Skip to comments.Technological oddity: TWO Laptop WIFI adapters fail at same time
Posted on 07/15/2005 10:14:34 PM PDT by Lexinom
A very strange thing happened this week.
I use two almost identical laptops in my home office, a HP Pavilion, and a Compaq Presario 2500. Each runs Windows XP - one Home, one Professional. Both are net-connected through their built-in wireless adapters via the NetGear router. Both have worked fine until earlier this week.
This evening my wife and I went out to Office Depot to purchase a new router. Obviously, the NetGear router had failed. This had happened with the previous wireless router (a generic brand) which lasted a year.
We got home and set up the new LinkSys router. I configured all the settings peculiar to our network schema and achieved wired connectivity. I set up the wireless settings too - WEP encryption with a passphrase and key, which channel to use.
From the laptop, I got the same behavior as with the old netgear router: "One or more wireless networks are availble". Click connect. "Connected to network. Signal strength Excellent". All well and good except for one thing...
In the bottom right corner of the screen, in the System Tray, is an icon consisting of two monitor images - one representing the remote network peer, and one representing the client. NEVER, EVER, does the backside one light up... Even though I'm connected with strong signal! I played with channels settings, changed the LinkSys operating mode from Router to Gateway. Nothing. Set static IPs for the client. Nothing. Played with the more esoteric advanced settings on the LinkSys. Nothing.
In short, the behavior matched - indentically! - that seen using the old NetGear.
I can only conclude that both of my laptop network cards have failed at exactly the same time.
1. A strong electromagetic event near the house, sort of like a mini-EMP, took them out (they are delicate circuits, after all).
2. Some sort of cosmic event, perhaps causing (1).
3. Heat? This seems doubtful, considering they failed at the same time.
4. I think the most plausible explanation is the NetGear router IS bad, and during thermal runaway of the driver transistor (as it was burning but still operational) sent a carrier signal so strong it burned out the wireless adapters. I've heard this is possible with other types of radio ways but have never experienced it.
My inclination is to leave the new LinkSys Router in place and purchase a new WiFi adapter for each laptop.
Have there been any nuclear detonations near your home recently?
Not above ground :-)
This approach invariably works for me.
Which Linksys is it?
It is a "WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband Router", brand new.
Can you ping the router from one of the laptops?
Interference. Neighbor bought a wireless router or phone and is interrupting your signal.
Use Netstumbler on your laptops. It will show if a neighbor is interfering.
It wont show a 2.4 phone though.
BTW the wireless mode on the router is set to "b" (not "g"). This is the older mode, and does allow connection to the wireless network as reported by client.
Good suggestion though.
Netstumbler? I will give that a shot. Thanks.
Stuff breaks down.... DLINK is better than LINKSYS.
Did you change the IP address of the router? IOW, double-check that you're pinging the right addy ;)
Early this week the two laptops were stacked one on top of the other. I was using the top one. The harddrive hiccupped, and I thought it was gone (it probably does need to be replaced). It made a funny clicking noise and then stopped. Everything froze, incl. the mouse cursor. I did a hard power-cycle. After the "HP" screen (built into the BIOS), the screen displayed "Operating system not found."
My theory: If the hard drive, spinning at 5400 RPM, were to suddenly stop for some reason (as sounded like happened), the magnetic pulse from the motor would send a sudden shockwave of induced current into the wiring of the WIFI cards, located immediately below the hard-drives. Since the machines were stacked, it would have penetrated outward to the lower machine as well, apparently with enough strength to cause damage to the transmission circuitry. A "mini-EMP".
Incidently, though I assumed that HD was toast, I am using that very machine at this moment to type this message with the same HD.
Yeah, it's 192.168.1.1. That's the address I had used earlier to configure it. I really do think the WIFI cards are toast - no evidence of transmission of any sort, only picking up the SSID broadcast from the network called "linksys".
Thanks alot. I laughed and woke up the wife. =)
Bought mine from the IP. Under warranty as long as I have service with them.
Far more likely, you're experiencing a network config issue with your laptops.
I would suggest that you erase your current network settings on one laptop, and reconfigure the laptop's network settings. You can probably start by directly connecting the laptop via ethernet to make sure the router is routing traffic via the ethernet.
After that, attempt to set up the wireless again.
Did you manually enter the DNS servers addresses on the laptops? Try a static IP like http://188.8.131.52/
The simplest way to test the cards might be to either set up an ad-hoc peer-to-peer connection between them, and se if they can talk to each other, or take them to the local internet cafe/Starbucks/whatever, and spring for a few minutes of connectivity to test them. Or just "borrow" a neighbor's connection for a few minutes ;)
The ethernet via CAT5 works perfectly.
Then erase the network connections for your wifi on one of the laptops and attempt to set it up again from scratch.
Nothing was touched in the configuration since when everything worked well, and the only intervening "cataclysmic" event was that HD hiccup.
I have heard it is possible to make a small EMP with car parts, such as the starter. Common sense would seem to indicate such a pulse could be produced by any sudden change in spin angular momentum, such as a what might cause a 5400 RPM HD to suddenly stop spinning.
Starbucks should not be necessary since I just put in a brand new router.
I could do that, but I think it will be a waste of time. Have worked with computers for a long time, set up simple networks, etc., and this really does look like a hardware issue.
Oh well, thanks for the help. I'm off to look at real estate with the wife.
Trust me, only takes a minute or two, and you'll want to eliminate the network settings on the laptops as a possible source for your problem.
I troubleshoot networks often enough, and sometimes the darndest things happen. Methodical test, change, test, change, test, change is the only way to go when all else fails.