Dropped Signal Drivin' Me Nuts!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by marmstrong, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    I have a DSL modem and a Linksys WRT54G router.

    They're both connected to an old Mac running OS 8.6. The old Mac is on the first floor of my house.

    I just bought a new iMac running OS X 10.4. It has built-in wireless access
    called Airport Extreme. The iMac is on the second floor.

    I believe I have correctly set up wireless internet access on the iMac-- the system looks for linksys and connects to it. When I launch Safari, the iMac's browser, it does in fact connect me to the internet.

    The Problem: I never know how long I'll stay connected. I'll suddenly lose the wireless signal and be stuck. I have to Quit Safari, reboot both the DSL modem and the Linksys router, then restart the iMac. Once I do all that, full wireless signal strength will be restored. Then I connect to the internet,
    eventually lose the signal, and the whole vicious cycle begins again. :mad:

    I've just read Simon's "How To Improve Signal Strength From My Router," but I'm embarrassed to say that I still can't decide what to do next.

    Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone? I can't see any obvious sources of interference near the router. Could there be objects near the iMac itself that could be interfering with reception? Is this a common problem when a router signal is downstairs and the "receiving computer" is upstairs?

    Would appreciate any suggestions, and I'll probably have to ask for directions on how to implement same. For example, I have no idea of how to change channels on the Linksys router, or even how to find out what channel it's currently using.

    I'm sure this is a dumb question that's been asked a million times before, but I can't seem to find any previous posts on it. Would appreciate any assist-- thanks!

    Mark A.
  2. jgutz20

    jgutz20 Network Guru Member

    i'd say start with changing the channels, are you using encryption?
  3. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    where is the WRT54G in relation to the other two Macs?

    what version of WRT54G is it?

    first of all try repositioning the router if possible and the antenna angle.

    dont forget wireless is TWO way. the router sends and receives and so does the Macs. their range will be the limiting factor more than the router which has two antennas and most likely a better transmit and receive signal.
  4. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Thanks Simon and Net Nut for responding.

    Answers to Net Nut's question:

    Not using encryption, no.

    Don't know how to change channels. Linksys WRT54G was installed by an ISP tech for me, but I remember working thru the subsequent configuration (using my old Mac OS 8.6). However, can't find any reference to "Linksys" or "router" when I do a Find on the old Mac. Tells me no items found. Can't seem to find any record of router config entries on the old Mac HD. (??)

    Answers to Simon's questions:

    It's v 5 of WRT54G.

    Serial# = CDFB0E845950 => "type" CDFB (??)

    WRT54G router is right next to the old Mac downstairs. Can't really reposition it, because it's connected to the DSL modem at that point with very short cable; ditto for DSL modem: has very short cable which connects it to the phone jack which is only a couple of feet away. In
    short: I can't really reposition router more than a couple of inches.

    New iMac is upstairs in room directly above the room with the old Mac and the router. Standard floor between the two rooms.

    Have tried different antenna angles on the router-- no effect that I can see, i.e., I lose the signal later no matter how the antennas are positioned.

    Did not know wireless is TWO way. Don't know what iMac's wireless signal range is, but again-- the iMac's in the room right above the router.

    Would appreciate additional feedback, and thanks to you both for your time.

    Mark A.
  5. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    the v5 is very limited in what can be done.

    first of all adjust the wireless settings listed below:

    try a different channel as interference maybe affecting a dropped signal.

    best to use 1 6 or 11 as a quick fix.

    Adjusting the "RTS Threshold" can help alleviate Packet loss. If one of the Wireless computers can obtain an IP address but can not ping, then set the "RTS Threshold" to 2304

    Adjusting the "Beacon Interval" can help association problems. If there is a wireless adapter that is able to see the access point, but is unable to get locked, try adjusting the "Beacon Interval" to 50

    Adjusting the "Fragmentation Threshold" can help association problems. If there is a wireless adapter that is able to see the access point, but is unable to get locked, try adjusting the "Fragmentation Threshold" to 2304

    the antennas on the WRT54G are not really great. twoway to fix this. ad reflectors on each antenna. this channels the signal into a better directional antenna, boosts the signal in a forward direction.

    http://www.freenantennas.com to see how to make one.

    the other method is get better antennas, however these can cost more, and not do that much good in some circumstances.

    another method could be get a longer cable for the ADSL to WRT54G connection and try repositioning the router.
  6. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Thanks, Simon, really appreciate the advice.

