Wireless Router Doesn't Work
March 19, 2010 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Wireless Router Doesn't Work

I recently got an HP Pavilion p6330f with an Intel i3, 6 Gb of RAM, Win7, etc. I also got a wireless router so my wife and I can connect simultaneously when she uses her wi-fi-enabled portable.

I can't get the router to work. After an hour and a half on the phone with the router maker's help line, the representative told me that my new computer didn't have wireless circuitry on the motherboard, and I'd have to buy an expansion board.

Say WHAT?? Doesn't the router itself have wireless circuitry? And my motherboard doesn't have an expansion slot.

I bought a USB stick that lets my desktop connect as the remote to the wi-fi router (from the outside), but that's the wrong direction. My desktop is already connected to my cable modem through an ethernet cable. What I need is something that will connect my desktop to the router and make it, what? -- the server? Preferably through a USB port.

Any ideas?
posted by KRS to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's no wireless card installed in that computer.

You've built the radio tower, you just don't have the radio to listen to it. There should be expansion slots in the back of the computer that you can put one in, but I'd probably leave that to a professional.
posted by Hiker at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2010

It sounds like you currently have:

wall -> cable model -> computer

The normal way to do this with a router is:

wall -> cable modem -> router -> computer

The router goes between your computer and the internet, it doesn't hang off your computer unless you're doing something really strange like running a server or some other security-compromising thing.
posted by jeffkramer at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2010

You need to connect your cable modem to the wifi router with an Ethernet cable and then your desktop to the wifi router with another Ethernet cable. Your wife's portable will connect to the wifi router via wireless.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2010

Further, the cable modem Ethernet cable will connect to the WAN port in the back of the router, the desktop will connect to one of the probably four LAN ports.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:44 AM on March 19, 2010

I looked at the spec sheet for your computer via the link provided, and as odd as it seems, I don't see anything to indicate your HP Pavilion has built in wifi. It's odd for a consumer oriented PC not to have wifi, but not unheard of -- many corporate PCs don't have built in wifi because they connect via the ethernet cables, just like your PC.

I'm confused about this USB stick that you have... is it a wireless wifi USB stick? Couldn't you just put that in your wife's laptop and she would connect via the wireless router? Can you post a link to the specific USB stick to which you are referring?
posted by jerryg99 at 11:47 AM on March 19, 2010

I bought a USB stick that lets my desktop connect as the remote to the wi-fi router

I'm also confused. What router did you buy?

You do like jeffkramer described above, then you just plug your desktop into one of the router's wired ports using an ethernet cable. You don't need a USB stick at all - and your wife's laptop won't need one unless it's too old to have built-in wireless, which is unlikely.
posted by Dasein at 11:55 AM on March 19, 2010

To be quite honest, walking into a big-box retail establishment right now, you'd probably be hard-pressed to find a desktop unit that has wireless as part of the OEM experience. Laptops almost always have it; desktops almost always do not. And this is the problem, of course; without a wireless receiver in/connected to your desktop computer, you won't be able to connect to any wireless networks.
posted by Phyltre at 11:56 AM on March 19, 2010

Plug the wireless router into your cable modem on the port labeled 'WAN' or 'Internet' using an ethernet cable. Then plug your desktop computer into one of the router LAN ports with another Ethernet cable. Then you don't need the USB stick at all, unless you want to connect the desktop to the router wirelessly.
posted by zsazsa at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2010

Your ISP might have special settings like PPPoE username/password (AT&T does this) or you may need to get the mac address on your router approved by your ISP. Regardless, you need to get into your router's admin interface (typically or similar) to see the errors. They all have web interfaces. Thats step 1.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:32 PM on March 19, 2010

Also, considering what youve told us, your tech level is pretty low. I would consider calling your ISP and seeing if they'll sell you a preconfigured router that they will setup and support. If so, return the one you bought.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:33 PM on March 19, 2010

OK, you bought all the right pieces, but you're trying to put them together in a way they're not really intended to work. What you're trying to do is POSSIBLE, but it will be painful. You're trying to use your PC to share your Internet connection, and then bridge to the wireless router, and then bridge to your wife's laptop.

This makes perfect sense when you say it, but it's an overly-complex and finicky setup. PCs aren't very good at sharing their Internet connections, and take a fair bit of fiddling to get it working. Even technical people will struggle a bit to get your planned setup operational. Again, it's possible, it's just difficult.

There's a much simpler way to handle the problem, using the exact same pieces in a different order. You want the ROUTER connected to the Internet. That's what they're for -- that's why they're called routers. (They route packets to the Internet for you.) You're trying to use your PC as a router, but you already have one! And PCs are crummy routers.

So, you start with your cablemodem. You plug the Ethernet cable from the cablemodem into the WAN port on your router. (WAN means 'wide area network' -- the other ports are typically labeled LAN, for 'local-area network'. LAN is for your computers, WAN is for the Internet.) Powercycle the cable modem so that it realizes you have a new device attached to it, and after it comes up, your router should get an IP address from your provider. Your router is now on the Internet, yay. Of course, that doesn't do much by itself. :)

To actually do anything useful, now you either connect your computers with wires or over the wireless adapters. With your desktop, you may want to run an Ethernet cable to the router to start with, because that makes it easy to configure the router, test, and make sure things are working. Try browsing the Internet after plugging in the desktop. If it works, you've proven that the router is working.

Next, you need to configure your wireless network. Giving you a full set of instructions would take awhile; there's plenty of stuff on the Net if you need it. Remember to set the router to use WPA2 encryption, and use a strong password. Don't use WEP or WPA1 encryption; WEP is horribly broken, and WPA1 has some issues. Once you have a wireless name chosen, a good password set, and WPA2 encryption turned on, configure your laptop with that same information, and it should be online too.

Voila, you have what you wanted, and you shouldn't have to spend any more money. You may not need the USB wireless adapter, because you're going to have to put the router near the cablemodem, and your computer is probably there anyway. You might be able to return it.
posted by Malor at 4:48 PM on March 19, 2010

Oh, one more bit of complexity: if you're logging into your ISP's network, by typing in a username and a password when you want to be online, that means you're using a protocol called PPPoE. Your router won't be able to instantly bring itself up, because it won't know your username and password.

You'll have to hook it up, and then connect your PC to a LAN port, and then browse to or with a web browser. That will get you talking with your router; it will have simple web pages to configure it. You'll have to tell it that you're using PPPoE, and your username and password. After you've saved changes and rebooted it, basic wired Internet access should start working.
posted by Malor at 4:57 PM on March 19, 2010

Oh, yet ANOTHER thing -- once you plug the router in, and plug your PC into the router, don't run any authentication utility you're using anymore. You won't type in a username and password on your computer; instead, you'll store that in the router. It will log in for you, and then share the connection to all your local PCs. The local PCs don't need to log in... and if you try, the Internet almost certainly won't work until you close down the login application.
posted by Malor at 5:03 PM on March 19, 2010

« Older Some dog friendly Portland rental options?   |   Microsoft Project Master Schedule? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.