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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Adventures in PowerLine Networking

    Hi all,

    I just thought I'd pass along an interesting occurrence I just had with a PLN setup. Generally, I like them. They can be a great, easy way to get a connection to a device where the wireless signal is weak.

    To keep this as short as possible, I’ve been a computer hobbyist for over 25 years. I, like I’m sure many of my fellow Windows Secrets readers, often perform the task of a “Friends and Family IT Department”.

    Here’s the basic computer network setup for the story. There’s a new Linksys “N” router downstairs in this two-story house to which a laptop connects wirelessly and an Internet-Ready Blu-Ray player is wired. The “base” unit for the PowerLine Network setup is also “wired” to the router. The desktop computer is upstairs and is connected to the router through the “receiving adapter” end of the PowerLine connection. PLN adapters are generally sold in pairs.

    The desktop (upstairs; too far for a decent wireless connection) was experiencing a very slow internet connection. Downstairs, and when connected directly to the router, it typically connected at 20Mbps. Upstairs, it suddenly dropped to about 1.5Mbps. Bringing up the network map showed . . . well . . . some other people’s computers! When I tried opening the router’s webpage-based setup, it was asking for a username and password for the neighbor’s router. Somehow, the PowerLine adapter was connecting to the next door neighbors PowerLine setup. It should be noted that these houses are “stand alone” buildings and not a duplex, townhouse, condo or apartments.

    I called in an “expert” to have a look and he was stumped. He had never seen anything like this(remembering that this is a wired connection). The same goes for the person HE had to call to get a second opinion.

    So, if any of you decide to use a PLN setup, be sure that you are actually connecting to the right network.

  2. #2
    Lounger
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    PLN is not just one kind of thing. You might want to be more specific as to which kind you are using. Long story short, sounds like your software has configured your PLN as an open network. I'm no expert on these things, but just because it is connected via USB or ethernet doesn't mean it uses tcp/ip or any other standard protocol for that matter. Check articles like http://computer.howstuffworks.com/power-network.htm .
    Next time mention the manufacturer and other tech specs for your PLN. From what I read, these things aren't quite ready for 'prime time'.

  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    If you open the network icon in the taskbar, all the available networks should be displayed and you can choose which network to connect to. I suspect the PLN adapter is seeing the neighbors network as strong as yours. When you set up the PLN adapter can you specify there which Network adapter to choose to connect to?

    I have a 2 story house as well and just added a new Linksys e4200 wireless router. The router is physically located upstairs at one end of the house (directly wired to a desktop PC) and our laptops are downstairs at the opposite end of the house and we get fantastic connection speeds and power. I can at times see more than a dozen different networks if I check, and do specify to actually connect to my network rather than a neighbors network.
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  4. #4
    2 Star Lounger
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    http://windowssecrets.com/forums/sho...iring-circuits

    This thread gives more insite into how these work and potential issues. Hopefully the link works

  5. #5
    New Lounger
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    More specifics

    Quote Originally Posted by wmfay1 View Post
    PLN is not just one kind of thing. You might want to be more specific as to which kind you are using. Long story short, sounds like your software has configured your PLN as an open network. I'm no expert on these things, but just because it is connected via USB or ethernet doesn't mean it uses tcp/ip or any other standard protocol for that matter. Check articles like http://computer.howstuffworks.com/power-network.htm .
    Next time mention the manufacturer and other tech specs for your PLN. From what I read, these things aren't quite ready for 'prime time'.
    It is (or was) a Linksys PLK300 Powerline Networking Kit. I found a little better explaination on how the "cross talk" problem might have occurred here:
    http://windowssecrets.com/forums/sho...iring-circuits

    I've put away the PLN stuff for now. I upgraded the router to a Linksys E1000 and a new "N" wireless adapter for the upstairs desktop. The connection is much improved over the old "G" setup. As the desktop is primarily used as a "backup" or "guest" computer these days it'll be good enough for now. I'm saving the PLN kit as it may come in handy at some other time.

  6. #6
    3 Star Lounger
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    Power Line Networking, PLN, is also called Ethernet Powerline Adapter (PLA).

    Yes, depending on the powerline model and make, the signal could cross over house wire AC phase, and over transformers too.

    You should not see your neighbor's powerline adapter network.
    The reason you do, is that both you and your neighbor use the same make and model powerline adapter, and also use the default security setting in it. Above that, both of you use the same default network group name, WORKGROUP, the default on all Windows versions (since Win3.0). [Note: Windows make network group name all uppercase letters.)

    If you change the network group name to, say, HOUSE101. Then you are out of the 'common network'.
    Or, you can change the encryption key/password of the powerline adapters.

    In the first method, the network separation is by work group name, even on the same network cable.
    In the latter method, the encryption is now different, with different key (password). The two signals are effectively isolated.

    Third method is to assign different sets of IP addresses, by using your router DHCP. For example, if your neighbor uses 192.x.x.x. You can assign 10.x.x.x. The two groups will not talk. Putting a router in between the two IP groups, as hardware separation, is even better. (You need to set up the router for this purpose.)

    I recommend change both the adapter key/password, and the network group name.

    Changing the network group name is very easy on Windows. (Need the change on all PCs.) Changing the encryption password maybe easy, or difficult, depending on the make and model of the powerline adapter. Or, simply use a different brand/make from your neighbor's. If you change the network group name only, you may still see the other networks appearing in Network Neighborhood. You just cannot access it.

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