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TIP: Get Apple's AirPort Express working with WEP and DHCP
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 10.08.04 - 13:06:01 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 13259x
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If you are using Apples AirPort Express access point (I've recently reviewed) and you want to get it working with WEP encryption you might face the one or the other problem.
Indeed there seems to be a serious problem in the combination WEP encryption and DHCP functionality. While DHCP works great without any encryption enabled (doesn't matter if you use 40 or 128 bit), DHCP isn't working anymore if you have enabled WEP encryption which means your connected Notebook or Pocket PC won't receive an IP address and therefore it can not access the LAN, WAN or Internet.

This happened for me on weekend when I've fine-tuned the different profiles you can create with the AirPort Express. While my general test profile is without encryption (just for the quick and dirty access/test) my regular profiles includes WEP for sure.

A Google search gave me some ideas what went wrong so this tutorial is nothing I've figured out but I think it's important enough to republish what happened and what to do.

You know something serious went wrong if you enabled WEP in the access point profile and after you reboot the AirPort Express, it's not recognized anymore by the Apple's configuration utility:

It might still appears in your Wi-Fi selection of available networks (here Windows XP's SP2 Wi-Fi utility) and you might can connect with it (physically) but your Notebook won't get a valid IP address assigned:

Well, for any reason there seems to be a problem with the WEP key you've entered in the configuration utility. Normally these keys are a "token" of hexadecimal characters like"ad74f4be".
However, if you enter this WEP key for any reason the Express access point isn't assigning an IP address by DHCP anymore.

To resolve this problem, you have to add a "$" in front of your hexadecimal key. So do the following:

  • Soft-reset the access point by pressing the small soft reset button
  • Wait until the configuration utility recognizes your access point again
  • Login to the utility and open the AirPort page:
  • Open "Security" and select the security level
  • Now add your WEP key and don't forget to add the "$" in the beginning:

    Instead of entering ad74f4be - enter $ad74f4be

 That's it. Save and reboot your access point and from now your wireless devices like Pocket PCs and Notebooks should get a WEP enabled IP address, asssigned by AirPort Express' DHCP server.

Cheers ~ Arne


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