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Dueling wireless cards??


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#1 hedera

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 08:53 PM

I have a Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop which came with Vista Home Premium and an internal wireless card, class ABG. We recently upgraded all our computers to Win7 - the laptop is now running 64-bit Ultimate, the new desktops 64-bit Professional - and both desktops now have Gig-E network cards running against a D-Link N-class router. The only box not running at N-class speeds was now the laptop, so I bought an ExpressCard N-class wireless adapter - a Trendnet TEW-642EC. Note that the old ABG wireless card ran just fine with Win7 Ultimate, no problems.

OK, today the new adapter came. I plugged it in and installed the drivers; but I couldn't get it to pick up the wireless signal. It shows in the network adapter list, it has blinking lights, but nobody's home, and it shows as "disabled" in the Network and Sharing Center. I give the command to Enable and a popup says "Enabled" but the display doesn't change and it can't detect any of the 7-8 wireless networks in my neighborhood. Including mine. When I try to connect manually to a network, I get "Unexpected error" before I can even type in a network name.

I uninstalled the new card and reinstalled it, and suddenly I couldn't get a wireless connection on either wireless card. I uninstalled the new device and rebooted - now the built-in wireless card doesn't detect anything. I uninstalled the built-in card in the Device Manager, reinstalled the new drivers and card - the new card doesn't detect anything, and when I try to connect manually to a network on the old card I get "Unexpected error" there too. I'm entering this topic on an Ethernet connection, which is not how I want to use my laptop.

I've opened a ticket with TRENDnet, but they say, oh, maybe 1-2 days for response. Since the date on their downloadable driver software is 3/31/09, I strongly suspect they don't have Win7 drivers - but, is there anything obviously wrong about what I'm trying to do?? Do wireless cards interfere with each other like that? Should I not have expected this to work? And, why would the new card make the old card not work? Help??

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#2 CaveDweller2

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:59 PM

Normally what you'd do in your case is see if you can disable the on board wireless in BIOS. Then install the wireless card you ordered.

I am willing to bet Win 7 has drivers for that card built in.

At this point I'd uninstall everything having to do with both wireless cards, driver in Device Manager and any apps in Add/Remove. Reboot. Get into the BIOS, see if there is anywhere to disable the on board wireless. If there is great. If you can't when you boot up just disable it in Device manager.

Then plug in the wireless card you ordered and see if the driver installs. If not, then go download them and install them. Then use Windows zero config(or whatever its called in Win7) to connect to your router.

If that doesn't work, I have a hammer hehe :thumbsup:

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College


#3 hedera

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 09:09 PM

I was just thinking about poking around in BIOS. The best suggestion I could get from the vendor was to make sure the hardware wireless switch was on; I didn't even know I had a hardware wireless switch, I always used the wireless controls in Win Mobility Center - from which the wireless controls have now vanished. I'll take your advice tomorrow. I have the drivers. I also have a hammer - I just want to use it on that tech support yoyo at TrendNet...

#4 hedera

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 02:32 PM

Status on this: I've now gone into the BIOS and turned all the wireless stuff off. I may have overdone it. I had the following options (all enabled):

Internal Bluetooth
Internal WiFi
Internal cellular
Wireless Switch (set to just WiFi)
WiFi Catcher

I turned them all OFF. The onboard WiFi card has now vanished from the Device Manager. I wonder if I should, however, have left the WiFi Catcher on?? Or should I? Isn't that the function that scans for networks?? If it is, it was NOT working before I did this, even though its status was ENABLED.

Anyway, after doing all this, I checked the program list, no WiFi drivers visible. Then I put the card in the box - no networks - and installed the utility. Still no networks, and I've never been able to "enable" the device on the adapter list and have it actually show as "enabled," although Device Manager says it is.

After I did all this, I got an update on my TrendNet help desk ticket, who said uninstall the utility, just install the drivers (there is no option for this; I've asked for clarification), and use the Windows 7 wireless utilities.

