Creating A Wireless Network

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by The_Man, Jun 23, 2005.

  1. The_Man macrumors 6502

    The_Man

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2005
    #1
    What is the cheapest and most effective way to create a wireless network throughout a house? I know a little about computers, but when it comes to "wireless internet" i have no clue.
    So if anyone can give any ideas or suggestions on what to do, it would be appreaciated.

    (also sorry if this has already been answered on another thread, I searched, but couldnt find my answer.)
     
  2. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    #2
    Wireless router/AP

    Buy a linksys WRT54G and RTM, then read the help topics on configuring wireless network connections.
     
  3. The_Man thread starter macrumors 6502

    The_Man

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  4. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    #4
    RTM=Read the manual

    RTFM=Read the f***in manual - usually a response to a silly or completely obvious question
     
  5. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #5
    I'm afraid that "cheapest" and "most effective", which I here understand to be "the easiest", are often mutually exclusive.

    If you want cheap: Go for the Linksys.

    If you want easy: Get an Airport Express.

    The AE will cost you a bit more but should be a lot easier to set up for someone not having a clue of wireless networks. ;)

    For security: Use WPA encryption with a long non-dictionary password (to avoid others reading your traffic), disable SSID broadcasting (to hide your network from average users) and enable MAC filtering (to allow just your computer(s) access).
     
  6. The_Man thread starter macrumors 6502

    The_Man

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    Jun 10, 2005
    #6
    Alright, I looked at both the linksys and the airport express and it looks like the AE is easier to use/set up and it comes with airtunes. The linksys looks complicated but also less than half the price.
    Can anyone give me an idea on how complicated it is to use the linksys wrt54g and set it up?

    Also, with the both products, why can you do to make sure that only you can use the wireless connection.
    What exactly is WPA encryption and does Mac filtering allow only Macs or only your Mac.

    Thanks
     
  7. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #7
    There are two standard encryption methods for wireless networks: The original WEP encryption, that due to several errors was very easily broken, and the replacement WPA (WiFi Protected Access) which is not (totally) broken, yet. Just keep your password long and without any dictionary words.

    MAC (Media Access Control) filtering has nothing to do with Macs, but is a way to only allow certain computers (Macs or PCs) to access your network, based on their MAC address, a unique identifier found on all network devices, like your wireless network card (i.e. Airport card).
     
  8. The_Man thread starter macrumors 6502

    The_Man

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    Jun 10, 2005
    #8
    How difficult is it to set up a linksys WRT54G?

    Also, if I buy airport express will I be able to connect my desktop computer to the internet (using the basic ethernet cable) and still broadcast the wireless signal?
     
  9. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    #9
    It can be as difficult as you want it to be. Just kidding! :) If you read the manual properly and are somewhat proficient in using computers, you should be fine with it. Although I would have to say that configuring wireless on a Mac is far simpler than doing it on Windows. On the same count, I presume setting up an Apple wireless router (like the Airport Express or Airport Extreme) would be even more simpler than setting up other routers. :)

    As others have already indicated here before, be sure to setup:
    1. WPA encryption with a long password (or passphrase, as it's called). Don't confuse this with WEP, which is a weak encryption that's easy to break.
    2. MAC address filtering to restrict the router to allow only the computers you designate as allowed (as mentioned in another post, this has nothing to do with PCs or Macs - it is the hardware address of your network interface card, which is unique across the whole world). In your case, you would enter the MAC addresses of the computers you're going to connect to the wireless router.
    3. Disable SSID broadcast - this would "hide" the name of your network from average users who're looking at wardriving and sapping your connection for free use.

    Do not neglect encryption!!! Without encryption, you might probably be better off broadcasting your display and all your keystrokes over a huge screen in front of the whole country. :D

    After you finish setting up these things, you may also have to "open up ports" depending on what Internet applications you use the router with. By default, the routers come with an internal firewall enabled that block most of the "ports".

    Not with the Airport Express - it has only one ethernet port that would have to be connected to the cable modem or the DSL modem. With other routers, like the Linksys WRTG54, you would be able to connect 4 computers to the router through ethernet cables, one cable modem or DSL modem for obtaining the Internet connection, and some more computers over wireless - all the computers would share the same Internet connection.

    The Airport Extreme, which is a lot more expensive, allows connecting computers to it over an ethernet port in addition to the wireless connections that you can enable for multiple connections.
     
  10. osprey76 macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    #10
    I have not setup any of the Linksys wireless routers, but the wired ones are quite simple with their web browser interface. One thing to keep in mind is that Linksys does not officially support Macs. D-Link does support Macs and should be of similar quality and use as the Linksys.

