Posts Tagged ‘Airport’

Airport Express Not As User-Friendly As You Would Expect

January 19, 2008

Well I was all excited to find a wireless solution for streaming audio — a beautiful, little piece of hardware called an Airport Express. Little did I know that it would be quite the challenge to set it up! After all, Apple products are supposed to just work, right? This might be their one exception to the rule.

I scoured the Web and found quite a few posts which addressed the problem, but nobody gave the solution I was searching for: how do I integrate the Airport Express into my current wireless network with a 2Wire modem / router (for AT&T Yahoo customers in particular). I’m guessing that there’s no shortage of AT&T DSL customers out there so this post is especially for y’all!

Ok, here’s the deal. The Airport instructions assume that when you plug the Express in that it will broadcast it’s network and you’ll be able to find it, but there’s no provision in the manual for what to do if you can’t get this most vital step to happen (like I couldn’t). I even tried manually accessing the network by using the device’s MAC address, but to no avail. The Airport Utility is also useless unless your computer is able to find the Express unit.

I have a solution, however! I found ONE line in the manual which proved to be a lifesaver. Here’s what you do:

1. Make sure you have a WPA password on your 2Wire network. AE doesn’t like WEP for some reason.

2. Unplug your 2Wire.

3. Connect an ethernet cable to the 2Wire and the Airport Express (AE).

4. Get a paperclip, pen or pencil and hold down the reset button WHILE you plug in the AE and hold until you see the green lights flash 4 times.

5. Now plug in the 2Wire (assuming your phone line is already connected). The 2Wire is able to find the AE. You know this because the green light shows on the AE.

6. Now open Airport Utility (Applications / Utilities in Mac).

7. Your AE Base will be found. Configure the device by joining your existing network.

8. Airport Utility should detect that you have a WPA password set on your 2Wire. Make sure you type the same password so your AE can access your 2Wire network.

9. Once you finish the configuration, Airport Utility will apply the changes and automatically restart your AE unit (you’ll see the green light blink amber then turn green again). I got stuck several times at this point where the configuration seemed to apply the changes, but my AE would not restart with a green light. I’m pretty sure the problem was that I had WEP encryption set on the 2Wire and, being an older technology, AE doesn’t like it. Use WPA2 if possible. This works. By the way, if your AE won’t restart, you have to factory reset it using the paperclip / plug-in method mentioned above.

10. Once your AE resets you can unplug the ethernet cable and the unit’s light will remain green. Now you can unplug it and plug it in elsewhere. The AE will auto-detect your 2Wire existing network and will join it (again, the green light is what you’re looking for). Now you can plug in your 1/8″ audio jack, sit back, relax and listen to your tunes.

By the way, if you haven’t already heard, Airfoil 3 is a fantastic product that allows you to stream audio from any source on your computer! You’re not limited to iTunes audio like the AE marketing would have you believe; you can stream from Firefox / Safari / Explorer and get your Rhapsody Web interface streaming! They’ve even got an Airfoil DVD player which syncs wireless audio with iIt’s $25 and it’s a deal. I should get paid to say this stuff. =)