Connect 2 wireless PCs with no router?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Recall --

A few days ago, Infopackets Reader Ted B. asked if there was a way to connect 2 wireless PCs [one using Win98, the other WinXP] together without using a router as a Wireless Access Pointer (WAP). He wrote:

" ... An elderly lady recently came into the shop and needed help with wireless networking (802.11) between her older Hewlett Packard computer (running Windows 98SE) and her XP notebook.

Unfortunately, we could not get the connections working. She had opted for a wireless network because she did not want to run a long cord from her bedroom to her living room to connect the two computers. The representative at the Motorola help-desk told me (several times) that we had to buy a router as a source point before the two computers could find each other. Having more money than patience, the elderly lady caved in an bought the wireless router ($50).

Do you know if it's possible to hook up two PCs using a wireless network without a router? Others tell me that fiddling with the 'ad-hoc' and 'direct connect to another computer' should get the two wireless machines to work without the router. What's the skinny? I personally use a crossover patch cable (not wireless) to connect two PCs together -- so why can't we do something similar with the wireless network? "

Admittedly, I am not much of a guru when it comes to wireless technology, and so I asked Infopackets Readers for help with this question.

Infopackets Reader Alias Zero writes:

" Ted may have difficult getting the Win98 machine to work in ad-hoc mode, as Win98 is just too old-school -- that is, unless the card came with it's own configuration tool. In that case, they can refer to an article written over at "

Mike V. and many others suggested an article written by Microsoft 'Expert Zone' columnist, Barb Bowman:

" There's a great resource on the Microsoft web site you can refer to on Making the Wireless Home Network Connection in Windows XP Without a Router. I'm not sure how much of this information applies to Windows 98, however. "

Reader Gordon S. writes:

" From my experience with Bluetooth and Wireless anything trying to connect to each other without something to dole out connections: Always set network addresses no more than 5 numbers away from each other or MS networking will run out of puff in the excitement and hit its default network address. Wireless and Bluetooth will search for a limited amount of time and then give up to the default MS address. Set one machine to say and the other to so the connection can be established asap. If QOS (Quality of Service) is available, turn it off. Shut down both systems. Start up again and they should find each other. "

Infopackets Reader J. Neeves writes:

" Dennis, thanks for the newsletter. It's a great dripfeed -- much appreciated. Ted B. needs to get two wireless devices -- one for each end, both of which support AdHoc mode. For some explanation, refer to, which states, '802.11 supports both infrastructure and ad hoc operating modes. In infrastructure mode, nodes communicate using an intermediate base station. In ad hoc mode, nodes communicate directly with one another.'

I have a two-machine network here using a pair of Origo 22Mbps WLAN (wireless LAN) cards which work fine together Win98-Win98. Ted B. may need to run the card utility software to perform a site survey and choose which available WLAN to connect to. Another question is whether the new network connection has been setup correctly between the two machines with all the necessary services enabled within Windows. It's also a good idea to enable some sort of security protocol on the wireless link since anyone with another nearby WLAN card will otherwise be able to participate in the connection. "

Reader Murray E. writes:

" Hi Dennis, great newsletters and I am pleased that I can respond with a little information on this one. We have 3 computers operating wireless (2 laptops with plug-in PCMCIA cards, and a desk top PC with a USB wireless) and have done for some time now. Initially they were set up to work 'peer to peer' or 'ad-hoc' with TCP/IP nominated for each computer. One computer was set as the internet gateway and address set as, with the others in sequence after that.

What I did find initially though that with 2 computers running XP Home and one Win98SE I did encounter difficulties maintaining the full networking capabilities with the wireless connection, however I was advised by my local computer shop owner that if all computers were running XP I would have less trouble. Since upgrading the 98SE to XP it has been easy all the way. We have now moved on to a Wireless ADSL Firewall Router/Modem combination unit (Netgear DG834G) and set the whole system up in 'infrastructure' mode and it is running beautifully. "

Infopackets Reader Mike H. writes:

" Another approach, admittedly more expensive, is to buy two identical access points, models that support bridging, and enable bridging. Use crossover cables to connect the APs to the PCs. An example of an AP that supports bridging is the D-Link DWL7100, although it is a bit of overkill. I think this model also supports 'many-to-one' bridging, which might help if you have more than two PCs to network. The concept here is that you are using MAC addresses instead of IPAs, which could be a security factor, also. "

And finally, Infopackets Reader George C. writes:

" One important things to note is that, if you're using ad-hoc mode, the maximum distance is 150 feet. If it is greater than that, you will need to boost the signal. "

Thanks to all who wrote in with their suggestions.

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