The world according to Sven-S. Porst
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• Easter Weekend »
We do now. We borrowed a big box full of equipment, containing a few Orinoco cards and a handful of antennae and did manage to connect to the university's wireless network. A few remarks and questions:
- It's Orinoco, not Orinocco, as I originally thought.
Lucent's driver is a pain to download and doesn't work with the cards we got – wrong firmware number or some such crap. The driver on the included CD was OS 9 only.
However, the open source WirelessDriver was a joy to download, and installing it was OK but not trivial. It doesn't seem to be actively developed these days, but it worked. Too bad it doesn't tie in with Apple's normal Airport infrastructure.
KiSMAC is great for discovering networks and their strengths. If you have this and are happy with discovering but not using the network, you don't even need the separate driver for the Orinoco card.
What exactly are dBm? I gather the scales are logarithmic in some way. Are -65dBm twice as good as -75dBm? What do the various signal strength gauges display? What's the highest value you can hope to realistically achieve? How are these values related to the signal strength values displayed in KisMAC?
We eventually got around -70dBm (signal strength around 22) with a small antenna that claims to habe 8,5dBi gain. (Now what is that gain thing exactly?) and is said to cost around €80. Another antenna we tried is active and claims to have 29dBi gain, giving a signal of -65dBm (alomst 30 in KisMAC), and apparently costing a whopping €300-400.
What signal strength do we really need? What would the benefit of a stronger antenna be?
What is the significance of the signal strength dropping to 0 occasionally when being observed in KisMAC?
Data throughput seemed to average around 100KB/s, according to MenuMeters. Not too bad, at least the speed of an ordinary DSL connection. Maximum throughput from the outside (loading a video from iTMS) was 180KB/s, and maximum from the 'local' network was 350KB/s. In between, throughput dropped to 40KB/s for short periods.
What kind of values can be expected from this kind of connection – going through an encrypted Cisco VPN connection.
The next step would be to distribute the network around our flat. In principle we are supposed to use a separate VPN connection for each computer. This would require some repeater or Airport-to-Airport bridge. Are these available in once piece (why shouldn't a device be able to receive and pass on signals at the same time?) or will we have to get two Aiport to Ethernet bridges and connect them with a cable? (Which would seem a bit daft).
April 9, 2004, 14:00
re: development of the WirelessDriver — there’s a very active mailing list for users of this driver, and the developers always seem to be about a day away from delivering an amazing new version. Sigh. Luckily, the driver works without any problems (aside from not supporting roaming properly — there’s no way to choose a network other than typing in its name, really).
April 9, 2004, 16:20