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 3Com Airconnect 11Mbps Wireless LAN Access Point

Page 2 

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 8/29/2000

Having a Spock deja-vu

It always amazed me when Spock would enter a control room on some new planet and immediately start to make adjustments on a console in order to prevent the Enterprise from being sucked down to the planet by a tractor beam or something.  Me, I would have started looking for the instruction manual...in English preferably!

When you start poking into the AP's Management Interface, you may get the feeling that you're in that remote planet's control room!  I suggest you resist the temptation to start changing settings and dig into the AP documentation first.  802.11b wireless equipment has many parameters that can be changed and a lot of the terminology will be different from what you've seen on previous consumer-grade wireless products.

Fortunately, once the AP gets its IP address, you shouldn't have to make any changes to the AP settings in order to communicate with LAN cards.  The LAN cards do a pretty good job of looking for APs and connecting up without any knob twiddling.  For the curious, I've included a few of the Web Management tool screens (click on the image to open another window with a full-sized view)

Access Point System Setup screen  Access Point System Properties screen

Among the features you can control on the AP are:

  • Allow/disallow clients by MAC address

  • Set the AP channel (frequency)

  • Control AP access methods (Ethernet, Telnet, PPP via serial port, SNMP)

  • Set Encryption keys and configure client access controls

You can also monitor various wireless client statistics. Plenty of interesting stuff to keep inquiring minds busy!  I mainly used the HTTP Admin interface, but briefly explored the Telnet version, which seemed to be inconsistent in providing prompts for possible actions.  You'll probably need to read the AP User Guide to navigate it effectively.

A note on encryption.  My eval kit had a Version 1.0 CD which does not enable encryption for the client LAN cards.  To enable up to 128 Bit encryption, you can order a Version 1.5 CD from 3COM's Web site until Sept 30, 2000. After Sept 30, 3COM says you'll be able to download the CD files from their site.  I hope they make the files individually downloadable and not just offer the entire CD image.  There are still folks like me who don't have broadband connections!

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