The wireless local area network (WLAN) in the Oahu Base Area Network is made up of several different subsystems. The inputs to the system will be desktop computers, laptop computers, and embedded systems (fixed and mobile). Each client has a wireless network card that can communicate with an access point (AP). The AP manages WLAN traffic and physically connects the wireless system to the wired local area network (LAN). The wired LAN will then send the requested information back to the access points, which will relay it to the appropriate client (Conover, 2000).
The system has three modes of operation:
Op-Mode: This is the standard operating mode for system operation. The mode consists of interaction between clients and one or more server. The clients are wireless devices such as laptops, desktops and tele-robtics platforms. Servers are access points that connect the clients to a wired network. Quality of communication between the clients and server depends on distance, obstructions, RF noise level, and network traffic (Conover, 2000).
Manage Mode: This mode is accessible to system administrators. It consists of software, which allows administrators to maintain and modify system settings. The software is located on the access point and accessed either by a web browser (Conover, 2000).
Test Mode: This mode contains the diagnostic programming that examines the performance of the overall network, along with the separate components (i.e. The AP and network card). The test mode includes measurements such as signal quality, signal strength and network load as well as instructions on how to find and trouble shoot common problems (Conover, 2000).
System Implementation: Oahu Base Area Network
There are five main subsystems in the system and three modes of operation. The subsystems are the client, manager, RF network card, access point and wired network. The modes of operation are op-mode, manage mode and test mode (Conover, 2000).
The RF network card exchanges data between client and the AP via 802.11b DSSS format. The access point allows the RF LAN to access the wired LAN. It receives data from the LAN and relays it to the appropriate client radio through RF DSSS signals. It also checks for data from clients to relay to the LAN (No Wires Needed, 2000).
The RF network card contains management software that can be accessed by a system administrator from a web browser or commercial software. It also serves as a gateway between the wired Ethernet and the RF cards. Finally, the wired network allows wireless LAN access to the Internet and the wired LAN (No Wires Needed, 2000).
The client computer exchanges data with its RF network card. The system administrator has access to a configuration tool using a web browser. The client can also control the local settings of its RF network card. Client's computers are capable of running a series of tests to diagnose network problems and determine best placement and data rate of the client computers and APs (No Wires Needed, 2000). The manager is a client but also monitors various functions such as RF network traffic.
The system administrator can run software on his/her computer to access a network
System Implementation: Oahu Base Area Network configuration tool that manages the RF network. The administrator can run a series of tests to evaluate the network and determine best placement and data rate of the clients' computers and APs (No Wires Needed, 2000).
For Wireless LAN's to be widely accepted there needed to be an industry standard to ensure compatibility and reliability among the various manufactures (Megarity et al., 1997). The original 802.11 standard was ratified by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1997 as the standard for wireless LAN's. It provides for data rates of 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps and a set of fundamental signaling methods and other services. The specifications of IEEE 802.11 define two layers: the physical layer and the Media access control (MAC) layer (Megarity et al., 1997).
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