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Wireless Newbie, Need Help Please!

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by crouth, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Hey folks, I'm a wireless newbie, but not a newbie with computers. I build my own, and am fairly knowledgeable, but not like some of you guys. We're not doing anything terribly big with our wireless connection. The big thing with this wireless connection is that my wife codes medical charts from home, and is paid on production(per patient chart). So she can only go as fast as the computer, the internet connection, and of course the server on the other end. The problem with the connection I've done, is that it is dropping the connection maybe 15-20 times/day with Linksys as the adapter's driver, and maybe 10-15 times/day with Ralink as the adapter's driver. After I uploaded the Tomato 1.19 firmware, the speed was exceptionally faster than with the Linksys firmware, but it drops connection. That's the only problem right now. Below, I'll give my specs, and what I've tried:
    Computer:
    MSI K8N Neo 4 Motherboard; Amd Athlon 64x2 4800+; Windows xp; Linksys WRT54GL with Tomato 1.19 firmware/Hardcore's speed mod; Linksys WMP54G PCI Wireless Adapter=Have tried both Linksys v.4.1 with v.1.0.3 driver; Also have tried Ralink RT61 driver v.1.2.3.
    Specs for Linksys: Changed admin password; unique SSID, no SSID broadcasting, WPA2/PSK2 personal with AES security, using mixed B/G or G only
    Tried:I read the article on Wireless signal tweaking by Toxic on the Linksys forum, and with that.................Moved the PCI to another slot.......Turned WZG off/on.......Tried channels 1, 6, 7, 9, 11........All one level house, but put the router on top of desk, and on the floor, and has been located 6 inches to 75 feet and 6 walls away from the computer. At 75 feet I had real good connection, but dropped signal, same thing at 6 inches! At our new home, it will be approx. 25 feet away with one wall

    Let me clarify, the Linksys monitor message stated connected to router but can't find internet, and when I look at the status, the IP is 169.whatever, which means no 192.168.1.1whatever address which is internet. HOWEVER whenever I do have the 192 address, it does the same thing, just says can't find internet. With Ralink's driver, it does the same, but no messages. With Ralink's driver, the monitor wouldn't display my SSID sometimes, and I don't broadcast, but sometimes it would display it.
    I put this on the wireless adapter's board as well.

    Well, I know it's a little long, but hopefully it answers some of your questions so we can get right to the point/solution. There is too many of you live streaming stuff, and not having internet drop problems for this not to be solved. Your help is appreciated!
    Chris
     
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa LI Guru Member

    Trying all the channels won't necessarily get you away from interference if it is a hopper. Check for wireless devices including bluetooth on your cellphone.
     
  3. FRiC

    FRiC LI Guru Member

    When you get disconnected, is the wireless disconnected, or is the internet disconnected? Or did the router reboot for some reason?
     
  4. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Cell phone not a problem, because ours aren't on, and no one else will be within 200 ft. And reply to FRiC, the internet is disconnected, most of the time at least. The adapter is in connection with the router, and has an 192 ip address most of the time, but does not have internet connection. I'll not retype it, but re-read the bottom of that post, I describe it in detail. Chris
     
  5. dvaskelis

    dvaskelis Network Guru Member

    I often find that wireless clients drop connections when the SSID is not included in the access point's beacon frames. I'd try turning on the SSID broadcast to see if it makes a difference.

    It's worth noting that including the SSID in beacon, probe, and association frames is kind-of the point of those management messages between devices. SSID broadcasting in those frames is part of both the IEEE 802.11a/b/g/draft-n standards and Wi-Fi certification. Here's a good article that discusses the fact that hiding SSIDs doesn't really hide them from packet sniffing, and it also can cause problems with those wireless management messages between wireless devices: Debunking the Myth of SSID Hiding. "Hiding" SSIDs can also negatively impact wireless network performance and initial connection time.

    If it's 6" away, why go wireless? Can you try wired Ethernet?
     
