Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wireless Printer Server Installation

So just why did I need a wireless printer server? Because ...
  • My current laser and color printer are served by an older printer server that has three parallel ports as output
  • My new printer has only a USB port (very common these days)
  • I have to have the printer in the cabinet across the room from the computer, and connected to the network too.

So, I did a bunch of shopping. Looked like it was going to be about $90 to $125 plus tax ... until ... I found a deal!

Don't you love a deal?

There is a company called Factory Direct that has several locations and sells refurbished stuff. Always looks a bit grotty, the store and the staff. But, for $29.95, who cares?

Was it going to work? Who cares?

Yes, it works fine. Was it easy to install? Not hardly.

I install network stuff so infrequently that I keep forgetting lessons learned the last time. I was having trouble getting the router and server to recognize each other. Did a lot of stuff in the wrong order too, for example, turned off the WEP encryption unnecessarily - then could not turn it back on!

The router is controlled by its internal web server whose pages are shown on the controlling computer's browser. When I used the radio button to turn off the security, a message "Warning - Security Disabled" or words to that effect appeared. The W of Warning was on top of the radio button for enabling security, so there was no way to click on it!

The solution was to make the browser text size as small as possible. No more overlap and the radio button was accessible again.

Then, I did what I should have done first, added the print server's MAC address into the MAC Address Filter table and allowed "association". Instant recognition. Now the installation program would continue. No surprise. The MAC filter is supposed to make the router ignore unkown devices and it was doing that very thing. Maybe I will remember this next time. Or, remember to read my blog. (Want to place a bet?)

And all then went nicely.

With the server installed, there is no physical connection from the printer to the computer's USB port. No printing problem. But there is no way to get the display of ink levels to appear. That display really was nice - it was visible during the initial installation and testing before each print was printed. This lack of monitoring over the network has been the case for every printer I have used on the old printer server too. There really should be a way but I guess there is only a small demand for this function. A bit inconvenient, But I suppose I can move the laptop across the room for a few minutes now and again. We'll see how it goes.

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