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.