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802.11b Wireless LAN Networking Roundup

802.11b Wireless LAN Networking Roundup - PCSTATS
Abstract: Wireless LAN's are gaining in popularity with a speed that is eclipsing the rate at which Ethernet's were originally adopted by home users.
Filed under: Networking Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Various Sep 09 2002   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Networking > Various 802.11b

SMC Networks 802.11b

The SMC Barricade SMC7004AWBR uses an all metal base, and behind the plastic bezel a full metal shield to enclose all of the electronics. The unit feels really solid, and although we would have really liked to have seen removable antennas on it (so a higher-gain antenna could be attached) we were generally impressed with the construction, and overall quality of SMC's entry.

The two antennas to swivel and bend for better positioning, but there is no way to remove them and install a omnidirectional antenna, for example.

Hardware Installation:

Installing the Barricade WAP Router was pretty straightforward. All the we had to do was plug in the AC adaptor and plug in the included RJ45 straight-through Ethernet cable into the "WAN" port. This takes one port away from the router, leaving just three ports clear. There is also a parallel port for LAN printing.

The Barricade measures about 14cm x 22cm x 3cm and features twin adjustable dipole antennas which are not removable. Unlike other WAP routers in this roundup, the SMC Barricade also comes with a parallel port. The recessed reset button is standard to most wireless access ports these days, and this unit from SMC is no different.

There are no means of hanging the unit off the side of a wall or desk unfortunately, just four rubber feet to keep it put on sloping surfaces. The router does not come with the serial cable either.

SMC Networks - WAP


Software Installation & Initial Setup:

The SMC Barricade SM7004AWBR uses a browser-based system to configure the routers settings so basically anyone with access to the wireless network can configure it if they know the proper password. A driver CD comes with the unit our installation proceeded problem free. Once our WindowsXP test system had the SMC wireless PCI card installed, it was simply a matter of following to get it up and wirelessly communicating.

The first step was to make sure our test computer was ready to communicate with the router. In the case of a home computer it is worth while to record all of the ISP settings before you move forward and lose them. Under WindowsXP we set the SMC EZconnect PCI card to the settings in the chart below. Note that the last three digits of the fourth octet of the static IP address can be anywhere from 2-254. To keep things simple for everyone, we'll be keeping this setting at "xxx.xxx.xxx.20".

IP Address: 192.168.2.20
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway: 192.168.2.20

Configuration & Features:

To enter the configuration area we loaded up a browser and pointed it at 192.168.2.1. A bright blue SMC configuration menu showed up letting us know that the wireless connection was working correctly in the default state. Since this configuration screen is open to anyone by default, it is really important to set the administrator password first.

From the configuration menus you have the ability to change all of the LAN settings and initialize some rudimentary wireless security steps.

If you're integrating the Barricade Router into an existing network there are several really handy features built into the unit to make configuring the wireless components a much simpler task. The most basic of which is a built-in DHCP server (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol).

With DHCP, authorized wireless connections (or any of the wired ones for that matter) will automatically get assigned IP addresses. If you need to set a few static addresses that can still be accomplished as well.

For home users with a broadband connection the SMC Barricade has several tools to make the switch from a single computer connection as smooth as possible. In addition to allowing users to configure the router to Dynamically obtain its IP address, it can also be set to a host name and MAC (Media Access Control) address.

Most of today's broadband connections (Rogers, et. all) use two pieces of info to authenticate a home connection. The first is the host computer name, and the second is the MAC address of the network adaptor in the computer. Releasing the IP information of the computer before making the jump over to a broadband router is a good first start, but if the ISP servers are still locked onto the old MAC address you are going to end up spending some quality time with the service department.

With the SMC Barricade you can set the router to the same MAC address as the old NIC and ensure that the transition is a smooth one. Most of the other WAP's also have similar features.

Setting up a Secure Wireless Connection:

Changing the default WAP settings is really important, otherwise the door to your network is pretty much wide open to anyone in range of the signal. Unfortunately, the SMC Barricade Router totally fails to provide any documentation with the unit (that we could find) which explains how to configure WEP, or other basic wireless security measures.

The three stages of setting up a secure WAN are: SSID, MAC filters, and finally WEP encryption. The first two settings are pretty easy to get around if you are determined, but WEP least adds a measure of security which is unlikely to be tackled in the home or office environment as long as the keys are changed every once in a while.

Default Network Settings Updated Network Settings
(examples)
IP Address: 192.168.2.1 192.168.2.1
Password: none MyPass
SSID: default testSMC
WEP: disabled 64-bit enabled
Passphrase: n/a myPass
Channel: 6 6
MAC Filters:
(up to 4)
none 00.07.F2.63.32.9E

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Contents of Article: Various 802.11b
 Pg 1.  802.11b Wireless LAN Networking Roundup
 Pg 2.  — SMC Networks 802.11b
 Pg 3.  SMC Networks PCI 802.11b
 Pg 4.  Trendnet 802.11b
 Pg 5.  Trendnet PCI 802.11b
 Pg 6.  Actiontec 802.11b
 Pg 7.  Actiontec PCI 802.11b
 Pg 8.  Wireless Test Results

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