    The Airport Express only has one Ethernet port. This would be used for the connection coming in, but that's all. There are a couple of ways to get around this:

    1. Pick up an Airport Extreme Base Station. It has two Ethernet ports. One for your DSL/Cable modem and one for your computer(s).

    2. If you already have a wired router with multiple ports (i.e. a Linksys or similar wired router), you leave that in place connected by wire to your desktop machine. Then, you connect the Airport Express to another port on that router. The router handles your wired connections and your Airport Express handles the wireless ones.

    That is one advantage of the non-Apple wireless routers. They tend to have multiple wired connections along with the wireless. Even with the Airport Extreme Base Station, you need a switch to serve more than one wired computer.

    To Apple's advantage, they have a very easy to use setup assistant and the Airport Admin is simple yet gives you a lot of options. Also, the Apple gear uses a higher quality chipset for the wireless part of the device. That is, you should get better range and throughput on the Apple gear at the outer edges of their range. This may or may not matter depending on the size of your house.
     
  11. The_Man thread starter macrumors 6502

    The_Man

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    Jun 10, 2005
    #11
    I checked, and my wired router thing (comcast) only has one port. So is it possible for me to just get a splitter so it will act just like two ports?
    Also, will that decrease the performance?



    Thanks
     
  12. sie0174@gmail.c macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    #12
    that comcast "router thing" is your cable modem, not a router. you need a router to be able to share your connection with several computers. it would look like this:

    Wall Jack --> Cable Modem --> Router --> Computers

    Go with the Linksys, its fairly easy to set up.
     
  13. efoto macrumors 68030

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    Nov 16, 2004
    Location:
    Cloud 9 (-6)
    #13
    I'll throw in a vote for Netgear which I haven't seen mentioned here yet. I think they have competitive prices, sometimes lower than Linksys, and they make a great product. I have been using them since the FA311 PCI network cards back in the first PC I brewed up in my basement. I have their wireless b/g router (I think the WGR614??) that I use with Comcast cable internet and it works well.

    No matter what you get, the above 'diagram' of connection order should be the same.
     
  14. The_Man thread starter macrumors 6502

    The_Man

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    Jun 10, 2005
    #14
    Can anyone give me an idea of how complicated it is to find the wireless network on a Mac. Does it take a lot of changed setting and things to find and connect, or will my Mac pick it up without a lot of hassle.

    Also, what kind of range do you get with the Linksys WRT54G Wireless Router?
     
  15. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    USA
    #15
    There shouldn't be any worries on that front. The Mac will pick up whatever you tell it to pick up. :) As I said earlier, configuring wireless on a Mac is far simpler than configuring it on Windows.

    That depends on your whole setup - nobody can guarantee a particular range. A lot of factors come into play - "line of sight" visibility from wireless router to computer, physical obstacles between the wireless router and the computer, presence of a microwave or cordless phone (in the same frequency range, which is 2.4GHz for the 802.11g networks that are called as 54G), presence of other wireless networks around you using the same channel (or channels close to what you use) etc.

    Since people usually don't have as much flexibility in moving to a different house or apartment just to have a good wireless connection with a long range, playing with the other factors would be the only way to know (and possibly enhance) the range. If range seems to be a problem after tweaking the factors mentioned above, then you could buy an "extender" or "booster" to raise the signal levels.

    Once you go wireless, you may find that life's not as simple as it seemed it would be. :)
     
  16. eyedoc_00 macrumors regular

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    Jun 25, 2005
    #16
    How and where do you go to disable SSID and enable MAC Filtering?

    Thank you, I am new to MAC's and networking computers.
     
  17. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    Bay Area, CA
    #17
    You do it in your router's configuration. It all depends on which router you have, but every one I've ever seen has come with a manual, and failing that, easy labels like "Wireless Security" to get to those options.

    How is your network set up? Are you using Airport base stations or a router? We'll be able to help once you give us enough information.
     
  18. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    #18
    It depends on the router you're using. Check the manual - it should have detailed information about these things. I'll provide some basic information that might help, but you will need the manual by your side to check on some specifics. I presume you have already setup your wireless network.

    The SSID broadcast disable and the MAC address filtering are settings that are done on the wireless router (through your computer, of course).

