Top
Powered by Squarespace
Creative Commons License Use OpenDNS
Friday
Apr022010

Linksys Wireless Help

This is my last recycled blog post.  Please note Ralink has removed the RT61 driver from their website.  A Google search showed a number of sites claiming to offer archived versions of the driver, but like anything, beware of what you download from the Internet. 

I recently purchased a Linksys WMP54G 802.11g PCI Adapter ( version 4.1 ) for my Windows Vista PC. It should have been an easy install, right? It says "Certified for Windows Vista" and "Secure Easy Setup" on the box after all.

Surprise! I couldn't get it to connect with my Netgear WGT624 Wireless Router using WPA2 encryption. To spare others the hours of pain I went through yesterday in my attempt to get the card working, I wanted to document my solution to the problem.

There is nothing wrong with the hardware. The problem is with the Vista drivers provided by Linksys. The CD-ROM in my box had the most recent version of the Linksys drivers,
2.0.1.9, so updating the software online offered no solution.

My WMP54G Adapter is version 4.1, using the RT61 chip manufactured by Ralink Technology. This is important because Ralink provides their own drivers and configuration utilities for cards using the RT61 chip. Using the Ralink software, I was able to get my PC wirelessly connected to my network via WPA2.

Here is a quick procedure for installing the card:

  1. Download the RT61 Vista Driver executable from Ralink: http://www.ralinktech.com/ralink/Home/Support/Windows.html. Look for RT61 in the Version column.
  2. Run the downloaded executable. It's slow, so be patient.
  3. Power down the machine and install the WMP54G Adapter.
  4. Power up. When Vista asks you if you want it to install the drivers for the new hardware, say no.
  5. The Ralink Configuration Tool should be running in the System Tray and indicate that no hardware has been found.
  6. Use Device Manager to manually install the Ralink driver. Select Network Adapter->Ralink Technology->802.11g PCI Turbo Wireless Adaptor
  7. The Ralink Configuration Tool should now change color from red to green. Open up the utility and you should see a list of available wireless networks.
  8. Use the Windows Vista Network Tools to set up WPA2 encryption.

Hope this helps.

Since I first wrote this procedure, its entirely possible that updated drivers are available from Windows Update or Linksys, but I doubt it.  As an aside, I've updated my PC with the WMP54G to Windows 7, but haven't had a reason to setup or test wireless encrpytion using the Linksys adapter.

Tuesday
Mar302010

Powerline Networking

I had a piece about improving Safari performance ready to go, but just prior to posting, I discovered that my procedure was OBE.  This is a revised version of an old post written about a year ago for my old Blogger account. 

When I started using a Mac as my everyday computer, my PC went down to the basement to become a dedicated gaming/multimedia platform. With my DSL router on the second floor, I needed a way to extend the home LAN downstairs. I decided to use a Powerline solution, which uses a home's existing electrical wiring to create an Ethernet LAN.

I bought two PL-100 devices from ZyXel for about $120 from Newegg. Setup was very easy:  I plugged both units into a wall outlet and used standard CAT5 cable to attach my DSL Router and PC to their respective PL-100.  The data rate between floors was a measly 0.5 Mb/s, fast enough for surfing the web and playing online shooters, but too slow for streaming video from Netflix or Hulu.

The PL-100 cannot be plugged into surge protectors or UPS's, since these devices filter out the frequencies used for data transmission. Not surprisingly, when we had a huge electrical storm that knocked out power, one of the PL-100's popped a capicator and fried a chip.  I purchased a replacement PL-100 for $50.00 on eBay, which worked well for 6 months. After another lightning strike, the Zyxels because flaky and the connection between units randomly died at least once a week. Unplugging the devices for a half hour fixed the problem, for a time. Two months after the last incident, the downstairs PL-100 stopped working altogether.

Rather than pay for a fourth PL-100, I bought a wireless router. The lack of electrical protection on the Poweline devices makes them too unreliable given the number of storms and brownouts I see in a typical year. I think I was lucky that only two devices got killed in a 20 month period.

I miss the simplicity and directness of my Powerline connection. While 802.11g has better bandwidth, the wireless encryption introduces a latency that causes lag while playing games online. The effect is so bad that I've stopped gaming altogether. It's a mixed blessing, because while the experience of shooting virtual strangers was very cathartic, I'm getting more real work done.

I'll wait another year or two before trying out Powerline again, hoping the technology becomes cheaper and more robust in the meantime.

In the year since this was written, my need to use Powerline networking has disappeared.  I've upgraded to 802.11n and it has performed wonderfully.  Admittedly, I haven't played any online shooters to see if the latency problem has improved.  In fact, I retired my gaming PC and run most of my games on a virtualized version of Windows XP using Parallels 5 on the Mac.

Page 1 2