    How exactly do I go about changing the channel on the router? Or adjusting the different Thresholds, for that matter?

    I can't do it physically on the hardware device itself, right? There don't seem to be any switches or buttons on the outside of the router that I can see.

    I have to access some screen/window on the computer, don't I? Could you tell me what folders or menus I should be looking for? Sorry to be such a dope. Thanks.

  7. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member


    I take it you dont read much. :biggrin:

    I would suggest downloading the User manual for the WRT54G from linksys.com

    if your IP address is default for this router then do the following in the the web browser.

    username root
    password admin

    you'll find tons of stuff you wont understand there, since you didn't know it existed. Please make sure you READ the user manual.
  8. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Ouch! That smarts!!:redface:

    Download manual-- right! Will do!!:cool: is ringing a bell! That's where I went to do the initial config! Brain in gear now!! :rolleyes:

    Just tried to go there, but browser could not load; gave me a "could not load page because server stopped responding" message. Maybe busy due to high traffic?? Will try again later.


    Mr. Avid Non-Reader:frown:
  9. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    most likely due to the IP has been changed.

    goto command prompt and type

    ipconfig /all

    look for the default gateway ip address.
  10. jgutz20

    jgutz20 Network Guru Member

    maybe he enabled https as well..
  11. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Hi Simon and Net Nut, gracias for ongoing input/feedback.

    Have no idea what "enabled https" means-- sounds ominous...:(

    Found instructions on linksys.com for changing channels, but first step is to go to, which I still can't do (page won't load).

    No hints anywhere on linksys.com that this IP has been changed.

    Would like to try your suggestion, Simon, but I don't understand "go to command prompt." Where do I go exactly? Is it somewhere on the linksys.com site? on a particular page? Don't know WHERE to type in "ipconfig/all."

    Need more info in simple terms that an idiot can understand-- thanks!!
  12. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    i am guess in your running WinXP?

    goto start, Programs, Accessories, command prompt.

    or goto start, run, type in cmd then in the command prompt type in

    ipconfig /all (notice space between g and /)
  13. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    No Windows here.

    Running Mac OS 8.6 (old Mac) and/or Mac OS X 10.4 (new iMac).

    Should I be connected to the internet when I try to do this?

    What should be on my screen when I start?

    Sorry-- Extreme Idiot Mode here. Need more dumbing down... :(
  14. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    lol i cannot help i am a Mac newbie :)
  15. Disman_ca

    Disman_ca Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    1) Open system preferences and then click on network.
    2) You be presented with the network window and all of your network adaptes will be displayed (i.e. Built-in ethernet, Internal Model, Airport Extreme.
    3) Select the adapter that you are expecting to be connected with. For example, on your OSX system select the Airport adapter, then click configure.
    4) You'll see the screen change to show the details of your adapter settings. Towards the center you'll see IP Address. This is the address that is currently assigned to the network adapter. Below that it will list the router address which is most likely If it doesn't show an address starting with 192.168. then most likely its not connected.

    Easiest place to make the router changes would be on the old 8.6 MAC which is wired. Open in Safari and hopefully you know the password (default is admin).
  16. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Ahoy, Disman!

    Can't thank you enough. Those are just the sort of one-baby-step-at-a-time directions an Extreme Idiot needs. Will jump in and give it a try, and let you know what happens. Really appreciate it-- thank you!
  17. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Here's the latest:

    I was able to find the TCP/IP screens on both the old Mac and the new iMac, and to determine the IP Addresses of both computers.

