Bizarrely Automatic

I have been working on my new dual wireless network, in essence creating two wireless networks on my home network, one pure 802.11n 5GHz and a 802.11g 2.4GHz for older legacy devices.

When I initially set up my 802.11n Airport Extreme I used the 802.11n b/g 2.4GHz radio mode so that both 802.11n and 802.11b/g devices could connect. I also left the channel on Automatic and it chose channel 6.

For the 802.11g network I was going to use the older UFO shaped Airport Extreme (having given up on my Airport Express). As I configured it this evening, I had some problems getting my wireless Canon MP600R to connect to it, so I changed the channel from 11 (which is the same channel) as a neighbour’s wireless network and put it on Automatic. It chose channel 13, and I thought this is going to be problematic, as though UK wireless devices can use 13 channels on the 2.4GHz spectrum, in the US you can only choose channels 1 through 11. Some manufacturers only make a single device for both the US and UK markets, so these would not be able to connect to a wireless base station using channel 13. So I went in again and changed the channel to channel 2.

What happened next was weird, basically it stopped broadcasting.

I could see it was okay in the Airport Utility, as I was connected to the 802.11n wireless network and the older Airport Extreme was hard wired into that. However I could not see (on a few devices) the 802.11g wireless network.

I set it back to Automatic and it was there again.

I then decided to change the channel on the 802.11n Airport Extreme so that I could free up channel 6 and (hopefully) the older 802.11g Airport Extreme would then automatically choose channel 6 as its Automatic channel.

Well imagine my annoyance and surprise when I changed the channel on the 802.11n base station, it too stopped broadcasting!

Changed it back to Automatic and all was fine again.

Why I have to have Automatic as my channel choice I don’t know.

Why not one but both base stations stopped broadcasting when I chose a channel manually, I have no idea.

So for the moment I have the 802.11n network on channel 6 and the 802.11g network on channel 13.

Plan now is to turn off the 802.11n network and try and get the 802.11g Airport Extreme to choose channel 6!

Changing my Network Topology

Over the last week or so, I have been messing about experimenting with my network topology.

Previously I had a relatively simple network, a sole Airport Express with a lot of wireless clients. After having quite a few connectivity issues with the Airport Express, I knew I had to replace it with my newer Airport Extreme.

Once I did this, I left it in place for a few days to iron out any wrinkles or problems. I am running it in 802.11n b/g mode so that all my wireless clients can connect to it.

Yesterday I started to rearrange things, so that I could have wired clients, a pure 802.11n network and a separate 802.11g network.

My Airport Extreme now sits under my television, connected to it is my EyeHome, this should mean it can communicate to my iMac (which I use to record television via an Elgato EyeTV device) and stream video, audio and pictures without stuttering. I also intend to hardware a Mac mini as well and this will be my media centre for the moment – longer term I will replace this either with an Apple TV or another Intel based Mac mini. This Mac mini will have an Elgato USB EyeTV device attached.

I will also connect to the Airport Extreme (the third device to the third LAN port) an older 802.11g Airport Extreme which will be running a pure 802.11g wireless network for the older wireless clients. I will very likely stop using 802.11b devices, but as these are only PDAs I am not too worried and if I do need to test them I can always use the airport Express and plug that into the AirportExtreme as and when necessary.

Both wireless networks will use WPA as this is secure compared to WEP, however I will not be closing my networks, nor will I be using MAC address access control.

I am hoping that this will improve the network and make it much faster for internal file transfers and as I replace older Macs with newer ones which support 802.11n it should also be future proof as well.

The only downside I guess is the location of the 802.11n Airport Extreme does make it difficult to test USB hard drives and printers.

802.11n EyeHome

I know some reading this may be thinking, yes, Elgato have released an 802.11n version of their (sadly discontinued) EyeHome media streamer.


Sadly no, though like others I hope one day Elgato do release a new EyeHome, though Apple have released the Apple TV, I think there is still a gap in the market for a revised EyeHome.

However onto what this blog post is about… My EyeHome with is non-wireless is connected to my wireless network via a Linksys WET54G which was connected to my 802.11g Airport Express wireless network.

Now I have been having problems with my Airport Express so streaming video has been difficult as it stutters a lot. Particularly I have been having issues with my EyeTV BBC digital (Freeview) recordings which seem to be of higher quality than other Freeview channels.

Today I connected a cat5e cable from my 802.11n Airport Extreme to the EyeHome, as my TV is one side of the room and the telephone point is on the other, I have had to get a long cable.

