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DEFCON WiFi Shootout Winners Set A Land Record
Wireless Networking
Posted by timothy on Wed Aug 04, '04 07:52 AM
from the congratulations-all-'round dept.
bscience writes "While attending the DEFCON 12 convention this past weekend I had the chance to see the standing ovation a group of 19 year olds received for establishing a 55.1 mile unamplified WiFi connection!" A snippet from the Wired story linked there: "Mobile warriors having trouble making a wireless connection across the hall might want to give some Ohio teens a call. This weekend they were able to make a 55-mile Wi-Fi connection. ... They might have achieved an even greater distance, Justin Rigling said, "but there was no road left."" (Here's the post from a few weeks back about the competition.)

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55.1 mile unamplified WiFi connection!
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DEFCON WiFi Shootout Winners Set A Land Record | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 161 comments | Search Discussion
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
No really. (Score:5, Interesting)
by ItsIllak (95786) on Wednesday August 04, @07:57AM (#9877550)
I don't get this. I've got a smallish house, but need two APs to cover it. I guess I'm considerably less directional, but still?!

Maybe these competitions could open up a second record of the largest diameter of coverage achieved. Maybe measured at four opposite points.
    Re:No really. (Score:5, Interesting)
    by 5m477m4n (787430) on Wednesday August 04, @08:10AM (#9877620)
    Some brands of APs have better range than others. I get pretty good range from Linksys. Also, APs generally get batter range than wireless routers. But sometimes it's nice having a smaller range, that way the guy down the street can't hack your connection or hijack your cable internet.
    [ Parent ]
    Re:No really. (Score:4, Interesting)
    by DaHat (247651) on Wednesday August 04, @08:11AM (#9877623)
    Might I suggest bring in a demo man to remove all of your walls and anything else that may, depending on your location in the house be anywhere near the line of sight of the signal that could conceivably interfere with it?

    I have not RTFA, however if I remember last years competition right, the competing antennas were on the side of a large hill or mountain pointing down at a vehicle that was driving away. In such a case they have far fewer obstacles then you do in your home.
    [ Parent ]
      Re:No really. (Score:5, Informative)
      by v1 (525388) <virtual1@pitne[ ]et ['t.n' in gap]> on Wednesday August 04, @08:22AM (#9877693)
      Omnidirectional coverage is a bit harder to expand. You can't really beat a 5/8 wavelength groundplane, and they're easy to make. (at lower frequencies anyway, not sure about ghz)

      Not counting the ability to use amplifiers, you could think of wifi coverage as light... put a 100w lightbulb in a field at night and how far away can you be and stil read a book? Not very far probably... 30 feet maybe. Now, take that bulb and put it in a parabolic lens. Now you've got a 100w flashlight. If the flashlight is pointed your way, you'll get hundreds of feet. The better the lens and the sharper the focus, the greater your range. Come up with a more fundamental improvement (like a 100w laser?) and your range increases to a radical distance that could easily be miles. But it still doesn't help the guy standing 5 feet off to the side of the light though, he's in the dark.

      Directional and omnidirectional coverage are for totally different purposes, and really can't be compared or mixed. There's no use in complaining about your omni coverage when people are making improvements in directional coverage - it's apples and oranges.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:No really. (Score:5, Insightful)
        by Mr Guy (547690) on Wednesday August 04, @08:42AM (#9877803)
        (Last Journal: Tuesday August 17, @09:07AM)
        All this is true and valid, but it still doesn't fix the problem that it's only marginally usefull, while people would pay big money for a good way to repeat passed walls more cheaply than sticking another AP wired to the LAN on the other side of it.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:No really. (Score:5, Insightful)
          by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday August 04, @08:47AM (#9877835)
          Nahh, it's easy to significantly increse the coverage in a home without much work. In many of the high-brow homes I help a friend of mine install home automation and whole house multimedia I do the networking on the side. One AP can easily cover most fo a 2000Sq foot home. but you need to place the AP in regards to where it will be used most.

          rule 1 - make it central to the house. If you use it mostly in your den at the south end of the house then the AP will be in the celing, about 6 feet from the office in the hallway. if your home is larger, buying a pair of low end aftermarket antennas and spreading out the antennas makes a bigger difference. In one home i had the AP in the kitchen, 1 antenna 6 feet from that location and th eother 3 feet in the opposite direction. Adding a 1 foot square piece of sheet metal about 1 wavelength away from the antenna in the direction of the outside wall will also help in two ways. 1 to limit the external radiation to the neighbors. (the best wireless security is to be sure they cant get a signal) and 2 to reflect the signal back to the working area.

