Wireless connection disappears from Available list on iPAQ

Hi - I have an HP iPAQ 111 with Windows Mobile 6.0 which bought a few weeks ago.  

I have a Linksys WCG200 Wireless Cable Gateway which is secured using a 25-digit key and I do not broadcast the SSID.

Maybe once a day or so my home wireless network disappears from the iPAQ list of Available Networks, instead just showing two unsecured networks from neighbors who are broadcasting their SSID.  When the problem is going to occur I'll often get a balloon message saying something about the Network Key being wrong with a place to enter a key in.  Once I go to the Wireless Settings area I'll briefly see the home connection and then it usuallly disappears.    I was able to catch it twice before the "disappearing" stage and saw that the Key setting had changed by itself from being manually entered in by myself to having a checkmark next to Automatically Provided.  

When this happens I've been adding the network info in again by clicking New...entering in the SSID and the key.  After that it will work great until it happens the next time.  

It only happens when turning the iPAQ on and it tries to make the WLAN connection, not during use.  (It does not happen at every turn-on, as it's on and off frequently all day.)

My desktop PC is connected via wired ethernet and does not use the wireless, but I've checked our laptop and the home connection has never disappeared from the list even if it has not been accessed in some time.

I've rebooted the router when it's happened but this has not helped.

1.  Why is the Key setting changing itself to Automatic instead of the one I provide manually?
2.  Why does the home network disappear entirely?
3.  Is there any way I can NOT see the neighbors unsecured networks as Available on my list?

Thank you-
Vickie
vittoria2Asked:
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Pétur Ingi EgilssonSoftware Engineer -- ConsultantCommented:
Find a way to disable the "turn off device to save power" option for your wireless card.
I've seen it cause problems with XP machines.
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vittoria2Author Commented:
Thank you.  The device giving me the problems is my HP iPAQ 111 pda.  (I have no wireless issues with the laptop running XP.)

I usually have the pda plugged into AC so it only turns off if I turn it off, although it is set to turn off after 2 minutes if on battery.  (I do turn it off manually when I'm done using it even if it's plugged in.)

Would the power saving settings still be relevant?

Thanks again-
Vickie
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Darr247Commented:
Both the host and client using TKIP and/or AES type WPA/WPA2 security will change keys automatically every so many packets, which is one reason they're so much more secure than plain WEP.
Are you sure that's not what it's doing?

If you're using WPA and a secure 10+character passphrase not found in dictionaries, broadcasting the SSID doesn't decrease your wireless network's security, btw.
If someone's setup to crack WEP passwords from captured packets, the SSID can be found out the same way, whether it's hidden or not.
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vittoria2Author Commented:
Hi - What's happening is that for some reason the network key setting for my Home network on the iPAQ is switching from the one I've manually entered to the setting for "Automatically Provided" by itself.  The actual network key for my router is the same 26-digit key it has been all along.  I have it saved on the iPAQ in a Note file so I can copy/paste it in again when my connection disappears from the list and I have to add it New each time.

I think it's using WEP 128-bit encryption with a 26-digit key and a 9-character pass phrase.

Thank you-
Vickie
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Darr247Commented:
WEP uses 5-character ASCII/10-char Hex for 64-bit, or 13-char ASCII/26-char Hex for 128-bit (a few devices also support 154-bit, but most don't).

If it has a 9-character passphrase, then it's most-likely WPA-PSK.
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vittoria2Author Commented:
I'm using a Linksys WCG200 wireless gateway as the router/modem.  Evidentally it came in v1 & v2, with v2 being WPA-capable.  According to Linksys I have a v1, which can not do WPA.  

The security setting in the iPAQ is set for WEP.

The key for the router is constant.

Thank you-
Vickie
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Darr247Commented:
Have you already checked the HP support site? e.g.
http://forums12.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/categoryhome.do?categoryId=273

It seems to be a common problem with the iPAQs:
http://forums12.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1088550

You might also find this thread helpful:
http://forums12.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1039551
I don't see the 111 mentioned specifically, but it has links in it to a few WiFi guides prepared by iPAQ users.
The other thread mentioned in that one by ProfJulie where the WEP key is not being stored correctly is at
http://forums12.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1039554

Hopefully you haven't made too many customizations to it if you need to implement the possible solution given in that last one. But it also doesn't sound like quite the same problem, since in that case the WEP key was needing to be entered EVERY time.

