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How to Create and Maintain a Mobile Lab for a Junior High School?

Ok, long story short - I teach in a middle school/junior high school in the Bronx, NY, and I have been acting as the schools technology coordinator for two years.  We recently were approved a rather large grant which allowed us to purchase a number of Dell (Latitude D600) laptops, Lexmark T630 network printers, a Dell access point, and a 16 port hub.  The equipment comes as a standard package from our inventory purchasing warehouse.  My basic question is on the best way to network these laptops (36 in total) so that they may all use the same printer and have access to the internet as the lab moves from room to room.  The laptops are all running Windows XP, and have integrated wireless connectivity.  The entire school has been retrofitted with wireless drops (Cisco wireless b boxes, tiny antenna, 11 mb) so the laptops come preconfigured to access the schools wireless network through a proxy server.  I am capable of getting all of them online through dhcp.  I can also get them to print to the network printer via ip printing.  The only limitation is that for this to work they need to stay in one room, which kills the whole “mobile” lab idea.  Can I set this up so everything works from room to room?  I thought maybe ad-hoc connecting the student laptops/workstations to one “server” laptop that stays connected to the printer through ethernet, but I’m not sure.  Desperately confused and seeking guidance, any and all help is appreciated.
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SP1DEY
Asked:
SP1DEY
1 Solution
 
ProperMethodzCommented:
You answered your own question... Keep one hardwired as a server, and share the printer from that standalone...
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TeeSeePeeEyePeeCommented:
We have set up a similar system (in a school in the Bronx, no less) - we used an WiFi Bridge with an Ethernet port that remained on the cart (along with the printer, which was connected to the bridge).  This bridge would connect to the nearest access point, extend availability of the printer, and also make doubly sure that the laptops within range of the cart had a solid signal.

a couple of examples of bridges:

http://www.3com.com/products/en_US/detail.jsp?tab=features&pathtype=purchase&sku=3CWE820A-US


http://www.3com.com/products/en_US/detail.jsp?tab=features&pathtype=purchase&sku=3CRWE83096A

http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=22&prid=432

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wparrottCommented:
I would agree with TeeSeePeeEyePee (cute name, btw). I'm technology coordinator for a small school division (2800 students, 5 schools). We purchased the Dell cart solutions a few years ago. In my case, we didn't have total wireless coverage in the buildings so I just put the AP on the cart. When the cart is rolled into a classroom (36 laptops sure are heavy, aren't they?) the teacher connects just one of the electrical cords and an ethernet cable (from the AP on the cart) into the classroom jack. Using the Linksys wireless repeater is a great solution to the printer connectivity problem. The laptops are configured to only connect to the AP on the cart.The laptops will always 'see' the printer (provided the cart is nearby).

In your case you'd just connect the printer and the AP to the hub and a cable from the hub to the classroom jack (if one is available). It would get a bit tricker if you need to have the AP connect to another AP in the building (no ethernet jack in the classroom required) but could be done.

HTH...
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toojeep4uCommented:
Are you pulling the printer around with you too?  Are does it stay in one room now?  If you have wireless access throughout the school you should be able to do whatever wherever you go.  Unless some of the other WAP's are not set up to allow the MAC's of the laptops.  You said you can get online with all of the laptops but can you do it from anywhere int he school?
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PennGwynCommented:
We have a cart, too, but it is never used while moving.  The AP and the printer ride on the cart.

We also have a back-end for our wireless VLAN that manages roaming from AP to AP while retaining connection.  This turns out to have a cute side-effect:  If someone brings in a laptop that was configured for a diffewrent wireless network, the back-end will automatically NAT them (and I believe also renew their DHCP lease as needed).

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