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When I leave the house carrying my iPhone, our Wi-Fi network stops being available, and the people left in the house have to restart one of the access points to get back online.

We're using two Airports Express, connected to each other using WDS. The Wi-Fi network is using WEP encryption. My iPhone is an iPhone 4. The Wi-Fi network has three Macs and one PC connected to it.

What specifically happens is that the SSID for the network stops appearing in the list of available networks. The 'WDS relay' Airport Express starts showing the orange light. Restarting this Airport Express is enough to bring the Wi-Fi network back up.

I was skeptical when I was told this was happening, but we've tested it, and it is a reproducible problem. Once I get a certain distance from the house, the Wi-Fi network dies. It's so weird that I'm at a loss as to how to diagnose the root problem, so hopefully someone here has some inspiration or has encountered something similar before.

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Have you tried reducing the transmit power of the "weak" express (or just determine by trial and error)? Often one of the devices can be reduced to just cover that one spot where you need a better boost. Let the deice that is closest to the center of your range be 100% - try the other at 25% and 50% and see if that helps. – bmike Sep 5 '11 at 21:41
Thanks for the tip. I experimented with the transmit powers on both devices, but unfortunately the problem seemed to remain. – chrismear Oct 28 '11 at 9:56
But a couple of weeks ago, the AE acting as a relay just failed entirely (wouldn't get past startup), so I now suspect the device has just been slowly failing for months. We replaced both of them with new (second-generation) Expresses, and now the whole network seems much more reliable. – chrismear Oct 28 '11 at 9:59

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