by R. K. Bloom

Wireless Access Point SMC2655W 802.11b standard

Wireless Access Point SMC2655W 802.11b standard

Extras: Stanislav Vasilev

Introduction

If you need to not only integrate computers into a wireless network, but also to combine this with a wired network segment, then the easiest way – set the so-called “access points” (in English Wireless Access Point, or just a Wireless AP). There is another option – for example, can be installed on one computer in your network wireless network adapter with the wire, and configure. Such a method of integrating a wireless network in a wired much more complicated and requires a specific software. Also important is the fact that the gain in value would be negligible.

In addition, when using an access point, you actually have a dedicated network device whose work does not depend on the workload of other PCs or on their configuration, which is an advantage. You do not need to perform setup complicated software, or fear that the computer will be, once again switched off and the required service will not start.

Access points are usually configured by default so that they are ready to work almost immediately after connection to power supply and network, and only occasionally have to perform some, even a novice friendly setting. If you are from the access point need only ensure that it completes only the bare minimum of features such as connecting wireless clients, creating a bridge between the wired and wireless network segments and provide the ability to encrypt traffic, then you fit one of the very low-cost models.

SMC2655W

We tested came Budget SMC2655W access point standard 802.11b. The box has the name “EZ Connect Wireless AP.” The device supports connection at a speed of 1, 2, 5.5 or 11 Mbit / s.

The device looks like a small dark gray box, with two folding antennas on the sides. It is possible to install both the desktop and the wall. Wall mounted on the underside of the device has holes so that you only need to find a nail sticking out of the wall, and you can hang an access point right at him. To work with a wired network segment, you have to connect the access point to it via twisted pair cable.

On the front side of the unit has three LEDs: Connected / Active (Link / Act) pointing to the cable connection and data transmission, reception / transmission (Tx / Rx) displays the status of wireless connections, and Power (Pwr), which points to the power connection. Installed antenna rotated independently of each other, which is especially convenient for maximum signal quality in several planes simultaneously.

On the back side are: the power supply connector and an RJ-45 twisted pair. The speed wired Ethernet connection can be either 10 or 100 Mbit / s, but in practice it does not give advantages to a wireless network, the speed is limited to the theoretical 11 megabits per second. To connect to the switch, we used a cable with swage line that is connected to a normal port (not Uplink), the documentation says nothing about the possibility of the device when connected to a port Uplink, which in most cases not a problem.

The downside is decorated with a sticker with the model, serial number and MAC address of the device. Near naklaykoy is a button reset. It is in recess, that not only protects it from accidental clicks, but also makes it difficult to press if necessary. By the way, if you just press a reset it will not happen to reset the terms of its need to hold for five seconds after power on.

We were disappointed by the lack of connectors for external antenna. Yet, the existence of such a connector on the wireless devices, especially at access points and routers, we think it necessary, and may be life-saving in some situations.

Delivery

The device comes in a beautiful color box.

When we opened the box, we found the access point, PC Card adapter, power adapter, CD-ROM and hard copy documentation.

I would like to see more and cable to connect to the wired segment, but the manufacturer has probably decided to save as a result we had to find his own. Savings like and not large, but in the home can cause some problems. So, buy the cable beforehand.

Installation

Installation was a choice location, with access to a computer and electrical networks, and connect the power supply and network cable. As mentioned above, it is possible to wall-mount devices, so you can rest easy – even when the cluttered desk, you will be able to find a place on the wall, unless you work in an art gallery.

Setting

SMC2655W default configured as a DHCP client, so if the DHCP server on the network it will be ready to work almost immediately after switching on. However, if you want to set a static IP address, such a possibility here too.

To configure the access point we used the utility EZ Connect Wireless AP Manager, which also comes in the kit. It is compatible with the following operating systems: Windows 98, Me, NT4.0 (SP3 or higher) and Windows 2000. On the Windows XP compatibility documentation says nothing.

When running, the utility searches for all access points that are in the same subnet as the computer running the utility (in the presence of routers – in a segment to the router). You can also use the search forced, for example in the case of an access point to connect to the network after the utility. All public access points are displayed by this utility, and you just have to choose one of them to go to the setup. You will be prompted for a password. When you first set up, as well as when you set up after a reset, a password is used by default “MiniAP”.

