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#232654 - 05/09/2004 05:14 Wireless networking problem
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12157
Loc: Sterling, VA
I'm a little concerned here. I built a computer for someone, and set them up with a wireless network. There is usually no trouble in doing this, but as usual, I believe XP is screwing it up.

Here's the setup. They have DSL, there's a Linksys WRT54G connected to the modem, then there's one floor and about one room that the signal has to go through in order to get to the kid's room where this computer is. The computer is equipped with a Linksys WMP54G PCI card.

Here's the problem: XP is reporting that there's simply an erratic signal. When I first set it up, the signal was at most 50% (or "good"), and would go down and up constantly and frequently disconnect. So, I tried moving the router a bit so it was about 4 feet closer and out from behind a printer and a monitor in terms of the signal's path to the PC. That improved the signal, but then a little later it went back to how it was before. So I downloaded the Sveasoft Satori Linux firmware upgrade for the router which opens up the signal strength option on the WRT54G. I boosted the signal about halfway to maximum. Nothing really changed. I then tried the maximum (84 I think) - still nothing! However, the wireless signal was not dropping anymore, so I didn't worry about it. A 50% signal won't hurt him.

Now I get an email again saying the signal drops out again. This is annoying for a kid who likes online gaming.

I'm sorry, but I tend to blame XP for something like this. I can't stand how XP insists on taking over the operation of wireless networking. I usually don't even install the software that came with the wireless NIC, since XP is going to try to take it over anyway, creating more problems.

Anyway, some other things that might be helpful are that he's running SP2, and yes, I checked to see what SSID it was thinking it was attached to, and it was the right one. The only other one in the area has WEP enabled, so it can't be trying to connect to that. I can't imagine it would anyway, when there's such a strong signal from the one downstairs.

Thanks for any help. I feel a little guilty since I set this all up, but it's just a strange thing.
_________________________
Matt

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#232655 - 05/09/2004 06:57 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
image
old hand

Registered: 28/04/2002
Posts: 770
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
secret is to NEVER use xp's wireless system. use the utility that came with the linksys drivers, if you're not already. but i must admit that it has inproved quite a bit since sp2.

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#232656 - 05/09/2004 07:07 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
Shonky
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/01/2002
Posts: 1973
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
From my experience with Netgear 802.11g stuff, 50% signal strength is absolute bare minimum - and in most cases unusable. At those levels it would always be dropping out. You need more like 60-70% before you attempt to properly use wireless.
_________________________
Christian
#40104192 120Gb (no longer in my E36 M3, won't fit the E46 M3)

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#232657 - 05/09/2004 12:31 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 14119
Loc: Canada
50% signal isn't enough for most things wireless.

Simple things to try:

(1) Since you're trying to communicate vertically, orient the antenna(s) horizontally instead of in their usual upright position.

(2) Try a different channel, if the software permits specifying one. Around here, our microwave oven wipes out two of the wifi channels, so I've just found one that it doesn't interfere with, and told the AP to use that one.

Cheers

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#232658 - 05/09/2004 12:56 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: mlord]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12157
Loc: Sterling, VA
Good suggestions.

The thing that's puzzling me is that the signal is constantly changing by such a large degree. Just this morning they called me to say that the signal supposedly cut out entirely.

Oh, and in XP SP2, where is the setting to tell Windows not to insist on total control of the wireless networking duties? I'll need it if I install the Linksys software.
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Matt

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#232659 - 05/09/2004 13:30 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31307
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
Oh, and in XP SP2, where is the setting to tell Windows not to insist on total control of the wireless networking duties?

Let me guess. Since it's XP, it's behind 20 levels of dialog boxes, after the 300th press of the "next" button, in the "Connectivity Wizard".
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#232660 - 05/09/2004 14:30 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: tfabris]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12157
Loc: Sterling, VA
lol! Most likely.
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Matt

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#232661 - 05/09/2004 15:21 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: tfabris]
BAKup
addict

Registered: 11/11/2001
Posts: 552
Loc: Houston, TX

Control Panel -> Network Connections
Wireless Networking Tab, uncheck "Use windows to configure my wireless network settings" Click OK, done.
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--Ben
78GB MkIIa, Dead tuner.

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#232662 - 05/09/2004 16:45 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: BAKup]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12157
Loc: Sterling, VA
Yeah, I found it. It was the same before SP2, but now you have to go through a screen or two before getting there, at least the way I went before.

I tried several different channels, and eventually found one that worked well and was getting around 65%.

Question: if a router is sitting on top of a monitor (which I told them specifically not to do), and it heats up a lot, can that cause problems? Probably a dumb question, but what the heck.

The problem was that even with the signal getting through, these people were having so much trouble with every other part of the network. The router kept losing the DSL connection, and the computer on the wireless connection could see the router, but claimed that there was no connection to the internet, even though the machine wired to the router was able to connect to everything.

Well, I got to a point where everything was working, and I got out ASAP. I pray that's the last time I have to see that network again.

I don't like DSL.
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Matt

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#232663 - 05/09/2004 17:48 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31307
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
Question: if a router is sitting on top of a monitor (which I told them specifically not to do), and it heats up a lot, can that cause problems?

Yes, absolutely, without question, it will cause problems. It could, in fact, be the source of your reported behavior.

I had a wireless router system at our company once, for a short time while we were split between two buildings. Everything worked fine during the morning hours and during cloudy days, but as soon as the sun came out and it got warm in the afternoons, like clockwork, the wireless connection would start acting up.

