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Connecting to a Wireless AP via a USB Wireless Module

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Connecting to a Wireless AP via a USB Wireless Module

Old 02-10-03, 11:02 PM
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Connecting to a Wireless AP via a USB Wireless Module

Hi All,

I am connecting my workstation to my Wireless Access Point (DLink) via a couple different USB Wireless Modules.

I have tried the Siemens USB module and the Linksys USB module.

Oddly enough, using both devices, the PC will connect correctly and be able to surf the web, ping different websites, log on to instant messengers, but after about 15 min or so the connection will just drop. The signal rating when the PC is connected is always good to very good. I am running winxp sp1 on this machine.

It totally does not make sense to me since I am also using a IBM Thinkpad laptop w/ an Intel PCMCIA card and can obtain signal (signal rating : weak - good) and the connection stays as long as the laptop is turned on. I am running windows 2000 on this machine (upgrade is not an option here - it's the firms laptop).

Also, when the connection drops, I cannot disable and renable the wireless lan network. It says "cannot enable wireless lan". If I log out and relog in, the connection still does not work. If I do a ipconfig /release /renew it does not work either. I have to reboot the entire machine or pull out the USB module and reinsert the USB module.

Does anyone know why I keep dropping connection on my PC? It seems the signal is strong enough... I am not launching any programs or anything, mearly just staying online.

Your help is very much appreciated.

Thank you!

Last edited by MitzEclipse; 02-10-03 at 11:09 PM.
Old 02-11-03, 11:07 AM
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Anyone? Please? This is really annoying...
Old 02-11-03, 08:07 PM
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Shot in the dark...

Does the mobo on your workstation use either a VIA or SiS chipset? They have lots of known issues with USB drivers.
Old 02-12-03, 12:42 PM
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Bretski,

Thanks for the reply - I'm not sure. How would I tell? I have an Athlon 1100+ chip inside, fwiw.

Oh, and for some reason this same thing is happening on my Laptop (thinkpad T23) so it may not be Just the desktop...

I am totally confused as to why this is happening. The signal says it's good to very good to excellent at times. It can't be because of weak signal, can it?

Your suggestions are sincerely appreciated!
Old 02-12-03, 08:31 PM
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Does this apply to you?

SMC Support link

Authentication issues may be the root of your problem.
Old 02-13-03, 11:35 AM
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Bretski,

I really appreciate your help again -

I clicked on that SMC link, and for one, I am not using any SMC components in my setup (right now) I am using a DLink router/AP and an Intel and 3com pcmcia card and Siemens and Linksys USB wireless module.

My pc workstation has Windows XP SP1, however, the router is completely open - we are not using any authentication.

Also, my laptop is running Windows 2k.

Thanks again for your additional help.
Old 02-14-03, 12:39 PM
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Sorry, thought you said last week that you were using SMC gear.

Have you tried connecting the USB module to your laptop? Does the connection drop in this scenario as well?

You mentioned in your 1st post that the lappy was working fine, then mentioned in a later post that it's having problems as well...
Old 02-14-03, 03:51 PM
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Bretski,

Sorry for the inconsitancies. I have been switching between the SMC router and the Dlink to see the hardware difference in signal. Both result in the same failure - keep dropping connection.

If I hook the USB module up to the laptop, the same problem happens. It shows a "very good" to "excellent" signal connection and then just dies for no reason.

The laptop used to work well w/o any problems, but for some reason, it doesn't anymore

Thanks again.
Old 02-14-03, 09:56 PM
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Hmmm, what's changed since the laptop started having problems?

It's beginning to sound like there's an interference problem somewhere. What is your living arrangement? House, apartment? Someone using a cordless phone? Microwave oven?
Old 02-15-03, 03:23 PM
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bretski,

I honestly have no idea what has changed on my laptop - maybe the firm pushed software in the background while I wasn't looking or something , but that still doesn't make sense why I can connect, but just lose connection.

I live in an apartment (large). There are several AP's in site - I can see 3 - two are WEP encrypted, one is open. I can connect to the open one with out problems, but then I can't keep connection either.

I tested the connection with the microwave and my 900mhz spread spectrum cordless phoen - there is no corrilation with dropping the connection and using the phone or microwave.

I am thinking of getting a Lucent Orinocco Gold PCMCIA card w/ an antenna to get more range...do you think that would help? What antenna would you suggest? Line of sight antennas will not work in my case since the AP is not within sight.

Thank you!
Old 02-15-03, 07:23 PM
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I'm beginning to think it's really a distance problem... the closer I move the laptop to the AP, the longer I can hold on to the connection. It's too bad I can't keep my laptop in that area (it's the bathroom!)

Anyway, I have decided to scrap my pcmcia cards and buy the Lucent Orinoco Gold card. I am now trying to decide on an antenna to buy... Looking on the netstumbler forums and such for suggestions..

..Bretski, what do you use?