Frankly, I think I have a defective device, and have told TrendNet so. What bothers me is that it or something related to it has disabled what was a perfectly functional (if slower) Intel wireless card. I spoke to TrendNet support on the phone about the problem, and after I made it clear that I could NOT detect any wireless networks, his advice was to plug the thing into a different laptop and see if it still failed. Well, I don't have 2 laptops, and given what it did to my wireless card, I hesitate to put it into somebody else's expresscard slot, even if I could find someone with an expresscard slot. I realize this is standard troubleshooting, but really.

Thank you for listening to my rant, and if anyone has any suggestions I'm open to them.

#5 CaveDweller2

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 03:59 PM

We all need to rant from time to time. So no worries.

About the WiFi catcher:
Dell™ Wi-Fi Catcher™ Network Locator
The wireless switch on your Dell computer uses the Dell Wi-Fi Catcher™ Network Locator to scan specifically for WiFi wireless local area networks (LAN) in your vicinity.
To scan for WiFi wireless LAN, slide and hold the switch in the "momentary" position for a few seconds. The Wi-Fi Catcher Network Locator functions regardless of whether your computer is turned on or off, in hibernate mode, or in standby mode, as long as the switch is configured through QuickSet or the BIOS (system setup program) to control WiFi network connections.
Because the Wi-Fi Catcher Network Locator is disabled and not configured for use when your computer is shipped to you, you must first use Dell QuickSet to enable and configure the switch to control WiFi network connections


What I would do is uninstall the trendmicro stuff off the laptop. If they can't get it to work and their best advice is try it in another laptop, I'd return it to where ever I bought it. And get a different brand lol.

Before you install the new wireless card tho, I'd get my on board card working just in cast you ever need it. Go back into the BIOS and Enable the Internal wireless atleast. Get the drivers from the Dell site if needed and see about getting it working. Cause you now know how to disable it lol.

But I wouldn't put up with that card not functioning. Take it back.

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College


#6 hedera

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 05:21 PM

You know, Cavedweller2, we think alike. I'm getting thoroughly pissed at this and considering getting a LinkSys or DLink card.

Let me just make sure I understand the restore. You recommend that, to get the old board working, I go into BIOS and enable: WiFi, the hardware Wireless switch, and the WiFi catcher. (I have no use for internal Bluetooth or Cellular.) You seem to be fairly familar with Dell, so can you tell me: on that hardware switch, is "O" on, or off? It has 2 hard positions, left (O) and right (>>), and then it has a further to the right position where it doesn't stay unless you hold it. That, presumably is the "momentary" position you describe. (You would think that Dell's damn user manual would explain this but it doesn't.) After I do all that I should reinstall the Intel card and update the drivers. Gotcha.

My problem with asking Dell this is that after I upgraded my laptop to Win7 without involving them, they told me I'd voided my software warranty and if I wanted software support it'd cost me $130 a crack. So I don't call them until I'm desperate. If all this doesn't work I may have to pay them to get the Intel card turned back on. They also sold me the stupid TrendNet card.

By the way, it's TrendNET not TrendMicro.

From the way you speak, I gather that I ought to be able to have 2 wireless cards on one box, and swap back and forth between them if I choose??

#7 hedera

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 05:36 PM

Follow-on to my latest: I just made all the resets in the BIOS that I described: WiFi is enabled, Switch is enabled for WiFi only, WiFi Catcher is enabled. The Intel device shows as "enabled" in Network & Sharing Center. It doesn't see a list of networks. I can't connect to anything, even if I know the SSID and the connection key. Pushing the hardware switch (now enabled) to the right and holding it for a few seconds has no effect on this. When I try to connect to my network manually, I get "an unexpected error occurred" even before it asks for an SSID.

I think something is busted in the registry, frankly - did I mention that software control of wireless has vanished from the Windows Mobility Center?? But I have no idea what it is. I opened a question on the Windows configuration issue with the Windows Answers site for Win7, but if you have any better ideas, I'd like to hear them.

