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I have a problem with a Mac mini not seeing a wireless network. I'm using a laptop with OSX (version 10.5.8) which can see and connect to the WEP network, with the following details:

 Wireless Card Type:    AirPort Extreme  (0x14E4, 0x8E)
 Wireless Card Locale:  USA
 Wireless Card Firmware Version:    Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (5.10.91.21)
 Current Wireless Network:  MyNetwork
 Wireless Channel:  6

The Airport details on the Mac Mini (OSX version 10.5.8) are:

 Wireless Card Type:    AirPort Extreme  (0x168C, 0x86)
 Wireless Card Locale:  USA
 Wireless Card Firmware Version:    1.4.16.2 
 Current Wireless Network:  not available

Are there any obvious things I can do to figure out the problem? I'm in the same location with both computers so I assume signal strength is not an issue

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2 Answers

Mac minis are notorious for having issues with wireless reception. My wife's (which has LOS on the router) gets crappier signal than I get with a laptop on the other side of the house.

It has led to ridiculous hacks like this and endless forum haggling over whether or not it's better to set connectivity to "G only" to fix the problem.

My suggestion is to move the mini closer to the router, if possible. That works for some of the newer minis (the ones that have two wireless cards). Switching to "G only" didn't do me any good. I ended up wiring the house (which was seriously non-trivial, but it was better than the antenna hack, and I'm actually very experienced at taking the goddamn things apart).

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Don't assume signal strength is not an issue unless you're in the same room as the AP, and you don't have anything set on top of, or too close to, the Mac mini, blocking its antennas. In general, vendors spend more time improving the integrated antennas in laptops than they do with the integrated antennas in desktops.

Put the AP on another channel, such as 1 or 11. Can the Mac mini see it then?

That Mac mini's wireless card probably does not support 802.11n. You don't have your wireless network set to 802.11n-only do you? Probably not since you're using WEP and the 802.11n spec forbids WEP, but I've seen buggy third-party APs that allow you to set up 802.11n-only with WEP.

That Mac mini has an Atheros wireless chipset. Do you happen to know if you have anything else around with an Atheros wireless chipset to see if this is an Atheros vs. Broadcom issue?

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