  6. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Yes, it has been a wired system, but I said, in our new house, that is in 3 weeks, it will be 25 feet away. I decided on this computer going wireless, because our other computer is very old, and we only use it for surfing the net a little, and it's processor is only 800mhz, and I don't believe it is strong enough to do wireless, and it may not even have a PCI slot available, there are no more usb's available in that computer. I'll try the broadcasting SSID. I read a bit about the security on Newegg's website under the wireless networking/routers/learning center. They as well as many other sites recommended not broadcasting the SSID. They as well as a few others have also mentioned using the MAC Address Filtering to permit only this wireless computer's MAC Address, but I haven't got that to work at all yet. Linksys tech support said I can't use WPA2 with MAC Address filtering at the same time, but I've read a few other's posts that state they are using the filtering. Other's have said they simply use the WPA2, and that's it. Your thoughts dvaskelis? or anyone. Chris
     
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa LI Guru Member

    Just because your cellphone is off doen't mean there is not interference. There are many many sources of interference.

    Turning WZC off is pointless if you don't disable it because the OS can turn it back on. If it is on AND you have an external utility also running, you can have issues. Personally, I don't like WZC but some external utilities are crap.

    Updated driver and utilities often fix these sort of issues.

    Power management is often responsible for intermittent connection issues.

    I agree with dv* on not hiding SSID.
     
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa LI Guru Member

    I don't recall who said it first, but MAC filtering has been compared to a security guard with a list of names. If you want in, you only need to stand next to the guard and listen for the names of others as they enter and then simply use any one of the names.
     
  9. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Yes when I say turn off, the only real off is disabling the WZC, even though when I did have it disabled, and installed the Linksys Adapter driver, it automatically reset it to automatic, but I quickly disabled it. The drivers have been updated from my post. I guess yes there are lots of wireless frequencies in the air, even though I don't have my cell phone on, but it has to be something different than that, or lots of wireless computer connections would be having problems. What do you suggest or mean by the power management, and I'll check that, I haven't thought or read about that one yet. So you are saying that Mac filtering is worthless, right? So is having WPA2 enough then? Chris
     
  10. dvaskelis

    dvaskelis Network Guru Member

    Sounds like you're really, really worried about someone getting access to your wireless network. If they did, which is equivalent to plugging themselves into your router, what do you think they'd gain?

    In any case, WPA remains uncracked, and deters the most ardent hackers by having them not bother with you. If you pick apart the many sites that claim to have "cracked" WPA, you'll find they didn't really. Any flavor of WPA is fine, WPA2-AES being the most extreme and luckily Broadcom-based routers do AES in hardware so it's nearly as fast as no encryption so it's the obvious choice.

    In contrast, WEP has been "cracked" in that there are a number of wireless tools where you can leave them "listening" to a network for a few seconds to a half-hour depending on the traffic and they will automatically figure out the WEP key that would let you join the network. No such tools exist yet for WPA, but probably will someday.

    Not broadcasting SSID makes no difference to someone who knows what they're doing, and I've found it causes way more problems than it solves. It doesn't stop a hacker from figuring out your SSID, and it can cause disconnect/dropout/performance issues for real clients because it can look like the AP disappears to the client adapter. What it DOES do is stop it from showing up as a detected network by normal wireless clients like Windows or a Mac, so if that's what you're trying to hide, then it does do that, but at a potential cost of disconnect/dropout/performance issues.

    You can add MAC-based filtering if you want. It works, the downside being the burden of administration, but it is trivially spoofed by someone who knows what they're doing.
     
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa LI Guru Member

    Lots of people ARE having problems. They just don't post them here because this forum is for the dicussion of Tomato, not unrelated wireless problems. I troubleshoot wireless interference problems and have thousands of dollars tied up in test gear.

    Look in Device Manager for power management settings. Also try disabling powersave settings in Control Panel as a test.

    I didn't say MAC filtering is worthless. I do use it at times but I don't rely on it for *real* security.

    As for a desktop PC, I would avoid using wireless and simply hard wire it. Wireless is a convenience and freedom from wires for mobile applications and should not be a substitute to running cable.
     