          I have covered houses of 4000 sq feet with 1 AP and 2 comp-usa grade add-on antennas. no you will not get 100% in all areas of the home, but you will not drop below 40% and some places like the bottom of the closet in the basement guest bedroom do not need woreless coverage.

          being realistic about wireless coverage is the first step. the second step is to use the 802.11 repeaters when you only absolutely have to.

          but in a home for rich people... multiple AP'
          s are not a viable option as it doesn't hand off seamlessly.
          [ Parent ]
          • Re:No really. by Jeff DeMaagd (Score:3) Wednesday August 04, @09:46AM
            • Re:No really. by Anonymous Coward (Score:1) Wednesday August 04, @01:33PM
              • Re:No really. by MixmastaKooz (Score:1) Wednesday August 04, @01:45PM
                • Re:No really. by ttyp0 (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @07:06PM
                • Wifi IS GHz by elgatozorbas (Score:1) Wednesday August 04, @09:44AM
              • Re:No really. by tiger99 (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @08:37AM
                • Re:No really. by TheSync (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @08:47AM
                • Re:No really. by Gordonjcp (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @08:57AM
                  • Re:No really. by SEWilco (Score:1) Wednesday August 04, @12:42PM
                    • Re:No really. by cojsl (Score:1) Wednesday August 04, @01:13PM
                      • Re:No really. by rspress (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @03:39PM
                        • Experience from N+I by blackrobe28 (Score:1) Wednesday August 04, @05:06PM
                          • Re:No really. by simontek2 (Score:1) Saturday August 07, @05:19AM
                            • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
                            Customers freaking out... (Score:5, Funny)
                            by mikael (484) on Wednesday August 04, @08:14AM (#9877645)
                            (Last Journal: Monday July 05, @08:34PM)
                            Well, if someone parked outside my building, pointed a six foot dish at my office [akamai.net], and told me my wireless data needed encrypting, I'd probably freak out too.
                            Hawking their equipment? (Score:5, Funny)
                            by djcapelis (587616) on Wednesday August 04, @08:14AM (#9877647)
                            Am I the only one who find it amusing that these guys roll in on a whim, break the record, win some stuff and immediately go hawk their equipment?

                            Some good old hacking spirit right there...
                            Transfer speed (Score:5, Interesting)
                            by barcodez (580516) on Wednesday August 04, @08:17AM (#9877666)
                            I would be interested to know what kind of transfer speed they got at that distance.
                            • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
                            Help for rural areas? (Score:5, Interesting)
                            by grunt107 (739510) on Wednesday August 04, @08:19AM (#9877679)
                            Althought the article does not mention it, it does not seem like the hardware used to accomplish this was all that advanced.

                            If that is the case, their technology could be implemented in limited population density areas, tying back to the somewhat larger urban areas.

                            Take for example Iowa. There are many areas over 30 miles from any town larger than 15-30k.
                            Surprisingly enough, these 'large' towns have cable/phone (DSL) access.

                            So now the remote areas can be wifi attached to the bigger towns/cities and get the faster access (although 11b is not screaming it is better than modem).
                            Reception enhancing device (Score:1)
                            by tezza (539307) on Wednesday August 04, @08:26AM (#9877719)
                            They must have been wind assisted.

                            Seriously, at what stage does Planetary alignment, Solar Flares or wind direction start to have a bigger effect than technology??

                            I did quite a few Elec Eng subjects as part of my degree, and this stuff seems mind boggling.

