OK, with a BT 'Ready For Service' (RFS) date of 8th October just a couple of weeks away, I've invested in a D-Link DSL-604+ wireless router with built-in ADSL modem.
It seemed worth doing early for a couple of reasons:-
So I ordered one from Expansys. I often buy equipment from Expansys and have found them very reliable. In this case, as so often, they were also the cheapest.
It duly arrived and I was impressed with how easy it is to set up via its browser-based interface. I connected straight away using the netBook with basic WiFi settings (SSID 'default', DHCP) but didn't see anything in Opera on the default http://192.168.0.1 URL. A little experimentation with my PC revealed the problem; the default login screen uses Flash.
It also revealed the solution; use the URL http://192.168.0.1/main/pMain.html instead and the password dialog promptly appears on the netBook (I bet that will catch out a few people - and not just netBook users!).
From this point on setup was very easy, though I would just mention that one or two configuration screens can cause Opera to bomb out. If you have a PC then it's probably best to use Mozilla or Internet Explorer for configuration purposes, otherwise the router does sport an RS232 port, so you can use this (or telnet) to access the text-based setup.
Setting up the router to allow file sharing between PCs was simple. All I had to do was switch the PCs wireless settings to use infrastructure mode and temporarily remove the WEP encryption.
The Belkin card that would not work in the netBook on adhoc mode worked perfectly on infrastructure mode in it, though I did notice that the signal strength was weaker than the Orinoco card.
I reinstated the WEP encryption and added MAC address filtering so that the wireless LAN could only be accessed by my wireless devices and did some speed tests.
As expected, having the router link between two machines does result in a slight loss of speed compared with the direct link in adhoc mode but it's still always in excess of 1Mb/s even if the signal is weak, so it's perfectly acceptable for most file-sharing purposes. If you need more speed then you have to lose the security benefits of the WEP encryption and MAC address filtering - something I'm not prepared to do.
At this point, I didn't really want to switch back to adhoc mode. It seemed a better idea to see if I could get internet connection sharing (ICS) to work through the router via my main PC's modem. In theory this should be possible but I hadn't seen any information on it (after all, "why should anyone with a broadband ADSL router/modem want to share a 56K dial-up modem connection ? !)
Well with a little messing about, I came up with following configuration :-
I should just mention that this works for the following reasons :-
1. I've set the DSL-604+'s IP address as 192.168.0.199 (and changed the URL used to access the web interface accordingly)
2. I've left my main PC (that has the modem) with a fixed IP address of 192.168.0.1 because Microsoft's ICS will only work with this figure.
The other machines, including the netBook, are set to use DHCP at the moment but this is optional; the key is ensuring the router doesn't use and can't allocate the 192.168.0.1 address.
The advantage of this approach is that there are no changes required to the netBook or other PCs' configuration to make when I start using the broadband connection; I just need to switch the Router's IP address back to 192.168.0.1 and tell my main PC to use DHCP rather than this fixed IP address.
Obviously I will also need to tell the router about my new broadband ISP as well. I also need to buy an ADSL microfilter but then I'm all set for 8th October. I'll let you know how I get on in part 3 ;-)
Update 28th Sept
Unfortunately the DSL-604+ failed to reboot after I made a small configuration change and it's now had to go back. Performing a factory reset made no difference and the router fails to respond via wireless or hard-wired ethernet.
According to the support engineer at D-Link, this problem does crop up sometimes with this model - a fairly alarming admission since there's no fix other than to return it to the manufacturer.
Expansys were pretty good about this and have agreed to give me a full refund. I'm buying an alternative product but I'll avoid recommending that here yet until I'm sure it's reliable.
part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4
Sunday, 15 February 2004