Wireless Woes

My 802.11b wireless network drives me nuts.

I bought a new Linksys G AP because I was experiencing drop-outs with my 4 (that’s right 4) other APs. I set the new AP up (in B mode only) is less than 10’ from my notebook, with no other access points or wireless devices enabled (except my neighbor who gives me a single bar on the XP signal strength thing).

Using the built-in adapter in my Acer C110 Tablet PC (Intel Centrino chipset) I get a dropped connection roughly every 5-10 mintues. I discovered through the Acer website that turning off 802.1x authentication for the wireless profile fixes the actual connection drops, but I still see the signal strength drop regularly.

Using a Cisco 340 adapter, the Link Status Meter bounces between Excellent and Good (staying mostly in Excellent). It never gets above 84% signal quality and 94% signal strength.  Using the site survey, every once and a while I will see a black-gap in the green bars. But the connection never seems to drop like it does with the Intel part.

Using a Lucent Orinco card I get similar results to the Cisco. Reasonable signal strength with an occasional dropout, but no loss of connectivity.

I’ve tried different channels on the AP with no real difference in behavior.

What is interfering? How can I further diagnose it? Shouldn’t I be getting rock-solid “Excellent” signal strength while I’m only 10′ from my AP?


  1. Rabi Satter says:

    Welcome to wide world of wireless. An interesting thing to do is stream video on G. It doesn’t work but you will see the video coming in waves like on a coastline. Strong signal – pullback, build back to a strong signal then pull back. I have not yet figured out why it seems to work in waves. And it has nothing to do with buffering since the client has almost no buffer.

    One thing you might try although this is extremely dangerous is to reflash the firmware. The linksys is actually Linux and the software is under gpl. Check here for a list of potential firmware http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20040527.html.

    I will totally deny everything if you get into trouble. 🙂

  2. http:// says:

    I solved a similar problem on Linux by forcing the Linux driver to never attempt to handshake with a new AP. It was useful for pushing data between AP and client as fast as possible. The dropouts nearly disappeared, although operation of certain electronic devices could still cause interference.

  3. http:// says:

    I have a Netgear MR814v2 access point at home and and never experienced any problems until I started using my new Toshiba Portege M200 tablet pc. Like you the built in wireless would consistently connect, drop off, connect, drop off and so on. I found that by putting a cisco pcmcia wireless card in it worked much better with ‘excellent’ connection strength most of the time.

    In researching what might cause my card to have problems I found a few articles about the centrino processor and problems that people were having with power management. Apparently whatever firmware, bios, software / processor scheme on my machine was causing the power to my wireless adapter to throttle up and down. This was causing issues with the access point.

    Netgear posted a fix for my AP regarding compatability issues with centrino based systems. I flashed some new firmware and all is well now.

    just some thoughts.


  4. Steve Downs says:

    Close proximity to a cordless phone can interfere with an access point since they are on the same frequency. I moved my phone to the other end of the house and it improved the signal strength

  5. http:// says:

    I had the same problems with an SMC WBR2404 802.11B connecting to an Orinoco in an IBM T40, as well as an IBM A/B/G card in an R50 (dropping as often as every 30 seconds). Switching to a NetGear WGU624 A/G router on 5GHz did the trick, which makes me wonder if wireless phones and other gear in the area cause the problem. Another plus is the WPA authentication – easy to set up and more robust than WEP. At $130US from Best Buy, it’s a bargain.

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