Setup Wireless LAN Adapters

As described earlier, wireless LAN adapters are available for both mobile devices and desktop computers. Typically, PC Card and CF devices are used in the mobile devices, whereas PCI devices are used in the desktop computers.

In either case, wireless LAN equipment are shipped in sealed boxes containing the wireless LAN adapter in an electrostatic−proof bag, the installation manual, and the software drivers. In this tutorial, we discuss how to install wireless LAN adapters in both mobile devices and desktop computers.

Installing PC Card Wireless LAN Adapter in a Laptop or Notebook Computer

Most new laptops and notebook computers come with PC Card slots. These slots enable you to extend the functionality of your computer by attaching peripherals to it. Many such computers come with two PC Card slots.

You will need to use one of these slots to use the wireless LAN adapter in your computer. Normally, PC Card slots are located on the sides of a notebook or laptop computer as shown in Figure 1.

Follow the steps below when installing a PC Card wireless LAN adapter in a notebook computer with PC Card slot.

  1. Locate an empty PC Card slot (a slot that does not have a PC Card device already installed). As mentioned earlier, these slots are located on the side of most notebook computers.

If you cannot locate them, you should contact your notebook manufacturer. If you successfully locate them, but you find that all available slots (each laptop normally contains one or two PC Card slots) are already taken by other devices.

For example a modem or a wired LAN adapter, you will have to remove one of the adapters and replace it with the wireless LAN adapter.

If you are successful in locating an empty PC Card slot, you are in luck and you should move on to the next step; otherwise, you might have to reconsider using a wireless LAN adapter with your computer.

  1. Power down and disconnect any power cables to your notebook computer before you place the wireless LAN adapter in your computer.
  1. PC Cards normally have direction signs printed on them (as arrows). You should insert the PC Card with the side that has the direction printed on it aligned with the top of the computer. The process of inserting a PC Card wireless LAN adapter is shown in Figure 1.

Installing a CF Wireless LAN Adapter in a PDA

The steps involving the installation of a CF wireless LAN adapter in a PDA are very similar to those of installing a PC Card. The process normally involves sliding the CF adapter into a PDA in correct alignment, with the PDA powered down.

If you are interested in using a CF card with a notebook computer, you will need to purchase a CF jacket or CF adapter for PC Card card. CF jackets are available at computer hardware stores and look almost like the PC Card cards.

To install the CF−based adapter, first insert the CF adapter into the PC Card adapter, and then install the PC Card adapter as described earlier.

Installing a PCI Wireless LAN Adapter in a Desktop Computer

Adding a wireless LAN adapter to a desktop computer involves more work than installing an adapter to a PDA or notebook computer. The following are the steps involved when installing a PCI wireless LAN adapter to a desktop computer.

  1. Power down and disconnect any power cables to your desktop computer before you install the wireless LAN adapter in your computer.
  1. Open the desktop computer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Locate an empty PCI slot (a slot that does not have a PCI device already installed).

Generally speaking, PCI slots are white slots normally located on the left−hand side of the computer motherboard (the main electronic circuitboard that most of the electronic circuitry is soldered to).

If you do not have an empty PCI slot, you will either have to remove one of the cards, sacrificing the functionality that the card provided you, or you will not be able to install the wireless LAN adapter on your desktop computer.

If you choose to remove one of the cards, be careful which one you remove. Removing a card could result in either a lack of functionality or in your computer becoming inoperable due to the absence of the card you removed.

If you are successful in locating an empty PCI slot, you are in luck and you should move on to the next step; otherwise, you might have to reconsider using wireless LAN adapter with your computer.

  1. PCI standard adapters have notches, which let them install only in the correct direction. Also, most PCI adapters are attached to a metal plate that faces the outside of the computer. You should carefully insert the PCI adapter into the slot.

If the slot available in your computer seems bigger or smaller than the card, do not try to install the card into the slot. Contact the manufacturer of the computer to find out if you really have a PCI slot in your computer.

In cases where the PCI card does not fit the available slot, you might have slots that comply to other standards. Contacting the manufacturer of your computer might help you locate the right type of wireless LAN adapter that will work with your computer.

Introducing the ORiNOCO 802.11b PC Card

ORiNOCO 802.11b PC Card is an IEEE 802.11b standard−compliant wireless LAN adapter that can be used in computers, normally PDAs and laptop computers, that have either a PCMCIA II or a CardBus slot.

The ORiNOCO PC card can be used anywhere to connect to a wireless Ethernet network and is interoperable with Wi−Fi−compliant products. The card delivers high−speed wireless networking at 11 Mbps, operating in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed frequency.

The ORiNOCO PC Card is shown in Figure 2.