In EZ Connect Wireless AP Manager has all the basic features for working with access points. With it you can set all the parameters of devices. The name of the default set MiniAP, using the same point you left it so, but if you use multiple access points, especially configured to obtain IP settings through DHCP, you better change the name – this will help you avoid confusion with the search for the required access point configuration .

At the top of the screen displays the status of devices: BSS ID, the number of connected stations registered the organization, and status of the firmware include encryption.

Then you can configure SSID, by default it is set to “ANY”, but if you do not want accidental or intentional connection to your wireless network – we recommend you change it. But in this case, you have to do it on all devices that connect to this access point and uncheck Accept “ANY” SSID, so that the device with a network ID different from yours, could not connect to the network. SSID can be called a password to connect to the network. This parameter is the encryption key.

The next parameter – the channel on which the access point. It can be omitted if the network is only one such device, but for the operation of multiple access points in overlapping coverage areas, they should specify the different channels.

Here you can configure it to obtain the dynamic parameters of the network by selecting the “Enabled / Enabled” in the DHCP Client, or “Off / Disabled”, and also specify a static IP address.

The only thing that slows down the process of setting up a little – a “re-search” utility access points, changing their parameters.

Security

For all devices using broadcast data, it becomes extremely important safety issue. Agree, it is much harder to connect to a wired network to steal other peoples data. Here we need only be within the coverage area, so that you can receive the signal. Therefore, the only applicable way to solve this problem is WEP – encryption of data. There are options for how differing key length. Of these the most relevant 64-bit or 128-bit versions.

You can disable encryption at all, if you are not concerned about security, or install one of the options, if you have something to hide. The access point supports both encryption key length of 64 bits, and with 128-bit encryption. Encryption not only complicates the interception of transmitted data on your network, but also connect to your network of another network equipment.

Features set of keys are standard. You can select the automatic generation of keys with a password (passphrase), or set the keys themselves. The selection is made the switch with two possible options. Key or password can not be saved to a file, they always have to be manually entered, so they should remember, for input on other devices.

Also, the security can be attributed to the ability to filter MAC addresses. It can be configured through the menu commands (Commands) / Set filter (Set MAC Filter). Here, too, everything is traditional: filtering, you can either turn on or off. When you turn there is the ability to set a list of MAC addresses that are allowed to connect to an access point. It is possible to save the list to a file, and, accordingly, download the file, which is very handy when setting up MAC address filtering on multiple access points. This will save you from the “clogging” of the same MAC address on all access points individually, you will need to do this only once, saving to a file, otherwise you will be able to download the already existing list.

Capabilities

SMC2655W is designed to create a wireless network, operating as a central device, and to combine wired and wireless segments, working in the mode of Infrastructure. The device supports up to 127 wireless connections. The maximum distance at which it is possible to establish a connection, according to the documentation, is 450 meters in open space at a speed of 1 Mbit / s, although we were not able to connect at such a distance.

The connection speed can be set independently, and can be set so that it is determined automatically. In the manual selection modes are available: 11, 5.5, and 1 or 2 Mbit / s.

Performance

Let us turn to the interesting question. As with the testing of network adapters and SMC2602W SMC2632W, when testing the access point, we encountered some problems. Of course, this can be explained by the fact that the adapters, which was tested in conjunction with the AP, were seen the same mistakes as in the test mode to Ad Hoc. The maximum distance was less than claimed, in an attempt to establish a connection at a great distance – the MAC address of the remote device (access point) randomly varied. Connect with the passage of a period of time could break off in this case, the MAC address is specified as “44 44 44 44 44 44.” Further, the connection was restored only after the forced search. Then this was repeated over and over again is, of course, should not be taken as a non-functional, but can be called a serious disadvantage.

In place of the testing of other equipment 802.11b was not, as well as other devices operating in the 2.4 GHz band. So for us it remains unclear behavior of adapters or drivers during a chaotic change MAC address and MAC address mapping in fours.

