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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers Network
A lot of people have been hurting over getting Apple's AirTunes / AirPort Express to work with NETGEAR products, doubly so with WEP-protected networking. Thus, I am here to educate the masses ... spread the news. Here are my observations. I have two AirTunes nodes working in my household, using a wired PowerMac MDD and a wireless iBook, all networked with a NETGEAR WGR614, and it all works well.

Read the rest of the hint to see how I did it...

  1. Connect the AirPort Express to your wired network; you do not need wireless to configure it, as it'll grab a DHCP lease itself off a LAN, assuming it's not setup for wifi yet. If you already screwed yours up royally, just push and hold the reset button -- wait and try this step again. It'll then use your LAN as it would out of box.

  2. Use the AirPort Admin Program, not the Setup Assistant. You can then enter the IP manually it gets from DHCP, or just scan the network to find it with AirPort Admin (insure you first install the latest version kids).

  3. When setting up your AirPort Express, enter your SSID by hand, and don't worry if it doesn't see it.

  4. When you enter the 128 bit WEP key, don't use the passphrase, use the key (hex code) generated/shown in the NETGEAR config screen. When you enter this code into the AirPort Admin app, preceed this code with the '$' character, as this tells it that you are entering a hex code, not the string literal thats used to generate the key. Yes, in both password fields add that '$' character -- both times.

  5. Apply the changes (I set the AirPort Express to join my wireless network, since it's using wireless as a client). It'll take about 30 seconds to reboot and voila. You owe me a beer.
Tips and Tricks...
  • I also setup the LED to blink on activity so I could ping the unit when I saw it take an IP from the DHCP pool on the NETGEAR to confirm it was talking OK. Watch for das blink'en lights.
  • Look at the ping times? If they are bad, you might want to reposistion your AirPort or AirPort Express units, or consider getting something that can do WDS unlike NETGEAR (Linksys comes to mind, with the latest firmware). Look at your packet loss numbers.
  • If you want a quick test, plug headphones into the AirPort Express to test it for sound output etc. It'll be loud, so warning! Disclaimer, you can blow cheap headphones or cheap eardrums; don't whine to me.
  • The wife and I played musical AirTunes, as she walked around the house testing locations for good clean signals with an AirPort Express and headphones (not on her ears) whilst I watched almighty ping.
I swear this NETGEAR has low power output; I think i'll sell it and get a Linksys and get WDS going. We've observed line of sight blockage by a human body between a few locations of less than 70 feet through just two thin walls in our modest and cozy bungalo. Your milage may vary.
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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers | 17 comments | Create New Account
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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: Anonymous on Oct 20, '04 12:49:57PM

I have to personally say, after an unpleasant weekend wrestling with a Netgear product, that they are the worst vendor I have ever given money to. Linksys will make you much, much happier. Netgear deserves a targeted thermonuclear strike.



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: silicondiode on Oct 20, '04 01:25:11PM

i have a WGR 614v3 and i have never had an issue with it. macstumbler reports signal strength > 75 everywhere in my house and > 110 in the same room. my airport express talks to the router in b and g without any issues.

i've set them up for countless clients and i've never had to go back to fix 'em. i always turn on WEP and i always use a hex key. so i've seen them run fine in houses as small as 1 bedroom NYC apartments and as big as "mansions" in southern CT. the only issue i've ever had with netgear wireless products is that Dell Truemobile wifi cards don't play nicely with them. then again dell branded wifi cards don't play nice with much.

my $0.02

---
-silicondiode
BeOS Refugee



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: thirteenva on Oct 20, '04 04:06:03PM

Odd that you've experienced these problems. We have a netgear hear at work and despite the metal walls in this building (not metal studs, metal walls) Our sales team down the hall from the room with the router get a full strength signal.

I also have an older netgear at home (mr314) which was a 802.11b and should likely not have as much range as a 'G' router but it covers the entire span of my 1000sq ft apartment. I can use my powerbook out on the deck if i choose to. Our neighbor also has a netgear and i can pick up his signal loud and clear despite the thick wall between the apartments.



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Netgear routers
Authored by: drm0223 on Oct 20, '04 10:42:22PM

Altho my daughter had good experience with an older 'b' model, my Netgear WGR614 v3 exhibits a frustrating failure at least once a week. I have to power cycle it to get it working again, but it does start up each recycle. Worse yet, I wrote to NetGear, indicating I had updated to the latest ROM, asking for help. Their reply? "Update to the latest ROM." Must have been an auto reply. My attempts to get real help have gone unanswered. Maybe I'll sell this and get a Linksys, as recommended here.
David



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: samvenning on Oct 20, '04 11:32:05PM

I've given up on Netgear wireless devices too. I purchased a DG834G (ADSL modem, router, wireless base station). So many features in one well-priced unit! The web configuration tool is also one of the most well-presented and intuitive I've seen.

The problem with the DG834G however is that the wireless drops out (requiring a reboot) about once a week (while the built-in/wired Ethernet continues to work just fine).

I've tried upgrading the firmware - problems with the wireless network persist. This is not limited to just one unit... a couple of friends experience similar problems.

I haven't been able to get my AirPort Express to join (WDS) my Netgear wireless network.

I gave the unit to a friend who wanted an ADSL modem/router and who wont use the wireless part of the unit. I'll never buy another Netgear wireless device.

---
---
Melbourne, Australia



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: wirehead on Oct 20, '04 05:54:59PM

I am the original author of this post.

