First of all, thanks and congratulations on all the effort you put in here, I've found tones of information that helped me get started in this whole new area to me. The reason I signed up is to share my experience (and hear your thoughts about it) with the all-promising Alfa AWUS036H usb wlan adapter. After lots of research online I found that this is the best bargain out there for us errr... wi-fi enthusiasts.
Indeed, after receiving my AWUS036H, bundled with a second "9" dbi omni, I plugged it in and I could immediately see a couple of AP's more in the airodump. Also the signal would fly high (+6 up to +10) compared to my laptop's built in bcm43xx adapter which put a big smile on my face. After removing the "default" 5 dbi omni and connected the bigger 9dbi omni the signal instead of increasing it dropped down. I said ok, bad quality omni, so from thereon I continued using the 5 dbi omni (which kinda removed the initial smile from my face).
When testing with my AP, all the aircrack suite worked like a charm, but then again, so it did on my old bcm43xx. so i decided to push it a bit further. From a greater distance I was able to crack my AP fine but oddly enough, I couldn't connect to it! However the signal report was around -70. At that signal level I for sure could connect with my bcm43xx!
Then another observation came along. After starting airodump on alfa, I started a wifi station nearby (between my AP and my main laptop) and launched an mp3 streaming app on it. I realized that airodump was reporting very few packets coming in.
Immediately I started airodump on my bcm43xx at the same time in order to compare the results and I realized that my poor bcm43xx was reporting packets at a steady faster pace. Also, bcm43xx was reporting beacons like crazy!
in fact, after launching airodump on both cards at the same time, after 8 mins the results were something like this:
Station Packets: 743
Station Packets: 1341
(the results were analogous with other BSSIDs they happened to detect)
Funny thing is that at the same time my BCM43XX was reporting an additional station (some neighbor's) but the "mighty" Alfa didn't even notice it. It looks like Alfa goes crazy about AP's but doesn't really like stations.
I should mention that my tests were done on both Ubuntu 9.10 and BT4 and I got the same results. I also tried different settings for the alfa, like changing the txpower setting from 20 up to 30, changing the rate and many other configurations but still got the same results.
After reading in many forums I found out that many users had similar problems. In particular, many believe that Alfa is in fact reporting higher signals from what it actually perceives. Many also reported that Alfa is having a trouble maintaining a connection (that sounded weird... )
What do you guys think?
I would love to here your opinions, especially from anyone who disagrees (so that I can ask him/her how on earth he/she configured it in order to give better results)
Also, what alternatives would you suggest to this (from what I've seen so far) over-hyped wlan adapter?
Thanks and sorry for the long post