The Effect of the Material of the Physical Obstruction and Distance on the Strength and Speed of the Signal for the WiFi

Student: Joyce Xia
Table: 4
Experimentation location: Home
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No

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The Effect of the Material of the Physical Obstruction and Distance on the Strength and Speed of the Signal for the WiFi Abstract

WiFi, which stands for Wireless Fidelity, functions using the same mechanic as other wireless devices, using radio frequencies to send signals between devices. Different physical obstructions can affect the strength and speed of the WiFi signal. The Wireless route was blocked with different materials, such as metal, wood, drywall and glass. The purpose of this experiment is to determine what affects the transportation of WiFi signals the most or least. The metals affected the WiFi signal speed and strength the most and the router covered with nothing, wood, or plastic affected the WiFi signal the least. Distance from the router also affects the speed and strength. With longer distance to the router, the signal decreases. These experiments provided as good guideline on where to place your router at home.

The metals affected the WiFi signal speed and strength the most, the speed and strength decreasing consistently and achieving the lowest download rate of 1.44 mbps. The router covered with nothing, wood, or plastic affected the WiFi signal the least, with nothing reaching the most desirable WiFi attributes and the most consistent averages. The glass and porcelain affected the upload speed the most. Both achieved the lowest upload speed of 0.0 mbps. The fabric and thin metal resulted in the lowest signal strength, with fabric reaching -74 dbm and the thin metal reaching -71 dbm. The reason for metal affecting the signal is since metal is a conductor of electricity and magnetism, therefore it will absorb and interfere with the radio waves the WiFi emits. The reason for glass being able to affect the WiFi drastically is due to the fact glass is able to block and reflect the WiFi signal. Porcelain is a material that can weaken the WiFi as it travels through as well as block it from reaching the device. The WiFi was the most desirable with nothing blocking the router since there was no extra interference restricting the signal from easily reaching the device. The distance from the router also affected the speed and strength, having the majority of the lowest scores recorded at further distances. With a longer distance from the router, the signal decreases.

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Research Plan:


In this experiment, I will cover the router with a physical obstruction made of a specific material, and then measure the strength, speed, and ping from 12 and 24 feet away (horizontally), and 12 feet across and 12 feet above. The materials of the obstructions are wood, a thin metal, a thicker metal, glass, porcelain, drywall, foam, fabric (made of cotton), cardboard, and plastic. A test of the ping, speed and strength without any obstructions will be conducted as well.



  • Router (Mine was a Motorola, Model: MG7550)
  • Device with apps iWifi (to measure WiFi speed and ping) and Airport Utility (to measure WiFi strength)
  • Tape measure
  • Wooden boxes
  • Metal tin box
  • Metal pot
  • Glass cylinder
  • Box made of porcelain tiles
  • Box made of drywall
  • Foam box
  • Rug (made of cotton fabric)
  • Cardboard box
  • Plastic bin


Step 1: Gather all materials needed for the experiment.

Step 2: Place the router in the desired position and use a tape measure to find where you will be 12 feet across from, 24 feet across from, and 12 feet across and above from the router.

Step 3: Once you have your router and positions determined, prepare your physical obstructions to cover the router.

Step 4: Place the obstruction over the router and move to the determined location 12 feet away. Be sure to act carefully and not harm yourself when placing and moving the objects.

Step 5: Measure the ping, speed, and strength using the apps iWifi and Airport Utility. Using iWifi, select the network you want to measure and go on the speed section. Press start to measure the ping, the download speed, and the upload speed. When going on Airport Utility press the Wi-Fi Scan option and press scan. On the scan option it will then display multiple networks nearby and the information regarding them, which contains the strength (dbm).

Step 6: Repeat step 5 three times.

Step 7: Next, move to the position 24 feet away from the router. 

Step 8: Repeat step 5 three times again to determine the ping, speed, and strength from a distance of 24 feet.

Step 9: Move to the position located 12 feet from and 12 feet above the router.

Step 10: Once more, repeat step 5 three times to determine the ping, speed, and strength of the WiFi.

Step 11: Remove the obstruction off the router and prepare the next type of material to be tested.

Step 12: Repeat steps 4-11 until all types of obstacles have been tested and completed.

The data collected will be analyzed and compared to see the effects. Conclusions will drawn from the analysis.



Questions and Answers

1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it? 

       a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?  

       b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?


2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?

       a. For teams, describe what each member worked on.


3. What is new or novel about your project?

       a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?

       b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?

       c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?


4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?

      a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

      b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?


5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?


6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects? 


7. How did COVID-19 affect the completion of your project?