A Quick Guide to Wireless Networking
By Gary Hendricks
1. Essential Equipment
Right, let's move right along. The first thing to do in setting up a wireless
home network is to get the correct equipment. These are the things you need:
Wireless home networking kit
This is your basic equipment for the network. Typically, these home networking
kits come with a firewalled wireless router (e.g. the immensely popular Linksys
WRT54G). Some also bundle a wireless PC card for connecting laptops to the
network, or a wireless USB adapter for connecting desktop PCs.
Windows installation CDs
These are required sometimes during installation of drivers, so its handy to
have them around first.
These are required if you intend to mix wired PCs into a wireless network. For
example, you can connect an Ethernet cable between the wireless router and a desktop PC.
2. Install the Wireless Router
Install the wireless router according to the manufacturer's instructions. Modern
wireless home networking kits make this really easy. Just connect the wireless
router to power supply, connect the wireless PC card to your laptop, or USB
adapter (or Ethernet cable) to the desktop PC. Then insert the installation CD
into one PC and start the software installation process.
As part of the setup process, you usually need to surf to a local IP address,
e.g. 192.168.0.1 to setup basic parameters for the router. Most of the options
can be left as default, with the exception of SSID (Service Set Identifier) and
encryption settings, which are explained below.
3. Choose the Service Set Identifier
Wireless networks require a network identification code called the Service Set
Identifier (SSID). When connecting devices to the network, this is the name you
use to specify which network you're connecting to. Make sure you set up this
parameter using the router setup page or utility.
4. Encrypt Your Wireless Network
Remember an intruder can easily gain access to an unencrypted network without
too much trouble. Wireless networks these days usually use the WEP standard to
set up encryption. To configure this, go to your router setup page or utility
and enter the WEP security key (usually its a 128 bit hexdecimal text entry you
need to key in).
Note this WEP key down. Now, go to each PC in your network. Open up the
Control Panel | Network Connections and select your wireless network
connection. You need to enter the WEP key for the connection - the manufacturer's
should have instructions on how to do this.