Onboard Computer WLAN Adapters

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Note: This page describes adapter-specific information for Wireless LAN cards (wireless connections) only. For more information on configuration of Wireless LAN adapters, see OS-specific articles on Debian Linux Network Configuration and Windows Network Configuration.

Most robots come equipped with some form of wireless networking hardware. On robots without computers, this is in the form of a serial-wireless bridge device; more about these devices is at Wireless ethernet-serial bridge device. Robots with onboard computers typically come equipped with an 802.11 PC104/PCI WLAN adapter installed in the computer.


Computer WLAN Adapters

The two most recently offered wireless networking devices for onboard computers are described here. If you have a different kind of adapter, and need help with it, contact support.

Atheros mini-PCI

Mini-pci cards sold by MobileRobots and branded Engenius (EMP 8602+), Senao or Compex are based on the "Atheros" chipset (which is used by various brands of wireless card), and so use general "Atheros" drivers. The mini-PCI card is labelled either as Engenius, Senao or Compex brand. A PC104-miniPCI adapter is used on EBX computers, while a PCI-miniPCI adapter is used on full size Powerbot computers.


An Atheros driver utility is included with Windows installations. This is the recommended configuration utility. See associated documentation. Contact support if you need to reinstall these drivers.


All Atheros-based cards are supported through either the ath5k driver for Linux kernel version 2.6.25 and later, or drivers provided by the Madwifi project for Linux kernel versions prior to 2.6.25 (Run the uname -r command to see what version of the Linux kernel is running). See the Drivers page to see or verify the specific model and features.

It is also possible to use Madwifi drivers instead of ath5k for Linux kernel versions 2.6.25 and later, if you wish to use some of the special options provided by Madwifi.

Note that Madwifi is an additional layer on top of some core Linux wireless support and so is treated slightly differently than some more standard drivers. Install them manually or through package management and be sure to read documentation for the various ways in which madwifi has specific iwpriv commands and unique utilities for extremely flexible wireless-configuration.

For more information on the driver for Atheros-based wifi cards on Linux see the following:

Madwifi Driver on old Debian 3 with 2.4 kernel
ath5k Driver on Debian 5 with 2.6.x kernel

To load the madwifi Atheros kernel drivers, run this command as root:

 modprobe ath_pci

On Linux 2.6.25 and later, the ath5k driver should automatically be loaded. To load it manually, run this command as root:

 modprobe ath5k

Cisco Aironet 350 PCMCIA Card and Lucent WAVELAN/Orinoco PCMCIA Card

Prior to the Atheros mini-PCI card, MobileRobots provided either Cisco Aironet 350 or Orinoco PCMCIA cards in onboard computers. We also provided them separately for use in a laptop. These PCMCIA cards are clearly labelled. A PC104-PCMCIA adapter was used on EBX onboard computers, while a PCI-PCMCIA adapter was used on full-size Powerbot AT computers.


Use the associated Lucent or Cisco configuration utilities.


The robots typically use a PC104 to PCMCIA-card adapter on the onboard computer. The driver for this card interface is provided by the i82365 Linux 2.4 kernel module. Verify this is loaded before loading the modules for the wireless card. Often on newer distributions, after loading this module, the correct wireless modules will be autoloaded for you.

modprobe i82365

Then load the wireless card driver for the Aironet 350:

modprobe airo_cs

or for the Lucent/Orinoco:

modprobe orinoco_cs

add entries to /etc/modules to load these modules on boot.

Some additional information about the Linux Orinoco driver and recent versions of Debian is available at http://wiki.debian.org/orinoco. (The PCMCIA version of the Orinoco driver is orinoco_cs)

Legacy - Cisco-tools

Some robots that included Cisco PCMCIA Airnoet cards may also use Cisco-specific utilities for WEP and encryption configuration. If you have these tools, they will be in /opt/cisco/bin. The acu program will let you change the wireless settings on the card. To enable security:

cd /opt/cisco/bin

Choose the 'CEM/Enter Wep Key' menu item. The default password is "Cisco". Choose the strength of encryption that you want to use, either 40- or 128-bit. Type a key into the field. If you want to use the 5-byte key "abcde" you would enter "6162636465". You can type "man ascii" at a prompt to get a listing of the hex values for the bytes. Click OK when you have entered the key.

Choose the 'Commands/Edit Properties' menu item. Under the "Network Security" tab, click "enable WEP", "Shared Key Authentication". Click ok and the new settings should take effect.

Wireless interface for Seekur, Seekur Jr., etc.

Seekur and Seekur Jr., as well as any robot with more than one onboard computer, have a separate wireless interface device connected to the onboard computers via a LAN switch, rather than wireless interfaces on the computers. This device is the WRAP.

See Also

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