Diary of a new garage – part 5

With winter on the way, one thing I really had to sort out was heating for the garage, especially on the summer house side. The insulation in the walls and ceiling is working well, but with outdoor temperatures dropping to single digits I really needed something to raise the temperature in the winter evenings.

I had looked at various wee fan heaters and oil heaters but nothing seemed quite right for the project. Then I happened to find a nice glass panel heater in the B&Q sale. It seemed to tick all of the boxes: not too thirsty (max 1kW); compact; wall mounted; silent… and best of all it’s digital!

It’s ideal for the summer house, just turn it on and it quickly heats the room to the chosen temperature — 12c to 19c takes about ten minutes — then it just maintains that temperature for as long as you’re out there. The loft insulation seems to be doing it’s job, as the heating element only comes on very occasionally once the room is up to temperature.

And now for the missing link… high-speed internet access!

Even though the garage is only a few meters from the house and approx 15m from the wi-fi antenna in the loft, the metal foil insulation used throughout the garage prevents a decent wi-fi signal from getting through. I’d occasionally manage to get a connection from my laptop, but it was flaky. And a connection from my iPhone… forget it!

I didn’t want to run a hard-wired Ethernet connection from the house, so I decided to set up a wi-fi repeater instead, taking the signal from outside the metallic cage and repeating it inside. I’m already running the dd-wrt custom firmware on my main router and had read good things about its Repeater Bridge mode for this kind of task. So, I decided to look for the cheapest dd-wrt compatible router I could find to act as the repeater.

I found an ex-display Buffalo AirStation WHR-G125 on ebuyer for 15 which was perfect for the task. Once it arrived I used tftp to flash it with the latest dd-wrt Mini Generic firmware from the dd-wrt site, then followed this tutorial to set it up in Repeater Bridge mode.

All that was left was to give it a permanent mounting place in the garage. The WHR-G125 doesn’t have any mounting holes as standard and I was reluctant to spend extra on the official wall mount, so I ended up strapping it onto the roof joists with a couple of zip ties. The result: the garage now has it’s own SSID which broadcasts a nice strong signal to any devices out there and gives me reliable wi-fi in the garage and elsewhere in the garden. 15 well spent I think.