  12. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Ok, thanks guys, I'm trying the SSID thing now, and will let you know in 30 min. or so, since you guys are right there. I'm not terribly worried about security, it's just that I've read some older articles say 02, and 03, where wireless security was an issue, especially at a Wi-fi spot where someone may be sitting in the parking lot trying to hack something. We don't have anything like that now, and in our new home, we have 5 acres, and won't have anything like that there. As a matter of fact, our new home will have a wireless ISP, broadcasting off of the water tower, and I know it's much more powerful, and has a more developed security system, but it's very similar to what is in the house wireless. My computer's are extremely secure, and I also encrypt and hide passwords and such, so no one is going to get anything, I just like being OVER CAUTIOUS, AND OVER PREPARED. I believe in doing everything I can as a human being, and that's all I can do, the rest is up to God. But God is busy, and doesn't spoon feed, and he gifted you guys with knowledge for a reason, and gave me lots of questions on this wireless thing to learn from you and others. What you guys are saying with security, I've now heard/read a few times, and it seems to be the right thing to do, but I haven't heard the SSID thing yet, so I'll try it, and read article you provided. It's just that my wife is transfering very confidential information, and the hospital server is on a VPN, so it should be completely secure, just want to be absolutely sure I'm doing what is best. Thanks, I'll update you. Chris
     
  13. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Thanks again LLigetfa for your help. I just posted here because I am using Tomato, and I'm new at this. With the connection concerns that I've been reading all over the internet, I was wondering if there wasn't more connection issues. However there are people posting, and rating and reviewing equipment on Newegg that are stating they are live gaming, or live streaming videos and watching them on TV, and such, and are stating that they don't have connection issues. I suppose it's like you say, just a convenience. I have some time today, my plan B is to open up this old computer, and see if there is a PCI slot available, and no matter what this business computer will be the point of entry and wired at our new home, and everything else will be wireless, that is if the old computer can handle it. Thanks for the clarification on Mac filtering, I don't think it's necessary. Chris
     
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa LI Guru Member

    I wasn't trying to flame you for going off-topic. You will find many people with connection problems posting over at www.dslreports.com which caters more to problems and less to 3rd party firmware which this site specializes in.
     
  15. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    I don't know if this is just coincidence or what, but it seems like I'm getting the message connected to access point but can't find internet when I'm not actually using the internet constantly, yet my Comodo firewall shows data going in and out quite frequently, such as right now as I'm typing this. It's lost connection a few times, but not as much using the Linksys driver, if it doesn't improve I'm going to switch to Ralink, and broadcast SSID. No, no, I wasn't trying to suggest you were flaming me. Actually a lot to say here trying to figure this out, but trying to be straight to the point and quick as possible. We are packing for our move, and I'm sure you guys are busy as well. Thanks for that site, I've been there before, but not for wireless. I just posted on these two forums because I'm using these drivers/firmware, and didn't know if there was something more I could do in tweaking them to make it work, or if it something simple, or something unsolvable and normal for wireless. I tend to be more of a problem solver, I believe there is a best answer for everything, however the actual best answer never happens because nothing is perfect, but there are a lot of problems solved that are real close to the perfect answer whatever it may be, because I sure have solved a lot of headaches doing Google searches. Chris
     
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa LI Guru Member

    On the topic of connection problems, I too have had my share. I've gone through several routers and different firmware before things stabilized. I also went through several versions of client side drivers and utilities and tweaked power settings. My wife's laptop with Broadcom wireless adapter caused much discord and I nearly lost all my geek cred before the latest driver update saved me.

    Living in the country on 18 acres, I thought interference would be the last of my worries but between a neighboring WISP changing channels, my microwave, my bluetooth cellphone, and my TV RF remote, I was getting squeezed.

    The wife hates wires so hard wired was not an option. I switched to a WISP that uses 5.7 Canopy, the old neighborhood WISP on 2.4GHz stopped hopping channels, my cordless phone is 5.8, and I turned off bluetooth on my phone. The microwave oven still knocks my speed down but it doesn't get much use.
     