One of the routers was stored in an attic, you see, and the attic would heat up to about 110 degrees F. Moving the router into a normal room-temperature area solved the problem instantly.
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Tony Fabris

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#232664 - 05/09/2004 19:19 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
muzza
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 21/07/1999
Posts: 1765
Loc: Brisbane, Queensland, Australi...
Would getting directional antennae help the problem? having them so close to the noise ridden computer and monitor can't be helpful.
_________________________
-- Murray I What part of 'no' don't you understand? Is it the 'N', or the 'Zero'?

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#232665 - 05/09/2004 21:17 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'd highly suspect the Linksys router. I'm using my roomates WAP54g (same guts, minus a switch and a WAN port) and my Powerbook refuses to keep a constant connection outside of 12 feet. Even with the hacked firmware and the power set to the maximum (84), I still see drops. The DLink 802.11g router I had worked fine, as did the previous Airport Base Station from a while back. I've tried different channels, miscalenous tweaks I have seen on the internet, and nothing has given me a stable connection. Forcing B mode only helps a bit, but not much.

I swore off Linksys ages ago, and this base station reminds me why. Now to get a working DLink back, I loaned it to a friend and it got fried by lightning aparently.
_________________________
Tom

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#232666 - 05/09/2004 21:53 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: drakino]
tman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 24/12/2001
Posts: 5528
The WAP54G has more removed than just the switch and WAN port. It's got less flash and RAM than a WRT54G.

If you're steering clear of Linksys APs then you've got to keep away from most other APs as well. They're nearly all based on the same reference AP design by a company called CyberTan. The main differences between the various APs is the web interface, casing, antennas and possibly the flash & switch chip brand. The radio and CPU are always a Broadcom component.

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#232667 - 05/09/2004 23:01 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: tman]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
My hatred of Linksys goes way beyond this one access point. Lets see:

1. What kind of company releases the same model number NIC but with 6 different revisions, each requiring unique drivers. Oh, and the only way to tell the revision is to take it out and comapre it to pictures on the web site. Lastly, loading the wrong driver will blue screen Windows 2000.

2. The Wireless B Game adaptor. Supposed to be basicially an ethernet to wireless bridge for one device. I've had experience with multiple ones, and none would allow for downloads anywhere near the 802.11b real world preformance, nor would it hold a connection stable long enough to be useful. Caused me lots of grief trying to use it to bridge my grandparents wireless access into theirs, and also using it for a single system at home.

3. Another seperate linksys NIC causing so much problems between multiple switches that it brought my home network to a stand still. The replacement NIC did the same thing. This is when I should have learned I never trust Linksys, but there is more.

4. Linksys filewall router. My roomate has this, and I decided to just use it as a dumb 4 port switch in the front room. I logged in, disabled any firewall component, dhcp, etc. Two days later my ReplayTV complains it can't get on the network, and the problem is the Linksys device reset to defaults and started handing out DHCP addresses. To this day, my ReplayTV has not been stable on the network after being attacked to that Linksys device. I have no clue what caused it, and will be logging a ticket with whoever owns Replay these days.
_________________________
Tom

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#232668 - 05/09/2004 23:38 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: drakino]
gbeer
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/12/2000
Posts: 2665
Loc: Manteca, California
Quote:
1. What kind of company releases the same model number NIC but with 6 different revisions, each requiring unique drivers. Oh, and the only way to tell the revision is to take it out and comapre it to pictures on the web site. Lastly, loading the wrong driver will blue screen Windows 2000.



I've alway found that comparing FCC ID's to be better than using model numbers. Works on all brands. The FCC is a bit picky that way. Bless their opressive little hearts.
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Glenn

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#232669 - 06/09/2004 03:43 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: drakino]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12157
Loc: Sterling, VA
I, on the other hand, have had mostly success with Linksys products. In my own home they work fine, from the router to the USB adapter on my machine to the wireless bridge on my [email protected] media streamer, they work in harmony with each other

I was simply stumped as to what was going wrong with these people's network. First off, they have DSL, and I'm sorry, but you're automatically starting out with more hassle than cable. Why even have a login and password for a connection that you're always going to want to have on? Then add the whole thing with placing the router on top of the monitor, which I specifically told them not to do (hell, the DSL modem caused enough heat, and I told them not to put it with that either). I guess it's not so suprising.

Quote:
Would getting directional antennae help the problem?

I suppose it might, but the setup in my house doesn't seem to have that problem, and I have a greater distance than they did.

Oh well. I put the thing on channel 9, maxed it out to 84. and put the router somewhere cooler. With any luck they won't need me again.

Oh, and I shared with them the number one tip that they should know: if it doesn't work. unplug, count to 20, replug
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Matt

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#232670 - 06/09/2004 05:32 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: Dignan]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
FYI, not all DSL connections have a username and password. That's just poor design.
_________________________
Bitt Faulk

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#232671 - 08/09/2004 05:28 Re: Wireless networking problem [Re: drakino]
adavidw
addict

Registered: 10/11/2000
Posts: 497
Loc: Tucson, AZ USA
Quote:
What kind of company releases the same model number NIC but with 6 different revisions, each requiring unique drivers. Oh, and the only way to tell the revision is to take it out and comapre it to pictures on the web site.


I've seen this problem with Linksys, but also with the SMC 7004WBR, and the Netgear MR814. And that's without looking too hard. In fact, the Linksys, SMC and Netgear are the only three wireless routers I've ever owned, and with all three I've had problems with trying to determine which ACTUAL model I have.

Can anyone name a wireless company that actually *will* consistently rev the model number when they change the guts?
_________________________
-Aaron

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