Lesson 1- Networking Hardware Explained


This video covers all of hardware you will need to set up your Wireless Home Network. The role of the router is explained allow with wireless standards 802.11g and n. Wireless G and N’s speeds, signal coverage and cost are explain.  Wireless adapters for desktop and notebook computers are covered.  The 3 types of adapter that are available are discussed along with when to use each.

Recommended Networking Hardware

D-Link DIR-655 Wireless N Router
Encore ENLWI-N Wireless N PCI card

D-Link DWA-140 Wireless N USB adapter
LINKSYS WPC600N Wireless N Cardbus Adapter


ENCORE ENHWI-N Wireless N Router


ENCORE ENUWI-N Wireless N USB adapter



The Router

The center of your home network will be the Router.  The router connects your home network to the Internet and allows not only sharing of Internet access to all the computers on your network, but also sharing of files and printers between the computers on your home network.

The router connects your home network to the Internet through your cable or DSL modem.  This connection is made using an Ethernet cable which we will show in section 2 of the lessons.

There are 2 types of routers, wired and wireless.  Wired routers use Ethernet cables to connect to all of the computers.  If you have all of your computers in one room with the modem and router this works out nicely.

However most people have computers spread out all over the house and have 1 or more notebook computers that are moved around a lot.  This makes using a wireless router a necessity.  The cost difference between wired and wireless routers is almost non existent so we recommend buying a wireless router.

Wireless routers are often referred to as WI-FI which is the generic name for a wireless network.

Wireless Standards, Speeds and Ranges

There are 2 standards for wireless routers 802.11g and 802.11n  Also known as Wireless G and Wireless N.  Wireless N is the latest standard and offers transfer speeds up to 100 mega bits per second compared to Wireless G’s 25 mega bits per second.  The Wireless N signal also covers more area than Wireless G.

With Wireless G you can pick up the network signal on a computer around 100 to 150 feet from the router and connect to the network.  Wireless N doubles this range to 200 to 300 feet from the router.

Wireless N will be the future standard but the cost to set up a Wireless N network are almost double that of Wireless G.  You can get a Wireless G router for around $50 and a Wireless N router for around $80.

Network Adapters

To connect your computers to the home network you will need network adapters.  For a computer located next to your wireless router you can use a wired connection.  Almost all wireless routers come with 4 wired connections called Ethernet ports.

Most computers have an Ethernet port built in.  Any computer in the same room as the router should connect using a wired Ethernet connection.  This will save you money because you don’t need to buy wireless adapters for these computers.  In Section 2 we will show you how to connect a wired computer to the router using an Ethernet cable.

If the computer doesn’t have a network adapter built in you can buy one separately. Since you are buying an adapter go ahead and get a wireless one.  This will make it easy to move this computer to another part of the house in the future should you need to.

Wireless Network Adapters for Desktop Computer

For your desktop computers located around the house there are a few options when buying your wireless adapters.  You can get one that goes inside your computer into an open PCI slot or PCI Express expansion slot or one that plugs into an available USB port on the front or back of the computers case.

The USB port wireless adapter is much easier to install. You just plug the adapter into a USB port.  The PCI or PCI Express expansion card installation is a little more involved because you have to open the computer case.  We show how to install a wireless PCI card in section 2.

USB and PCI card Wireless adapters start at $20 for Wireless G and Wireless N adapters start at around $40.

PCI Wireless cards will usually have better signal reception than USB wireless adapters.  Depending on how far away the computer is from the router and whether you choose to use the G or N standard this may not make a difference but it is something you need to be aware of.

Notebook Computer Wireless Network Adapters

Any notebook computer built in the last 3 years should have both an Ethernet and Wireless G adapter built in.  If you choose to get a Wireless N router you can get a Wireless N adapter for you notebook that will go into the PC Card, Cardbus or Express Card slot depending on which expansion slot your notebook has. These adapters start at around $50 for both Wireless G and Wireless N standards.

The Wireless G adapter in your notebook will work with a Wireless N router.  You will still get the greater coverage of the Wireless N standard.  The speed won’t be up to Wireless N standards but it might increase a little bit because of the stronger signal the Wireless N router puts out.  Before you pay for a new Wireless N adapter for all of your notebook computers it’s a good idea to try using the built in Wireless G adapter and see how the speed feels to you when you’re using it.  Then upgrade the adapter to Wireless N only if you need to.

So do you need Wireless N’s faster speeds and increased range? 

It all depends on how you want to use your home network and how much signal coverage you need to fit your home.

The speed of Wireless G is more than enough to match the fastest cable or DSL modem.  You won’t see any improvement in your Internet speed if you use a Wireless N network.

Wireless G is fast enough for transferring files between computers, to not feel sluggish moving smaller amounts of files or for sharing a printer. Unless you often need to copy several gigabytes of data from one computer to another, Wireless G should be sufficient.

On the other hand, if you know you want to copy large amounts of files between your computers or do things like stream DVD or High Def movies across the network to watch on your TV, Wireless N is what you need.

The range of Wireless G is enough to cover a large house as long as the router is close to the center of the house.  If your modem and therefore your wireless router, is on one end of the house and you want to use a computer on your home network on the other end of the house, Wireless N’s range might be needed.

A possible work around for this is to stay with the cheaper Wireless G standard and get a Wireless Access Point or Bridge to extend the networks coverage to the other side of your house.  These Wireless Access points are fairly expensive starting at around $70.  If you add that to the price of the Wireless G router the cost advantage of Wireless G disappears quickly.

Next, in section two we show how to connect the modem to the router and install the wireless network adapters inside our computers to get them on the home network.