A couple of days with an Airport Extreme Base Station

ok I really want this to work. I bought a refurb base station at The Mac Store. I did this crazy thing because of my iChat woes and also to test the hardware and latest firmware. Nothing like an overzealous geek.

I brought it home and plugged it into my G5. Upon opening the Airport Admin Utility, the software said “Hey, there is new software for your base station, 5.6!” Sweet, so I click upload and off it goes. Within a few mins I had the base station configured for WPA2 and off I went upstairs.

I connected via the Mac Book Pro and opened the Airport Admin Utility and upon connecting to the base station, the software said “Hey, there is new software for your base station, 5.7!” Weird. Ok, so my G5 was out of date somehow. I am not sure why, I always update stuff, even airport on my G5 🙂 Anywho, I update.

All is well and having just run some speed tests with my WRT54G2 running Talisman 1.2 RC2, I knew a 1.92mbps up and 2-8mbps down was ok from the living room. I got the same speeds on the AE! Sometimes faster, sometimes slower.

Then Elizabeth on her PC laptop tried to connect. No joy. So after a good while of researching I found out she had older broadcom drivers. Joy. I set up the WRT again and after some fun with that, I had her back on the net so she could work.

Yesterday I got permission to update her machine. So I installed new drivers from HP, but it still didn’t connect. Then I installed a new utility, but still no connection. Then I ran all of the latest MS updates, one of which was for her card (remembering I had just installed the latest from HP not an hour before) and after all of that, it would finally connect.

yay! So I ran some tests with myself, all is good. Until she sat near me on the couch.

With her radio near my radio, the Airport Extreme tests dropped to a horrible 175kbps up and 300-800kbps down. I ran the tests over and over. Nothing helped. I could move into the kitchen and it was a little better, but not much.

I unplugged the airport and reconnected the WRT. With both of us sitting in the exact same spot, I got 1.93mbps up and 8.2mbps down. Over and over.

I had both base stations set to the same channel, same WPA password and in the spot when they were active.

So alas, it looks like it might be going back, unless anyone has some ideas?

Update: I returned it. I picked up Call of Duty 2 instead. 😛


  1. That is actually a good idea simply for testing purposes. Would two Macs, same situation (both of you next to each other) exhibit the same drop in speeds….

    I don’t see how this would help, but maybe an external Dr. Bott omi-directional antenna on the basestation. But all that is going to do is make your network stronger. I don’t see how that would help.

    But along those lines…. what is the db strenght of the antenna in the AE, vs the external antenna of the wrt? I dunno, but might be interesting to google it…

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