Netgear MA301/MA401/ME103

Jim Carter jimc at
Fri Sep 6 03:44:31 EST 2002

On Wed, 4 Sep 2002, Sylvain Goletto (AF) wrote:
> I have :
> 	- 4 NetGear MA401 Pcmcia cards,
> 	- 4 NetGear MA301 PCI/PLX adapter,
> 	- One ME102 access point.
> The configuration is:
> 	- A MA401 in a Dell C600 laptop running Win98 and Linux Mandrake 8.2,
> 	- A MA301/MA401 in a Dell P420 running W2K and Linux Mandrake 8.2,
> 	- A MA301/MA301 in an Advantech Industrial PC running Linux Mandrake 8.2.
> I am using the orinoco_cs driver shipped with Mandrake 8.2 on the laptop.
> I am using the orinoco_plx driver shipped with Mandrake 8.2 on the desktop PCs
> I also tried the latest 0.11b driver available and the results are the same.

It should report the driver version, and the firmware vendor and version,
on your syslog. Netgear cards use Intersil firmware.

> The problem is the the link is very instable with the orinoco_plx driver

The timings, data rates and behavior that you report remind me of my
experience in Ad-Hoc mode talking between a Dell Truemobile 1150 Mini-PCI
(Agere firmware 6.16) and a Linksys WPC11 (Intersil firmware 1.03). The
Linksys card would fail to send 802.11b ACK packets, and the Agere card
retransmitted and fell back to a lower speed, with many confusing symptoms,
and speeds similar to what you report. When I installed an Agere Orinoco
AP-200 access point, everything worked perfectly (not surprising). One
other person reported seeing similar behavior to yours with an access
point, but I don't remember which vendor it was.

It's surprising to see the same vendor's card and access point fail to
interoperate.  I've had no trouble with several cards interoperating with
several AP's.  Ad-Hoc mode seems to be less well debugged.

You must have much better luck with NetGear products than I do -- two out
of two MA401's had bad radios (card could be configured but could not
associate with a known working access point). Just this weekend I helped my
son set up wireless, and he bought a NetGear MA401-301 combination like you
have, and a Linksys WAP11 access point. Dead radio. We returned the NetGear
stuff and got a Siemens SpeedStream 1024 PCI board (US$ 90, cheaper than
MA401 + MA301 at US$ 80 + 50). It worked the first time. It also has a
removeable quarter wave straight antenna, much better than the PCMCIA
card's antenna, and for those users who need a big external antenna, this
would be feasible with the Siemens card.

But having spent about US$ 600 on NetGear equipment, I'm not sure you will
be too happy with my son's example :-)

James F. Carter          Voice 310 825 2897    FAX 310 206 6673
UCLA-Mathnet;  6115 MSA; 405 Hilgard Ave.; Los Angeles, CA, USA  90095-1555
Email: jimc at (q.v. for PGP key)

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