#8 CaveDweller2

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 07:13 PM

Sorry about the name thing. How about we call it TrendNotGonnaUseThatBrandAnymore. lol

Click the windows button(aka Start). In the Search bar type services.msc and hit Enter. In the list look for WLAN AutoConfig. The list is alphabetical so it'll be near the bottom. Right click it and click Properties. Is the Startup type: set to Automatic? if not it should be. Then below that you'll see Start, Stop, Pause, Resume. Just above that is Service Status: is it stopped? if it is click Start. Let me know what these were set to please.

If that service wasn't running then its not going to allow your wireless card to work properly.

If you really think something is wrong with the registry, put the Win7 disk in, type cmd in the Search bar, right click on it in the list and click "Run as admin", type sfc /scannow and hit Enter. This will take a little while but it will check your registry.

The WiFi Catcher - the ( O ) is Off. the ( >>) is On and pushing it further and releasing it starts the process.

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College


#9 hedera

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 08:12 PM

Actually, I know how to pull up Services from the Device Manager and I have restarted the WLAN AutoConfig a couple of times. Not sure I've done it since the last round of reconfiguring the Intel, though. (No, didn't help.) Its status was "started" and the startup type was "automatic." Connection mode is "automatic connection with a profile" and it's my SSID. Until I started messing with this on Tuesday, these connections (I checked the older logs) simply show "successful connection." About the time of this change, I had uninstalled the Intel card from device manager and then reinstalled it. What I'm seeing in the WLAN AutoConfig Event Log is the cryptic little statement, "The network is disconnected by the driver." Give you any ideas?

I have an appointment now but I'm certainly going to try the scannow option when I have a minute, thanks for the suggestion.

#10 CaveDweller2

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 10:59 PM

Ok I'm stumped. I have no idea what would stop the card from picking up networks. I am sure its something silly.

But if you just installed Windows 7 just reinstall it. lol Takes an hour or less and BAM! its back and working.


sorry for the BAM, had Food Network on got caught up. I'm going to go punish myself now.

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College


#11 hedera

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 10:59 PM

I thought you might be interested that I have wireless again. I didn't "solve" this in the normal sense. I still don't know what was wrong, or what I needed to do to WLAN Auto-config to fix it. But I do know that something was wrong with WLAN Auto-config. I ran query commands against it while I was down, and again after it was working again; the answers don't look anything alike. And it stopped logging events to its operational log at exactly the time the problem started.

I got the system restore to work. It took me over a week of research. It kept failing with "file in use." I tried turning off all the startup loads. I shut down ZoneAlarm. I told ZoneAlarm not to load on startup and then shut it down. Still failed. I finally found a site where someone suggested that it might be necessary actually to uninstall ZoneAlarm to avoid interference with system restore - unfortunately I didn't note the link, just the suggestion - and that was it. With all the startup loads disabled, and ZoneAlarm uninstalled, I ran system restore - all the way back to 1/22, the last restore point before I began this mess - and it worked. And my wireless card began picking up signals again.

#12 hedera

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 11:07 PM

I have further information on this issue which I wanted to post. A couple of months after this discussion ended, I decided to try an N-class card again, and I bought a DLink Nano. When I tried to install it I got the SAME error! However, in the course of trying to make it work, I called DLink support, who suggested I try to install the card on my desktop, to see if it worked there. It installed perfectly. OK, what was the difference between desktop and laptop? ZoneAlarm. I was using ZoneAlarm on the laptop; the desktop had Norton Internet Security 2010.

I tried again on the laptop and suddenly saw an error message I'd never seen before. I have a screen shot of this but I don't see an option to attach the file. ZoneAlarm was blocking the necessary registry change, and NOT giving the installer the opportunity to override! I've learned a lot over the years, making ZoneAlarm work for me; but this was The End. I uninstalled it and replaced it with the Norton (I had a multi-box license), and the DLink Nano card is working wonderfully.




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