Lesson 2-  Installing a USB Wireless Network Adapter


In Lesson 2 we go to the Familyroom computer and connect a USB wireless network adapter.  We show installing the software that comes with the adapter along with the options to choose during the install.  We then plug the adapter into a open USB port on the back of the computer.  We will get the computer connected to the router and on the Internet in Section 4.

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


Installing USB Wireless Network Adapter Software

The process of installing wireless network adapters is a little different than any other component you add to your computer.  Normally when installing a new piece of hardware you would install the hardware, Windows would detect it and then ask for a driver for the new hardware.  With a wireless network adapter it’s the opposite.

The adapters ship with a CD that you put into your computer and install a program.  This program installs the drivers for the adapter onto your computer.  It also installs a utility that you will use to configure the adapter.  There’s usually an option given during the installation to use the configuration utility that ships with Windows to configure the adapter.  We’ll choose to use the one that came with the wireless adapter for now.  We can change this later.  We’ll use this configuration utility in Section 4 of the lessons to get the wireless adapter connected to the router. Be sure to read the manual that comes with your wireless network adapter for specific instructions.

Connecting the Adapter to the Computer

Now that the drivers and configuration utility are installed we can connect the wireless network adapter to this computer.

It’s a USB wireless adapter so we’ll be inserting it into an available USB port.  The computer has a few open USB ports on the front of the case.  We can insert the adapter here, but it’s not the best place.  The adapter sticks out the front of the case and is very easy to break.  We’ll insert the adapter into a open USB port on the back of the case, but there is a problem common to most USB wireless adapters.  The adapter is too thick and won’t go in next to another USB cable.  The adapter ships with a short USB extension cable that we will put between the wireless adapter and the USB port.

On the computers monitor, in Windows Vista, a prompt shows up next to the clock saying Installing Device Driver Software.  If we click it we see it’s searching for a driver for the device that is already available on the computer.  It finds one and says it’s ready for use.  In Windows XP this process is essentially the same, the wording is just a little different.  Down by the clock we have a new icon.  If we hover over the icon it gives the name of this wireless adapter and says it’s disconnected.  This means it’s not yet connected to a wireless router. In section 4 we will use this utility to connect to our router and get this computer online.

Next we’ll install a PCI card wireless adapter into a desktop computer.  First we need to install the driver and configuration utility that came with the card.