    The old Mac has an IP Address of

    The new iMac has an IP Address of

    BOTH computers show a Router Address of

    It seems logical to me that two different computers should have two different IP Addresses-- do you agree?

    And it also seems reassuring that both have the same Router Address since they're both using the same router (wired for the old Mac, wireless for the new iMac).

    However, this info doesn't help me, because I'm still stuck-- meaning, I can't get to the router setup page to try changing channels.

    I tried to access all of the following this morning:

    I could not access any of these sites on either the old Mac or the new iMac. I got messages saying either that the server is not responding, or that it stopped responding, or that the browser simply could not connect to the server.

    Are the two computers in conflict somehow?

    Would appreciate any suggestions on where to go from here. Thanks.

    Mark A.
  18. jgutz20

    jgutz20 Network Guru Member

    Are both of these computers obtaining the IP address from the router or set static?

    What i meant before is to try
  19. Cerecix

    Cerecix Guest

    I'm reading this thread because I'm having a similar problem, which just started in about June (have had the router for a year). I will show that I have a strong signal, am connecting the the wireless access point, but it will not assign an IP address. This is an intermittent problem. I am not conflicting with other channels (have checked, and my software shows me what other wireless networks are in the area); I am WEP enabled. Is this an "association" problem as mentioned in one of the earlier posts?
  20. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Hi Net Nut, thanks.

    First: tried to access instead of
    Same result: no can do.

    I THINK the answer to your question is: both Macs are getting the IP Address from the router-- NOT static/set manually.


    In looking at the TCP/IP screens again on both computers, I saw a significant diff:

    On OLD Mac, says: Configure: Using DHCP

    On NEW iMac, says: Configure IPv4: Using DHCP

    What's more, at bottom of new iMac TCP/IP screen, says:

    IPv6 Address: fe80:0000:0000:0000:0216:cbff:fe01:321e

    And under THAT, there's a button that is asking me if I want to "Configure IPv6."

    I hit this button and got a small window telling me that this IPv6 is being generated Automatically, and giving me the options of either configuring it Manually, or turning it OFF.

    Even an Idiot like myself has to wonder: why this diff between the old and new Macs, and esp.: how come the new iMac seems to have both an IPv4 AND an IPv6?? Wouldn't these addresses be competing with each other??

    Sorry for not noticing this earlier-- what do you think?
  21. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Some good news: was able to "hard reset" my WRT54G by holding down the reset button for 20 seconds or so, and then unplugging it and restarting it. After that, I was able to access just fine.

    So FWIW: even tho my TCP/IP screen showed my Router Address as, apparently that was not the case, or at least not good enough to give me access to the setup site. It was only after the hard reset that I was able to access

    (Also FWIW: I looked at the WRT54G User Manual online in .pdf format, and while it certainly MENTIONS the reset button, it doesn't clearly SHOW it in the diagrams. My router's in a dark spot, and it was hard for me to see the reset button. For anyone who might need to know: on the WRT54G, it's a recessed button, and it's on the BACK panel of the router, not the front panel.)

    I had been on Channel 6. I successfully changed it to Channel 11. I still wound up losing the signal, but it seemed like I was able to stay logged on (to the internet) a bit longer (might be just wishful thinking).

    Am now experimenting with Channel 1.

    If anyone has any other ideas about combating interference-- meaning changes I could make to the router settings, besides changing channels--
    I'd appreciate hearing them.

    Thanks again to all who have responded.
  22. Disman_ca

    Disman_ca Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    First off, disable IPv6 if you haven't already you won't use (assumption). As for interference, if you chose to change the channels move 5 at a time (i.e 1, 6, 11). Reason being the channels overlap each other in the 2.4Ghz range. Are you able to determine or guess how long you can stay connected or does it only happen at certain times of the day? Other radio devices (including crapy microwaves) can interfere with the signal. As for more advanced signal tweaking, its best I leave that to someone with more knowledge.