Regards
Old 02-15-03, 07:45 PM
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The 900MHz phone won't affect your connection--it's the 2.4GHz phones that cause problems. There's probably something else in your apartment that's causing interference; and the dropped connections.

As I mentioned before, I use the Orinoco gold cards. I do have the Orinoco external antenna, but don't need to use it at home. The antenna cost about $55, as I recall.

I would recommend trying the Orinoco gold on its own, and only get the external antenna if you need it.

Good luck, and let me know how it works out.
Old 02-16-03, 12:52 AM
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Bretski,

I'm definitely going to do that. I just ordered the Orinoco card online .. should be here in 3-5 business days.

I'm a little new to the "omni directional" and "db" antenna stuff - I'm assuming the greater DB rating, the more powerful the antenna range?
Old 02-22-03, 02:00 PM
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Bretski and anyone else interested:

I just got back into town. While I was gone, my roomate called me and said he was having problems establishing connection to the AP, from his room (The same room that did not have any problems previously). I told him I'd come back and test with my laptop since I can move it around to try to find a "sweet spot".

I finally received both my Lucent Orinoco Gold 802.11b card as well as the Lucent WaveLAN external antenna. I installed the drivers and loaded up Bongo - the softare that searches for APs. I could not see *ANY* networks from my room... nor could I see any from his room.

I actually had to move closer to the hallway (the AP is located directly below when standing in the hallway) to actually get a weak signal - AND THIS IS WITH BOTH THE ORINOCO GOLD CARD AND THE EXTERNAL ANTENNA!

It appears that something within the apartment building is interfereing within the connection... because it's a lot weaker then before.

Since the WaveLAN antenna didn't work, I'm thinking of making a more powerful antenna. What would you suggest?
Old 02-22-03, 09:28 PM
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Man, that sucks!!!!

Sounds more and more like an interference problem at this point. Is the access point under your control? Can it be moved to another place in the building?

You can always try the Pringles antenna...

As an aside, I just picked up a new wireless router and card (Netgear) to test them out. The deal was too good to pass up (only gonna cost me $35 for the router and the card after rebates). This was a pricematch of Compusa's ad @ Circuit City...

I am finding that the Netgear equipment works very well. I can put my laptop right next to the microwave oven, and although the signal does significantly degrade, I don't lose link.

Keep me up to date with your progress, and I'll do what I can to help.
Old 02-23-03, 03:00 AM
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Yeah, it totally sucks...

The AP is not really under my control, however, I do have verbal authorization that I can use it.

Re: the pringles antenna: Do you know any websites where I can learn *in laymans terms* on building this antenna? I REALLY want to build it, but I'm not a physics major and dont' really understand anything about waves, etc. I just wnat to build a really strong antenna with the best parts so that I could possibly connect to this AP.

Also, do you know any program that analyzes the signal strength / quality in more detail? Something more quantitative then "good" "very good" etc... I want to test the differences between just using the Orinocco Gold card by itself and with the WaveLAN antenna. I want to see how much of an improvement (if any) the antenna provides.

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!!!!
Old 02-23-03, 11:39 AM
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There is an excellent set of utilities that comes with the Orinoco card for analyzing signal strength and signal-to-noise ratios. You can do a good RF site survey with these utilities.

Inre the Pringles antenna, here are a couple good sites to learn how to build one:

salt and vinegar

mmmm...sour cream & onion

You can make or purchase a pigtail connector that will work with your Orinoco card to attach the homemade antennas.

Grab a six-pack(s) of your favorite brew to wash down the Pringles and have some fun building the antenna!
Old 02-23-03, 11:50 AM
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Do you have a 2.4 GHz cordless phone? That can interefere with the 802.11b wireless set up (it does in my house). If you don't have it, maybe your neighbor does?
Old 02-23-03, 11:41 PM
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Originally posted by bretski
There is an excellent set of utilities that comes with the Orinoco card for analyzing signal strength and signal-to-noise ratios. You can do a good RF site survey with these utilities.

Inre the Pringles antenna, here are a couple good sites to learn how to build one:

salt and vinegar

mmmm...sour cream & onion

You can make or purchase a pigtail connector that will work with your Orinoco card to attach the homemade antennas.

Grab a six-pack(s) of your favorite brew to wash down the Pringles and have some fun building the antenna!
Thanks for the links! It really looks like I'm going to have to devote a weekend to this project I don't have a dremel handy nor the other parts needed. It definitely sounds like fun though... it's too bad I keep travelling for work every week otherwise I'd have more time to set this up sooner. I'll definitely post back here when I get my homebrew'd antenna up.

Thansk again!
Old 02-23-03, 11:43 PM
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Originally posted by namja
Do you have a 2.4 GHz cordless phone? That can interefere with the 802.11b wireless set up (it does in my house). If you don't have it, maybe your neighbor does?
Nope, none of my roomates or myself are running a 2.4ghz phone. However, I'm not sure about the other people within my Apt. complex.

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