Thursday, August 15, 2002
Posted by Jason Dunn in "ARTICLE" @ 10:00 AM
Un-published PocketPC.com article originally written April 20th, 2002.
In part one of this series we covered some of the basics to keep in mind when setting up an 802.11b wireless LAN. Now we’re going to cover how to get your Pocket PC working on that wireless LAN, and give you suggestions on what you do with it once you get going.
What You Need
• A working 802.11b wireless LAN
• An 802.11b card for your Pocket PC (PCMCIA or CompactFlash, depending on model)
Step 1: Install the drivers
The first thing you’ll need to do in order to get your 802.11b card working in your Pocket PC is to install the drivers. There will be a CD-ROM included with the card that should contain the drivers. Every card will be different, but in all cases the procedure is the same:
1. Connect your Pocket PC to your desktop computer via ActiveSync
2. Insert the CD-ROM that came with the 802.11b card
3. Install the drivers (I often install them to the Flash ROM memory of the Pocket PC)
4. Disconnect your Pocket PC and insert the card
Step 2: Configure the card
Once you’ve installed the drivers, you’ll need to configure the card. Every brand of card will have slightly different software to configure, but most of the drivers on the Pocket PC will have similar options you’ll want to look at. In order, these are:
Figure 1: Checking the SSID and Operating Mode
Check the SSID and Operating Mode: Figure 1 shows a screen shot from the Symbol card, but you’ll want to check that the SSID is correct with whatever software you’re using. The SSID needs to match whatever you set it as when you set up your wireless access point. In most cases, unless you’ve changed it, it will be “default”. The operating mode should be “infrastructure” – other modes are for wireless LANs without access points (they involve peer to peer access).
Figure 2: DHCP or static IP?
Getting your IP address: Every computer that gets on the Internet has to have an IP address – think of it like an ID number. If you have a router that performs NAT (network address translation), odds are it also has a DHCP server and will automatically dish out an IP address. Most Pocket PC software will default to this mode (Figure 2), but double check to make sure. If you have a static IP address that you want to use, enter it now.
Figure 3: Check your signal strength
Check your signal strength: Every Pocket PC 802.11b driver I’ve seen has some method of checking signal strength. You want to verify that the signal strength is strong enough in the areas where you’ll be working. Walk around your home or office and watch the signal strength – if it drops off in an area where you want coverage, you may need to re-position the wireless access point or purchase another one to increase coverage.
Step 3: Set up connection manager
Once you’ve confirmed your card is working and you have signal strength, open up Pocket Internet Explorer and try to go to a web site. Odds are you’ll receive an error message that looks just like Figure 4:
Figure 4: A common Connection Manager error
This error means it’s time to configure the Pocket PCs Connection Manager! The default settings never quite work right, so you’ll need to change them. Tap on Settings and a new window will load. Odds are the three drop-down menus you’ll see will be set to Internet Settings, Work Settings, and Work – in that order.
If you’re on a business LAN that requires a proxy server, tap on the Modify button under the second drop down menu (“When needed, automatically connect to Work using these settings:”). Click on the Proxy Settings tab (Figure 5) and check of the first box at the top (“This network connects to the Internet”), as well as the second box and enter in your proxy server address.
Figure 5: Setting up the proxy server
Once you’ve changed the proxy settings, click OK and try to connect again. If you still can’t connect, or if you don’t have a proxy server at all (most gateway devices don’t use them), go back into Connection Manager and change all the drop down menus to the following: Internet Settings, Internet Settings, and The Internet (in that order) – just like Figure 6 shows.
Figure 6: Configuring for Internet access
This is the setting that I need to use. Theoretically, the first settings under Work should do the trick, but it doesn’t seem to work unless there’s proxy information entered. Once complete, click OK and try to connect to a web site again – you should connect. You’re live!
It’s important to note here that if you want to use ActiveSync, you’ll need to change these settings all back to work – it won’t function otherwise.
Step 4: Help! It’s not working…
If your wireless LAN connection is working on your Pocket PC, skip this step and move on to the next one. If you’re having problems, here are some things to consider:
• Move within close range of your wireless access point – there may be something blocking or dramatically reducing the signal strength of your wireless access point, so getting close to it will tell you if you’re having signal strength problems
• Change the channel of your wireless access point – remember that 802.11b works on the same 2.4 GHz frequency that some portable phones do, so there’s a chance someone around you has one that is interfering with the signal strength. There are 11 distinct channels for the access point
• Take out the 802.11b card, soft reset the Pocket PC, and after it has rebooted, insert the card
• Check the SSID setting – it’s case sensitive, but to make things simple change it to “any” (no quotes) and you’ll pick up the strongest network signal. If there are multiple networks in your area, use the proper SSID
• If your software came with a PING utility, use it – if you can ping an IP address (like 184.108.40.206), it likely means you’re having DNS server problems and the solution lies with your gateway device
• If all else fails, put the card in a laptop to see if the card is faulty, or if it’s incompatible with your Pocket PC. And there’s a slight chance your Pocket PC may be faulty if the card works in the laptop and you’re sure the settings were all correct
Step 5: You’re done!
Now that you have your Pocket PC working over your wireless LAN connection, it’s time to see what you can do with it. The possibilities are vast, but here are some ideas:
• Set up an email account, especially if it’s IMAP, so you can check your email from anywhere in your home or office
• ActiveSync with your PC to get appointment updates, new email, and updates
• Set up MSN Messenger so you can chat with your friends and co-workers from anywhere
• There’s a new breed of Pocket PC games coming out: wireless multiplayer. If you’re a fan of chess, check out this multiplayer version designed for people with wireless connections
• Set up some of your favourite web sites like TV Guide for checking broadcast times
• Watch video trailers, music videos, and listen to streaming music on the Windows Media Mobile site
Having a Pocket PC connected to a wireless LAN opens up a world of possibilities – enjoy it!