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Summary:

Since the MacBook Pro (MBP) landed at Mobile Tech Manor I decided it was time to replace my old Linksys router and naturally I looked at the Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) from Apple.  Not only is the AEBS compatible with all the various WiFi flavors […]

Since the MacBook Pro (MBP) landed at Mobile Tech Manor I decided it was time to replace my old Linksys router and naturally I looked at the Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) from Apple.  Not only is the AEBS compatible with all the various WiFi flavors (a/b/g) in use in my house it also sports 802.11 draft N, the speedy new (non-standard so far) protocol that the MBP also supports.  So I picked one up and set it up to replace that old Linksys that has been getting flaky of late.  All is almost but not quite very happy at the Manor, read on to see how it’s going and maybe you can help me with a very strange problem.

Aebs

The setup of the AEBS was smooth as silk.  I just plugged the station into the cable modem and powered it on after installing the Airport Utility software on the MBP.  In just 30 seconds I ran the Utility and was able to set up my desired settings on the router WIRELESSLY from the MBP.  It’s the first WiFi router I’ve used that I could set up without having to make a wired connection first, a very nice touch from Apple.  Once the AEBS was configured the MBP connected up and I was enjoying those draft N speeds, very fast indeed and noticeably faster than the 802.11g I have been using.

Next it was on to connect all the various Windows devices on my network.  First up the Fujitsu P1610 running Vista Ultimate.  I connected the P1610 dock to the AEBS with a cable since it’s a few feet from the router and wired is always faster than wireless.  I configured the new network settings on the P1610 and I was cruising the web immediately.  Then I went to my wife’s HP tc1100 Tablet PC located upstairs (I miss that guy) running Vista Ultimate and configured it to work and bingo, it’s surfing the web too.  My wife is happy with the new router as she finds it much faster than the old one.  Cool, I’m batting 3 for 3.

My step-daughter’s old Windows XP desktop computer was next, and I ran into a bit of a snag with this one.  It was using an old USB WiFi device from Linksys and it couldn’t even see the new wireless network.  Uh oh, problem in paradise.  I ran up to WalMart, picked up a new Linksys draft N USB device (WalMart has everything) and all was well again.  It connected right up and is actually using draft N.  After getting the old desktop working I went to the Gateway M280 Tablet PC running Windows XP and set it up.  This only took about 3 minutes and now connects happily using 802.11g.  It’s apparent that the range of the AEBS is much farther than the old Linksys router with the PC located farthest from the router still showing 82% signal strength.

At this point I was feeling quite satisfied with the entire experience of installing the AEBS and getting all the PCs on my network connected, but it wasn’t long until a problem appeared that I still can’t totally get my head around.  The problem surprisingly is occurring on the P1610, which I use with both a wired and wireless connection, depending on whether the Tablet is docked or not.  Here’s what it’s doing to me and what I so far haven’t been able to figure out:

The P1610 sits in the dock charging each night and in the morning I pop it out of the dock which should switch it from wired connectivity (although it’s been in standby all night and not actually communicating with the router) to wireless.  This is where the problem sets in.  As soon as I go wireless first thing in the morning even though Vista says it’s connected fine to the router it is unable to get out to the web and shows limited connectivity.  I can plug it in wired and the connection successfully negotiates out to the web and all is fine.  If I leave it wired for 5 minutes or so and then disconnect the wire it usually (although not always) retains the web connection and I can use it wirelessly all day with no problems.  I put it back in the dock to charge overnight and the next morning the whole process starts over again.  It’s a strange problem and since it often maintains a good web connection after unplugging the direct wired connection it almost seems as if the problem is one of an inability to negotiate an IP address initially.  That’s all I can figure out since it usually will work fine as long as I make that wired connection to the router first.

A few times I’ve been able to successfully connect without wiring up directly by manually disconnecting from the router while wireless and establishing the connection again in Vista.  It doesn’t work very often but a few times it’s been able to get to the web wirelessly this way.  All in all it’s a bizarre problem and I’ve been unable to find a solution.  Anybody got any ideas?  I can sure use them as it’s a pain in the neck to get connected in the mornings on the P1610.  I should point out that all other computers on the network are still working flawlessly with the AEBS, I’ve even hung my Canon i70 printer directly on the router’s USB port and by installing the included Bonjour software on the Windows boxes everyone is able to print directly to the Canon wirelessly.  Nice.  :)

  1. Really? I setup Linksys units wirelessly all of the time. I just connect to the default open port and reconfigure it, my connection drops, I configure the wireless card on my laptop again and it works. Easy peasy.

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  2. Same here, maybe it was an older linksys router.

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  3. wonder if it is a ipv6 problem you have, do you also have the newest firmware update for the apple extreme n

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  4. There is a Vista issue with some access points, there are some threads in google groups. It seems tied to DHCP of all things..

    My Vista issue is wierder, my wife just got an HP with Vista and when she takes it to work she can’t see the work access point (WEP), we took in her old XP and it sees it fine. I should note that we see other access points, just not the work one.

    Very very strange.

    I did have issues with my MacBook on my really old netgear (WEP) so I upgraded to an airport express, just to show that there are wierdness all around.

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  5. bobm,

    Try on the Vista machine entering in the Access Point particulars then try connecting. It’s possible that work has the SSID turned off which is why she can’t see it on the vista machine, but can on the XP machine. Her work may have turned off the SSID after it’s initial launch of WiFi.

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  6. A friend and me each have a Linksys b/g (Rev1). Both of them when a bit flaky, and eventually stop working. The problem was the power supply/brick even if the front lights seemed to be OK. By replacing that, both Linksys are back and running perfectly.

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  7. I have a similar problem James. When I am in a Panera Bread using their free wi-fi, if I lock the laptop (Toshiba U205) using Windows Key + L many times when I wake it up, I get connectivity to the router, but no connectivity to the internet. The only thing in common I can see with your set-up is that this laptop also runs Vista. I also get this problem if I sleep the laptop and wake it back up… only fix I have found is to reboot. Tried everything in the wireless settings (repair, etc). No go. Reboot fixes it. Very weird.

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  8. Richard Mayrand Friday, April 20, 2007

    This happens to me when I use Maxthon or Firefox (my browser of choice for now) to connect to the web, after hibernating or stand-by. Besides re-starting the whole system, what works often is that I start IE7, who usually connects easily then I switch to my favorite browser and all is fine again.

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  9. For me I have that problem on my 802.11G usrobotics router. I’ve resorted to making a shortcut with ipconfig /renew on it. If I switch from wired to wireless etc and I just double click it and it’s good to go.

    Lately however i’ve been noticing that it still won’t connect to the internet. The router responds though when I type in the router IP. I have to fix this by logging into the router and renewing the IP that the router gets from the modem. Crazy eh.

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  10. Richard Chacon Friday, April 20, 2007

    James, are using the Atheros driver from Fujitsu? You might want to try the Thinkpad Ateros driver. I had a similar problem using my Macbook Pro with bootcamp. installed the Thinkpad driver, and i was able to fix the problem. It also gave me N draft speeds on the windows side.

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