BOOT CAMP 458 (09/01/07)
Wireless Networking, part 4
Now we’ve got all of the theory out of the way
it is time to set up your home or small office wireless network. We’ll begin
with the easy part and that’s the wireless router. This has to be connected by
an Ethernet LAN cable to a PC, normally the one with the broadband Internet
connection, though you will still need to do this even if you are using a
combination modem/router or ‘home hub’, which operates independently of a PC.
The first job is to access the router’s
configuration menu and set your network’s ‘name’ or SSID Service Side
Identifier) and enable WEP or WPA encryption (see last week’s Boot Camp). If
you are installing a combi modem/router you should set up the broadband modem
first and make sure that you have a working connection to the Internet.
Virtually all wireless routers (and combi
devices) use what is effectively an online setup system. It is accessed through
your Internet browser and works just like website except the ‘pages’ you see
are generated by the router. The router will have its own ‘private’ network
address, usually something like: http:// 18.104.22.168; you will find this in
the setup section of the router’s instruction manual.
Enter the router’s address into the browser
press Return and in most cases the first thing you see is a Username and
Password request box. This will still be on the default setting (see your
router’s manual again) and it is usually something like ‘Admin’ and ‘1234’ etc.
Incidentally, you should change this to something less obvious at your earliest
opportunity otherwise anyone with access to your network will be able to tinker
with vital settings and quite possibly disable your security settings.
After the Password dialogue box you will see
what looks like a web page with various menu options. Refer to the setup manual
for any specialised instructions but normally all you have to do at this stage
is set the SSID, make sure the router is set to ‘Infrastructure’ mode.
Changing the SSID from the default name is
important because there is a very fair chance that someone else living close by
will have the same make of wireless router as yours and if you are both using
the same SSID it can cause connection problems, not to say confusion if you are
trying to log on to your own network.
Save the settings and exit the setup menu. If
you are happy that everything is working properly it is a good idea to reboot
the PC and router and check that your Internet connection is still live.
We are now ready to set up your first wireless
‘client’ PC and we’ll look at the two most common scenarios, which are a laptop
with a built-in wireless adaptor, or a laptop or desktop PC with a PCI adaptor,
wireless card or USB ‘dongle’ (see part 1)
Laptops with built-in adaptors usually come
with their own Wi-Fi configuration software pre-installed and it is best allow
it to set up the connection. With the wireless router or hub up and running
boot up the PC then check the System Tray (next to the clock) for the wireless
manager icon. Double click on it to open the configuration utility and it
should display the SSIDs and possibly the relative signal strengths of the
Wi-Fi networks within range of your PC, one of which should be yours.
The exact procedure varies but usually you
simply select your router’s SSID from the list and click the Connect button. A
few moments later a connection conformation message should appear. Open your
web browser and if all is well you will have Internet access.
In the second example begin by installing or
plugging in your adaptor or dongle and follow the prompts to install any
drivers and connection management software. After a reboot the adaptor should
be recognised by Windows and you can open the adaptor’s configuration utility
and follow the same procedure already outlined for laptops with built in Wi-Fi.
Incidentally, this is also the method used to log on to a wireless ‘hotspot’.
Windows has it’s own Wi-Fi management utilities (see this week’s Top Tip), but
in most cases it is safest to use the one that came with your PC or adaptor.
All that remains is to enable encryption and
we’ll be dealing with that next week, along with some basic troubleshooting
Next Week -- Wireless Networking, part 5
Area Network -- a computer network
Devices connected to local and wide-area networks (e.g. the
Internet) have a unique numeric address made up of four groups of three digits.
Addresses beginning 169, 172 and 198 are only used on local area networks and
are therefore ‘private’
Privacy/Wi-Fi Protected Access, wireless
networking encryption systems
Prior to the release of Service Pack 2 (SP2) configuring a
wireless connection in Windows XP was relatively straightforward but in an
effort to persuade users to enable encryption SP2 contains a number of
enhancements, including WPA support and a new Wireless Connection Setup Wizard.
Once a Wi-Fi adaptor has been installed clicking the Windows Wireless
Connection icon in the System Tray displays basic information including the
SSID and signal strength of the current connection. Clicking the View Wireless
Networks button may display a list of nearby networks. This utility can be used
instead of the one supplied with the adaptor (or the PC) but it may involve
enabling the Windows ‘Wireless Zero Configuration Service’. However, this can
lead to all sorts of problems so it is best avoided unless you know what you
are doing. For more information about SP2 Wireless security and enabling the
Zero Configuration Service see MS Knowledgebase articles 815485 and 871122
© R. Maybury 2006, 2712