Connect IBM R51 to home wireless network

Posted on 2004-09-25
Last Modified: 2013-11-09
My son just came home from College and his IBM Thinkpad R51 doesn't automatically connect to our home wireless network.  He is at a wireless university.  Why doesn't his computer hook up?  How can we get him connected here?
Question by:Doctorfro
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Accepted Solution

plemieux72 earned 125 total points
ID: 12153003
There are many different security protocols used to connect wireless devices.  First you need to find out what is used on your home access point (AP).  Is your AP using any encryption?  If not, ensure no encryption is setup for the connection on the R51.  By the way, such a setup is NOT RECOMMENDED.  Second, if the AP uses encryption, find out what kind (WEP, WPA-PSK, RSN, etc.).  If it uses WEP or WPA-PSK there is a key that needs to be known by both the R51 and the AP for a connection to be established (for the R51 to associate to the AP).  You may need to consult the AP user guide to find out how to view and/or change the settings.  Same goes for the R51.

Once the laptop has the correct settings, it will associate to the AP and if your home network provides IP addresses to the clients that connect to it, you'll be in business.

You did not mention what error you are getting.  Please advise and I am sure someone here will come up with a solution.  
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Expert Comment

ID: 12153017
I forgot to mention two things.  IBM has a free utility you can download from their site called "IBM Access Connections".  It allows you to configure multiple connection profiles on the laptop.  So, when your son is at school, all he has to do is select the school profile.  When he comes home, choose the one with your AP settings.  This might be a little tricky to setup but once it works, it's easy to switch from one to the other.  Plus, additional profiles could be created for other locations like Starbucks or other locations that have different wireless settings.

Lastly, some enterprises require their wireless users to connect to the wireless network via VPN.  It's probably not the case at this university but just keep that in mind.  The VPN connection would only work where it was implemented... if the laptop tries to connect via VPN at your home it will fail.

Author Comment

ID: 12153107
I am running a Netgear WGT624 wireless router.  The thing is set up as basic as can be.  No encryption that I know of.  I am not getting an error.  The computer simply does not recognize the existence of a signal.  
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ID: 12153288
Ok.  Your router supports both 802.11g and the older (more widely-deployed) 802.11b mode.  Ensure the laptop also supports one of these modes.  Most integrated wireless adapters in laptops are 802.11b but lots of newer ones also do 802.11g which is faster.  Bottom line is both should transmit and receive the same way on the same radio frequencies in order to "talk" to each other.

Assuming that the wireless connection works fine when at school, and the mode matches, it should also work on your home network.  

Now, if you change any settings on the laptop, when your son returns to school, it will no longer connect.  So, make sure you either write down any setting before you change them (or install IBM Access Connections) so he can put everything back like it was when he leaves home.

Now, I strongly suggest you enable encryption on your wireless router.  If you leave it open for everyone to use, not only can people use up some of your Internet connection bandwidth but you are also leaving the computers on your network vulnerable to attack.  Your WGT624 supports WPA which is MUCH better than WEP (also supported) so I suggest you enable it.

Once that is done, just configure the laptop to us WPA with the same pre-shared key you configured on the wireless router.  You should have no trouble connecting.  Refer to the setup guide of the router.  If you haven't been on, you may also visit that and check the related articles in the support section about this access point.
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Author Comment

ID: 12153308
OK.  This is what his adapter says:  11a/b/g Wireless Lan Mini PCI Adapter
It works at school.  Doesn't work here.  Do you think it's some kind of VPN like you mentioned before?  Doesn't seem likely but I guess it could be.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12153326
I think you son would know if he was using VPN as there would be a software VPN client he would need to use to connect.

What operating system is on the laptop?  Check and make sure the wireless adapter is enabled.  If it's Windows you can right-click on the adapter (different ways of getting to it depending on the version of Windows) and select properties.  You can view the settings there.  Explore through all the tabs and just make sure they match the settings on your WGT624.  If the wireless settings are entered somewhere else (by using some kind of wireless utility), use that and check the settings there.

Author Comment

ID: 12153359
He's using xp pro.  The adapter must be enabled or he wouldn't be able to use it at school.  But it does show up in the hardware manager with no conflicts.

When you say, "Settings", which ones are you referring to?
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Expert Comment

ID: 12153375
The settings for the wireless connection.

They are in either of two places:

1- Start, Control Panel, Network Connections, some icon will represent the wireless adapter, right-click it and choose "View available wireless networks".  This will give you the properties sheet you need.  There may be a different way to get to it... this is the way it's on my laptop but depending how the XP user interface is setup, you may need to get to it another way... just poke around.

2- Otherwise, if he's using a wireless connection client utility of some kind, see if there is an icon on the desktop or in the Start, All programs.  Once you open that, you will see what I mean.

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