Kinetic II wrote:After looking at the specs that the Oregon County Fair Embassy posted about wireless internet access on the playa, I'm thinking of buying a WiFi PCMCIA card. I also need it for my regular work so it's going to see lots of use. My question is: Does anyone have any brand preferences for the type of card that works best both on playa and off? I'm doing my research but I'd like to hear recommendations from BM participants who actually use the cards. I've heard some horror stories and that's why I'm asking for advice.
I haven't been to BM yet, but here's my two-cents on 802.11b:
I've been very happy with my SMC 2532W-B card. It puts out 200mw plus the little plastic end with the antennas inside can be removed to use an external antenna. The extra power insures that I can usually work any access point that the card can hear.
Unless you're really close to the access points you'll probably have to get your antenna up in the air and line-of-sight to the access point's antenna. When I go out driving to do "signal surveys" I use a 5.5db magnet mounted antenna from Jefa Tech that seems to do a pretty good job. You can roll-your-own antenna, but unless you're used to working with really tiny exotic rf connectors you'll end up spending as much on a pigtail adaptor and quality coax for your antenna as you would spend on an inexpensive factory built antenna.
I still haven't decided if I'll risk my PC laptop on the Playa or take an old clamshell iBook instead. Since the iBook doesn't have any external slots and the 802.11b card is buried under the keyboard using an external antenna is out of the question. I am thinking that I would buy one of the newer USB-to-802.11 devices and run a USB extension cable (max length for usb is around 16ft) from the computer up a short pole in order to get a signal.