  17. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Well, I've got a little time for trial and error, and like I said Plan B is to just wire it. I just opened up the old computer, and it does have a PCI slot available. I'm going to ask to make sure, and the lady I'm talking to with our new home's WISP doesn't know much, but.....as far as I understand, the WISP will have only one entry point and modem, just like our current DSL is, which means my other computer will have to be wireless, and it would be nice for a future laptop as well. Hey, I just got an error code 121, list index out of bounds, that popped up on the Linksys adapter's monitor. I looked it up but haven't found anything yet, do you know of it?
     
  18. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    I just tried pinging my wireless connection using the Tomato ping tool, and not one packet was received, it states 100% loss. I tried it on my wired computer, and received the same message. Maybe there is a problem with the router then, because the wired should be fine? Chris
     
  19. dvaskelis

    dvaskelis Network Guru Member

    Or you have paranoid-level individual firewall protection on your PCs so they ignore ICMP packets... possible?
     
  20. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    AHAAAAA! Ok I disabled the Comodo firewall that I have, and ran the pings again from both computers to both computers, and had 0 packets lost. I'm assuming this is the problem? However, when I couldn't get the wireless working correctly, I simply disabled it, then enabled the wired connection back to the wireless router, and she didn't complain about anything, it was just like the old wired router we have. Could we have packet loss, but constant connection and not know it? Chris

    Then again, I was looking at the firewall section in Tomato 1.19, and was reading the directions for tomato on wiki. Is this causing a problem? How should it be setup? Wiki describes responding to the WAN, allowing multicasts from the LAN, and the NAT Loopback, which I don't understand it exactly. Anyway, my Tomato has NAT Loopback with Forwarded Only, everything else is unchecked, is this ok? Chris
     
  21. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Ok, so I went to my individual firewall on each computer, and set up a new trusted network, even though it didn't show any blockage. I enabled the firewall, then ran the pings again to and from both computers communicating with each other, and with themselves, and no packet losses. Then I went to the network connections in xp, and looked at the status, and there are packets there now. I notice there are a lot more packets in the Linksys monitor as well. One final test I went and disabled Broadcast the SSID, so I am not broadcasting anymore, AND I set the wireless filter to only allow this wireless connection, and BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It worked for the first time yet! I guess that's the problem, my firewall on my computers then? I'll continue to watch it, but I think the problem has been solved. You guys can comment on my earlier comments, and I'll update you later tonight or tomorrow, but it's working now, with all of the security that Newegg suggested, even though I agree with you guys, that's it's probably not necessary, since someone can break those two, but if it doesn't hurt anything, I might as well throw another obstacle at them. I'll update later. Chris
     
  22. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Ok, I guess that was a lot of it, because I've only lost connection maybe 3 times over the past 6 hours, which is acceptable, however, I'm going to try the Ralink driver which is supposed to be better. Thanks for all your help guys! Chris
     
  23. dvaskelis

    dvaskelis Network Guru Member

    It may be acceptable, but it's not normal.
     
  24. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Yes you are right, it's only a step in the right direction. So what is normal? There seems to be a lot of varying opinions. I don't know if you read one of my earlier posts, but my standard is actually for this connection to be 98% of the excellent, reliable and consistent connection of what my wired connection is. After reading some other posts that were suggested to me, and the few here, it seems I was a little unrealistic, so I brought my expectations down. Am I wrong? What is normal? Chris
     
  25. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa LI Guru Member

    I've managed to stabilize my wireless network so I never get disconnections. The worst I get now are minor speed reductions while the microwave oven is running or the wiife is channel surfing on the TV remote.

    Of course, every situation is different so YMMV.
     
  26. crouth

    crouth Addicted to LI Member

    Well guys, I changed the Beacon, and the two thresholds, and have not had any drops today. Problem solved for now. It will really get tested tomorrow when the wife works, and pushes it to the limit. Thanks again for your help, if there is anything more, I'll update you here. Chris
     

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