Macbook Gives Airport Express Silent Treatment, Enrages Owner
August 15, 2008 7:23 AM   Subscribe

My Black Macbook (five months old, running the latest OS) suddenly, inexplicably, cannot recognize my Airport Express (the new one) or find my Wireless Network.

Three days ago, and seemingly out of the blue, my normal, unfancy password-protected wireless network disappeared from the list of available wireless networks in my apartment. I run the Airport Utility, which does not find a base station. Fifty times at least. I soft- and hard- reset the thing. Multiple times. I disconnect my cable modem, reset it. Multiple times. No help.

I should mention that prior to three days ago, everything had been working just fine for five months.

The Airport Express is sitting in its power strip, with a solid green light. My computer recognizes all of the other area networks, one of which is not secure and which is temporarily (I sincerely hope) supplying me with a wireless connection, but recognizes neither my network (which is probably defunct now that I've hard-reset the AE), nor the base station which is plugged in and running about ten feet away.

I've done a bit of searching around on the Apple (official and unofficial) forums and this seems to be a problem for some people, but I was unable to find a resolution. I wonder if any of you have encountered it and maybe can offer some help. Preferably in layman's terms, but I'll take what I can get.
posted by kosem to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It recognizes other networks, but not yours? Sound like the problem is with your AE... re set up the AE.

Clear out all history of wireless networks ever used.
posted by k8t at 7:34 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: I should clarify, perhaps.

My computer recognizes other networks in the area, which are presumably broadcasting from the wireless routers of other people. The Airport Utility does not recognize, cannot find, my AE. I cannot, for instance, use Airtunes.

I've tried to set up the AE again (hard, factory reset, but since my computer fails to see it, I can't get back to zero).
posted by kosem at 8:12 AM on August 15, 2008

Restore system files.
posted by k8t at 8:24 AM on August 15, 2008

Have you checked on whether another device can recognize or connect to the network? That would help clarify exactly where the problem is...
posted by troybob at 8:27 AM on August 15, 2008

(also...a bit obvious, but i've been snagged in the obvious before...if you reset your airport, it would probably be broadcasting other a generic name and without the 'non-secure' area network you are using could be your own...)
posted by troybob at 8:31 AM on August 15, 2008

if you reset your airport, it would probably be broadcasting other a generic name

YES. A hard reset would revert the name back to something like "Apple Network 23gg23ac32".
posted by mkultra at 8:56 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: Further clarification: the network I'm able to connect to has a name, and not a generic one. I'm basically positive it's not mine.

I conclude (perhaps erroneously) that I'm not using my airport because of the Airtunes situation and because the Airport Utility finds no base station.
posted by kosem at 9:03 AM on August 15, 2008

Is your Airport under warranty? If it's not visible *at all* then there's something wrong with it that has not been corrected by a hard reset. If I were in your situation, at this point I would contact Apple and see about a warranty replacement.
posted by bcwinters at 9:24 AM on August 15, 2008

Best answer: One time my Airport Express was acting wonky and wouldn't show up in the Airport Utility no matter how many times I reset it.
I plugged the AE into an actual Ethernet cable on the network. That fixed its wagon.
posted by low affect at 9:32 AM on August 15, 2008

Create a new user on the laptop and see if you can see it from there. You can always delete this.

And low effect has the best idea so far. If you're hard wired into it, you'll be able to set it up, and if you still can't see it, well then, you know it's most likely dead.

Also, make sure you have the latest air port utility (run software update on your laptop). If you hardwire into the airport, it may need a software update as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:52 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: low affect: May I ask you (or anyone else) something about your suggestion? Right now, the airport is hooked into an ethernet cable from my cable modem. Are you talking about doing something different, like directly from my computer into the airport? Pardon my ludditry.
posted by kosem at 10:32 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: Another thing, FWIW. In "Network Preferences" (as opposed to the Airport Utility) the Airport shows up, but it doesn't seem to do anything, and every time I try to create a network there, it asks me which wireless network I want to join. Which is frustrating, because as far as I see it, that's the problem right there.
posted by kosem at 10:41 AM on August 15, 2008

Have you tried to manually enter the name of the network (using the + symbol at the bottom of the list), as opposed to just waiting for your network to show up in the list?
posted by troybob at 10:53 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: I sure have, troybob. When I type in the name of the network, nothing happens. When I type it in when I'm trying to create a network, it tells me that a) my preferred networks are not available, or; b) that the password I enter is invalid (it's not!).
posted by kosem at 11:12 AM on August 15, 2008

Best answer: You mention a base station in addition to the do you have an Airport and also an Airport Express going? I'm confused about which you are talking about at different points of the discussion. Have you reset the Airport to default settings also?