The reason I was harping on the 26 Hex characters (0-9, A-F), was because you said ''25-digit key'' in your original message. Sorry if I obsessed on that a bit. ;-)
Unfortunately it does not appear that the iPAQs have the ability to generate the 26-character key from a 9-char passphrase (would be much simpler than re-entering all 26 characters, I'm sure).

I looked at quite a few threads in that support forum and saw many people say their home WiFi connections were fixed up after they assigned a static IP to the iPAQ instead of using the router's DHCP server. That sounds like 'no solution' to me, but if you decide to try that it may require some configuration in the router, too (e.g. to ensure its DHCP doesn't assign the IP you choose to another device; having devices with duplicate IPs on the same subnet is not 'a good thing' to say the least).

Here are a few more that might be helpful:
http://forums11.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1139482

http://forums11.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1093114

http://forums11.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1107672
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vittoria2Author Commented:
Thank you, Dar247, for the time you've taken in trying to come up with an answer so far.

I'm a fairly experienced computer user but my wireless abilities lag behind.  I like to run an ethernet wired connection to avoid wireless issues.  I know I hadn't seen WPA as a security option on the router and I miscounted the key digits initially.  

Today the problem has not happened at all...so far.  One of the links you provided mentions doing a soft reset  of the pda after entering in the network key.  I'll give that one a try next time, although I have done multiple soft resets on it for other things.

Question about expert-exchange...
I've paid for a year membership but I'm still on my free 1-week trial.  I'm not sure how the whole point thing works.  I know I assigned 500 points to my question.  (It was recommended.)   Would the 500 points go to the person providing the answer I accept?  What if the Accept Mulitple Solutions was used, would the points be divided?  Where are those 500 points coming from in the first place?

Thanks again for your effort -
Vickie



 


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Darr247Commented:
I think most of your questions are covered in the FAQ on the support page - http://www.experts-exchange.com/support.jsp
And http://www.experts-exchange.com/help.jsp explains how all the different level accounts work.

''Where do points come from?'' is an interesting question...
Premium members get unlimited points to award, so in that case I would say they come OUT of the proverbial bit bucket. ;-)

The 'experts' sometimes call them poinx, btw; I'm not sure where that came from.
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vittoria2Author Commented:
As a follow up...

So far this problem still continues.  At varying intervals I'll get a "network key is incorrect" message when the iPAQ attempts to connect to my home router.  If I quickly navigate to the Settings---Wireless Connections area I'll briefly see my router connection listed but it then disappears...requiring me to Add New again.

I found that once I get the message that the key is incorrect there will be the word "Notification" on the main screen of the iPAQ.  (It temporarily replaces the word Calendar.)  If I just open a file where I keep the network key handy and copy it I can just click Notification and the same message with the space to enter the key appears.  I'll paste it in there and select connect and things are fine again without having to add a new connection each time.  At least this method keeps the connection from disappearing.

I still have no answer as to why I get this "network key is incorrect" message in the first place.  The key has never changed.  (Router is WEP.)

Vickie
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Darr247Commented:
I think it's definitely a problem with the iPAQ. Whether HP will do anything about it is another story. If they replace it with another one that has the same behavior, that doesn't really help. I'm sure they'll insist you do a hard reset on it first before they'll do anything... still, if that doesn't help, considering how easily WEP passwords can be sniffed and cracked, I think I would either turn off security and just unplug the AP when not home (e.g. put the wall wart on a switched power strip rather than plugging and unplugging it), or upgrade the gateway to one that supports WPA2. i.e. if it's only happening with WEP. Do you have any WPA profiles in it that you use regularly?

I realize no suggestion so far is the ''preferred'' solution (which would be to make the iPAQ keep its WEP settings correctly), but in my opinion HP is responsible and they're not exactly stepping up to the plate like they should.
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vittoria2Author Commented:
The best work around so far is to keep the network key handy and paste it into the Notification area when the "Incorrect Network Key" message pops up.  
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