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Dropped wireless connections on WRT54G

Discussion in 'Cisco/Linksys Wireless Routers' started by zimmermann7, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. zimmermann7

    zimmermann7 Network Guru Member


    i have a WRT54G set up in my wife's office, currently using the sveasoft satori 4.0 firmware. we are having a problem with the wireless connections... every once in a while, they will drop. it can happen every few minutes, or maybe be up for an hour, very odd. in the channel setting, we have tried Auto, 1, 6, 11 (there are two other wireless networks in her office on channel 11), and all of them seem to drop on her. the router is located perhaps 4-6 feet away from her laptop and about 2 feet lower(it is sitting on a box on the floor right now), but i do not know if that might have anything to do with it. do you have any suggestions? thank you!

  2. Esquire

    Esquire Mesquire Staff Member Member

    What is the notebook's operating system? Does this happen with Linksys official firmware?

    The general rule of thumb is the higher, the more open and central the position of the router the better, but I doubt your router's location is the problem.

    Have you tried other channels other than the ones you mentioned? There might be other "hidden" radio interference sources.
  3. zimmermann7

    zimmermann7 Network Guru Member

    the notebook is running windows xp pro. i just re-flashed the WRT54G last night with the newest linksys firmware and it looks like there are less drops, but it has still dropped a few times. i have been using netstumbler to monitor the network drops. it seems to come right back on now while with the sveasoft firmware it would drop out for 20 seconds or more sometimes. it looks like there is the occasional brief pause in service (very thin black line), which might have something to do with the group key renewal interval, but i do not know much about that.

    i have tried channels 1, 6, 11, as i have read those are the best and least likely to have interference. my wife even put it on "auto" for a while, but it continued to drop. there are 2 other wireless networks on channel 11. i am on channel 6 right now and service has gotten more reliable, but it still drops.

    what can i do now? i may end up calling linksys tech support now that i have their firmware on it again and they will support it. this sounds like such a common problem for WRT54G routers...what gives? i have one at home that gives me almost no trouble at all. is this just common for wireless routers to drop service every once in a while?
  4. Esquire

    Esquire Mesquire Staff Member Member

    It isn't a good idea to use NetStumbler and connect to a wireless connection at the same time - NS is not designed to be used that way, especially if XP's Wireless Zero Configuration is running. By default, NS disables WZC when running, which causes disconnection.

    It is a common misunderstanding that Channels 1, 6, 11 are the best - their frequencies merely do not overlap with each other (nearly 100%), hence interfere with each other the least. How strong are the two other radio sources using Channel 11 compared to your router? (You can get more quantifiable data values from NS) Since you have been using NS to scan your surroundings and since you haven't mentioned the presence of other routers or radio sources apart from what you have already stated, it can be reasonably assumed that other channels are free, so try other channels that are as far away as Channel 11 as possible if the signals from the two radio sources are strong.

    Has the router's SSID Broadcast been enabled? Have you disabled QoS Packer Scheduler and the Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication option (if you are using WEP encryption) under your XP's Wireless Network Connection?
  5. zimmermann7

    zimmermann7 Network Guru Member

    thank you for your replies, it is good to know that i have some help out there.

    okay, went to her office today and looked at what net stumbler had found. looks like there are two networks on channel 11, one on 6. the ones on channel 11 range about -60 to -80 in signal strength. the one on channel 6 is at about -92. ours was on channel 1, with a -36 signal strength. i have now moved it to channel 2, to see if it works better there, as there are no other networks on that channel. and yes, i have told you about all the networks that can be picked up from her office.

    i have also disabled QoS packet scheduler as you suggested. the IEEE 802.1x authentication is still enabled, although have it set up for WPA-PSK TKIP right now.

    the router's SSID broadcast is enabled.

    after making these changes i noticed it did drop once while i was in the office, but it might be performing better than before, i will ask my wife how it went when she gets home tonight. do you have any other suggestions as to what i can try?

  6. Esquire

    Esquire Mesquire Staff Member Member

    Is the router on a unique SSID? If it is still using the default linksys, change it to something unique. This makes the router easier to be identified by WZC. Many suggest using only letters without spaces or special characters, so bear that in mind when naming your SSID, although I noticed no difference on my WLAN.

    If you are not running Windows XP SP2 and you have deployed WPA encryption, you should not be able to change the status of the Enabled IEEE 802.1x authentication option - it's enabled and greyed out. If you have SP2 installed, disable the option if it hasn't been done by WZC already.

    You can also try lowering the Group Key Renewal interval under the router WPA config from the default 3600 (seconds). After long periods of trial and error, I found my sweet spot at 730, but yours may have a different value.
  7. zimmermann7

    zimmermann7 Network Guru Member

    the router has a unique SSID, using only letters, without any spaces.

    we are running windows xp pro sp1. i was able to disable QoS packet scheduler and if i remember correctly i was able to toggle the switchbox of the IEEE 802.1x authentication option... but it was enabled already when i originally found it, should i disable it if i do not have sp2?

    we have set the group key renewal to 730. hopefully this will help, but my wife has said she has continued to have dropped connections.

    do we need to reboot the router at any time to get any of this to take effect? or do i need to reset the router to original factory settings and re-enter the configuration i have? i ask because i previously had the sveasoft satori 4.0 firmware loaded and i re-flashed to the newest linksys firmware, it kept my configuration in there so i thought everything was cool. could there be some of the old sveasoft firmware settings causing a problem?

    also, would another firmware help with more reliable performance? i was pretty happy with the sveasoft firmware (i use it at home on my other WRT54G, no problems), and i remember it advertised itself as increasing performance. your tag says that you use openwrt...is that one to consider? why do you choose openwrt over the sveasoft firmware?

  8. zimmermann7

    zimmermann7 Network Guru Member

    sorry, hyperwrt, my mistake
  9. Esquire

    Esquire Mesquire Staff Member Member

    Actually, if you are able to toggle the Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication option, untick it. Some people like myself couldn't do this - the option is enabled but greyed out so it is locked in.

    The Group Key Renewal interval of 730 works for me, but it may not work for you - some folks find a value of 600 to be effective, but it makes no difference to my network, so it's up to you to find what works by trial and error. I know it's time consuming, but with lots of patience it may help. I know it is not as secure, but you could also try using WEP encryption instead of WPA.

    It's not just a reboot after a firmware update, but a hard reset is recommended, even though instructions from Linksys has not been consistent on this matter. A hard reset ensures a clean start with the new firmware - obviously one needs to configure the router again as all customizations would have been lost. Most people prefer the "hold the reset button for 30 seconds" method to achieve this, but according to all the Linksys tech support folks I have contacted on the subject, this is the same as the Restore Factory Defaults option in the firmware. If there is a difference, no one seems to know what it is. Incidentally, Avenger20 also recommends the latter firmware reboot option on his website for the HyperWRT firmware update. There is logic in the use of the "hold reset button for 30" method, but this isn't the post to discuss it. If you haven't performed a hard reset on your new firmware, give it a try and see if there is an improvement.

    You could try a different firmware, although any firmware (custom or official) is as good as any - you need to find what works for you best. As to my reasons for not choosing Sveasoft is quite simple - I don't the interface where all extra features sit in one place, and besides I don't have a need for them. At the beginning, I just needed to double my router's signal for the extra reach and Wifi-Box firmware was simple enough for me, and when HyperWRT included port triggering from a newer official firmware (which I wanted), I switched.

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