First tests have been very positive. My content is on my iMac which is in the office in another part of the house, this is linked wirelessly to the 802.11n Airport Extreme, but streaming video, including BBC recordings, has been nearly perfect. Compared to what was happening before this is so much better, much much better.

I am pleased, as up until now I have been forced to burn my EyeTV recordings to DVD before I could watch them on my TV.

Another reason why I am glad I upgraded my wireless network to 802.11n.

Which Airport Extreme 802.11n do I have?

Apple have released two versions of their new 802.11n Airport Extreme base station.

The first version only had 10/100 ethernet LAN ports, the newer version has 10/100/1000 (ie gigabit) ethernet LAN ports.

The problem arises that though they have different part numbers, MA073LL/A for the original version and MB053LL/A for the newer gigabit model, both models share the same model number, A1143.

So how do you tell the difference?

There are only two ways really.

One on the box the base station came in, the model will be identified by the part number. MB053LL/A means it is the newer model. There is nothing else on the box which mentions gigabit ethernet.

I know when I bought mine from the Apple Store in Birmingham (in the UK) I was quite concerned whether I had the newer model or not, particularly as it had only just come out.

The other way is via the Airport Utility, which can identify if it is a gigabit ethernet model or the older version.


It’s not that clear from the raw model which is which, but if you have the box or you can access the base station via the Airport Utility then you can find out if you have gigabit ethernet or not.

For other Airport base stations I have a table on my website which goes through all the differences.

802.11n’ised WET54G

I am currently looking for a 802.11n version of the Linksys WET54G which I have been using with my EyeHome.

The Linksys WET54G is an ethernet wireless bridge, basically it enables you to connect (wired) etherent devices to a wireless network.

As you might guess from the name the WET54G is an 802.11g device which has been working okay in conjunction with my EyeHome. However the limitations of the 802.11g wireless network means that I have had some buffering issues with some video files.

I am hoping with an 802.11n network that I will solve these buffering issues and will be able to stream my EyeTV recordings (in the main BBC recordings) smoothly without stuttering.

The problem I have is that Linksys don’t (yet) make an 802.11n version of their WET54G. I am not sure which 802.11n devices do work with Apple’s implementation of 802.11n.

Another 802.11n Airport Extreme as a WDS node for me is not really a solution as WDS effectively halves the wireless bandwidth.

So if you have any suggestions leave me a comment with a recommendation.


I was playing around with my new 802.11n Airport Extreme base station seeing how I could maximise the performance of the wireless network.

I switched to a pure 5Ghz 802.11n network and then using Chicken of the VNC on my work MacBook Pro made a connection to my iMac and set EyeTV going. I was quite impressed with the screen refresh, however it wasn’t good enough (even at 300Mbs) to watch remotely.

I also undertook some file transfers and was very impressed with the speed.

I had to switch back to b/g compatible mode which reduced the 802.11n speed down to 130Mbs, but as I have a fair few legacy devices I need the b/g compatability. I will at some point add an Airport Express or my older 802.11g Airport Extreme to one of the LAN ports of the newer base station to enable me to have a dual wireless network, one a pure 802.11n network and a b/g network.

The only problems I had were when I switched back to b/g compatible mode, I forgot to reset the security back to WPA/WPA2 mode which meant that my HP TC1100 Tablet failed to connect back onto the network. I had to reset the wireless security and then reboot the TC1100 before it would connect correctly to the wireless network. Other devices worked fine, butI suspect that was because theTC1100 hardware doesn’t support

I also had to delete and add back my wireless Canon MP600R wireless printer.

I am impressed with the new 802.11n Airport Extreme and I haven’t even started to utilise the full functionality of the device.

Stable Wireless

Well after upgrading to the new Airport Extreme (802.11n) base station, it does seem to have had an impact on my network stability.

Today my wireless network has remained stable and I have maintained connectivity.

It would appear that the fault lay with my Airport Express, though it didn’t help that my ISP had problems at the same time.

All working now.

Upgraded to Airport Extreme 802.11n

After a few days of a really flaky internet connection and problems with my wireless network I started to wonder if it all was my ADSL connection or possibly my Airport Express was on its way out.

So I went ahead and replaced my Airport Express with my new Airport Extreme which I had been meaning to use for something else, but was currently hiding in a cupboard.

Apart from not plugging in the power properly (wondered why I couldn’t find it when I scanned for it) and a double NAT issue, it is working fine and seems to be making a real difference to my connection and the reliability of the wireless network.

As I have 802.11g devices I can’t use a pure 802.11n network, but even so it does seem a little faster.

We’ll have to see if this change of Airport base station solves the issues I have been having over the last few days, I certainly hope so.