I gave up on the netgear, it worked superb but if the AirTune units were more than 30-50 feet away they would disappear from the network alot, unless i power cycled them or the netgear. Close range it worked fine. It was not 'wife friendly' as she demands 100% apple uptime. Its a limitation of the radio strength in this unit for sure.

It was time to spend the money and get a cheap linksys, install the sveasoft firmware. My first linksys blew up after an hour hence the netgear took its place...alas its round two....Now I have a $87 Linksys router that does VPN, SSH, Traffic Shaping, can bost power output past 28mw on the radio, supports WDS, etc and is very future proof with open source linux firmware loaded with features...


http://www.linksysinfo.org/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=viewdownload&cid=8



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: deucecoupe on Jan 01, '05 05:17:08PM

wirehead,

Thank you so much for your post on connecting Airport Express to Netgear wireless products. It truly saved me a ton of time.

deucecoupe



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: _merlin on Oct 20, '04 10:41:40PM

Using NetGear hardware is asking for trouble. If you plug them into a large network, their ARP cache will overflow and they will crash. It isn't pretty. Cisco and Apple APs don't suffer from this.



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: samvenning on Oct 20, '04 11:30:27PM

I've given up on Netgear wireless devices too. I purchased a DG834G (ADSL modem, router, wireless base station). So many features in one well-priced unit! The web configuration tool is also one of the most well-presented and intuitive I've seen.

The problem with the DG834G however is that the wireless drops out (requiring a reboot) about once a week (while the built-in/wired Ethernet continues to work just fine).

I've tried upgrading the firmware - problems with the wireless network persist. This is not limited to just one unit... a couple of friends experience similar problems.

I haven't been able to get my AirPort Express to join (WDS) my Netgear wireless network.

I gave the unit to a friend who wanted an ADSL modem/router and who wont use the wireless part of the unit. I'll never buy another Netgear wireless device.

---
---
Melbourne, Australia



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: cvbcvb on Oct 21, '04 03:34:54AM

AE and my Netgear WGR614v4 (using WEP) have been a-ok. What I've found to be impossible is using WPA. AE just drops and drops. Anyone have success?

TIA,

CVB



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: benixau on Oct 23, '04 12:31:03PM

Are you trying to bridge?
If so WPA will not work - it is a 'flaw' in the protection or in bridging in that the best you can have is WEP.



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: topham on Oct 21, '04 02:11:40PM

A comment on WEP; if you are using devices from multiple vendors you should always use the hex-codes, or a 13 character passphrase.

According to an article I read (a while back, sorry no link) all WEP vendors use the same algorithm, but they pad the characters differently if it is below the minimum length, and they treat it differently if it is above the length required...



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: AppleCR on Feb 08, '06 11:19:53AM

Just so everyone knows, a firmware update was put out by Apple on 01/03/2006 for the Airport Express and Airport Extreme. It is highly recommended you install this update on your unit before proceeding further with the given instructions. Also, check to see whether your NETGEAR hardware has new firmware (for example, the newest version for WGR614v5 is 1.0.9).



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: carl201167 on Feb 21, '06 02:06:46PM

Thanks - this sorted it out for me

However, as a how-to guide, it might benefit from being written more simply for more basic users - it made my head spin a bit to see all those DHCP and SSID terms

But, anyway I did it in the end, so thank you



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: micmath on Mar 25, '06 09:02:27AM

Okay, after stressing about how to type a hex-encoded password to the point that I started to wonder if I had actually forgotten what the damned password was, I logged onto the router by entering it's set-up address: http://192.168.0.1 in Safari and started to consider if I wanted to just turn WEP off. Then I noticed an option under the "Wireless Settings" menu, called "Wireless Station Access List". From what I can tell this allows you to restrict the devices that can access the wireless network by specific MAC address numbers (that's Media Access Control address, not Mac-intosh address, every computer, even PC's, have unique MAC addresses). So I found my iBook's MAC address by clicking (Apple) - About This Mac - More Info... - Network tab. Copied it off the pane, it's formatted like nn:nn:nn:nn:nn:nn

Back to the router set-up web page: On the "Wireless Station Access List" page I added my iBook's MAC address to the "Add New Station Manually" form (just make up any "Device Name" you like, it's for your reference, not the router's -- I called mine "My iBook"). Then I hit the "apply" button and went back to the Wireless settings page, and disabled WEP. Now when I try to connect I'm not prompted for a password at all (hex or otherwise) but, I presume, the router checks my MAC address against it's list before letting me connect. Tada, I'm writing this wirelessly now!



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: gannett on Apr 11, '06 01:16:44PM

A couple of points to mention on the way doing this process. ..
Firstly you have to tweek the OSX firewall to allow itunes to connect to remote speakers.
Secondly if you use MAC addresses to limit access to your wireless net then you have to be careful what number to use as the Wired interface has a different MAC address to the wireless one. If you configure over the wired interface you will see a different MAC address. Use the Netgear, Wireless settings, wireless station access list view to see the MAC address of the Airport Express when it is active.
Thirdly you can not use the Airport Express as a remote wired to wireless net bridge. It is limited to using one net interface at once.



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AirTunes/Airport Express, WEP, and Netgear routers
Authored by: anupam on Jun 30, '07 09:22:44AM

Every time I add the $ in front of the hex key, the airport express admin utility tells me that I have exceeded the max lenght.

My navigation in the Admin utility - Configur > Airport (Tab) > Wireless Mode (drop down "Join an Existing Wireless Network" > Wireless Security > 128 bit > Set Password > Format Hex:

I enter the password twice - with leading $ and it tells me that I have exceeded max password lenght of 26.

What am i doing wrong?



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