                            the horror! (Score:1, Funny)
                            by caino59 (313096) on Wednesday August 04, @08:33AM (#9877755)
                            (http://cainsconsulting.net/ | Last Journal: Sunday January 11, @03:37AM)
                            This year they faced only the heat and the absence of bathrooms and fresh beer for miles around.

                            that's just a tragedy.
                            • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
                            Congrats to these kids (Score:5, Insightful)
                            by vbrookslv (634009) on Wednesday August 04, @08:37AM (#9877779)
                            I was there in the front row at the awards ceremony at DC12. These kids remind me of myself just a few years ago when I just picked up and moved to Vegas. Wasn't even sure if I had enough money for gas (good thing I was driving a Festiva @~45mpg). I guess this is a good case for those who say that all kids today are slackers.

                            For those who do not know, this contest was held in (and around) Vegas, when it was 110+ outside. These guys were dragging equipment up the side of a mountain to get this link. For those who would give these kids sh**, try dragging a 10ft dish(3.048 meters for you metric weenies) several hundred feet up a mountain, and then getting them aligned 55 miles apart, all in 110+f(43c) weather. There was no big 4x4's, they drove dads busted-a** minivan from Ohio for this. Sure, NASA could probably do better, but come'on, this was an amateur thing, and just something cool to do. No big prizes (they won like a couple-hundred bucks in Best Buy gift certs, and some gear).

                            If I had a had on, it would be off to these kids for some ingenuity and determination.
                            I'm in Ohio, and Miles are it... (Score:3, Funny)
                            by 192939495969798999 (58312) on Wednesday August 04, @08:58AM (#9877936)
                            Miles on the speedometer, miles on the road signs, and 55 mph is a common speed limit, so that 55 mile record means I could drive about an hour away and still get the signal, which in Ohio would be the complete middle of nowhere! Of course, in Ohio it doesn't even matter where you start from, if you drive for exactly one hour in the same direction at 55 mph you will be in the middle of nowhere.
                            200mW Engenius cards (Score:1, Interesting)
                            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, @09:29AM (#9878153)
                            They must have been using this card
                            http://keenansystems.com/store/engenius_senao_200m w_pcmcia_card_with_mmcx_connectors_2511-cd-plus-ex t2.htm [keenansystems.com]
                            Tropospheric ducting (Score:4, Informative)
                            by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday August 04, @09:58AM (#9878449)
                            When we start talking about setting and breaking distance records using any type of RF, atmospheric conditions will undoubtedly play a factor. A phenomenon known as Tropospheric Ducting [whsmithnet.co.uk] can redirect a short wavelength signal back down to earth, allowing further than line of sight communication.

                            While this would be great for setting communication record, it would not allow for long-term reliable communication.

                            Dan East
                            Partial sponsor (Score:5, Funny)
                            by Lawbeefaroni (246892) on Wednesday August 04, @10:02AM (#9878488)
                            From the article:
                            Wired magazine helped sponsor the contest.

                            What's the word? Irony? Misnomer?

                            Interesting Guys (Score:5, Informative)
                            by HoldenCaulfield (25660) on Wednesday August 04, @10:34AM (#9878795)
                            (Last Journal: Friday March 19, @09:40AM)
                            Being a former Cinci resident, I was a bit curious about these guys, and google-stalked them . . .

                            Looks like they all went to St. Xavier [jesuits-chi.org], a pretty well respected (in both athletics and academics) prep school.

                            Here's a picture [huddlestons.com] of Ben when he was a junior, winning a theater award for sound production.

                            Meng's got a website here [qsl.net] that's a bit outdated, but considering the projects were from his junior year in high school, rather impressive. Seems he was a HAM radio guy.

                            Running out of time, the first link I found for Justin Rigling was this link [aksteel.com]. One more connection to the guy, since I use to work for AK Steel. The little blurb about the scholarship does make him sound like a stereotypical geek (JETS, Science Olympiad, Robotics, Math, and Photography clubs, etc etc). A bit of a contrast to his sister [aksteel.com]. Not exactly what you'd expect from the son of a steelmaker . . .

