AAM: PC To Airport, Where Are You?

by Aaron Wright Jul 02, 2007

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you went to the shop, bought a product, took it home and turned it on and it just worked? It sure would, but then that would make things just perfect and life, unfortunately, isn’t perfect.

Apple has the talent of delivering products that work right out of the box with little to no configuration while Microsoft loves to be the complete opposite, although it does have some impressive products of its own. Put those two together, though, and things don’t always go according to plan.

Nora left a comment on our forums a while back now asking for some help connecting her PC wireless network adapter to the Airport Network active in her household. It seems that there is no consistent signal strength and understandably it’s causing a great deal of frustration. Nora also wants to know if she can purchase another wireless network adapter, developed by Apple, to work on her Windows PC.

xwiredtva saves the day with an in-depth and definitely appreciated explanation to the problem. Thanks!

There are a few more questions on the AAM boards without answers, so feel free to check them out now, or if you have a question for yourself that you’d like answered, please leave a post with the problem, giving as much detail as you can and hopefully someone can get back to you. I can’t stress how important it is for you to give as much info as possible though, because without it our readers are just given a much harder task in guessing what your issue is.

Until next week!

Question of the Week

Wireless Network Adapter Compatibility Problems

Question by: Nora

My wireless network pc adapter does not consistently recognize the Airport Network Wireless signal. Is there a wireless network pc adapter that works reliably with the Airport Network?


Is there a Mac wireless network adapter that would be compatible with a PC?

I appreciate any words of wisdom on this matter.

Answer of the Week

Answer by: xwiredtva

Anyone will have this problem. Here’s the long/short answer. Your PCMCIA card can only output a certain amount of power. And a WiFi connection is not like a radio where you only need 1 direction to get you online. You need two ways and if your PC can see the router then it can speak to it, if it can’t speak to it then it will not show up. Also keep in mind your only antenna to the router is in that little black part sticking out from the PCMCIA slot. In experience they’re only good for less than 100’ sight-sight of the router, walls (and their material/thickness) and other wireless devices will drop the signal strength. Another factor is the Channel. If you have other routers in the area on the same or within 2 points of the channel switch yours to a lower/higher number.

Example: In my neighborhood everyone has a wifi router (seems like it), the Mac’s can hit just about everyone’s antenna in a 4 block radius (internal WiFi and Antenna—always better this way) so I can see everyone is on the default Channel 11, I switch mine to 3 and my signal quality is better, strength is obviously the same but I’m not dropping and my speed is faster.

Hope that helps. No Apple made adapter for PC’s. However a PC with a built in WiFi/Antenna would probably be better than your PCMCIA card.

I’d suggest running a few QOS tests up close then farther and farther away.

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  • Greetings! One additional to the WiFi issue. (don’t know if someone else already mentioned this, haven’t looked at the logs yet.) Many cordless home phones can and will interfere with WiFi signals.  My 2.4Ghz phone would completely cut off my base station. . . Until I changed channels on the base station.  I have seen a neighbor’s phone weaken my base station’s signal, too.  Took me a couple of tries before I found a channel free of interference.  Just a thought.  Have a great day.  Adam

    apfnord had this to say on Jul 02, 2007 Posts: 1
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