color printing with just one hot end. Sean chats with Josef Prusa himself to talk about how multi-filament printing works and why it's no easy feat.

Transcript: Adam Savage's 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire Talk

So last year I got here and I was getting ready to get on another giant animal to ride over to the stage and Sherry [Huss, the creator of Maker Faire] said, "You know, everyone is eager to hear your Sunday sermon." I said, "Sunday sermon? What's that?" She said, "That's what we call your Sunday talk."

No one had told me so I decided this year to write something more akin to a sermon, a secular one to be sure, but oh, my brothers and sisters, sisters and brothers, welcome to Maker Faire. It is lovely to see your shining and beautiful faces, to see the inspiration that is here.

Where are we, and where are we going? Where we are is amazing. Driverless cars might mean the end of a million vehicle-related deaths per year. With technology and science we have improved the overall health and wellness of humans to the point that it is better now than it has ever been in history. We can produce calories cheaper than imaginable 50 years ago, and luxuries like washing machines, cars, and televisions are part of nearly every single household. Where the internet makes so much connectivity possible that the Barbie-collecting banker in Japan can become best friends with the larping poet in Spokane.

Things are pretty cool.

Seeing what other mad geniuses, makers, tinkerers, modders, plodders, planners, organizers, teachers, parents, and inventors are doing invests our work with more purpose.

This is also a terrible time. Where our open internet is under threat. Where automation will eliminate millions of jobs in the next decade. Where the disparity between the richest and the poorest of us increases every single day. Where the color of one's skin can radically alter the outcome of trivial interactions. Things as simple and quotidian as driving down the street or flying in an airplane are fraught with uncertainty at best and lethal danger at worst. Where interconnectivity still yields cliques and exclusive groups leading teens on social media to feel more alone and more marginalized. Where science, the crucible of human progress, has become attached to partisan politics, the engine of exclusion and marginalization. Where our planet is being irrevocably changed for the worse by our bad habits. As William Gibson famously said, "The future is already here. It's just not very evenly distributed." Both of these things are true.

At the same exact time, things are as they have always been. They are both great and terrible. But where are we now? Now temporally we are at the Maker Faire Mothership in San Mateo, where we are celebrating the fact that it has never been a better time to be a maker. What unbelievable tools we have at our disposal. We have 3D printers, vinyl cutters, scanners, laser engravers and every hand tool imaginable, and we are here because you mad scientists, makers, tinkerers, modders, plodders, planners, organizing teachers, parents, and inventors find that being around each other is inspiring. And seeing what other mad geniuses, makers, tinkerers, modders, plodders, planners, organizers, teachers, parents, and inventors are doing invests our work with more purpose and gives us ideas to go back home. It's invigorating and it's heart warming.

Transcript: Adam Savage's Q&A at the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire

If you missed Adam's Bay Area Maker Faire talk, you can watch or read a transcript of it.

Question 1: What's Next

What is next in my career? Your guess is as good as mine. I am still working hard with the amazing team at Tested.com to do more one day builds. We are traveling to some far away lands soon to do some amazing builds there too. So Tested is still a primary center.

I have pitched some other television ideas and am waiting to hear if some of them will take. I'm really excited about telling stories on television again, but I also love this new format where you don't necessarily need TV. Someone recently suggested on Twitter that I should host a Saturday morning maker show. We're actually starting to dive into the possibilities of something like that.

Ultimately I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up and that's a big part of the plan. My boys are 18 so we're in a big massive shift. Our whole world is about to change.

Question 2: Favorite Build

What was my favorite build? It was whatever build I had just completed. Many of you know we went to Weta Workshop last summer and Peter Lyon, the amazing sword master at Weta, taught me how to make my own strider sword, and that was an amazing day. He also taught me the right kind of aluminum to use to make a movie-type weapon and a whole bunch of techniques. And last week I used the skills that he taught me to do my favorite one day build yet.

Obviously I build stuff for a living. I build it all day long. I show my crew what I'm working on and we talk about it, but I finished this one build the other day and I walked in and there was this absolute level of: Wow, this is really good. Not just good. It's actually really good. I'm like, "I know. I'm just as impressed as you are."

LEGO with Friends: VW Beetle, Part 3

From underapprecaited 80s films to cult 90s flicks, we turn our talk to movies and video games in the third day of our LEGO build! We're into bag three, and the details of the Beetle are looking good!

Goliath is a CNC Router That Runs on a Robot

We check out a really interesting design for a CNC machine at this year's Maker Faire. Goliath CNC puts its router on a robot, which drives on top of a plank of plywood while making its cuts. We chat with one of Goliath's creators to learn how it works and the technical challenges of putting a useful router on wheels.

LEGO with Friends: VW Beetle, Part 2

Summer camp and Science fiction conventions are the topics of discussion as Trace, Danica, and Norm continue putting together the LEGO VW Beetle! Plus, someone reveals an obession with the Fast and the Furious films.