Can you help me fix my Airport problem?
January 4, 2010 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me fix my Airport problem?

We are a Mac household and suddenly my wireless network has just crashed. Went from working perfectly to disappearing just like that.

First some background. We have Comcast cable internet. That's working fine. I can plug an ethernet cable from the modem to my computer and get the internet just dandy. But when I plug the ethernet cable into my Airport router ... nada.

The router is sending out a signal, because every time I try to reconfigure and create a new network, that network shows up and is recognized on all our laptops. But there is no internet connection being made through that signal.

So I did a soft reset on the Airport and reconfigured. And while all the laptops recognized the new network and got a strong signal, still no internet coming through (and the light on the Airport is amber.) So I did a hard reset and reconfigured again with the same results, that is, no results.

I checked with Comcast and they confirmed that I am configuring (through the Airport Utility) correctly, using the DHCP because their IP addresses are dynamic and changing. And every time I use Apple's utility to reconfigure, it tells me "Congratulations, everything was successful, go enjoy your internet" but still, it doesn't work.

Every forum and FAQ I checked tells me I'm doing the right thing, but the light on the Airport still stays amber and no internet flows wirelessly to any computer.

So hive mind, any ideas on how to solve this? Or can you point me in the right direction? There are a wife and two teenage girls tapping their toes and I'm worried it will soon go from feigned patience with my fumblings to them cutting my hair while I sleep.
posted by lpsguy to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Not to sound too much like a Comcast helpdesk tech, but have you doing a hard reset on the cable modem itself? Sounds like the cable modem is synced to recognize the MAC address of your hard-wired network adapter (you get to the net via Ethernet), and a reboot of the modem will cause it to drop that and pick up the MAC address of your Airport instead. Rebooting the cable modem is usually Thing One the Comcast phone support techs will ask you to do and it often solves problems just like this.
posted by briank at 9:00 AM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: At the risk of asking the obvious... did you recycle the power on your cable modem in between the time you connected the ethernet cable to your computer directly, and the time you plugged it into the Airport? When you plugged the ethernet cable directly from modem to computer, the cable modem 'configured itself' (for lack of a better term) to be used with that connection in place. To reset that configuration and allow it to be used with the airport express, you'll have to unplug the cable modem for about 30 seconds, plug the ethernet cable back into the (unplugged) Airport, plug the cable modem back in and wait for the signal lights to come back on, then plug the airport back in.
posted by Rewind at 9:01 AM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: This isn’t super specific advice, but have you tried a hard reset? It depends which model of AirPort base station you have, but there’ll be a small hole you can push a paperclip into a small hole in the back (proper instructions here). If this doesn’t work, then it could be that the base station has developed a hardware fault. Rare, but it does happen. You could test this theory with another wireless router — do you have an old Netgear piece of junk lying around someplace? Maybe a friend does, and if that works (and it probably will since the cable modem does), you’ll have to get a replacement.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 9:02 AM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: We seem to have a few things in common: Comcast and Mac (with an AE basestation). Here's what I do when I have internet woes and it has worked with me (lately they have been happening once a week).

Make sure that there's an ethernet cable connected from the Cable Modem to the WAN port of your basestation.
Turn OFF airport on one Mac close to the airport basestation, and connect an ethernet cable from one of the ports on the back of the airport basestation to the ethernet port of your mac.
Make sure the RF cable connected to your Comast modem
Unplug the Airport Basestation from the mains
Unplug Comcast's modem from the mains
Wait 1 min
Replug the Comcast model to the mains.
Wait until the "cable" and "power" lights are solid green
Plug the Airport Basestation to the mains.
Wait until the Airport lights stop blinking yellow and is solid green
Check if you have internet on your mac.
If you have internet, then unplug the ethernet cable from your mac, and fire up Airport.

If this doesn't work, do a hard reset of your basestation and start the above process with fresh settings.

I never had to adjust any DHCP or manual IP settings on my AEX for WiFi to work appropriately. The only thing was to lock down the network with a password.
posted by lonemantis at 9:04 AM on January 4, 2010

First, the obvious. You have the network cable in the correct port, right? There are two on those, one is for the wireless, the other for local are ethernet.

I had a problem like this with my pop's Airport. His ISP limits the MAC addresses that can't draw an IP from the ISP. SO when I plugged in his laptop to test, all was well, when I plugged in the Airport nothing. Eventually I got them to flush the DHCP records and I was all set.

Is the Airport getting an IP from your ISP or is it getting a self-assigned one? Only other things I can think of are to update the firmware, and also test the Airport on another network (not easy I know).
posted by cjorgensen at 9:05 AM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: Ooooh, Rewind, I did not recycle the modem when I took the ethernet cable from the modem to the Airport. I'll try that tonight. But as briank suggested, I did talk with Comcast and did a hard resrt on the cable modem. I just didn't know you had to do that every time you moved the ethernet cable from a computer to a router. But everyone else's advice has been great, too, and has helped me understand the way these things work. Please keep it coming so I go into battle tonight with a lot of weapons. I can't tell you how helpful this is.
posted by lpsguy at 9:43 AM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: Anyone get any new "toys" for the holidays? Cordless phone, microwave, wireless headphones, etc.? Or perhaps your neighbor got a new phone or wireless device and it's interfering with yours. Also, check your ports and cables to make sure they're still good on both ends.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:23 AM on January 4, 2010

Try these steps: go into Airport Utility. Select the router and click the "Manual setup" button. Some icons should appear along the top of the window: "Airport", "Internet", "Printers" etc. Click the "Internet" button. Then choose the "TCP/IP" tab in the window below. If everything is working correctly, your router should report that it has an IP address and that it knows a router address.

I'm guessing that it's something wrong here in this step -- try clicking around the "Internet connection", "DHCP" and whatnot buttons, and see if anything jumps out at you as wrong.
posted by wyzewoman at 12:17 PM on January 4, 2010

(Note that the steps I've just told you won't actually fix anything, but they'll bring you closer to diagnosing the problem. If you figure the problem out but not how to solve it, post back!)

Another place to look: click the "Advanced" button at the top, then "Logs & Statistics", then choose "DHCP clients". You should see the connected computers, and the IP addresses the router has assigned them. Do you? If not, there's a clue to your problem.

Apologies if the windows and buttons you are seeing are not the same as I'm describing; I'm on a mac running Snow Leopard.
posted by wyzewoman at 12:20 PM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: Gang, I'm proud to say that wireless is up and gunning in the lpsguy household. Thanks to all of you as I used an amalgam of the advice to make it work: making sure there was no other interference; hard resetting the modem whenever I did anything; hard resetting to Airport; using the Airport utility to reconfigure the Airport as if it was a new one and not as if I was resetting an existing one; and sacrificing a goat. So while it's hard to say which of these ideas did the trick, it's easy to say how grateful I am to the Mefi community. Now ... how do I get goat blood out of a carpet?
posted by lpsguy at 6:55 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

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