    The way wireless routers are commonly configured or administered is using a web based interface, which means all that you need is to open your web browser. When you're connected to the wireless network, open the web browser, then type the address http://192.168.2.1 in the location/address bar. This will bring the main configuration page for your wireless router. You would have to login on that web page to change the settings (check the manual again for login/password information if you haven't set it up). Note that the IP address I mentioned above (192.168.2.1) is usually the default for most wireless routers - it could be different in your case - check the manual.

    SSID - this is the name of your wireless network (like "home" or "mynetwork" or anything else that you prefer to call it). Once you login, look for a check box setting that says something like "Broadcast SSID" (checked or clear, meaning "yes" or "no"). Disable it and save your settings. This setting might usually be in the "security settings" section.

    MAC address filtering is done to explicitly allow one or more computers to connect to the network. All other computers would be prohibited from making a connection. In your case, you would first have to find out the (unique) MAC address of your wireless network interface on your Mac -
    * go to the Apple menu, then to 'System Preferences' (or type 'System Preferences' in spotlight, if using Tiger, and proceed to the correct link)
    * click on 'Network' - this will take you to the network configuration for your computer
    * select 'Airport' to look at the wireless card configuration
    * note down the exact string that follows "Airport ID" - it might be something like 11:23:43:e3:f4:23 - note down this series of 6 pairs of characters without the colons - so in this example, the MAC address of the Airport interface is 112343e3f423
    * Go back to the web browser where you've opened your wireless router configuration, go to the security section and look for 'MAC address filtering'
    * Now enable MAC address filtering by checking the check box, and then choose "Add" to add the MAC address noted above to the list
    * Save your settings on the wireless router ('Apply Change' or whatever your interface shows)

    You have to be careful while enabling MAC address filtering - if you enter incorrect details and enable it, you will not be able to connect unless you correct the settings - the only way out (if you have only one computer) would be to physically connect your computer to the wireless router through ethernet, go back to the wireless configuration through the web browser and correct it.

    That's it! You're all set! :)
     
  19. eyedoc_00 macrumors regular

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    Jun 25, 2005
    #19
    I have DSL connected with the Airport Extreme Basestation. My PC is conntected via Ethernet, and my Imac is wireless.
     
  20. tara18 macrumors newbie

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    Jun 25, 2005
    #20
    So just to make sure, even if I have a Windows desktop computer plugged into the router I can get the wireless connection for the Mac at the same time, right?
     
  21. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    #21
    Yes, you should be able to do that.
     
  22. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #22
    Then all you need to do is launch the Airport Admin utility from the Applications\Utilities folder on your iMac. It will give you several options, including switching to "access control" mode, which will allow only the MAC addresses you specify onto your network. Disabling the SSID broadcast (hiding the network name) should be in there somewhere too, called activating a "Closed Network." You must then manually type in the SSID when joining or returning to your network, though, if you do that.

    But disabling the broadcast is unnecessary and involves an extra step every time you lose the connection. It doesn't make your network more secure, because it doesn't actually hide your network. It just keeps the name from showing up in a list of "networks in range." If you've restricted your network to MAC addresses only and have it encrypted, then you're set.
     
  23. eyedoc_00 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2005
    #23
    Thank you for your help. So if I understand you correctly, all I should do is the MAC address filtering? How do I find the address from my PC so that only the PC and MAC can access my network? I think wiseguy27 gave the info on how to find the MAC's address.

    A question regarding DSL performance. Mine seems to be sluggish. In the Airport Admin Application, when I click a section called wireless options, it asks about the multitask rate and interference robustness. The multitask rate is set at 2. The options are 1, 2, 5.5, and 11. Would changing this help speed up the performance? Would enabling interference robustness increase performance? My Imac is in our great room which is attached to the kitchen which has a microwave and wireless telephone.
     
  24. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #24

    Well, first off, Mac and MAC are two different things. Your Mac is a computer, its MAC is an address. The PC has a MAC, too. Multitask rate must be some strange Apple term for something else, but I have no idea what it means. Look in the Airport manual, I guess. Interference robustness won't improve performance unless you have a lot of wireless devices in your house that might be making a noisy signal. If your DSL is still slow if you connect via the ethernet cable, then you have a different problem.

    To get your MAC address on a PC, click Start, then Run.

    Type "cmd" (without the quotes) and hit enter. At the prompt, type "ipconfig /all" (again, no quotes). Enter again. Look for your wireless interface and find its hardware address. It will be 12 alphanumeric characters separated either by dashes or colons.
     
  25. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040

    dornoforpyros

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    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #25
    cheapest, install airport card. Search for local open networks. Connect to said networks, enjoy :D
     

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