                            Okay, enough being a stalker . . .
                              Satellite Dishes and FCC Rules (Score:1)
                              by wayward (770747) on Wednesday August 04, @11:05AM (#9879091)
                              Here's an article about using a surplus Primestar Dish to make an IEEE 802.11 wireless antenna http://www.wwc.edu/~frohro/Airport/Primestar/Prime star.html [wwc.edu]
                              Here's another one. http://www5.cs.cornell.edu/~eckstrom/802.11a/prime star/ [cornell.edu]

                              As the first article notes, there are some FCC rules about antenna use within the US. Would the Defcon product be within these limits? The Wired article didn't seem to say.
                              Anybody hacking lasers? (Score:3, Informative)
                              by WillWare (11935) on Wednesday August 04, @12:13PM (#9879850)
                              (http://willware.net:8080/ | Last Journal: Saturday June 12, @02:30AM)
                              The only reason to go for wifi distance records is to build an indie Ashcroft-proof internet. It should be possible to route IP packets over inexpensive laser pointers for pretty large distances. I'm not aware that much is being done with this. I found several instances of people doing RS-232 over laser, but very little about IP over laser.
                              Ham record is 82 mi (Score:2, Informative)
                              by wsanders (114993) on Wednesday August 04, @12:33PM (#9880089)
                              From QST magazine (http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2003/12/10/3/):

                              "Amateurs complete 82-mile two-way DSSS link on 2.4 GHz: ARRL High Speed Multimedia (HSMM) Working Group member Ken Cuddeback, NT7K, reports that his students at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, recently completed two-way direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) communication on 2.4 GHz over a distance of 82 miles. The WSU students--which include one ham, Brandon Checketts, KG4NZV, and several prospective licensees--broke the current world record of establishing a wireless link on 2.4 GHz with DSSS (using IEEE 802.11b "Wi-Fi" protocol). "Please join me in congratulating Ken and his students on this fantastic accomplishment!" said ARRL HSMM Working Group Chairman John Champa, K8OCL. Cuddeback says his students used PrimeStar dishes with unamplified Cisco Aironet 350 cards in each laptop. "We set up a NetMeeting session and transferred a 2.5 MB mp3 file successfully," he said. The Cisco Wi-Fi cards run about 100 mW."
                                Contest Info (Score:1)
                                by ASLRulz (696173) on Wednesday August 04, @05:59PM (#9883470)
                                All, check out http://www.wifi-shootout.com/home.html for the winning contest info (including GPS readings). We will be posting pictures soon.
                                  Re:A snippet (Score:5, Interesting)
                                  by agentforsythe (696066) <richard@ag e n t - s m i t h . net> on Wednesday August 04, @08:00AM (#9877561)
                                  "Then, when they established that record, they turned off their amplifiers and broke the record for an unamplified connection at the same distance."

                                  does that mean that the connection wasn't actually established unamplified... merely maintained?
                                  [ Parent ]
                                  • Re:A snippet by ack154 (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @08:07AM
                                      Re:A snippet (Score:5, Informative)
                                      by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday August 04, @08:12AM (#9877631)
                                      Because they didn't even max out the non-amplified distance. If you read the Slashdot blurb again it says They might have achieved an even greater distance, Justin Rigling said, "but there was no road left."

                                      [ Parent ]
                                      • Re:A snippet by ack154 (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @08:15AM
                                      • Re:A snippet by djcapelis (Score:3) Wednesday August 04, @08:12AM
                                        • Re:A snippet by 0x0d0a (Score:3) Wednesday August 04, @08:40AM
                                          • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
                                        • Re:A snippet by ASLRulz (Score:2) Wednesday August 04, @05:52PM
                                          • Re:A snippet by PAD-WiFi-Team (Score:1) Friday August 06, @03:20AM
                                            • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
                                            Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:2)
                                            by millahtime (710421) on Wednesday August 04, @08:02AM (#9877576)
                                            (http://millahtime.blogspot.com/ | Last Journal: Wednesday June 02, @11:20AM)
                                            I cant see why miles are used. Is it to make the achieved distance look longer?

