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Set up your own home Wi-Fi with these simple steps

   

This guest post was authored by Tapiwa Mapani. He’s not a trained geek and says “I just have a restless mind that makes me experiment with this type of stuff and most of the time to great success.” He has a Wi-Fi network setup at his home office which uses a mobile broadband USB dongle and a wireless router. He shares how you can setup a similar wireless network. Tapiwa is venturing into music production; you can find his work on www.soundclick.com/tapiwa. He can be contacted on tapiwa at mail dot com.

Stage 1 is for your basic wireless internet and Stage 2 is if you’re feeling a little more adventurous and want to have a network that your neighbour can’t leach off! I’m sure this’ll work for the other dongles out there as well (Econet, Africom, and any new comers)

modem-router-pcWhat you will need:

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  • Internet Dongle (I’m using PowerTel)
  • Wireless router (preferably the 802″g” standard because “n” may give you compatibility issues with some devices and I think it’s not worth the extra cash). Mine was $80 and is a Trendnet TEW432BRP. They are available in most gadgets shops in Zim.
  • A computer you can dedicate to become the “server” for your home wifi. This PC does NOT have to have wireless capabilities as it will directly be connected to the wireless router. Also note that this PC will always have to remain on as it will be the one directly connected and responsible for distributing the internet. My “server” PC is an old faithful HP DX2000 running Windows XP service pack 3. I will explain how to set it up on XP and Windows 7 as I did this successfully on both platforms.

IMORTANT: Before beginning, TURN OFF any firewall applications that you have or the one that came with your antivirus/internet security! If you don’t, the firewall will block the internet sharing unless you know how to add exceptions etc, which I don’t. However if you just have the default windows firewall running you can leave it on as I did but if you encounter any problems this should be the first thing you should turn off.
STAGE 1 (Testing Mode)

  1. Plug one end the cable that came with your router into its LAN port NOT WAN! and the other end into the PC’s Ethernet port.
  2. Open up your browser and access the router’s setup page (mine is 192.168.10.1)
  3. Find the option to DISABLE DCHP and click save/apply
  4. Your router will restart and windows may say it’s connected to it with limited connectivity. This is OK. Now unplug the router from the PC and pull out its power as well.
  5. In Windows XP:
    1. Click start and open up Network Connections.
    2. On the dial up connection that is your USB modem (Powertel = “Wireless Terminal”), right click it and select properties and go to the Sharing Tab or Advanced tab.
    3. Click to check the checkbox that says “Allow other network users to connect…”
    4. Untick the middle one that say’s “Establish a dial up Connection…”.
    5. And check the “Allow other users to control or disable…”
    6. Click OK. A warning or 2 may come up about the LANs IP and anything else. Just click OK/Yes
  6. In win 7:
    1. Click the network icon in the taskbar and select “Open Network and Sharing Centre”
    2. On the left pane select Change Adapter Settings.
    3. Find your USB modem and right click it and select properties and select the sharing tab.
    4. Repeat the above step 5.a for Windows XP but on the drop down list given under Allow… select Local Area Connection.
  7. This step was not necessary a month ago on PowerTel but a couple of days ago they seemed to have encountered problems with their DNS servers meaning that sharing on a network like this will only load specific sites!…But there is a better more reliable work around that is to use Google DNS. I don’t think this step is necessary for Econet/Africom.
    1. Open the PowerTel connect page and click file > settings.
    2. PowerConnect profile, click edit and tick the box “use the following DNS Servers”
    3. Under primary server type 8.8.8.8 and Secondary 8.8.4.4.
    4. Click ok.
  8. Now Connect to the internet.
  9. Plug in the router back into the PC and turn it on. Give it a couple of min to load and after which you should be able to connect to it on any wireless device and begin surfing!
  10. If you have can’t browse, try a simple restart of the server pc.

Now if your network is working, you may realise that its open to any Tom Dick or Harry that connects to it! This is why I put testing in brackets earlier. If all is well, you now need to make your network secure. This involves accessing the router page but since DCHP was disabled it is not possible unless…

STAGE 2 (Finalizing network)

  1. Disconnect the router from the server and reset it (usually using a paperclip to press into a small hole at the back.)
  2. Now connect to it wirelessly using another PC and go to the Wireless screen where you need to enter your SSID (network name) and security (password). Use WPA for security. Every time you save something the router may restart so be patient.
  3. Finally, after you’re happy with your settings, disable DCHP once again. And after it restarts turn it off at the power.
  4. Plug it back into the server and turn it on.
  5. Connect to the internet and then log into your new secure network on any device and all should be fine!

I will post up another tutorial on how to share a printer and files over your new network although this can only easily be done on Windows 7 as Windows XP is a bit old and complicated but my printer is connected to the Windows XP machine in the study and all works fine as well as file sharing.

You can post comments below on your experience setting up your own home Wi-Fi. If you also know an easier way to do some of the steps above (there always is), share that as well.


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