If the wireless network is coming off the Airport, I would disconnect the AE altogether and then try to get the network going without it, and then try to add it back in. (As mentioned, and seen elsewhere online, one suggestion also is to connect the Airport directly to the AE using an Ethernet cable, and this seems to reset something).
posted by troybob at 11:22 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: I'm sorry. Let's back up a second.

Here's what I have:

1. Macbook (wireless card of some kind inside...[is this the "airport"?]).

2. Cable modem, which is hooked up to the;

3. Airport Express Base Station (which is my only wireless router).

When I click on the airport utility, it says that it can't find any wireless devices and asks me if I want to "Rescan".

Is the suggestion to take the base station, the airport express, that is, and connect it directly with an ethernet cable not to the cable modem, but to the computer directly?
posted by kosem at 11:28 AM on August 15, 2008

OK...the Airport is a wireless router, and some people use the AE to extend the range of that router, but you are using the AE exclusively...

An easy thing to try also: on the Mac, go up to the Airport icon and turn the airport off and then go back and turn it on again...

You could try connecting the computer to the AE directly using the Ethernet cable and see if that resets anything...

also, the AE has something called 'factory default reset'...have you tried that one? it erases all settings, but it might be helpful to start from scratch:

instructions from apple:

1. Unplug the AirPort Express from the power outlet.
2. Press and hold the reset button.
3. Plug AirPort Express back into an AC outlet (still holding the button).
4. Continue holding the button until you see the light flash rapidly, which should happen after a few seconds.
5. Release the button.
posted by troybob at 11:37 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: I will definitely try the AE directly to computer trick when I get home.

Unfortunately, I've tried the factory ("hard") reset a few times to no avail. Won't hurt to do it again, though.
posted by kosem at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2008

Okay...though here Apple describes the 'factory default reset' as being a third option in addition to a 'soft' reset and 'hard' reset, so by their terminology the 'factory default' and 'hard' resets are different...
posted by troybob at 11:47 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry for my imprecision. I've done all three, troybob. (by the way, thank you so much for diligence and help!)
posted by kosem at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2008

It's cool...little things like this get under my skin... Apple site references connecting directly to the AE with the computer to update firmware, so it's definitely a good option; then you can at least go into the AE settings and see if something is amiss there...

...though unlikely, as you have other networks in the area, someone might have gotten into your AE (people can break WEP) and changed the network name and turned it to a closed network (so the network name wouldn't show up in the list of available networks)...if it's suspicious for anything like that, you might try to use WPA if it's an option, and set a new network name and then make it a closed network yourself, to keep others from seeing it (although i think this invisibility isn't foolproof)...
posted by troybob at 12:12 PM on August 15, 2008

I thought you meant you had a wireless router and an airport express. I don't what happens if you Ethernet your computer directly to the airport express. I assume it'll still connect and let you re-setup. Godspeed.
posted by low affect at 12:47 PM on August 15, 2008

This has happened to me quite a few times with my 2 yr old black Macbook and a 4 yr old AE. I've found the following solutions have worked for me. I don't know if it will work with the new AE.

Hard and/or soft resets and restarting the Macbook. (you've tried these so I'll move on)

Unplugging the Cable Modem, (and unplugging the AE from the wall), plugging back in the Cable Modem, waiting for it to boot up and stabilize (about 2 minutes) then plugging the AE back in.

The application AP Grapher is handy for looking at characteristics of other visible networks/routers. This could possibly help troubleshoot things like channel conflicts, signal strengths, etc.

I have to say though this disappearing AE has not happened since I did a clean reinstall of Tiger on my Macbook.

Good luck.
posted by cptspalding at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: Well. I did a number of things. I ran the AE into my computer with an ethernet cable and downloaded some updates--which my computer never told me I needed, of course. Then after several factory restarts and some other messing around, I was able to create a new wireless network that my computer sees.

Sweet--if not completely satisfying--resolution!

Thank you all for your extremely helpful suggestions.
posted by kosem at 8:55 PM on August 15, 2008

posted by troybob at 9:25 PM on August 15, 2008

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