/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » Sue & Apple’s AirPort Express

This post is largely going to be technical, so please excuse that part of it (or read really quickly!). 😉 There is a dearth of information for Airport Express owners who aren’t Mac users (i.e., use Windows) regarding setup, and although I am by NO MEANS an expert, maybe my experiences from last night can be helpful to others. :)

Okay, so what the heck is an Airport Express, you might ask? The honest answer is, “I really don’t know!” Silly, huh? What it *does*, however, I do know…you can use it as part of a wireless network to (for example) have different computers in one home share a single printer, or to expand your wireless network for laptop computing purposes. How we use it is to listen to digital music (from iTunes) on our home stereo. Pretty darned cool, if you ask me! :) So we’ve had the Airport for a while now and were waiting to get the new computer set up. Task accomplished, so I started out last night to set up the Airport so we can finally listen to our music throughout the front of the house. We converted from CDs to digital music and up until now, we’ve had to listen in the study only.

My first job was to call Nettie’s husband, Jay. Jay is infinitely more techie than I am (and I’m a certified geek!), and he’s installed an airport in their home. So by my standards, Jay is a professional at this. 😉 Jay’s estimation of his own abilities is somewhat less than mine, but hey–everyone’s harder on themselves than others are. So here are the steps we went through:

1) Connect the Airport Express to power (duh!) and to the router via an extra Ethernet cable. Those things are handy to have around! Let the router recognize the Airport. This step pre-supposes that you have installed the software on your desktop for the Airport. If you haven’t, do it now!

2) Once the two devices are connected, you’ll need to know how to get in to the software for your router. Typically this involves knowing your router’s IP address and typing it in to an internet browser window. Check your router settings, specifically where you can “name” your browser. I tried several times to “re-name” my router, of course, saving my changes. More on that later.

3) Open up the Airport Admin Utility (should be installed on your disk already), and with the two “wireless devices” connected by a wire (!!) see if you come up with a device that’s found and an IP address. If you do (that means that your “network” has been detected), highlight the information and click “configure” at the bottom right of the screen. This will move you in to the actual configuration screen for your Airport.

4) One of the things you’ll want to make sure of is that you’re choosing “join an existing wireless network” rather than “create a wireless network” on the AirPort tab. The other thing that you’ll REALLY want to make sure you have down is the name of your network. This is where making sure you know how to get in to the software to configure your router is very important. As I mentioned before, I saved my changes, but for whatever reason, my router didn’t hold the changes. I went through much frustration with the Airport set-up because I didn’t re-check the name of my network (router). Once you know the name of your network, enter it in the box.

5) You’ll now have the opportunity to name your Airport–keep it simple, and use the name of your network in the title. Now go to the Music tab and make sure the box is checked that allows “AirTunes to be enabled on this base station.” Once that’s done, name your Airport. You can give it your family’s name, or just the room in which it will be (as it is possible to run more than one Airport at a time, this might be wise).

6) Click “Update” at the bottom right of the screen and if you’ve gotten your network name and named your Airport, you should be golden. Disconnect the Ethernet cable from the Airport and keep it plugged in to the power source. It will take anywhere from 90-180 seconds to see if your Airport and router will communicate. If indeed you’ve done this right and they do, you’ll see some fast blinking of the amber light and then a (happy, happy, happy) solid green light. 😀

7) At this point, you’re good to go plug your Airport in to wherever you intend it to be–for us, this was out by the stereo, and plugging in the monster cables from the back of the stereo to the Airport. If you’re using this for digital music, make sure that your iTunes set up recognizes your Airport as a remote set of speakers (option is in Preferences). Once you see that iTunes has found your Airport, start playing your tunes, baby! ;D

One disclaimer: I’m told by those who are in the know that WEP encryption isn’t compatible with the Airport Utility or set up. I don’t have this feature turned on, but I’m told if I did, my Airport would “disappear” from the network.

For my regular readers: sorry about the tech talk, but this was fresh in my mind. I’ll be back to regular writing soon! :)

Over & out!.

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