802.11b Woes

february 11, 2002

OK, the woes aren't exactly with 802.11b (wireless networking) but with the way that D-Link chooses to upgrade the firmware on their systems. Also, how Apple handles WEP keys in their AirPort configurator. So, as a way to write this down as notes for myself -- and maybe help that one person out there who also has a D-Link DWL-1000AP 802.11b access point plus AirPort combo. :)

OK, first on how to upgrade the D-Link DWL-1000AP. For me the included utility to upgrade the firmware did not work. It just spun its wheels looking for the access point. There is a way to tftp the firmware to the unit. Get yourself an tftp utility and then follow these instructions. There are two things that held that up. First, be sure that the SSID is set to "private" if you changed it. (Btw, you'll want to change it to something else after the upgrade for security sake). Next, after you change the SSID, you'll want to reinitialized the unit. There are two ways to do this. First, you can take a paperclip and push the reset bultton. Or you can us the AP Manager that D-Link supplies to reinitialized the machine.

If you take care of those two things, then your upgrade will be easy.

Now onto 128-bit WEP and the AirPort. If you're not running 128-bit WEP (Wired Equivalent Protocol) to protect your 802.11b network then you've got an open network for anyone to use. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone outside your house, sitting on the sidewalk, using your $50/mo DSL connection for free? The D-Link DWL-1000AP wants the 13 Hex KEY in Hex. So you'll enter something like:

01:02:03:04:05:06:07:08:09:0A:0B:0C:0D

Now, the AirPort configurator wants a pass key in ASCII format. If you don't want to translate those hex codes into ASCII, then add a "$" in front and strip out the ":". So you can type this as the password:

$0102030405060708090A0B0C0D

And that's it. It took me lots of frustration to find all those out (the tftp crap was the biggest part). So, good lucky. Don't forget to secure your 802.11b network -- the SSID and 128-bit WEP are not bulletproof (hell, people have found lots of holes in WEP already, but it'll keep the casual person off your network).