                                            I would guess it's because it's a competition held in the US. If you told someone there how many feet, yards, or meters it was then most people wouldn't really get how far that distance really it.
                                            [ Parent ]
                                              Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:1)
                                              by kevmo (243736) on Wednesday August 04, @08:03AM (#9877578)
                                              It was in the United States. Miles were used for the same reason they are used on road signs and in cars - it is standard here right now, even if metrics is "better".
                                              [ Parent ]
                                              • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
                                              Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:1)
                                              by Marcus Green (34723) on Wednesday August 04, @08:05AM (#9877588)
                                              Apart from it being in the US where imperial (miles) is the standard. A mile is slightly longer than a kilometer therefore the number of miles is smaller than the same distance in Km.
                                              [ Parent ]
                                              Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:1, Insightful)
                                              by Aadomm (609333) on Wednesday August 04, @08:06AM (#9877591)
                                              But kilometres are smaller than miles so surely the distance seems shorter when displayed in miles. I think 55 miles is 88km. That said, I agree that it would make more sense to give the result in km. .
                                              [ Parent ]
                                                Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:2)
                                                by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Wednesday August 04, @08:19AM (#9877673)
                                                Actually, that would be worse than kilometers.

                                                1 mile = 1.609344 kilometers per Google.
                                                They really should have reported it as 440.8 furlongs.

                                                [ Parent ]
                                                Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:1, Funny)
                                                by nebulus4 (799015) on Wednesday August 04, @08:21AM (#9877686)
                                                1 mile = 1.609344 kilometers or for those of you who are into microelectronics it's 1609344000000 nanometers.
                                                [ Parent ]
                                                  Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:5, Interesting)
                                                  by markov_chain (202465) on Wednesday August 04, @09:12AM (#9878034)
                                                  I grew up in a metric society. I used to think metric units were superior until I lived in the US for a while, and found myself doing plenty of carpentry and DIY stuff where the most common units are inches and feet. I think the subdivision of a foot into 12 inches is fantastic; it allows one to easily divide dimensions into thirds, something that's a PITA in the metric world. In addition, the canonical subdivision of the inch into powers of 2 (1/2, 1/4, 1/8...) is convenient as well.

                                                  Regarding your point about doing without metric, note that virtually all building materials come in imperial sizes. There is no need to know metric units in that environment.
                                                  [ Parent ]
                                                  Re:It's a fraud... (Score:1, Funny)
                                                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, @10:05AM (#9878516)
                                                  not a fraud, just that you are stupid.

                                                  Read thre article instead of sounding like a turets victim spouting stupidity from your face.

                                                  Fresnel means nothing in directed DISH communications.. they had approximately 200db of gain at BOTH ENDS plus there was a tiny issue of BEING ON A FRICKING MOUNTIAN for the Z end.

                                                  wow, your immense stupidity is blinding... The stupidness field you are generating is destorying the minds that are around you.
                                                  [ Parent ]
                                                  • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
                                                  Re:It's a fraud... (Score:4, Informative)
                                                  by ASLRulz (696173) on Wednesday August 04, @10:58AM (#9879018)
                                                  As one of the judges, I can provide the GPS coordinates and you can use your favorite topo maps to determine if it is indeed possible. We will be putting up images and data on the contest page as well as www.adversarialsciencelab.net website sometime today.
                                                  [ Parent ]
                                                  Re:Metrics is a Milestone away (Score:1)
                                                  by dukeisgod (739214) on Wednesday August 04, @12:21PM (#9879959)
                                                  I cant see why miles are used. Is it to make the achieved distance look longer? What "looks longer" 55 miles or 88 kilometers?
                                                  [ Parent ]
                                                    Re:Ummm Come on Timothy read the article. (Score:1)
                                                    by carbolic (616993) on Wednesday August 04, @03:57PM (#9882158)
                                                    The link was amplified (600 mw) at that distance first, then they switched to unamplified (30 mw) and still maintained a connection.

                                                    Also, antennas do not amplify signals, the can only increase gain by shaping the beam pattern. The effect can be the same, though.

                                                    [ Parent ]
                                                    • 15 replies beneath your current threshold.
                                                    • HAIR TONICS, please!!
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