Hi, thank you for bringing your question to Google Answers.
It so happens that I recently setup a home wireless network and it is
quite easy, although trying to do it step-by-step in detail instead of
just using the utility software which comes with the components would
be a major mistake, in fact, although I have years of experience and
part of the network was installed by an experienced technician who was
installing a two-way satellite internet connection at the time,
neither of us could configure the network properly until we simply ran
all the utility software.
Then it was easy.
Here is what you do.
First, it may surprise you to learn that you can probably get all the
components you need at WalMart.
You don?t mention if you have a notebook or tablet PC which already
has a wireless network card installed but I will assume that it you
have one it either has a factory wireless option available or an open
PC Card slot which can accept a standard wireless card.
There are also wireless cards for PDAs and others specifically for gaming.
To begin, you need a wireless router/switch and I recommend you buy an
inexpensive Linksys unit either online or at WalMart.
What you want to install is an 802.11G (2.4 GHz.) wireless network,
even if you have a notebook with an older 802.11b wireless network
That is because the G routers and other components will be compatible
with the older system.
As for securing the system, you didn?t mention your situation. If you
are in a separate house then you have little need to worry, a wireless
network doesn?t carry very far unless someone is specifically
targeting you with special equipment. However, the hardware I
recommend below has multiple security options which you simply let the
installation programs configure at the time of installation.
Another reason a real step-by-step guide isn?t all that helpful is
because the installation procedures can change, see my explanation
below where I discuss the PCI workstation cards.
Nevertheless, between what I explain here and the simple, step-by-step
installation directions packed with each component, this should be a
I will assume that you are connecting to a highspeed modem of some
sort to get wireless highspeed Internet connections to all your
computers. If not, then skip the first part about the router, you may
not need one if you are simply linking a couple computers together.
There are two basic versions of wireless G broadband routers you
should choose between, the Linksys WRT54G and WRT54GS.
The only real difference is that the GS will cost a bit more but has a
special Cisco utility which can improve connection speeds
considerably. You probably won?t need this since 802.11G is already a
54Mbps system) but it won?t hurt to have it. The Speed Booster will
only work under XP and Windows 2000 anyway.
Installing the WRT54(G or GS) is simple, just connect any Ethernet
cables you have for up to 4 wired connections, or, if you are
installing the router without any direct connection to a computer,
leave those empty and just connect your high-speed modem cable to the
wireless router port. You will need one Ethernet port later if you add
network attached storage, otherwise, you will probably leave those
four ports empty.
Now get ready to plug it into the power ? I used an inexpensive UPS to
save any problems from minor power outages ? the router uses little
power so a small UPS is plenty in most cases. You can turn it on now
or wait until you have one or more PCs ready with their wireless
adapters. You may want to do the initial setup of the router with a
wired PC, but it isn't necessary.
The power up sequence is, first the high speed modem, then the router,
then the PCs.
There are different setup directions for Windows 98, ME, XP, and
Windows2000 which are detailed in the simple installation booklet. All
these components have similar setup booklets which are only a few
pages long and not technical.
There are detailed instructions provided for configuring your router
but you probably won?t need to pay any attention to them, most or all
of this is handled by the setup software or automatically by the
First, power off your computer and open it up. Make certain you ask a
technician to show you how to do this safely if you don?t know how, or
have a computer store install the cards for you.
The only major problem you might have during the first attempt to
connect to the wireless router is if you don?t first set your
computers to obtain an IP (TCP/IP) address automatically. In Windows
you do this in the Local Area Connection Properties ? confirm this has
been done automatically when you install the adapter in each computer.
For each PC you will need one adapter card to fit in an open PCI slot
? you may have to free one up, taking out your modem is probably the
best option since you won?t be needing it. The short antenna sticks
out the back of your computer - screw it on after installing the
securing the card.
Get a Linksys (Cisco) WMP54G or GS PCI card and install it (WalMart
carries these also).
Here is where more detailed instructions wouldn?t be helpful. I have
two of these wireless network cards, both with the same model number
but they are very obviously different and are installed differently so
follow the directions that come with yours. With one you install the
card and run the configuration software, for the other you start the
software, then power off and install the card, then complete the
If you want the computers to connect directly with each other, choose
the AD-Hoc network configuration.
Either way, if security is any concern (my network is in a very
isolated location so it isn't for me) then simply choose the level of
security you want from the Wireless Security setup screen that is part
of the adapter installation. You probably want WEP 64-bit, but you can
also choose 128-bit encryption. Encryption could reduce the
performance of your system.
For a Windows Mobile or Pocket PC PDA, there are WCF54G and WCF 12
flash cards which fit a Type I or Type II slot and connects them to
the wireless network.
Many notebooks and most Tablet or Convertible PCs come with wireless-G
network adapters already installed along with their own configuration
That?s all you need for a basic system, the wireless components will
all detect each other and self-configure for the most part.
I find that the network goes down once or twice each week - usually
just unplugging the wireless router for a few seconds and reconnecting
will fix the problem but occasionally I also need to reboot the PCs.
To connect a USB printer to your network, simply add the SPX54GU2
Wireless-G PrintServer. Configure this and other non-PC accessories
below by running the software on one of the network PCs.
If you have or want an external USB backup hard drive (I installed a
320G Western Digital Dual-option Media Center drive because it has one
button backup and ports for all the various digital camera media) then
add a Linksys NSLU2 network storage link. This connects directly to
your wireless router via an Ethernet cable and a USB cable to the hard
drive but any USB external hard drive or drives will work.
If you need more range, add the WRE54G Wireless-G Range Expander. This
installs by simply plugging it in near the edge of your wireless
router's range and pressing the single button on the side, it will
configure itself. You can also tweak settings using an optional
installation software CD but the button is the better option.
There are also Wireless Internet Video Cameras, SVC11B and WVC54G.
A Wireless-B media adapter to play MPS through your stereo or put
digital images on a TV, Linksys WMA11B.
And Wireless Game Adapters WGA11B and WGA54G for Playstation2, xBox,
and GameCube games ? no special software drivers needed.
I think that should cover most of your questions and options as well
as can be done without actually doing the installation for you. There
may be slight variations depending on any changes in the hardware or
software supplied in the packages so please read the instructions, but
these are very simple instruction sheets.
Attempting to make all the correct PC and router configurations by
hand is extremely difficult; just rely on the software to handle it
unless you have trouble.
See the Linksys home page at
http://www.linksys.com for guides and more information.
Linksys is a division of Cisco Systems, the famous networking hardware vendor.
I recommend Linksys because it is easy to find the hardware and it is
almost certainly the most common home wireless networking system.
802.11B and 802.11G are standards and other equipment with the same
designation will work together so don?t be concerned about the brand
already installed in any notebook you have.
You will find an interactive advisor at http://compnetworking.about.com/
And, of course, you will find many useful links using the Google search term:
Wireless home network
Thank you for bringing your question to us and good luck with your
network, it really isn?t any more difficult technically than a wired
network and a lot easier than running cables.