[aprssig] Dirt Cheap USB WiFi Dongle
Stephen H. Smith
wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Tue Oct 8 09:39:23 EDT 2013
On 10/7/2013 4:42 PM, Steve Noskowicz wrote:
> How does the computer know these devices are to be found in the USB port rather
> than the usual wireless network port?
> Do these come with the software needed to get the network connection to talk
> through the USB port? Or is this something you configure in a setup process?
> Sent from my KnightKit Crystal Set.
> 73, Steve, K9DCI USN (Vet) MOT (Ret) Ham (Yet)
These are intended for machines that DON'T HAVE an existing WiFi system built
in, or that are obsolete (like supporting only WiFi "B").
If the system already has an obsolete built-in system (such as WiFi "B"-only),
you disable it with it's hardware or software switch (or on the BIOS setup
screen) before plugging in the USB WiFi device.
Since Windows XP, the user interface for controlling/setting WiFi devices has
been a standard part of the operating system. You only need a relatively small
hardware-specific driver that connects the particular device to the existing
Windows user interface and the existing TCP/IP stack.
Just like plugging virtually anything else into a USB port for the first time,
Windows "Plug-N-Pray" automatically tries to locate the required driver from
it's library of known devices. If that fails, you are then prompted to insert a
manufacturer's CD, or to point to a directory location on your hard disk where
you previously downloaded the driver set.
The chances of a first-try success from Window's own internal library of known
devices goes up dramatically with Windows 7, which has a very extensive
collection of WiFi hardware drivers. [The vast majority of WiFi devices are
based on only a handful of chip designs from a handful of chip mfrs, regardless
of who's name is on the outside of the device.]
Note that mfr's CDs often install a proprietary user interface or "control
panel" for the device in question, as well as the low-level hardware driver.
In most cases the generic user interface already provided with Windows will
work just as well.
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