Agere Systems ORiNOCO PC Card.

The following are some of the key features of ORiNOCO PC Card.

  • Plugs directly into laptop type−II PCMCIA slot
  • IEEE 802.11b (Wi−Fi) certified
  • Low power consumption
  • High performance 11 Mbps data rate
  • High−level security with full 128−bit key or 64−bit WEP encryption
  • Operating systems supported: Novell Client 3.x and 4.x, Windows 95/98/2000, Me, and Windows NT (NDIS Miniport driver); Apple Macintosh; Windows CE; and Linux

Installing and Configuring Wireless LAN Adapter Software

In order to use the wireless LAN equipment in a LAN, computers with wireless LAN adapters must be installed with proper software. This software is normally shipped by the manufacturer or can be obtained from the manufacturer's Web site.

Though the basic configuration parameters for all wireless LAN adapters are the same, the actual configuration of wireless LAN adapters is operation−mode dependent. Most wireless LAN adapters come with software drivers suitable for popular operating systems.

You must install the vendor−provided software to be able to use the wireless LAN. Before proceeding further, if necessary, make sure that all applicable network support components (for example, access points, DHCP servers, and authentication servers) are fully configured and operational.

Follow these steps to ensure proper software setup on the computer that you want to connect with a wireless LAN. The steps that follow assume that you have already installed the physical wireless LAN adapter in the computer:

  1. Locate the appropriate software for the operating system of your computing device.

For example, if you want to use an ORiNOCO wireless LAN adapter with your notebook installed with Microsoft Windows XP, you should look for driver files for Windows XP in the compact disk (CD) that Agere Systems ships with the adapter.

If you cannot find the appropriate driver, in this case for Windows XP, you should contact the manufacturer if it supports Windows XP.

If a manufacturer does not support the OS you are using, you might not be able to use that wireless LAN adapter with that computer. In such a case, you might want to exchange the wireless LAN adapter for one that supports the OS of your choice.

  1. Turn on your computer.

If your computer supports multiple users, log in to your computer as a user who has privileges that allow him or her to install software on the computer. Depending on the operating system, this privileged user is normally known as the administrator or root user.

If you are using a plug−and−play operating system, such as Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, or Windows XP, the system will automatically recognize that a new device has been installed and will prompt you for software installation and/or configuration.

Setting Up ORiNOCO PC Card under Microsoft Windows XP

Microsoft Windows XP has built−in support for most popular wireless LAN adapters. The ORiNOCO PC Card drivers are included with the Windows XP Operating System. The original Windows XP version 5.1, build 2600, contains ORiNOCO driver version 7.14.

Assuming your hardware is functioning properly, Windows XP will automatically load this driver. Follow these steps to configure Windows XP for using the ORiNOCO Silver PC Card.

  1. If you have not already inserted the PC Card into your laptop, insert it carefully using the manufacturer's instructions.
  1. Windows XP will immediately prompt you with a message, Found New Hardware, in your system tray. If this dialog does not appear, consult the ORiNOCO user's guide for more information on Windows XP support for your wireless LAN adapter.
  1. Using the right button of your mouse, click the network icon in the system tray. A Network Connections menu, similar to that shown in Figure 3, will appear.

  1. Select the View Available Wireless Networks menu item. Connect to Wireless Networks dialog will appear. Click Advanced in this dialog.
  1. The Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog will appear as shown in Figure 4.

Wireless Network Connection Properties screen.

  1. You should see the name of your RG−1000 AP under Available Networks. If you are using more than one AP, they all should be listed.

If you cannot find the AP you just installed, you should make sure that you correctly installed the AP. In addition to the AP being listed under the list of Available Networks, you will also see green lights blinking on the AP. Consult the AP manual for more information on AP led indicators.

  1. If your Network Name does appear under Available Networks, select your Network Name and click Configure. The Wireless Network Properties dialog appears as shown in Figure 5.

Wireless Network Properties screen.

  1. ORiNOCO RG−1000 comes with security enabled by default; you will have to enable security to successfully connect to the ORiNOCO RG−1000.

Unless modified by Agere or someone who previously altered the default settings of the RG−1000, the default SSID of the RG−1000 is the last five characters of the AP Network Name.

For example, if the AP Network Name was 3df8e2, the default encryption key is df8e2. Check the Data Encryption check box and type the encryption key in the Network key field.

Close the Wireless Network Properties screen by clicking OK. Also dismiss the Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog by clicking OK.

You are now finished with the wireless LAN adapter and network configuration for Windows XP. Now that you are done with installing wireless LAN adapter software, in the next tutorial we talk about configuring the wireless LAN AP equipment to form an operational wireless LAN.