by January 6, 2004 0 comments



Setting up a basic wireless network for homes or small offices is quite simple, and doesn’t require as much planning as a large enterprise level would. That’s because both space and number of clients are limited in a home or small office. So you don’t have to worry too much about the RF coverage and bandwidth availability. In this article, we’ll show you how to setup a basic Wi-Fi network using one or two access points and a few cards. Plus, we’ll also talk about how to setup a wireless bridge using two access points. A bridge will let you connect two different LANs, and can be useful when you want to connect networks across two buildings.

What you need
To setup a basic wireless LAN, all you need is one or two APs/routers and wireless cards for the clients. Here, the AP would act as a LAN extender, ie it would basically extend your network’s access to wireless clients. The router on the other hand, will also have other built-in features. These would include a built-in switch, a print server and an Internet gateway. A router is best suited for small offices and homes. There are other wireless devices as well, such as wireless print servers and other Wi-Fi enabled equipment such as webcams, printers, etc. You may use them as per your requirement, but are not essential for the functioning of a
WLAN. 

Wireless
Equipments

We used the following wireless equipment for our story. All equipment was based on the 802.11b standard. 

D-Link Products:
Wireless Access Point DWL-900AP+ : Rs 8,500
AirPlus Wireless Adapters : DWL-520+ : Rs 4,600 / DWL-650+: Rs 4,200

Contact:
Digi Giga Systems, Mumbai. Tel: 56902210. E-mail: sales@dlink.co.in
Linksys Products: Wireless-B Broadband Router 2.4GHz – Model – BEFW11S4: Rs 4,700.
Wireless-B Notebook Adapter – Model- WPC11 V.4

Contact: Cisco Systems,
Mumbai. Tel: 26533430. 
E-mail: mjagdish@cisco.com

Place 
Find a suitable place to keep your AP. This should be a place where there are minimum obstructions and maximum coverage. It should also be close to a power source and an Ethernet port. In case you’re using a wireless router with a built-in switch, then it needs to be placed near your PCs.

Connect 
Plug in the power to the AP, and then connect it to your main network. In case of an AP, plug it into a vacant Ethernet port; and in case of a router, which has built-in Ethernet ports, connect your PCs to these ports. The router also has an Ethernet port for connecting to a WAN link, such as a DSL or ISDN connection. So, if you have an Internet connection, connect the router to it as well. 

Configure 
Open your Web browser and type the IP address of the AP or Router, which should be given in their manuals. You’ll get a configuration page. If it’s an AP, then you could also configure it as a bridge, a multi-point bridge, or even a repeater. Here, bridge is used to connect two or more networks, wherein you’ll need one AP for each network. To configure an AP as a wireless bridge, select the Wireless Bridge option and enter the MAC address of the other AP it’s going to bridge to. A repeater is basically used to extend the range of an AP. So, if you connect one AP to the network, then you can place another AP in a remote location without having to connect it to the network. It will basically extend the range of the first AP. If you’re using repeater mode, then make sure that all APs have the same SSID (Service Set Identifier) and the channel. 

If it’s a router, then you won’t get so many options, as it’s only meant for a small home network. You will get other options such as configuring the print server and Internet access. Plus, both AP and router will have a built-in DHCP server. Configure it as per your requirements. Note that if you already have a DHCP server on your existing network, then, don’t enable the one on the AP, or else it will cause interference. 

Connect Clients
There are various types of client adapters available, such as PCMCIA cards for laptops, PCI cards for desktops, and USB wireless cards for either one. There are also the Centrino-based laptops, which have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. We used the PCMCIA card. Plug it into your laptop and install the drivers. Some Wi-Fi cards require that you first install the drivers and then plug in the card. To configure the card, go to Start>Settings>Network Connections and select the wireless LAN connection and go to its properties. Here, select the wireless networks tab. If you are a new mobile user, it will find all available APs/routers in the area and show their SSIDs in the ‘Available networks’ section. 

It won’t distinguish between an AP or router, but will ask you to choose from the list of SSIDs. Choose your network and click the configure button to set the authentication mode. If you have implemented WEP security on the AP, then you need to tick the checkbox of the ‘Data encryption (WEP enabled)’ option and then fill in the WEP key in the two text boxes for ‘Network key’ and ‘Confirm network key’. If you don’t have WEP security enabled on the AP, then you can connect the mobile user directly to it. 

Anil Chopra and Sanjay Majumder

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