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Wireless Home Networking For Dummies - Danny Briere.pdf
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Chapter 6: Installing Wireless Access Points in Windows 107

Setting Up the Access Point

Before you install and set up a wireless network interface adapter in one of your computers, you should first set up the wireless access point (also sometimes called a base station) that will facilitate communication between the various wireless devices in your network. In this section, we describe how to set up a typical AP.

Preparing to install a wireless AP

The procedure for installing and configuring most wireless APs is similar from one manufacturer to the next . . . but not exactly the same. You’re most likely to be successful if you locate the documentation for the AP that you have chosen and follow its installation and configuration instructions carefully.

Because having a network makes it easy to share an Internet connection, the best time to set up the AP for that purpose is during initial setup (but we give you the details for setting up Internet sharing in Chapter 9). In terms of setting up a shared Internet connection, you’ll already have a wired computer on your broadband (cable or digital subscriber line [DSL]) or dialup Internet connection. This is very helpful as a starting place for most AP

installations because most of the information that you need to set up your AP is already available on your computer. If you don’t have a wired computer on your Internet connection — that is, this is the first computer that you’re connecting — first collect any information (special log-in information, such as username or password) that your Internet service provider (ISP) has given you regarding using its services.

Ensure that your computer has a standard wired Ethernet connection.

Most AP configurations require wired access for their initial setup. An Ethernet port is normally found on the back of your computer; this port looks like a typical telephone jack, only a little bit wider. If you don’t have an Ethernet adapter, you should buy one and install it in your computer. Alternatively, if your computer does have a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port (preferably USB 2.0, also known as USB High Speed), you can purchase an AP that connects to the USB port.

Collect your ISP’s network information. You need to know the following. If you don’t already know this stuff, ask the tech support folks at your ISP.

Your Internet protocol (IP) address: This is the equivalent of your network’s phone number. Your IP address identifies your network on the Internet and enables communications.

108 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Your gateway address: This is the IP address of the networking device that connects the devices attached to your home network to the Internet.

Your subnet mask: Your local area network (LAN) — your home network — uses this to define the location of the computers within the network and allows them to connect to Internet.

Your Domain Name System (DNS) server: This is a special computer within your ISP’s network that translates IP addresses into host names. Host names are the (relatively) plain English names for computers attached to the Internet. For example, the wiley.com part of www.wiley.com is the host name of the Web server computers of our publisher.

Whether your ISP is delivering all this to you via Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP): In almost all cases, the Internet service that you get at home uses DHCP, which means that a server (or computer) at your ISP’s network center automatically provides all the information listed in the bullets above, without you needing to enter anything manually. It’s a great thing!

Collect the physical address of the network card used in your computer only if you are already connected. Many ISPs use the physical address as a security check to ensure that the computer connecting to its network is the one paying for the service. Many of the AP and Internet access devices available today permit you to change their physical address (Media Access Control [MAC] address) to match the physical address of your existing network card, eliminating the need for you to get your service provider to adjust your account — or in many cases, charge you more.

Installing the AP

If you’re connecting your first computer with your ISP, the ISP should have supplied you with all the information that we list in the preceding section except for the physical address of the network card (which isn’t needed if you aren’t already connected).

Before you install your wireless gear, buy a 100-foot Ethernet cable. If you are installing your AP at a distance farther than that away from your router or Internet-sharing PC, you might get a longer cable. Trust us . . . this is one of those things that comes with having done this a lot. You need a wired backup to your system to test devices and debug problems. And to do that (unless you want to keep moving your gear around, which we don’t recommend), you need a long cable. Or two. Anyone with a home network should have extra cables,

Chapter 6: Installing Wireless Access Points in Windows 109

just like you have electrical extension cords around the house. You can get good quality 100-foot cables online at RadioShack (www.radioshack.com) or Fry’s (www.frys.com) for around $25.

1.Gather the necessary information for installing the AP (see the preceding list).

If you’re using Windows 95/98/Me, do the following:

a.Choose Start Run, type winipcfg in the Run dialog box that appears, and then click OK.

This brings up the Windows IP configuration tool.

b.Select the network adapter that you are connecting to your physical network and then click the More Info button.

c.Copy all the networking information from the screen and save it for later use in configuring the AP in Step 4.

The information that you need to know includes the physical address, IP address, default gateway, subnet mask, DNS server(s), and whether DHCP is enabled.

Note that if your network adapter has more than one DNS server assigned, you will see a square button with three dots on it to the right of the DNS servers box. Clicking this button will cycle through the available DNS servers that you have access to. In most cases, you will have at least two.

If you’re using Windows NT/2000/XP, do the following:

a.Choose Start Programs Accessories Command Prompt.

This will bring up the command prompt window that’s similar to a DOS screen.

b.Type IPCONFIG /ALL and then press Enter.

The information that you receive will scroll down the screen. Use the scroll bar to slide up to the top and write down the networking information that we listed earlier (physical address, IP address, default gateway, subnet mask, DNS server(s), and whether DHCP is enabled). You will use this information to configure the AP in Step 4.

2.Run the setup software that accompanies the AP or device containing your AP like a wireless or Internet gateway.

The software will probably start when you insert its CD-ROM into the CD drive. In many cases, this software will detect your Internet settings, which makes it much easier to configure the AP for Internet sharing and to configure the first computer on the network. For example, Figure 6-1 shows the Microsoft Broadband Networking Setup utility that accompanies the Microsoft Wireless Base Station, which is a wireless gateway from Microsoft.

110 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Figure 6-1:






3.When prompted by the setup software to connect the AP (see Figure 6-2), unplug the network cable that connects the broadband

modem to your computer from the computer’s Ethernet port and plug this cable into the Ethernet port that’s marked WAN or Modem on your network’s cable/DSL router or Internet gateway.

If you’re using an Internet or wireless gateway, run a Cat 5e cable from one of its Ethernet ports to the computer on which you are running the setup software. (Cat 5e cable is a standard Ethernet cable or patch cord with what look like oversized phone jacks on each end. You can pick one up at any computer store or RadioShack.)

If you’re not, you need to connect a Cat 5e cable between the AP and one of the router’s Ethernet ports and then connect another cable from another one of the router’s Ethernet ports to the computer on which you are running the setup software.

4.Complete the installation of the setup software and when prompted, enter the information that you collected in Step 1 (so have that information handy).

5.Record the following access point parameters.

The following list covers AP parameters that you will most often encounter and need to configure, but it is not comprehensive. (Read more about them in the following section, “Configuring AP parameters.”) You will need this information if you plan to follow the steps on modifying AP configuration, which we cover in the later section, “Changing the AP Configuration.” (What did you expect that section to be called?) Other settings that you probably don’t need to change include the transmission rate (which normally adjusts automatically to give the best throughput), RTS/CTS protocol settings, the beacon interval, and the fragmentation threshold.