For testing we used the following configuration:

Configuration 1:

AMD Duron processor 750

Memory 256 MB SDRAM

Adapter SMC2602W

The operating system is Windows 2000 with SP3

Configuration 2:

A client with a PCMCIA adapter:

Dell Latitude C600 Laptop

Processor Intel Pentium III Mobile 750

Memory 256 MB SDRAM

Adapter SMC2632W

Operating system Windows XP with SP1

The access point was connected to a wired network to one of the ports 100 Mbit switch. Tests were carried out with hard-fixed-bandwidth 11 Mbit / s and 2 Mbit / s. To test the utility used NetIQ Chariot.

We ran the script “throughput” for measuring bandwidth by changing the amount of data for each transmission 100 000 200 000 bytes, and installing a different number of repetitions.

Test 1

The capacity of 11 Mbit / s. The results are presented below. As in the case of testing of network adapters without an access point, the so-called mode Ad Hoc, not all tests failed to pass the first time. This was due to just the errors in the work, causing disabling the adapter from the access point.

Initially, we decided to test the capacity of wireless adapters, two through the access point.

The resulting average speed was 2396 kbit / s, minimum 1024 kbit / s and a maximum 2627 kbit / s. We observed more than twofold decrease short-term capacity, and they had a recurring character and was repeated after approximately 2.5 minutes.

Test 2

Next, we included 128 bit encryption and conducted the test without changing the other settings.

Testing speeds we conducted with the same settings as in the previous test.

Reduced rate when the encryption has reached 5.5%, that is, was negligible. The average speed was about 2 271.5 kbit / s, maximum 2322 kbit / s, minimum 2070 kbit / s. We did not notice the speed drops and strong as it was when turned off encryption.

Test 3

The third and fourth tests were carried out with the bandwidth of 2 Mbit / s. In the third test, encryption has been disabled. The results have pleased us.

The average speed was 881 kbit / s, maximum 1031 kbit / s, minimum 586 kbit / s. The minimum bandwidth was fixed at the beginning of the test. Further strong changes in the bandwidth was not there.

Test 4

The average speed was 872 kbit / s, maximum 1009 kbit / s, minimum 715 kbit / s. The minimum bandwidth was fixed at the beginning of the test. Next was seen a decline of approximately 2.5 minutes after starting the test, more severe changes in capacity were noticed.

As expected, the difference between bandwidth and when the encryption switched off at low speed was less pronounced than at maximum speed.

Test 5

Here, we measured the capacity of a wireless network segment in the wire. In the following settings: maximum capacity of 11 Mbit / s, the encryption is disabled.

The average speed was 4755 kbit / s, maximum 1956 kbit / s, minimum 5228 kbit / s. The minimum bandwidth was fixed at the beginning of the test. Next was seen a decline of approximately 3 minutes after the start of the test, more severe changes in capacity were noticed.

Test 6

In this test, unlike the previous one, was included with the encryption key length of 128 bits.

The average speed was 4729 kbit / s, maximum 1995 kbit / s, minimum 5228 kbit / s. We noticed a drop in capacity shortly after the start of the test. Further, such a strong fall, we did not notice.

Result

To summarize, as with other test equipment, there are pros and cons. We are pleased that the encryption does not affect the performance, range of about five percent.

Many tests have been seen falling short-term capacity with a period of less than five minutes.

Should I buy?

As you know, driven by the need to purchase, so before you buy something, you should consider whether the proposed device has enough functionality for you.

If all you want from such a device – to provide network access for multiple wireless clients compactly arranged, it will be quite enough. A sufficient condition for a low cost (at online stores just over $ 100), it would justify almost anything that you would expect from such a device. Although seen in testing troubles worsen the overall picture, they can be attributed to the incompatibility with the adapter, even though we used the adapter from the same manufacturer, or do adapters for testing which were seen the same errors.

The use of such equipment can create a wireless network with all its pluses and minuses. It should be noted such positive factors as the lack of wires, without which the creation of a network previously considered impossible, and, of course, the emergence of freedom of movement. But we can not be said about the negative aspects, such as higher as compared to wired equipment costs, the ability to intercept the signal, and a lower speed.

Especially true when the use of such equipment does not create a network bandwidth-hungry in places where cabling is impossible or not justified, as well as the need to create the possibility of free movement for some areas. Although if this is possible, it is safer and cheaper to run a cable, the capacity in this case will also be higher.

Thank you for giving me the official distributor of the equipment SMC Networks company RSI.