    BTW, IPv6 is supported in OSX as it is a newer network standard. Anything older does use it.
  23. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    these are the regconised ways of "combatting" interference

  24. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    Just a quick thanks to both Disman and Simon-- really appreciate your taking the time here.

    Will head down to the lab to try some experiments and let you know what happens-- thanks again!
  25. marmstrong

    marmstrong LI Guru Member

    A final post here just to let any interested parties know how things worked out with my "lost wireless signal" problem. In case anyone's forgotten, I was losing it on a brand-new iMac.

    I tried all the suggested modifications to my WRT54G v5, including updating the firmware, without success. I was finally down to "building my own antennas" as a last resort.

    At that point, I uprooted my iMac from its second floor location and set it up it downstairs-- exactly 1 foot from the router. I sign onto the internet, and about 20 minutes later the signal dies and I'm gone as usual.

    I'd been going back and forth with Linksys Tech Support for about 2 weeks, getting the same suggestions I've gotten in this forum. So after my 1 Foot From The Router Experiment, I spent a whole day calling Apple Tech Support. After many failed diagnostics, I was finally connected with an iMac
    "Product Specialist"-- and luckily, he was.

    He found out that many iMac users were having the same problem I was.

    I can't provide a technical explanation, but here's the layman's version: there's a conflict between the Intel processor in an iMac (something called an Intel Core Duo, if that means anything to anyone) and the Linksys WRT54G, SPECIFICALLY versions 5 and 6.

    My wife's laptop PC (non-Mac) has an Intel processor, but it's a different Intel processor, and there's no conflict between it and the WRT54G v5-- which is why SHE never lost the wireless signal.

    Solution: I decided to spring for an Airport Extreme Base Station-- a router designed specifically for Apple computers, but which is also compatible with computers running Windows XP or Windows 2000, and which also have a Wi-Fi card.

    I set it up this afternoon in about 5 minutes. My wife's computer picked up the signal immediately, and-- for the first time ever!!-- I've been on the internet with my iMac for over an hour-- hooray!!

    I get the distinct impression most Linksys users are Windows people, so I'm not sure this post will be all that helpful-- but hey, if it helps just one poor devil, etc, etc.

    Thanks again to everyone who took the time to try to help me out-- cheers!

    Mark A.
  26. Disman_ca

    Disman_ca Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    Thats a bit of a concern for me as I planning on buying an iMac in the fall. I seriously hope Apple sorts this out. It must be OSX/Intel combo and I would expect it to be sorted out for the Leopard release. I just browsed through the Apple support forums and there are people reporting similar issues. No apple support acknowledgement but I do hope they put something out soon.

    Don't give up to easily on the WRT54g, I have 4 and they are great units. Maybe the v5 units have short comings, but I wouldn't dismiss it that quickly.
  27. Disman_ca

    Disman_ca Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    I just can't let this one go marmstrong. I got my hands on a new MacBook Pro and guess what, connection issues. I have found enabling "Interference Robustness" it helps but does not solve the problem. I have been looking through the Apple forums and some suggest moving from WEP to WPA solves the problem but I don't believe that. There was an interesting post form iFelix a 13 character 128 bit WEP password will be hashed by all vendors in the same way (if you use 40bit WEP then a 5 character password is required).


    I think there is more to it then that and its also a crock to read people saying Linksys doesn't support MAC and Apple doesn't support Linksys. I think my next step will be to call Apple support to see what they can figure out.

    BTW, syslogd on the WRT54GS doesn't show any issues.
  28. Disman_ca

    Disman_ca Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    WEP key update

    Yep read through some more sources (hopefully put something together in a seperate post) and found it. The 13 character WEP password is the "key" along with a $ at the beginning which tells the AirPort wifi client that it is ASCI text. I made the appropriate change to my WEP key on the WRT54GS and the link has been rock solid for my MacBook Pro. Obviously this doesn't help you as you indicated you weren't using encryption. Too bad the WRT54 is just sitting there like a discarded toy, it could have been fun for ya. ;)
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